Museum at Emre Arolat Architecture-designed archaeological hotel set to open
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The excavation findings surpassed everyone’s expectations but also brought many hurdles: How do you build on a site that you can’t even stand on?
– Sabiha Asfuroğlu Abbasoğlu

The public Museum at The Museum Hotel Antakya, which was designed by Emre Arolat Architecture (EAA) to be built over an archaeological site spanning 23 centuries of history, is due to open in Turkey.

Having originally planned to build a 400-room hotel on their land, the Asfuroğlu family behind the development had to rethink their approach when foundation work in 2009 uncovered findings that led to a one-and-a-half year, 200-person excavation.

The excavation revealed five layers of history spanning 13 civilisations, 30,000 ancient artefacts, including the world’s largest single piece mosaic floor from the 4th century and the first marble sculpture of Eros to be found in one piece.

Sabiha Asfuroğlu Abbasoğlu, CEO of the Tourism and Hotel Division at Asfuroğlu Group, explained to CLAD that the ambition was to still build a hotel, despite the challenges involved.

"The excavation findings surpassed everyone’s expectations but also brought many hurdles: How do you build on a site that you can’t even stand on? The national and international search began for a visionary designer to create a structure that preserved the artefacts below while creating a luxury hotel above."

The solution, which came from EAA, was to suspend the hotel above the archaeological site, which would both create a unique place to stay and help to protect the artefacts below.

In addition, it would allow for the creation of an archaeological park with bridges and ramps around the site that would give the public closer views of the remains.

A 34,000sq m (366,000sq ft) frame was built, comprising 66 steel columns that were strategically placed in hand-dug holes where there were no artefacts.

The frame accommodates 200 rooms across three floors, with glass panels and open-air walkways that provide views of the discoveries below.

Asfuroğlu Abbasoğlu said: "The relationship between the archaeological site and the public spaces, general space and the rooms has shaped the features of the mezzanines and roof terraces and the structure and all its functions.

"The main canopy that is supported by the columns became both an upper cover marking the archaeological site and a platform for the hotel’s event, dining and entertainment spaces which are enriched with landscaping.

"This platform, which overlooks St. Pierre and the city, is inspired by the Antakyan people’s enjoyment of outdoor terraces. The gaps in the surface of the platform allow light to enter under the canopy and ensure continuous visual contact with the archaeological remains across all areas of ​​the hotel."

Rooms at the hotel provide views onto the artefacts below and out to the surrounding Habibi Neccar mountains.

There's also a four-bedroom residence with private lift access, a sun terrace, a walled garden, a boardroom and a kitchen.

Guests also have access to a 3,300sq m (36,000sq ft) rooftop wellness centre with a gym, a studio for classes, an outdoor infinity pool, an indoor pool with a jacuzzi and a bathhouse.

The hotel opened earlier this year, with the museum due to open in January 2020.

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The public museum at The Museum Hotel Antakya, which was designed by Emre Arolat Architecture (EAA) to be built over an archaeological site spanning 23 centuries of history, is due to open in Turkey.
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