Project Title: Science Island
Location: Kaunas, Lithuania
Team: Irgen Salianji, Marina Kounavi, Karolina Szóstkiewicz, Stavria Psomiadi, Antony Laurijsen
Total Area: 13.060 m2
Client: Kaunas City Municipality
Status: Competition Project
The particular landscape condition of the Nemunas Island and the urban presence of the Naujamiestis and Aleksotas areas inspire an original and sensible sloped typology for the Science Centre. Positioned in the heart of the island, the building is shaped as an inviting podium that blends with the landscape in the southern side of the location and raises up to become a landmark on the north side facing the city. Therefore, the building adopts an iconic urban presence from the side of the city, yet it functions as a modest extension of the landscape and the public route from the side of the Park. Holding a central location on the island, the outdoors exhibition spaces of the Science Centre are fragmented and spread throughout its territory in order to create an extended public network for the visitors and define its identity as a Science Island.
The Science Centre is designed as a spatial device that blends the urban and the landscape qualities of the site by being housed under a large publicly accessible sloping roof. The public gesture of the roof makes a strong statement for the future of the island and at the same time it aspires to become a strong meeting place and a platform of large scale activities for the citizens of Kaunas. Expanding the boundaries of contemporary architecture and building technologies, the Science Centre exhibition spaces are organized under the roof in an open-plan and flexible continuous space with high ceilings, in which both large objects can be exhibited and big public events can take place. As a result, the building performs as a context and program-specific condenser for science and technology, while at the same time it introduces a modest landmark in the urban and architectural fabric of Kaunas.
The program of the building is distributed in three large and two small floors decreasing in size from the bottom to the top. On the ground floor, the visitor can find the main entrance and the orientation hall on the north side, the shops and retail spaces adjacent to the entrance and the cafe and restaurant extending to the landscape on the western side. On the eastern side of the ground floor there are located the loading bay and the exhibition preparation spaces, a large freight elevator, toilets – whereas on the southern part are located the back of house and the plant spaces organized in an efficient way. By the use of the escalators of the entrance hall, the visitor can access the first floor of the permanent galleries housing the three topics of the human, nature and the machine. This floor is directly connected with the outdoors exhibition spaces, the landscape and the public roof of the building through a large bridge. On the second floor, the visitors can find the temporary galleries and the event spaces, while enjoying direct views down to the orientation hall and the permanent galleries. The third and forth reduced floors offer panoramic views to the city and the landscape, while housing office spaces and meeting rooms for both staff and visitors.