Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
National Museum Of Marine Science And Technology in Keelung, Taiwan by Foster + Partners
September 4th, 2017 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Foster + Partners
The National Museum of Marine Science and Technology (NMMST), located in the northern Taiwanese city of Keelung, is a key part of the regional vision for a marine educational and recreational park. Combining innovative aquarium design that provides an immersive experience for the audience with an unmatched location alongside the harbour, the project aims to create an exciting new destination for both tourists and the local community.
Drawing on the region’s history of squid fishing, the building is orientated to face Badouzi harbour, and has been ‘pulled apart’ to create connections at ground level through the building between the waterfront and the fishing village to the east of the site. Conceived as a social hub for the community, the museum’s focal point will be a new public courtyard at its heart, which contains a museum shop, café and ticketing areas, along with a floating Ray pool directly above, giving visitors a taste of the immersive museum experience.
The design breaks away from the traditional museum box, to create a building that is designed from the inside-out, offering glimpses of the interior functions on the outside. The façades – composed primarily of titanium and glass – vary in texture and transparency to indicate the diverse aquatic species contained in different sections of the building. This allows varying degrees of sunlight into the tanks in consonance with the natural habitats of the animals. The piranha tank also faces outward on the western corner of the building, facing the pedestrian plaza on the edge of the harbour.
Organised as a series of interconnected spaces of different scales, the aquariums occupy two blocks separated by the public plaza on the ground floor. The south block is the freshwater aquarium, which contains a cylindrical, three-storey Biodome showcasing the diversity of Amazonian flora and fauna in a single container. Visitors enter at the lowest level, surrounded by aquatic animals and fish as they walk through a tunnel below the tank. Travelling up through the building, they enter a cave that looks onto the tropical vegetation, eventually rising to the top which is populated with native butterflies. Here, the visitors enter the Biodome amongst the treetops for a multi-sensory experience of the equatorial forest.
The north block is dedicated to marine life, with the centrepiece being the Open Ocean Tank, which contains almost two million cubic-metres of seawater. Starting at the top level, visitors are treated to a behind-the-scenes introduction of how the aquarium staff take care of the diverse aquatic species. A half-tunnel leads down to the Coral Fish Habitat, bringing alive the vivid palette of colours from the coral reef. As the final showpiece, visitors get a panoramic view of life in the ocean through a 10 metre x 8 metre viewing screen that looks onto the entire tank, with a restaurant on the upper level where visitors can enjoy a meal, as if immersed within the tank.
A new benchmark for aquariums worldwide, the museum building is designed to attain a Gold certification from the Taiwanese Green Building Code, using seawater to cool the building, along with photovoltaic panels on the roof to generate electricity. 75 percent of the aquatic animals in the aquarium will be local north-eastern Taiwanese species. In addition, working alongside local universities and research institutions, special displays devoted to marine sustainability and the conservation of local species of squid aim to foster an understanding of its importance in the everyday life and culture of Keelung.
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