SCIENCE PLATFORM
Kaunas, Lithuania

Project
Science Center, Research Laboratories

Client
The City of Kaunas

Size
14,000 sqm / 150,000 sqft

Collaborators
Silman

ISLAND CONCEPT

Located on Nemunas Island in Kaunas Lithuania, the Kaunas Science Platform is at once a space for the public and a research station for ongoing scientific exploration. As a platform for innovation and education, the building engages the site as a tool for display and active environmental engagement. Designed as a platform suspended over Nemunas Island and River, the building reframes the space between land, water, and sky. Void forms in the platform create windows to the ground, water, and sky. Solid forms house scientific event and research programs while creating an intricate network of linked vertical and horizontal public spaces casually interrupting large open plan galleries and connecting the platform to the ground. Located part on land and part in water, the building becomes a performative device not only to display scientific achievements, but also observe, measure, and test our impact on the environment.

The project allows Nemunas Island to be completely repurposed into three primary programs and three landscape habitats: Science Center, Amphitheatre, and Arena; with Forest, Grassland, and Wetland - essentially turning the entire island into a scientific nature reserve with public pathways and programs. In the urban context, the siting of the building at the Southwest end of Nemunas Island allows the building to form a bridge between the Old City to the North and the future Convention Center on the South bank of the River forming a new cultural route through Kaunas. The bridge runs directly through the building utilizing its cores as structural support and creating direct linkages for pedestrians to the building. A second pedestrian bridge is aligned with Nemuno Street, bringing the Old City into the Island and the overall pathway network. The three landscape habitats will encourage the regrowth of native flora and fauna. A restorative wetland habitat is used to help cleanse the river of accumulated nitrates and phosphates. All landscapes will be used by the Science Platform for ecological experimentation.

EXTERIOR AND SITE

The Kaunas Science Platform is located at the on the edge of land and water. The elevated position of the building allows dramatic views down and across the river while facilitating urban and park connections with a minimal footprint and maximizing public space. The building is clad in semi-transparent copper mesh. the color relating to the brick and tile roofs of the old city.  This skin unifies the building form yielding an ethereal appearance while revealing spaces behind whether space enclosed with glazing or open voids. During the summer months, the building blends into the landscape with earth tones and a roof planted with native species forming an elevated public garden with views of the river and the old city. In the winter, the copper clad building stands out as a beacon in the snow covered surroundings of Kaunas.

  SECTION CONCEPT   The raised platform allows the landscape of the island to flow beneath the project, framing views to the surrounding city or park. "Windows" in the plan above frame views to the ground or sky, creating moments of observation or contemplation.

SECTION CONCEPT

The raised platform allows the landscape of the island to flow beneath the project, framing views to the surrounding city or park. "Windows" in the plan above frame views to the ground or sky, creating moments of observation or contemplation.

  PLAN CONCEPT   The overall project planning principle is driven by a single elevated open floor plan with the primary Exhibition Program distributed on one level to facilitate cross overs between exhibits while creating a fluid ease of movement between event and exhibition functions. Carved “corespace” casually interrupts the open plan, containing the Vertical Circulation, and primary Event spaces including the Research Laboratories, Experimentorium, and Black Box.

PLAN CONCEPT

The overall project planning principle is driven by a single elevated open floor plan with the primary Exhibition Program distributed on one level to facilitate cross overs between exhibits while creating a fluid ease of movement between event and exhibition functions. Carved “corespace” casually interrupts the open plan, containing the Vertical Circulation, and primary Event spaces including the Research Laboratories, Experimentorium, and Black Box.

  UPPER LEVEL PLAN   The open exhibition plan allows the Temporary Galleries and the Permanent Human, Machine, and Ecology Galleries to juxtapose and overlap as the content in each gallery is intimately affected by the other. The flexibility of the plan allows for future reconfiguration of the floor plan as needs change or for larger or smaller temporary exhibitions. The Lobby, Planetarium, Café, and Offices are all located within the open plan to facilitate cross referencing of content.

UPPER LEVEL PLAN

The open exhibition plan allows the Temporary Galleries and the Permanent Human, Machine, and Ecology Galleries to juxtapose and overlap as the content in each gallery is intimately affected by the other. The flexibility of the plan allows for future reconfiguration of the floor plan as needs change or for larger or smaller temporary exhibitions. The Lobby, Planetarium, Café, and Offices are all located within the open plan to facilitate cross referencing of content.

SPATIAL CONCEPT

Conceptually the project is divided into two contrasting spatial conditions - solid vertical cores are juxtaposed with a lightly framed horizontal floor plate. The solid cores contain publicly accessible spaces carved out of poche. Where carved, this “corespace” is clad with sheets of copper and marks the various entry and exit points into the building. The lightly framed horizontal floor plate is wrapped by a semi-transparent copper mesh with glazing strategically located to frame views for various programs.

SECTION PERSPECTIVE AT GALLERY AND CORESPACE

ENTRANCE LOBBY

  SKYROOM CORE AND TERRACE   Voids in the floor plate create contemplative viewing "rooms" to the sky and landscape.

SKYROOM CORE AND TERRACE

Voids in the floor plate create contemplative viewing "rooms" to the sky and landscape.

APPROACH

The building is approached via a cobblestone pathway that brings visitors to the main entrance where they enter the “corespace” via stair or elevator and ascend to the lobby centrally located in the horizontal floorplate. 

CHANGE MADE VISIBLE

While functioning in the urban context as a bridge between the two sides of the river the building is also is a means to engage the wetland habitat at the South side of the Island. The spaces carved into the Science Platform’s building cores provides both permanent and temporal access to the river with submersible terraces located in the restorative wetland habitat. Researchers and the public can access and use the wetland and terraces for exhibits, experiments, and demonstrations while making the changes in the river water level visible. 

  MATERIALS AND STRUCTURE   The horizontal volume rests on several cast-in-place concrete cores. Due to the proximity to the river and the consolidated load paths, deep foundations in the form of driven piles are envisioned subject to geotechnical investigations. A steel space frame at the roof level provides a light weight superstructure solution accommodating long spans of the horizontal form while providing ample mechanical space.  Floor beams and deck are suspended from the space frame with tubular steel hangers.  The space frame will expedite erection and provide a cost-effective solution, reducing the weight of the building cantilevers.The project is comprised of four primary materials. A copper metal mesh that gives the building an ethereal effect, triple glazing, concrete, and copper sheets in the “corespace” areas

MATERIALS AND STRUCTURE

The horizontal volume rests on several cast-in-place concrete cores. Due to the proximity to the river and the consolidated load paths, deep foundations in the form of driven piles are envisioned subject to geotechnical investigations. A steel space frame at the roof level provides a light weight superstructure solution accommodating long spans of the horizontal form while providing ample mechanical space.  Floor beams and deck are suspended from the space frame with tubular steel hangers.  The space frame will expedite erection and provide a cost-effective solution, reducing the weight of the building cantilevers.The project is comprised of four primary materials. A copper metal mesh that gives the building an ethereal effect, triple glazing, concrete, and copper sheets in the “corespace” areas