Though their proposal didn't win the competition, Kengo Kuma and Associates and K-Studio created a memorable design for the expansion of the National Archeological Museum in Athens, Greece. Titled Unearth, the underground extension looks like it was formed by slightly raising the earth as a tent for archeological treasures.
The idea is that the design evokes the concept of buried treasure in an effort to remind the public of the museum's history. “The slit-like opening by lifting the earth would evoke curiosity and draw visitors into the deep spacious underground realm as if one would be discovering, submerging, maneuvering among the artifacts in their buried state,” explain the architects.
A museum garden stretching over the entire expanse of the lifted earth roof almost appears as a floating garden to pedestrians on the sidewalk. Sitting at the same level as the existing building, the lush landscape would provide continuity between the current building and the new expansion.
Below, in the warm and earthy interior, visitors are greeted by an enormous open space that is partially illuminated by a large clerestory. This opening allows natural light to penetrate the space. The column-free interior is quite different than the linear exhibition spaces in the existing building. The open floor plan allows for both permanent and temporary exhibitions and would mean the museum could show large sculptures that are difficult to display in the existing museum.
While a more conventional design by David Chipperfield Architects ultimately won the commission, we can't help but admire the bold architecture proposed by Kengo Kuma and Associates and K-Studio.