Science Island Design Competition Finalists

 

blank
Finalist and Winning entry: ©SMAR Architecture Studio

 

Until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1989, the occupied Baltic countries were known for their hi-tech contributions to the Soviet economy. As a carryover from that period, the Baltic nations still emphasize technology as a major factor in their economies. Thus, the establishment of a new Science museum by Lithuania in the nation’s capital of Kaunas is hardly surprising. To highlight the importance of this project, the government turned to a design competition, providing the museum with international exposure and attracting the attention of the global architectural community.

 

The stated purpose of the new project was clear from the competition brief:

Science Island’s mission is to popularize science through hands-on enquiry and exposition and celebrate recent achievements in science and global technologies. The Centre, within the celebrated university city of Kaunas, one of UNESCO’s global creative cities, will focus particularly on environmental themes and ecosystems, demonstrating sustainability and future energy technologies in the design of its own building. The circa 13,000 sqm site for the development is ideally positioned in close proximity to Kaunas’ historic Centras district, and most of Lithuania’s nearly three million residents live under an hour’s drive away.’

For guidance in the organization of the competition, the project’s client turned to Malcolm Reading Consultants of London as a competition adviser. To obtain the widest range of ideas on an international scale, an open, anonymous competition was selected as the preferred option. And, as it turned out, it proved to be a good choice, as it attracted 144 entries from 44 countries. The diversity and quality of the proposals was impressive, and this did not make the ranking by the jury an easy one. The international jury was made up of:

 • Audrius Ambrasas, Director, Audrius Ambrasas Architects
Jonas Audėjaitis, Dean of Vilnus Academy of Arts’ Kaunas Faculty, Member of Kaunas City Council
• Paul Baker, Director, WilkinsonEyre
• Sumit Paul-Choudhury, Editor-in-chief, New Scientist
Povilas Mačiulis, Vice Mayor, Kaunas City Municipality
Rainer Mahlamäki, Professor and Founder, Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects
Rolandas Maskoliūnas, Chief Press Officer, Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
Christos Passas, Associate Director, Zaha Hadid Architects.

 

After the final adjudication process, it was determined—with input from the client—that three designs receive top ranking for further development and negotiation with the client for a commission. In addition, five teams were designated as honorable mentions. The winners were:

 

SMAR Architecture Studio (Madrid and Western Australia)
SimpsonHaugh and Partners (London/Manchester, U.K.)
Donghua Chen Team (Beijing, China)

 

The five teams receiving an honorable mention were:

 

• Amid.cero9 / Elsewhere (Madrid, Spain)
• Mark Foster Gage Architects (New York, NY)
• Alper Derinbogaz, Salon (Istanbul, Turkey)
• UAB Architektų biuras G. Natkevičius ir partneriai (Lithuania)
• Wolfgang Tschapeller ZTGmbH (Vienna, Austria)

 

The diversity of the winning designs in particular would lead one to speculate as to how the composition of the jury might affect the final outcome. Whereas SMAR emphasized an organic landscape program, SimpsonHaugh’s design was the more expressive, and Donghua Chen’s proposal tended more toward the monumental, and, in some respects, almost classical. So the final decision will be most revealing as to how a local perspective can influence the final outcome. With a budget of only €25M, the local client will undoubtedly examine these designs closely, and finding that fit for the budget could be a determining factor.

 

Finalist  (1 of 3)
SMAR Architecture Studio
Madrid and Western Australia

 

blank
Image: ©SMAR Architecture Studio

blank
Image: ©SMAR Architecture Studio

blank
Image: ©SMAR Architecture Studio

blank
Image: ©SMAR Architecture Studio

blank
Image: ©SMAR Architecture Studio

 

 

 

Finalist (2 of 3)
SimpsonHaugh and Partners

London/Manchester, U.K.

blank
Image: ©SimpsonHaugh and Partners

blank
Image: ©SimpsonHaugh and Partners
blank
Image: ©SimpsonHaugh and Partners
blank
Image: ©SimpsonHaugh and Partners

blank
Image: ©SimpsonHaugh and Partners

 

 

 

 

Finalist (3 of 3)
Donghua Chen Team
Beijing, China

blank
Image: ©Donghua Chen Team

blank
Image: ©Donghua Chen Team

blank
Image: ©Donghua Chen Team

blank
Image: ©Donghua Chen Team

blank
Image: ©Donghua Chen Team

Image: ©Donghua Chen Teamblank

 

*Here it is interesting to note that two of the above-mentioned finalists, SMAR Architecture Studio and Donghua Chen have been seen on the pages of COMPETITIONS as winners or finalists in previous competitions. One of the honorable mentions, Wolfgang Tschapeller ZTGmbH, won the competition for the Science Museum in Belgrade, Serbia.