The new Great Egyptian Museum is a monumental cast glass building designed to complement its dramatic desert location, adjacent to the palatial pyramids of Giza. While creating a physical and virtual archeological timeline, its multiple historical periods and cultural themes can be experienced and understood simultaneously.
The main gallery spaces have two simultaneous and overlapping organizational systems: chronological and thematic. This combined gallery organization provides physical and cultural context for the artifacts, allows multiple routes through the museum, and creates opportunities to walk through a particular period or theme while viewing collections from adjacent periods.
At one meter thick, solid exterior walls are made of cast glass slabs stacked like masonry and laminated together. Inspired by the nearby pyramids, the museum is built using massive techniques but doesn’t attempt to replicate the stonework or materiality of these giant edifices. Sand, an abundant building material at the site, is the primary element in glass. The glass used for this project comes from the excavation of sand on site, this allows us to truly make the building from the site rather than import special materials from far away places and try to represent what the site should be. While a glass building in the desert appears seemingly counter-intuitive, a thick glass building is, in fact, ideally suited to meet the curatorial needs of a modern museum both in terms of lighting and temperature control.