First excavated in 1912 under the University of Liverpool, the Meroe Royal Baths are now the focus of a joint research project between the German Archaeological Institute and the National Corporation for Antiques and Museums. Dating back to the first century AD, the complex is thought to have serviced two nearby palaces from the great African Kingdom of Kush in what is now modern-day Sudan. Located 200 kilometers north-east of Khartoum, the ancient city of Meroe sits on the eastern bank of the Nile and is still today marked by temples, palaces and more than two hundred pyramids. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, the ruins of Meroe are considered to be a great testimony to the vast cultural exchange of art, architecture, religion, and language that once took place between the Mediterranean and Africa.
Expanding upon the theme of conservation, Kéré Architecture has proposed a protective shelter that keeps and celebrates the architectural heritage of the site. Made with local clay and stone, the simple shape of the shelter offers a contemporary yet understated design with the added advantage of long-term durability. A 60 centimeter thick wall of mud brick not only offers protection against eroding winds and outside forces, it also aids in maintaining a stable interior climate. Vaulted brick ceilings and courtyards help to promote natural ventilation and humidity control inside, creating an optimal condition for the artifacts. A series of partially-suspended walkways offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the historic ruins, which include a bathing pool, an opulently decorated wall, and an exedra with four majestic seats. To minimize damage to the ruins, a sophisticated combination of foundations and structural systems will work together to support all new construction. Furthermore, the shelter will maintain its structural stability while allowing for further research and excavation to continue.