Raphael Moneo's Museum of Roman Theater in Cartegena, Spain looks like a place of wonder--an elegant intervention of contemporary design in order to preserve the memories of an ancient civilization. At first glance, the solution appears overtly elementary, but upon closer inspection, the colors and textures and subtitles of the architecture intend to become a visceral and intensely haptic experience. The new architecture is not overpowering though, choosing to recede into a a role of being a backdrop and allow the spirit of the place to shine through. Enough words... just watch the pictures and enjoy!
plaza level plan
amphitheater level plan
upper gallery level plan
street level view
In Cartagena, Moneo seems to have been conscious of a city formed by memories, as well as a city shaped by the present. He opted to restore the 18th-century Riquelme Palace and allow it to form a dialogue with the town hall of Cartagena, a building begun in 1900. His new addition to it, which houses the first part of the Roman Theater Museum, while clearly modern in materials and form, is recessed to allow the palace a prominent place on the square. The museum’s exhibition galleries are located in a second building that respects the scale of the city, but its textured stone facade, punctuated by relatively few windows, is clearly a 21st-century building. The restoration of the Roman theater itself, the result of the difficult and delicate strategy of adding new to old, does not compromise the old—with additions that are capable of being reversed, if need be. Throughout, visitors can move easily and honestly between past and present.
portion of the new gallery
bridge over the protected ruins