Exploratory Science Museum

University of Campinas, Brazil 2009, International Competition

Beyond building: infrastructuring a scientific park

With Riccardo Vannucci (project architect), Davide Molteni, Erika Trabucco, Joao Sobral, Daniela Tili, Francesco Salvolini, Teresa Figuieredo Marques, Jacopo Pellegrini, Andrea Sirna

The project reflects on the nature of scientific education when associated to entertainment. Exploratorium’s spatial and intellectual organization is something rather peculiar. Program and arrangement must be carefully planned according to detailed circumstances: given this assumption, the issue has been to offer an infrastructural system where the actual scientific planning can easily takes place. What can be proposed is a system where all activities are easily accommodated, adapted and transformed.

A solution that makes adjustments (and growth) possible and affordable.
Integration between the Exploratorium and the rest of the area, thought of as a Scientific Park, has been regarded as crucial. For this reason all other buildings and installations currently located on the site, or simply envisaged there, will be included within the exploratorium. Even the planned Botanic Garden has been repositioned. The only element that will be kept is the former observatory.

The design strategy is simple: creation of a platform raised above ground, where all exhibition spaces are located. In this way continuity between the most important elements of the projects can be assured. Under the platform all parking and storage areas are organized according to separated access points. The exhibition area is organized as a triple height volume that in time will be filled or simply re-arranged according to needs. The floor of this space will be equipped with raised floor in order to achieve the required flexibility.

Educational installations and activities will be located into the main halls: this area will be closed for safety reasons but without partitions so to maximize natural ventilation effect. Where needed, dedicated pavilions and/or stands will be realized and eventually air conditioned (something quite similar to current nanoventure tent). The upper level is formed by a continuous gallery that runs along the periphery of the volume.

Sunset Cafe, Administration, Auditorium, Science Ateliers and other specialized areas are located at this floor, overlooking the
main hall. It is essential to stress that, as anticipated, the main volume is intended as protected but not air conditioned. In case of request air conditioning could be provided locally. In order to assure future expansion, some part of the complex are treated according to shell & core approach.

The whole system is completed by the roof, basically organized into two sectors. One is an Artificial Garden, the other is a sloping surface formed by a tensile membrane that will act as a rain collector and solar field. The possibility to integrate photovoltaic film in the membrane has been envisaged. Sustainability of the entire complex will be dramatically enhanced by such means. The structure of the roof will be formed by steel trusses. Between the trusses and the roof there will be technical equipment, including air conditionng when required.