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papalampropoulos syriopoulou

metaphysical plateau

Status: Architectural Competition/ Region of Peloponnese
Program: New Archaeological Museum of Sparta

Area: 9,600 sq.m.

Year: 2019

Location: Sparta, Greece

Architect: Leonidas Papalampropoulos, Georgia Syriopoulou

Team: Yiannis Aivatzidis (architecture student)

Structural engineer: Marinos Kattis



The New Archaeological museum of Sparta contemplates on the significance of the ancient city of Sparta in the contemporary context. The proposal introduces the notion of the Metaphysical Plateau as a conceptual and spatial tool.

PLATEAU | A flat piece of land on high altitude surrounded by a mountain range. The function of the gaze attains a privileged role allowing for the unification of space and time (during wartime the plateau provides the simultaneous supervision of space and the advantage of time).

METAPHYSICS | The interpretation of the fundamental nature of "BEING" - The attempt to understand and clarify notions such as TIME and SPACE. If time is considered as "the ambiguous movement of existence and events in the past, present and future”, we can question its fundamentals by multiple observation points.

SPARTA-ATHENS | The question of what Sparta represents in the contemporary context is linked with the definition of the model Greek city within the contemporary western civilization through the contrast between Athens and Sparta, which can be reduced to the clash between life and death: if Athens can be considered the city of life (peace - knowledge) then Sparta emerges as the city of death (war - the unknown).

The safeguarding of life in the paradigm of Athens (the walled city) results in a fear of death. In contrary, death in Sparta (city without walls) is an indispensable part of the political sphere. It is not considered with fear rather with desire.

Conceptual framework

METAPHYSICAL PLATEAU | The metaphysical plateau assembles an architectural apparatus which attempts to condense all times and places through the wandering gaze in time and space with the advantageous position of the plateau. It functions as a conceptual and architectural tool in order to create a spatial analogy between the issue of death as desire and our perception of the ancient city of Sparta.

The proposal forms an elevated terrace which is directly accessible from the ramps along the two sides of the building. A bilateral amphitheatrical space leads to the highest point where one can wander in the cypress and sculpture garden while maintaining a visual connection with the city of Sparta, the surrounding landscape and the mountain range of Taygetos.

The plateau becomes a space of “catharsis” which signifies the end of the museum narrative.

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Metaphysical Plateau

IN SITUM | The landscaping of the site was defined by the existing and future archaeological excavations. By applying the archaeological grid and aligning the main entrance to the axis of the unearthed ancient route, the design attempts to map the palimpsest of the site and its gradual evolution into the new architectural formulation.

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The main entrance of the Archaeological Museum.

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Morphological elements



The design brief requested for the preservation of the main façade of the Zenetos designed factory of «ΧΥΜΟΦΙΞ». Therefore, the new building mass and the geometrical definition of the plateau were defined by its presence. The design unfolds longitudinally along the north axis within the silhouette of «ΧΥΜΟΦΙΞ» in order to highlight the preserved elevation.

The respect for the morphological elements and industrial architecture of the former factory led to the design of a neutral canvas that frames the preserved part within a single “ascetic” gesture with references to the history of modern architecture: a glass tile double skin encompasses the old structure within the new, while a vertical interior route between the two entities defines the main entrance lobby of the museum.

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The entrance lobby of the museum.


Circulation space.

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