The Museum and Education Centre is designed as a multidirectional form with a circular footprint that does not preference any of the existing institutions that surround it. Instead, the circular shape of the building acts as a centre, or meeting point, for the Russian and International scientific community, and the student community in the vicinity to converge and encounter the world of technology and innovation. The circular footprint emerges from the ground to form a rotation-symmetric concrete shell that offers optimum environmental performance and engulfs a large interior space, unencumbered by structure. Due to its curvature into two directions, this shell has an extremely positive load bearing behaviour, which is automatically combined with a very low material consumption. In this case the structural material consumption is further reduced by the arrangement of huge amount of openings, which allows the sunlight to reach all areas of the inner space and reduces the dead weight of the shell itself. The openings are placed in such way, that all main membrane forces can be bundled in the three main load paths of the shell. Therefore this shell is characterised by its natural elegance of the load bearing system, whose shape is based on the logical flux of forces.
To enable the Centre to accommodate new directions and insights in the ever-changing world of science, the building needs to be flexible in nature. To attract and be open to visitors of all ages, the building needs to be specific without being exclusive, so that visitors are drawn to interact and exchange with it and consequently with one another. Furthermore, in order for the building to encourage visitor to be ‘co-curators’ rather than passive observers, it needs to facilitate cross-fertilization of ideas within the setting of the building itself. The architectural challenge of this building is therefore to find a spatial strategy that provides architectural specificity without compromising the needs for flexibility and also a spatial system that brings people together physically.
The proposal organizes the interior as a stepped forum, a multi-purpose space to celebrate the coming together of the different user groups to share ideas and the achievements in science. The stepped forum climbs the central section of the building and gives access to all the spaces that belong to the different functional zones defined by the brief. At times, it will be an informal setting for the scientific community and visitors to interact with one another as distinct arrival spaces that have an open view to one another. At other times, the different arrival spaces on the different levels can be used to together to host large conferences, lectures, workshops or exhibitions. Unlike most museums that have to plan their events months in advance and lack any possibility to cater for spontaneous events, the forum space of The Museum and Educational Centre in Moscow will enable it to be agile and incorporate unforeseen opportunities for social or academic gatherings.
The spaces under the stepped forum accommodate functions that do not require natural light while the terraces formed by the stepped forum host the arrival spaces of the different programmatic zones. Four wings of programme spaces wrap around the central forum. These wings are rectangular in shape to offer flexible spaces for the museum. In order to maximize interaction between these program spaces and the forum space, they are arranged on split floors. Therefore, there is only half a level difference between each of the program wings that wrap around the forum space. This eases connectivity between programs and introduces visual connections between them.
Four atriums act as transitional spaces between the rectangular wings of programme spaces that wrap around the public forum and the circular geometry of the domed envelope of the building. Whereas the public forum will be open to the public, the peripheral atriums will be more intimate in nature and act as spaces that can be planned for smaller group gatherings and events with access to the public by invitation.