The Akhetaten Visitors Centre and Gardens, El Amarna, Egypt

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Case Study Details

The Supreme Council of Antiquities, Cairo, Egypt

Client’s Requirements

The Akethaten Visitors Centre is a small part of the long term archaeological works carried out at the famous Al Amarna lost city.  The objective was to allow Nile tourists and Academics to visit Middle Egypt safely and experience the scale, importance and finds at the El Amarna site.  The Visitors Centre complex also included conservation laboratories, artefact magazine, offices and study spaces.  The project was a joint collaboration between The Supreme Council for Antiquities in Egypt and Cambridge University (Cantabria) School of Archaeology.

Silcock Leedham’s Contribution

Silcock Leedham was appointed as the MEP engineers for the new Amarna Visitors Centre and Gardens.  Our expertise not only included high quality MEP design and advice, but also included  modular construction design to minimise the amount of on-site expertise required.

We also consulted with local conservationists and specialist from Cambridge University to establish internal environmental conditions, air filtration requirements, UV and lighting control systems and ‘excavation to presentation’ process requirements.

The visitors centre fit-out works was designed to offer a unique and dynamic experience that would appeal to lay people as well as ‘hard-core’ academics.  The use of hi-tech ‘interactives’ were precluded and a simpler internal experience was developed using simple but effective lighting techniques based on reflected day-light and low energy light fittings with ‘one-loop’ audio playback.

Added Value / Unique Selling Points

Silcock Leedham worked closely with specialist Egyptian Antiquities architect Michael Mallinson and the Supreme Council in Egypt to establish conservation requirements, environmental criteria and construction methodologies.

The project was constructed using local labour and, as far as possible, local materials and resources, meaning creative and innovative design solutions were required.    This was achieved by modularising the HVAC installation and using simple unsophisticated equipment.  Use was made of ‘wet fabric desert coolers’ (adiabatic cooling using local clean water supply and utilising the thermodynamic process of natural evaporation) rather than refrigerant based water chillers and comfort cooling systems.