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Museum of Troy: A Magnificent Box Full of Mysterious History

Posted by
on February 23, 2019 at 02:19 PM

© Courtesy of internet resources

The Museum of Troy, as it is called, has been seen in recent news after its formal inauguration in October 2018, pictures of its unusual structure evoking varied reactions. To an unprepared eye, it may appear as a huge shipping container languishing unused in a yard! But, closer examination will reveal an imposing building masquerading in a veil of Corten steel slats, digging into the earth to accommodate a subterranean floor and rising four floors above the ground. The cladding of weathering steel on the simple cubic form was chosen by the designers to resemble an excavated historical artefact. It certainly makes for an impactful presence in the surrounding wispy landscape.

© Courtesy of internet resources

The building is entered by a wide ramp down at its lowest underground level, which spreads to a vast expanse beyond the footprint of the superstructure. It holds the entrance hall, café and restaurant, retail facilities, conservation labs, museum storage, and exhibition spaces of varied nature that include little niches in the concrete finished wall along the entrance ramp.

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

The ramps then continue upwards, leading visitors to the exhibits on upper floors, wrapped along the inner faces of the exterior walls of the cubic superstructure. A total of 2000 sq ft of display space has been accommodated in the museum in which five eras of Turkish history can be explored by the visitors, layer by layer. The exhibits date as far back as the earliest contact made between Asia and the Mediterranean and are available as a result of excavations being carried out at the site since 1870.  From the final floor, the ramps lead further upward to the rooftop from where a panoramic view of the excavation site of Troy can be enjoyed.

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

The interiors of the museum are very basic where walls and other surfaces have bare unfinished concrete surfaces. This helps in training the focus on the exhibits and also, perhaps, enhances the general aura of mysterious ancient ruins. Ornamentation in the décor is extremely restricted to elements like light fixtures or chandeliers which are few as well as minimal and contemporary in terms of design. 

© Courtesy of internet resources

A remarkable quality of daylighting seems to have been achieved through various techniques that include huge skylight strips along the edges which light up the exhibits around the walls. The manner in which the exterior Corten steel cladding strips pierce through some apertures to enter the interiors exemplifies the many techniques that have been used to punctuate the fine balance between monumentality and intimacy, This is also delineated by the occasional rows of little square glazed windows placed at a seemingly random location among the Corten steel panels of the exterior which afford sweeping views of the excavated ruins of legendary Troy. A spurt of subtlety and relatability reaches out through an otherwise grandiose scheme, albeit in a very well calibrated arrangement.

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

The language of the Museum of Troy’s architecture is, indeed, very powerful and arresting, invoking involuntary comparisons of other great museums around the world. The upturned cone becomes another basic geometrical form - a cube, the horizontal spiralling façade bands turn vertical  Corten steel strips, the ramp down the exhibits reverts to a ramp upwards – is this an anagram of FLW’s masterful design for the Guggenheim Museum in New York? One wonders. For, definitely at the least, it demonstrates the possibility of a meaningful evolution of the greatest masterpieces into a paraphrase powerful enough to revel in their own individuality. Well, through this impressive display of the rich history of Troy, Turkey has surely added a strong attraction for tourists to consider putting it on their bucket list.  

© Courtesy of internet resources

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