Planetarium Park was designed an as entry for a design competition held by Eleven Magazine. I was very fortunate to be part of an amazing team with my fellow uni-mates (Michael Koo, Logan Dongoray and Heng) to push ourselves in designing Planetarium Park.
The architectural purpose of Planetarium Park is more than just designing the physical aspects for people to experience the journey through Planetarium but also to affect people on a higher cognitive level. The concept of Planetarium Park is simple, "Don't Tell Me, Show Me". Architecture has the ability to shape human behaviour and experience. Therefore, it would be a missed opportunity to not incorporate the architectural potential in reinventing the traditional planetarium typology. Most current planetariums are restricted to projection, films or virtual reality, which is what this design proposal is trying to revolutionise.
Planetarium Park is proposed for Antarctica at Dome C, a location known for its ideal atmospheric conditions for astronomical observations. Taking this idea to a more innovative approach, this park is more than just a Planetarium, but also consists of a research facility, gallery, agriculture zone, museum, space training for mars, space camp and an observatory. The space training facility for mars and the space camp are the two selling programs for this design, followed by the main planetarium. The space training facility for mars could potentially offer the opportunity for people to learn and experience the Journey to Mars proposed by NASA. The space camp not only offers accommodation for the visitors and user’s during their stay at Planetarium Park, but also offers an astronomical experience, overviewing the whole park and also an exceptional view towards the interior of the main planetarium through the big opening.
Acknowledging the fact that although most current planetariums are based on sphere geometry, the sphere is a universal symbol with an extensive meaning. it represents the notions of totality, wholeness, focus, infinity, unity, timelessness, the Sun and the entire universe. This leads to why we decided to keep the traditional form of a spherical planetarium. However, Planetarium Park has pushed the boundaries of the ordinary fixed geometry of a sphere, by incorporating the gyroscope inspired mechanism that stimulates astrological phenomena through a sequence of interactive experiences. This is the most important element and structure of Planetarium Park. It rotates the interior experiential exploration, where every journey throughout the circular walkways has its own story-line.
Narratively, as visitors enter the main Park, there is a series of sequence of most astrological phenomenon, that is captured by the two main thresholds of the building and the big circle opening. Visitors have the opportunity to experience a new generation of discovery previously unobtainable through traditional planetarium typologies. The strategic architectural master-planning, experimental spatial design, and tectonic detailing narrates a journey of education and exploration. the journey through Planetarium Park is more interactive and integrating, where the architecture becomes the educator rather than simply the container for projected screens.
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