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28th April 2014, 9:06am
‘Visionary concept’ for sustainable science museum receives international recognition
'Bio Mutation' A blueprint for a new Natural Science Museum in one of Europe’s most historic cities, created by a dynamic team of architectural designers from Lincoln, has been commended by a panel of international experts.

The ecological design produced by a staff and student team from the School of Architecture at the University of Lincoln, UK, put forward the case for a sustainable Natural Science Museum in the heart of Germany’s capital, Berlin. Entitled Bio Mutation, and submitted as part of the Architecture Workshop in Rome (AWR) Awards, the proposal received an Honourable Mention and was named as the winner in the ‘Visionary Concept’ category.

The team, which was led by Senior Lecturer Dr Francesco Proto and included four fifth-year Architecture students, responded to the AWR’s Berlin Competition: Natural City brief. Together they developed a design for a museum which would underpin principles of sustainability, engage with new technology, provide a thriving habitat for nature and engage visitors in an interactive learning experience.

The AWR organisation is the host of a number of international competitions in architecture, interior design, industrial design and urban planning, which challenge practising professionals and students alike to develop forward-thinking portfolios.

Dr Francesco Proto said: “Berlin is a city with an extensive and eventful history, and is recognised as a vibrant metropolis in the heart of Europe, so it was very important for us to produce a proposal that respects and integrates with its immense culture. The city has more than 170 museums, which also made it essential for our design to stand out from the crowd.

“We therefore developed a blueprint for an iconic structure, which would create a powerful identity for both the Natural Science Museum and Berlin as a natural city. We designed a living eco-museum in a greenhouse habitat, with its shape and aesthetics inspired by the deconstruction of a butterfly cocoon as it adapts to an ever-changing environment. As such, the project addresses two main aims: to restore, protect and enhance a natural ecological public space, and to dramatically re-design the museum visitors’ experience.”

The team’s proposal explores the changing relationship between culture and the natural environment, and traces the historical influence of nature over German civilisation.

Its design incorporates solar panels, lenticular structures that diffuse lighting and control temperature within an intelligent cocoon-like shell, and a rainwater collection system to water a vast array of flora and fauna inside the museum. The Bio-Mutation Science Museum would serve as an accessible public space and ‘ecological corridor’, enabling visitors to engage with nature while also providing museum facilities for research and exhibitions.

Dr Francesco Proto worked with Master of Architecture students Irene Ai Ling Cheng, Abdullhai Hamza, Melina Maria Karanastasi and Sie Wen Wong to develop the submission, and their entry was judged by an expert panel composed of academics from the University of Rome and professionals from Buero Wagner Architects in Germany.

Dr Proto said: “Here at the Lincoln School of Architecture we are delighted with our success in the AWR competition. Our students were pitted against professional practitioners from around the world, and it is fantastic that the team’s hard work has now received international recognition. We are extremely proud.”

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