FacadeXS solutions for the world famous Grand Egyptian Museum

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is best known for its large collection of artifacts from ancient Egypt. The collection includes several world renowned objects, such as the golden death mask of King Tutankhamun. In 2018, all objects from the museum will be relocated to a new location.

The Grand Egyptian Museum

Currently, a brand new state of the art museum, designed by heneghan peng architects, is being constructed just outside the Egyptian capital, Cairo. The site is located in the Giza district, approximately two kilometers (1.2 miles) west of the pyramids and near a crucial motorway interchange.

The new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is a $795 million project and will comprise over 480.000 m2 (5,200,000 ft2) of gross floor area. Next to a large reserved area for permanent exhibition (approximately 24.000 m2/258,333 ft2), the Grand Egyptian Museum will also include a children’s museum, conference center, training center and workshops similar to the old Pharaonic places.

The design of the GEM is defined by a 50 meter (164 feet) level difference, following the contours of the Egyptian desert, formed by the Nile. This is reflected in the interior design of the museum, existing of a large corridor system, all connected by one main stairway.

Construction is scheduled to be completed before the grand public opening that is planned by mid-2018.

Our FacadeXS solutions

XSPlatforms had to come up with a solution that perfectly suited the needs and wishes of the client. To be specific, a solution that provides perfect access to the extensive glass facades (interior and exterior), without harming the visitors’ experience while touring the museum and guaranteeing maximum accessibility with minimum impact.

Due its scale, the GEM is divided in various subparts. Each requiring a different solution when it comes to window cleaning and facade maintenance. Below, we will explain a large part of what XSPlatforms has developed for which specific part of the building.

Pyramid Gable

The location of the Grand Egyptian Museum is characterized by its view of the iconic pyramids. To guarantee visitors with a view that is clear at all times, it is of utmost importance to have the windows on the pyramid side of the museum maintained and clean.

Because of its open structure, this part the facade is divided into 6 different parts. Each part will be provided with two XS127 (inclining) monorail tracks, one for interior and one for exterior maintenance. All systems combined comprise over 362 meters (1187 feet) of monorail track.

For glass replacement purposes, all exterior tracks are designed to be used with a self-hoisting gondola and specially designed Glass Replacement Unit (GRU) system with a lifting capacity of 450 kilograms (992 lbs).

Entrance Court

The interior of the large Entrance Court provided a challenge for our design team. This part of the building is set be heavily crowded at all times of the day and therefore required a solution where visitors are not hindered during their visit.

Again, the open view structure in combination with the crowdedness of the Entrance Court drove us to come up with 7 different installed systems. Various XS127 monorails are integrated into the ceiling structure for both abseil and gondola restraint purposes.

Three of these systems will be used in combination with a self-hoisting gondola and due to the inclining nature of these facades, they will all be equipped with a mullion guide restraint system. This restraint system is enables the gondola to keep close to the facade at all times.

Grand stair bridges

Another important part of the building are the Grand Stairs. This stairway leads visitors from the Entrance Court on ground level towards the highest point of the museum on level three.

On the third level of the museum, a set of two Grand Stair Bridges are installed that cross the main Grand Stairs and give visitors a total view of the interior of this building.

With one straight and one outwards sloping facade, the bridges provided us with a challenge. Our solution is to install 2 separate XS133 (horizontal) monorail systems on each bridge: a total of 4 systems. One system to provide access to the straight facade via a self-hoisting gondola with GRU (max. load of 250 kg/551 lbs) and a special abseil monorail for the sloping side of the bridge.

The 4 systems combined have total to a track length of 120 meters (394 feet).

Cairo Light Court

An important part of the building’s design is the Cairo Light Court. As its name suggests, this courtyard delivers a large portion of daylight inside the building and due to its large glass surface, it will be easily exposed to the desert environment and therefore requires regular cleaning.

Both the interior and exterior of the glass facades will be accessed via XS127 type monorail systems. At its highest point, on the exterior monorail system, it will have a maximum lifting height of 25 meters (82 feet). Both systems combined have a total of 302 meters (991 feet) of monorail track installed on 129 (interior) and 127 (exterior) brackets.

Parts of the installed systems will be used for abseiling, while other parts are for the use of the self-hoisting gondolas. Also, two of those abseiling systems are equipped with a GRU with a lifting capacity of 450 kilograms (992 lbs).

Additionally, the roof of the Cairo Light Court will also be equipped with 2 separate monorail systems. Again, one for interior access and one exterior access. These systems both have a maximum lifting height of approximately 40 meters (131 feet).


Above the museum and the conference part of the building, roof lights are integrated in the ceiling. These roof lights provide the inside of the building with natural sunlight during the day.

The client requested for a solution to replace the glass in these roof lights when necessary. Because the location of the glass canopies aren’t suitable for access via a monorail system, XSPlatforms designed two custom gantry bridges for these tight areas.

Each traversing gantry bridge fits perfectly in between the area of the roof light and roof structure. Because of the triangular shape of the roof lights, the gantry bridges must adjust in width (extend) when traversing along the track. A manually operated telescopic system provides this possibility. The gantry bridges have a maximum width of 7.1 meters (23 feet).

Fall protection

Besides all the interior and exterior facade access equipment solutions, we will provide roof safety as well. As a one-stop-shop for safe working at height, XSPlatforms designed several custom horizontal lifeline systems for fall arrest purposes.

These systems are designed according the latest EN795 standard and will be specially produced for this project.

Overview of specifications

The complexity and diversity of this project does not allow us to explain all systems to you in just one article. The solutions we described above is just a selection of the work that XSPlatforms will do.

A summary of all the work for the Grand Egyptian Museum:

  • 52 different XS127 inclining monorail tracks.
  • Total track length of approx. 3600 meters (11 811 feet) of XS127 monorail track.
  • 8 different XS133 horizontal monorail tracks.
  • Total track length of approx. 523 meters (1715 feet) of XS133 monorail track.
  • Includes 16 pieces of (2-person) self-hoisting gondolas with XSClimber hoisting devices.
  • Gondolas are interchangeable between systems and strategically spread throughout the building.
  • 16 systems for Rope Access purposes (with abseil trolleys).
  • 24 monorail tracks suitable for GRU use.
  • Glass Replacement Units with max. loads of 250 and 450 kg (551 and 992 lbs).
  • 2 traversing (telescopic) gantry bridges.
  • 3 custom XSLinked fall arrest systems.