Science Island Kaunas

Kaunas, Lithuania
Competition, Honorable Mention


Competition 2016

We are opting for a Science Centre, detached from the ground and positioned above Nemunas Island Channel. The Science Center will hover between island and city creating an unexpected outdoor space to be experienced from the island´s waterside as well as from the city´s embankment.

Bridging the gap between city + island, the Science Centre has available 2 opposed qualities, on the one hand the infrastructural capacity of Karaliaus Mindaugo Prospect, on the other hand the vast green of Nemunas Island. Karaliaus Mindaugo Prospect offers firstly, a potent back of house access for all deliveries, secondly, a direct approach by Bus, Taxi, Car including access for disabled and thirdly, parking for employees + visitors. Consequently, Nemunas Island is liberated from infrastructural requirements + ready for becoming a true green island.

Given a size GIA of 9000m2 the building´s footprint is absolutely minimal on Nemunas Island. It consists of 2 columns, an elevator, an escalator + a stair, all together less than 50m2.

As a consequence, the entire site is accessible. Buildings do not block movement. A multitude of different vegetations, exotic + local plants, waterlines + jogging paths will occupy the island, matching perfectly with the Science Centers outdoor activities.

The building´s entry point will be sheltered by the floating building. It will dock onto a network of converging pathways bringing visitors from the city + the island. The building will be gate + portico to city + island alike.

There are 2 major references. The first is the history of visionary flying + floating buildings, started by Georgy Krutikov, Lina Bo Bardi, Constant or Cedric Price. The second refers to “Piliakalnis” the castle mounts, a historical + local means of forming the terrain on which to position important buildings such as castles. The project plays with the image of “Piliakalnis”, however no castle is constructed on top, the empty mount is rather a base to look at the panorama of Kaunas.

Exterior surfaces are opaque or of filter like character. A special role is given to the underside of the center, it will have mirroring qualities. Together with the water plane it constitutes a double mirror, one natural, the other constructed, able to reflect all the movement on the ground as well as the visitor who by entering the center is penetrating the reflections of the earth´s surface.


Mitarbeiter | Collaborator
Mitarbeiter | Collaborator
Mitarbeiter | Collaborator
Mitarbeiter | Collaborator

Peter Bauer
Statik | Structural Engineering
Matthias Schuler, Peter Zatko
Energie + Klimadesign | Energy + climate design
Rendering | Rendering
Views 43/4
Science Island Kaunas Ansichten 160910_c05_a_riverbed_2_crop
Approach to the Science Centre along the Nemunas river channel  
Science Island Kaunas Ansichten 160910_c02_m_underside
Kaunas Science Centre offers abundant exterior space, generously sheltered by the building itself. In fact, the space between waterside, embankment and Nemunas River channel and the Science Centre´s mirroring underside is constituting an additional exhibition floor, widely visible by passersby on the embankment, on the island, or on their way to the future conference Centre across the river. As a consequence the Centre’s outdoor activity adds to the urban activity an unexpected open, architectural space. Proposed outdoor installations can include: o A ROBOTIC GARDEN as an extension to the Centre´s robotic lab, allowing for experimentation on an exciting urban scale. Robotic arms, as parts of hands on games, giving the general public a 1 to 1 understanding of the robot as an extension of the human body and mind. o A WATER GARDEN including a variety of interactive fountains + water games based on the physics of water in summertime, snow and ice in wintertime. o A LIGTH GARDEN o AN EVENT + RELAXATION AREA allows for open air concerts, public screenings, stage plays and public lectures on big scale. Such events can span across the river, the river might even be the stage. Exterior surfaces are opaque or of filter like character. A special role is given to the underside of the center, it will have mirroring qualities, produced by thin, rippled stainless steel cladding, perforated to produce soft acoustics and together with the water plane of Nemunas Island Channel it constitutes a double mirror, one natural, the other constructed, able to reflect all the movement on the ground as well as the visitor who by entering the center is penetrating the reflections of the earth´s surface.  
Science Island Kaunas Ansichten 160911_c01_m_building_np_jg_04
The Science Centre in early frosty morning from Nemunas Island  
Science Island Kaunas Ansichten 160910_c04_a_front_np_crop1
Plans 33/3
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Level 1  
Ebene 1  
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Level 2  
Ebene 2  
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Level 3  
Ebene 3  
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South Elevation  
Ansicht Süd  
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West Elevation  
Ansicht West  
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Section AA  
Schnitt AA  
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Section BB  
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Section CC  
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Diagrams 43/4
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_basics01
LOCATING THE SCIENCE CENTRE I Science Centre occupies an intersection of pathways connecting the Old Town and the Naujamiestis district with Nemunas island and Conference centre in Aleksotas. Pathways converge at the point of entry.  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_basics02
LOCATING THE SCIENCE CENTRE II All the supply, delivery and exhibition goods arrival, loading dock, buses, taxis feed the Science Centre from Karaliaus Mindaugo prospektas NEMUNAS CENTRAL PARK The entire Nemunas island is remaining green, free of car traffic.  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_basics03
FROM ZALGIRIS ARENA TO SCIENCE CENTRE A system of tracks connects the building along the embankment to the parking lot at Zalgiris arena. Visitor-powered vessels where visitors can experience laws of physics and translation of human power into horizontal movement.  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_basics04
VISITOR-POWERED VESSELS The approach of the science centre over a stretch of one kilometer is part of the experience. Parts of the building: a dresine, a wind turbine, a solar powered platform travel along the embankment.  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_building01
A Regular building on Nemunas island  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_building02
Raise the building. Make the ground available for everybody and allowing an undisturbed view towards the Naujamiestis district  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_building03
A raised building above the valley of Nemunas island channel  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_building04
Connect to existing infrastructure. No new traffic on the island  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_building05
Piliakalnis I - Building as elevated castle mounds  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_building00
PILIAKALNIS (Salduv?s Piliakalnis, Šiauliai) Castle mound (Piliakalnis) is a man-made hill for a fortified settlement at its levelled summit. There are around 1000 castle mounds accross the landscape of Lithuania. Castle mounds had central locations in their districts, having not only a military and administrative function, but also that of an economic and cultural centre of importance. The stratigraphic cultural layers of castle mounds are some of the richest sources of knowledge for revealing relationships between human, nature and technology dating back to 1st millennium BC.  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_building06
Piliakalnis II - Elevated castle mounds as basis for panorama of the city  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_building07
Sheltered exterior space is added to the urban context of Kaunas. It functions as one of the centre’s hands-on performance area: - Robotic garden - Water garden - Light garden - Tight rope  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_interior01
1. Permanent gallery 2. Introductory / show space 3. Temporary exhibition 4. Introductory space 5. Reception desk 6. Cloakrooms 7. Back of house A. to permanent galleries B. to temporary exhibition C. to planetarium  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_interior02
Exhibition design defines position and quality of partitions of spaces. Architecture provides an open space without divisions and columns.  
Science Island Kaunas Schema si_d_cafe
1. Cloakroom 2. Lobby 3. Introductory space 4. Galleries 5. Cafeteria 6. Restaurant hill 7. Back of house 8. Staff spaces  
Science Island Kaunas Schema 02_b
Groundfloor RED - Loading dock - sized for car, van + truck up to 15,5m - freight elevator 2,5 x 6 (content of 20 ft. container) Back of house entrance -elevator / stairs DASH GREEN - Pedestrian bridge YELLOW - Public entrance - escalator - elevator - stairs  
Science Island Kaunas Schema 11_c
Level 1 RED - Freight elevator RED - Loading dock RED - BOH stairs RED - BOH elevator RED - Supply corridor restaurant RED - Plant room (double story) GREEN - Supply corridor event spaces + labs GREEN - Event spaces + labs LIGHT GREEN - Introductory space (permanent galleries) LIGHT RED - Kitchen LIGHT GREEN - Cafeteria LIGHT GREEN - Souvenir shop  
Ebene 1  
Science Island Kaunas Schema 13_b
Level 2 Freight elevator BOH stairs BOH elevator Administration  
Ebene 2  
Science Island Kaunas Schema 40_c
Level 3 RED - Freight elevator RED - BOH stairs / BOH elevator RED - BOH Workshops GREEN - Permanent gallery GREEN - Temporary gallery YELLOW - Lobby  
Ebene 3  
Science Island Kaunas Schema 42_c