The 33 hectare Nemunas Island in Kaunas was recommended as the site for the planned National Science and Innovation Centre in January 2016. The Island is currently used as a popular outdoor recreational space within our city, and is also home to Žalgiris Arena, Lithuania’s largest sports and entertainment arena.
The Science Island initiative is a response to the success of international exemplar science centres, notably the Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw, the Phaeno Science Centre in Wolfsburg, Germany, and the Experimentarium in Copenhagen, Denmark, all of which have popularised science through hands-on enquiry and exposition.
The architectural quality of the new Centre is a key project value, given Kaunas’ architectural heritage. As the provisional capital of a newly-independent Lithuania in the interwar period, Kaunas experienced a cultural flowering as architects and engineers who graduated from Russian and European architecture schools created a unique concentration of Modernist architecture, drawing on international style tendencies – such as Bauhaus – as well as Lithuanian national styles. No wonder a total of 146 projects from architects and studios from all over the world were submitted to the design contest.
The Science Island Design Contest organized by Malcolm Reading Consultants is a one-stage anonymous competitive process to select three finalist practices who will each be awarded an honorarium of €15,000. The three finalists will be announced in a few weeks, and the final winner by the end of the year. National Science and Innovation Centre is planned to be opened in the end of 2018.
You can skim through all of the projects here (and leave your comments!) or, if you happen to be in Kaunas at the moment, do visit the exhibition in Žalgiris Arena (daily 11AM-8PM until Sept 27th). As the projects are exhibited in the perimeter around the main sports hall, you can easily imagine the proposed volumes in situ while looking through the panoramic windows of the arena.