Location: Kaunas, Lithuania
Client: Kaunas Municipality
Date: 2016 Competition
Area: Building: 9.625m2 – Landscape 10.935m2
AZPML Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Maider Llaguno-Munitxa, Ivaylo Nachev, Paolo Toldo, Amaya Luzarraga, Sami Yakhlef, Diego Grisalena, Irene Abellan
The building is located in a park, and takes advantage of the natural slope of the park to maximize accessibility and visual interaction between the building and its surrounding landscape.
The building aims to become integrated with the topography – a common trait of Kaunas traditional buildings – making the building´s roof into a public belvedere over the city.
The extensive green roof, 81 x 81m, will become a very important landmark for the city, by becoming a distinctive topographical device, and will become a beloved enclave for Kaunas´s citizens. The gently sloped roof will create a theatrical open space suitable to host public events, or simply to enable people to look at Kaunas from a vantage point. Covered with a green roof, it will enable Kaunas´s citizens to enjoy a very pleasant environment. The vertical enclosures are transparent to give people a glimpse of what is on offer in the Centre, creating a feeling of openness for those accessing the site from the city centre. The building will appear as a huge canopy under which the Museum treasures are contained within a magically warping Pandora box. Wood, Glass and vegetation will constitute the noble material palette of the building.
We have adopted a very compact footprint, a square, in order to optimize the environmental performance of the building, trying to minimize the envelope ratio. The building has been placed in parallel to the parking platform for the arena, ensuring that one of its corners points toward the Mickevičiaus bridge, as the main entrance point to the Island.
We have avoided the customary palette of artificial materials in science centres to embrace more earthy and organically textured materials: We aimed to provide a more natural atmosphere as the stage of the public’s interaction with Science: science and nature are increasingly entangled in the Anthropocene. We have used timber as the primary building material for the building, both for aesthetic and ecological reasons. A series of timber V-columns have been located along the 4 facades, to provide cross-bracing to the structure, while enhancing the lightness of the large roof, which is proposed to be built with a Cross-laminated Timber Gridshell, which will be a dominant pattern across the Galleries, connecting them architecturally. The other factor of consistency across the rooms if the floors, proposed in oak. Our emphasis in the use of timber is a reference to the traditional buildings in Kaunas, where there is an important tradition of wooden construction which we are aiming to recall.