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Oceanographic Museum

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The site for this large scale aquarium and museum is located on the threshold between the medieval city core and the sea on an artificial harbour island.

Treating the site as a connecting device between the two urban conditions, we define the building's circulation, program and materiality as an open, porous volume, with multiple accesses informed by the main external attractors.

Influenced by the "Klein Bottle" concept (a Moebius strip turned container with only one surface), we developed a strategy that folds the open public space through the building mass.

We propose a non-hierarchical system of interlacing topographies that articulate differences through their pattern. Hence, a three-dimensional spatial network results from the interweaving of this artificial public topography with the unfolding program.

This interstitial space subtly renders different degrees of openness. For instance, the circulation to the museum entrance develops as a choreography of relationships and vistas with an emphasis on the horizon line, whereas the access itself is undermined as a point of control and conceived as a smooth transition through the existing warehouse.

The museum program unfolds wrapping above, beneath and from within the public artificial landscape in a continuous loop. The resulting space topologically exceeds traditional limits and embodies the seamlessness and vastness of the ocean.

The built mass operates as an all-inclusive, viscous matter: it is no longer possible to isolate independent systems or establish differences between its parts. The specific requirements of exhibition viewing dictate the circulation, which varies in size and movement, and informs the building itself.

Lighting, views, flow and spatial definitions/transitions are all generated and controlled through this continuous, warping surface that incorporates the exhibits, aquariums and technical services. This new dynamic compound alternates various internal/external forces and relationships. It embodies the demands of an oceanographic museum as a mediator of the fluid, complex and constantly moving underwater realm.

URBAN STRATEGY

The building acts as a threshold between city and sea, and as a central attractor. The shape of the pierced voids guides visitors arriving from all different directions towards the central entrance.

Approaching the building from the city via two bridges, the view to the sea is partly revealed and framed by the building's volume and the topography.

The physical model illustrates how the building's form has been carefully carved out of a monolithic solid with clearly set parameters.

The topography guides people through and around the building. It produces pockets and slopes that accommodate different activities.

GROUND FLOOR PLAN

The topographical landscape transgresses the built mass. It refers to the surface of the sea, unifying the building with the context and producing localities within a larger coherent field.

We used one of the existing warehouses on the site to act as the main entrance and foyer. From here the exhibition choreography unfolds as a continuous loop that surrounds the open public void.

The visitor enters by descending to the lower floor, immersing into the realm of the ocean.

Because of the unorthodox location of the main aquariums on the top floor, the lower floor needed to be structurally dense. Instead of columns, we opted for a meandering band of circulation with walls in between.

This produced a labyrinthine, cavernous experience that contrasts the openness of the upper floor.

TOP FLOOR PLAN

A coherent spatial and tectonic language produced an extensive elasticity able to incorporate all the strict programmatic and curatorial demands.

The in-between space functions as a covered public plaza–animated after dark by projections and film screenings of underwater footage. Guests of the cafe enjoy views of the old city and the sea.

TYPE_

Cultural, Museum

status_

Competition

location_

Stralsund, Germany

year_

2002

client_

Undisclosed

budget_

Undisclosed

program_

Aquarium and Museun

.

.

partner in charge_

Eva Castro, Holger Kehne, Ulla Hell

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