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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

Massar Children’s Discovery Centre in Damascus, Syria by Henning Larsen Architects

March 19th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal

Article source: Henning Larsen Architects
More projects by Henning Larsen Architects

The Massar Children’s Discovery Centre will be the heart of a Syrian educational programme – Massar. The centre will through science-based, hands-on experiences offer activities to empower young Syrians to contribute actively in building their future.

Massar Children's Discovery Centre - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

  • Architect: Henning Larsen Architects
  • Location: Damascus, Syria
  • Client: Syria Trust for Development
  • Gross floor area: 16,000 m2
  • Year of construction: 2008 – 2013
  • Type of assignment: First prize in competition
  • Landscape architects: Martha Schwartz Partners
  • Engineers: Buro Happold

Massar Children's Discovery Centre - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

The discovery centre has a unique location in the heart of Damascus. The building comprises exhibition, library, education and administration space. The centre will be an integrated main attraction within a new 170,000m² public realm on the site.

Massar Children's Discovery Centre - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

The form is inspired by the unique Damask rose. The proposal suggests a shell structure allowing a playful and dazzling scenography of light into the interior spaces – like light filtering between rose petals. Exhibition and administrative areas are laid out between the rose petals creating interior labyrinth journeys inspired by walks in the old city of Damascus formed by walls with the sky as the window.

Massar Children's Discovery Centre - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

The centre of the rose forms a large communal orientation space. This is where people meet, share knowledge and develop new ideas together – a cross pollination of knowledge. From here series of journeys rise upwards in form of a web of ramps and steps interweaving the public plateau with the upstairs shell structure.

The central vertical movement under the open sky challenges the traditional horizontal movement in the Arab city.

Massar Children's Discovery Centre - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

Sustainable by design

The Massar Children’s Discovery Centre is a low energy building using local materials, skills and resources. Energy loads are reduced passively by shaping the building to keep the sun out.

Massar Children's Discovery Centre - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

The building form and fabric is optimised to reduce requirements for active or operational heating and cooling. The use of and control of solar gain can help significantly reduce energy consumption.

Massar Children's Discovery Centre - Model Public Realm - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

By harnessing and storing solar gain in the winter the amount of heating can be reduced. By shading in summer, cooling loads can be reduced.

Massar Children's Discovery Centre - Unfolding Buildup - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

The project recycles all water in the house, the pump system and the heating of water are driven by solar energy and a geothermal heat system produces the heating for the house. Together with optimum daylight and sun screening the building has a very high environmental level.


North Elevation - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

Section KK - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

Section PP - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

South Elevation - (c) Henning Larsen Architects

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