The Children's Museum
Owing to Her Majesty Queen Rania’s wish, a special institution was planned and designed, to be the first of its kind in the Kingdom, providing an interactive learning environment, nurturing the power of imagination and the spirit of exploration and self-discovery in children ages 1-14. Design Statement: The beginning idea came from the “kids toy box”, where one finds building blocks with basic colors such as red, blue, orange, yellow…, in addition to the abundance of platonic masses and shapes that attract the child’s attention to explore, imagine and learn through the act of playing. This is summed up in the old Chinese proverb: “I Hear And I Forget, I See And I Remember, I Do And I Understand”. Design Guidelines: The challenge was to translate the above into architectural terms by creating a building of which a major part becomes an interactive learning medium for the child – the building becomes the exhibit. This was expressed through the following: 1. The Building as a Toy Box: Colorful elements were integrated with the building, forming its key features. These include: the nine colorful cubes at the entrance with Arabic letters spelling out the word “Children's Museum”, the sphere of the planetarium, the substation room, handrails, etc.; but most important are the three colored blocks of the exhibit hall, which, in addition to identifying the building as one dedicated for children, they perform the following: a. Reinforce the objective of transforming the building into an exhibit by becoming exhibits themselves (the water mill and water-play pools, the speaking tubes tower, and the kinetic roller ball structure on each of the red, blue and yellow blocks respectively); b. Support the different themes of the exhibits by assigning each color to a theme; yellow for the Human Kind, blue for Technology, and red for Natural World; c. Help strengthen the sense of orientation through out the building and site, especially since it is mainly on one floor, d. Their penetration of the building connects the external and internal areas together, physically and visually. e. And they become an integral part of the other building systems, mainly the structural (they provide within them columns supporting the hall’s slab), and the mechanical (the external part on the roof houses the exhibition hall’s air-handling units, camouflaged within the colored metal cladding). 2. Building Materials Exposure for Educational Value: Following through with the aim of the museum, the building materials were also treated as an educational medium by using them so that the final built product demonstrates the method of construction and the different uses, forms, textures, colors, etc., that can be attained, always employing local technologies and available resources. Concrete, being the major building material of the museum, was used in most walls with different textures, smooth and rough. The rough was achieved by sand blasting the formwork wood panels, thus accentuating the wood grain and texture, leaving a visible impression on the face of the walls. Also, the casting procedure was highlighted by emphasizing: a. the tie rods used to bind the two faces of the mold; b. the linear dividers, horizontal and vertical, used mainly to divide the walls into smaller parts to facilitate on-site casting, specially the curved walls; and forming from these two a pattern of uniform lines and dots on the concrete walls, continuous throughout the building. 3. Structural & Electro-Mechanical Visual Emphasis: The architecture of the building played a significant role in providing solutions for the electro-mechanical and structural systems, without disrupting the aesthetics of the building or visually polluting it. Tilting structural columns blend with the architecture of the building inside and out, creating a continuation of the playful image while providing the required structural support, such as the columns within the entrance lobby or the ones used for the metal canopies, in addition to the group of tilting columns at the corner of the planetarium’s cantilevering slab to structurally support it while creating a distinct architectural look. All major electrical and mechanical works were left exposed and their colors, materials, and routes visible to all visitors to further increase the educational aspects of the building. Also, exposing parts of the metal structures of the external corrugated-sheets canopies, and the reinforcement bars of some columns to reveal the building process and the structural support systems for the different components further affirms the idea of the "educational building". 4. Introducing the “Eco-Friendly”: Other concepts the building was used to demonstrate are related to sustainable energy and reducing the running cost. In addition to using insulating materials in the walls and roof that were not visible to the visitors, the Eco-Friendly Concepts Hall was enveloped with a structure of metal scaffolding and wire mesh, on which deciduous climbers will grow. The fact that the plants are deciduous has two main uses: a. adds to the building's educational and dynamic look which changes in different seasons, b. helps control the amount of sunlight and heat entering the hall through the curtain walls behind it, in summer by providing soft filtered light penetrating through the leaves, and maximizing it in winter when sunlight is needed due to the falling of the leaves and the bareness of the branches. 5. Children’s Imprint on the Building: Getting children involved in the creation of the building from the early stages was one of the targets we were aiming to achieve. The introduction of the twelve polymer concrete panels to the front wall of the main façade was to allow the children from all parts of Jordan and from different social strata to portray their visions of the charectaristics of the twelve governerates into which Jordan is divided, by means of drawing and applying different materials to each panel, thus creating twelve 3.5m high x 1.75m wide drawings, which line up as an open invitation to children from all parts of Jordan, confirming the fact that, afterall, it is a building for children, created for and by them. Project Areas: Built-up Area: 7348m2 Site Area: 20,000m2


16 photos and 4 drawings

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