Rooms with a view: the surprising case of the Museum Hotel Antakya

Place: Antakya, Country: Turkey
Architectural Design: Emre Arolat Architecture
Exhibition Design: Pattu

Hotel Museum Antakya, Emre Arolat Architecture, exterior 1

The Museum Hotel Antakya in southern Turkey; photo courtesy of Emre Arolat Architecture.

Rooms with a view: the surprising case of the Museum Hotel Antakya

Once known as Antioch, the city of Antakya, in southern Turkey, is world-famous for its magnificent Roman mosaics.
In 2009, several exceptionally well-preserved mosaics were discovered near the city center during the construction of a new five-star hotel. Construction works were immediately halted to conduct a thorough survey of the just-discovered archaeological site and to elaborate a strategy about its future development. Usually, these kinds of discoveries lead to the impossibility to build as planned, if not to build at all, on the site; since the preservation of the archaeological area is hardly compatible with a large modern building like a luxury hotel.
Yet. This time things went differently, leading to a rare example of the challenging and dangerous cohabitation of a private business and a public cultural institution under one roof.

Hotel Museum Antakya, Emre Arolat Architecture, archeological site

The archeological site; photo courtesy of Museum Hotel Antakya.

The architectural project
The effort has succeeded also thanks to the Turkish firm Emre Arolat Architecture, to whom the private client – after discarding the original design, which had become unfeasible – asked to design a building capable to integrate a protected archaeological site with a large contemporary hotel.
The solution devised by Emre Arolat was to make the hotel rooms “float” over the archaeological excavations by hanging them up on a huge metal framework. The rooms are contained in prefabricated boxes fastened to large steel beams supported by 66, carefully positioned, circular columns. This way, it has been possible to build a large hotel without harming the great mosaics underneath on which, for conservation reasons, people can’t even stand on.

 

Hotel Museum Antakya structure

The structure of the building consists of a large steel frame to which many prefabricated modules, each housing a hotel room, are fastened.

Hotel Museum Antakya, Emre Arolat Architecture, diagram 1

Supported by 66 columns, the hotel “floats” over the archeological site.

Hotel Museum Antakya, Emre Arolat Architecture, plan

Museum Hotel Antakya, typical floor plan.

Hotel Museum Antakya, Emre Arolat Architecture, exterior 3

Close-up of the north facade with a group of prefabricated room modules. Images courtesy of Emre Arolat Architecture.

The archeological museum
Transformed into the Necmi Asfuroğlu Archaeology Museum, the 2,000-square-meter / 21,500-square-foot archaeological site, opened to the public in 2019, is crossed by a network of footbridges, suspended a few meters over the excavations, from which the visitors can admire the findings without touching them. One of the most famous artifacts on view is a 4th-century mosaic – which, with an area of 1,050 square meters, is reputed the world’s largest single-piece Roman mosaic – whose peculiar wavy surface is the consequence of earthquakes and tectonic deformations that occurred in the area over the course of sixteen centuries. Along with the mosaics, the museum comprises the remains of various buildings, including a 5th-century Roman Baths and a villa, statues, and sculptural objects, together with videos and 3D projections.

According to the owner, construction costs of the hotel, renamed Museum Hotel Antakya, rose to four times the original estimate, and the building completion had been delayed by years; as a reward, though, the hotel’s lobby and some rooms open directly onto the archaeological area. Rooms with a view, definitely.

Antakya, Turkey, world's largest Roman mosaic

A team of archaeologists working on the undulating surface of the 4th-century great mosaic, the world’s largest single-piece Roman mosaic; photo courtesy of Emre Arolat Architecture.

Antakya, Pegasus mosaic

The so-called Pegasus Mosaic, dating back to the 2nd century CE; photo courtesy of Hotel Museum Antakya.

Hotel Museum Antakya, Emre Arolat Architecture, interior 1

Some of the hotel rooms provide spectacular views of the archaeological site; photo courtesy of Emre Arolat Architecture.


Picture gallery

Hotel Museum Antakya, Emre Arolat Architecture, exterior 2

The east side of the building with the entrance of the Necmi Asfuroğlu Archaeology Museum; image courtesy of Petrucci Marco Lighting Design.

Hotel Museum Antakya, Emre Arolat Architecture, exterior 4

The north facade of the hotel with Mount Starius in the background.

Hotel Museum Antakya, Emre Arolat Architecture, room

One of the rooms of the hotel; photo courtesy of Museum Hotel Antakya.

Hotel Museum Antakya, Turkey, Emre Arolat Architecture

Along with some rooms, also the lobby and the lounge area of the hotel open onto the archaeological site.

Hotel Museum Antakya, Emre Arolat Architecture, archaeological site 1

Necmi Asfuroğlu Archaeology Museum, Antakya, permanent exhibition

Necmi Asfuroğlu Archaeology Museum, Antakya, permanent exhibition 2

Views of the permanent exhibition of the Necmi Asfuroğlu Archaeology Museum, which also includes the archeological site under the hotel; photos courtesy of Pattu Architects.


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Museums of archaeology and archaeological sites around the world

Museums of archaeology and archaeological sites around the world

Museums of archaeology and archaeological sites around the world



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