This building is located in the Mediterranean city of Thessaloniki, Greece. From the sun-path diagrams below, it can be seen that this building receives a lot of sunlight throughout the year, this includes both the high, intense and hot summer sun and the less intense daylight during the winter.
An architectural competition was held in Greece in 1977, which was won by Kyriakos Krokos and construction began in 1989. The eleven rooms of the museum's permanent exhibition opened to the public progressively from 1997 to 2004. The daylighting strategy was paramount to the form of the 12,000m2 building. The building is situated on the site so that it is free on all sides, therefore there are no obstructions to block any light from the sun. The building is designed around a series of courtyards which allow light to penetrate the interior of the building from many different angles while loggias provide shade to the exterior. The red-brick infill panels and concrete surfaces have been left exposed in the courtyards and circulation areas. This, along with the terracotta painted surfaces adjust and prohibit glare in these spaces. Although this building's design is quite simple, it was cleverly thought out in order to create a brilliant and very effective result. The design also reflects the traditional style of architecture found in Greece. It was built with natural Greek materials and the series of courtyards mirror the local vernacular architecture.
Natural lighting is used sparingly in order to facilitate the function of the building - to preserve and protect the ancient artefacts held in the museum. However the result of this in the circulation areas is that it creates interesting views throughout the building which adds to the atmosphere and experience of the occupant. This also aids in sheltering the building from direct sunlight and keeping it cool. Two sets of clerestory windows allow light into the galleries. These windows are screened by vertical fins whose angle varies with orientation. The roofs on two of the square galleries are of octagonal pitch and are half glazed with horizontal sliding screens. This allows for further control over the lighting and the avoidance of discomfort. The smaller low level windows are limited to the walls of the circulation spaces.
Overhead glazing brings daylight into the spaces below which is then reflected off the pale grey marble floors and the ceilings and walls which are finished in white painted plaster. This makes the light more uniform while also creating an illusion of a bigger and cooler space. This strategy also provides blue skylight for the occupants. There is a manual artificial lighting system in place for when natural lighting levels are too low. This is contained within the same structure as the air-conditioning system, however natural ventilation is avoided due to the nature of the objects on display, and so a more controlled fashion has been opted for.
The architect has responded to the local climate by putting systems in place to block out the intense Mediterranean sunlight which causes both thermal and visual discomfort. The materials themselves cool the building and refract light while the shades block out the direct sunlight. This museum uses courtyards and surface finishes, combined with shading to respond to the local climate. These elements allow enough, but not too much light in, and then distribute this light in a uniform and diffuse manner in order to provide the perfect setting for its occupants to view the objects on display without experiencing discomfort. The courtyards, as used in many hot climates, enhance ventilation in the colonnade-like circulation spaces and provide shade which creates a cooling effect and also the illusion of cooling.