Sunday, 9 August 2009
The parthenon gallery at Tschumi's new museum.
The other place I visited when in Athens (apart from the acropolis) was Bernard's new museum. Last time I was in Greece the musem was still under construction, but even then I had my doubts. It is no return to form for the man famed with Paris' La Villette. While it had some interesting spaces, and the collection was well laid out, the detailing was nothing special and the lighting was really bad. Spotlights? Who uses spotlights as a means to light large rooms? What is this, a 1980's office block? In fact, the feel of most of the museum is that of an uncompleted carpark.
This is not a poor shot, I spent some time playing so that the image captured the actual light conditions.
That said, the central atrium space is quite impressive, but not enough to save the building. Its reception by Athenian's has been mixed, apparently a block of 1930's class-listed heritage architecture is obstructing the view of the acropolis from the cafe level, so the museum wants to raze some of Athen's finest examples of art deco to improve the view. Apparently Tschumi was well aware of this design limitation before construction and seemed to design a large platform pointing at the backs of the buildings anyway. Said slab is way too heavy, and just out of proportion with everything. Frustratingly, the excavated ancient Athens that lies beneath the building is completely inaccessible, and unlike Zumthor (who delights in ruins), Tschumi seems to treat the remains as a hindrance. I can only imagine it was his decision, I mean, no department for culture would actively reject its own heritage, right (skip to about 1:50)?
The offending building, white, on the lower left.