The contract for the new archaeological museum in Nicosia is expected to be signed between December 14 and 20, with construction work on the project set to begin in early January 2023 and last 42 months, according to plans. As a result, the project is expected to be completed by mid-2026. The tender was won by the consortium IACOVOU-CYFIELD JOINT VENTURE, which bid €120,938,000 plus VAT. The project's total cost, including VAT, is €144 million. The museum's original budget was estimated to be around €110-€115 million. However, inflationary pressures on raw material prices globally, which significantly affected the construction sector, led to an increase in the project's cost to another €5-€10 million. Transport Minister Yannis Karousos told "K" that the project had been awarded, that there had been no appeals, and that contracts would be signed and the project would begin soon. "The fact that the largest project in our budgets is a cultural project says a lot about our strategy, vision, and how much we have prioritized culture," the Transport Minister said speaking to "K".
A landmark museum
The building covers an area of 40,000 square meters, of which 27 thousand square meters are enclosed spaces. It will house 6,000 exhibits and feature a library, a 300-seat auditorium, and a 380-seat parking lot. It also includes a large open space that extends from the Parliament building to the Pediaion River. The new building, according to the project's architect, will stand out for its bioclimatic - energy-efficient design that will ensure energy efficiency and make use of climate data with an emphasis on natural cooling and lighting. It will also have exhibition spaces, educational workshops, maintenance workshops, archaeological storage areas, and visitor gathering areas such as a restaurant and café. The Archaeological Museum, the House of Representatives, the Nicosia Municipal Theatre, the Cyprus Theatre Organisation, the Leventis Gallery, the Castelliotissa Hall, the Town Hall, Eleftherias Square and the Cyprus Library are all within walking distance.
In two stages
The project will be constructed in two stages. The first phase includes permanent and temporary exhibition and storage areas for antiquities, workshops, a restaurant, a cafeteria, a room for educational programs, a museum shop/art shop, as well as a souvenir shop and various ancillary areas, underground parking for 100 vehicles, the construction of a square, and landscaping of the Phase 1 exterior. The library, conference room, and Department of Antiquities offices will be included in Phase 2. Existing buildings will be demolished as part of the project. According to the project design, the museum will be divided into three levels: the City level, which houses the Museum's Central Entrance and is primarily divided into public service areas, a permanent exhibition area from Cypriot Antiquity, a sales area, and the required museum security areas,
- The River level houses supporting workspaces (offices, workshops) as well as public spaces that require independent access (café, Periodic Exhibitions, Amphitheatre), with the functions organized around two atriums at a lower level than the city. Administrative offices, office waiting areas, a kitchen, a cafeteria-restaurant, locker rooms, educational spaces, and a library are also housed here. This level also houses the underground parking area, with vehicle entry and exit on the upper level.
- The basement, with a total area of 7,524 sqm, houses the building's warehouses and mechanical rooms.
The architectural competition for the museum was announced on 11/7/2016, the results were announced on 23/5/2017, and the contract with the architect Theoni Xanthou was signed in March 2019. According to the contract, as project designers, the architectural firm is responsible for the preparation of detailed designs, construction drawings, and documents for a tender for the construction of the first phase of the project, as well as the supervision of the works. The contract includes the demolition of existing buildings as well as support work for the site's listed building. Following project completion, the contractor will be responsible for regular preventative maintenance, with the possibility of extending the agreement for another ten years, subject to negotiation.
The point of reference is not only the cultural upgrading of Nicosia but of Cyprus as a whole, with implications for tourism. The museum is expected to receive 300 visitors per day, with 90% of them being tourists, while the Ministry expects at least one-fifth of all tourists to visit the new Cyprus museum. According to Karousos, the museum will come to offer visitors the experience that is lacking in Nicosia, to impress them before they enter the museum and to offer them the museum experience because technology will offer the element of interactivity and enhancing the experience when visiting the museum space, an element that can enhance the so-called word of mouth among the visitors.
[This article was originally published in Kathimerini's "Oikonomiki" and was translated from its Greek original]