Man, nature and machines are regularly described as one linear relationship, reducing one to evolve into the other cyclically.
In this challenge, we thought the relationship might not just be linear, but also twisted and intertwined; sometimes, one piece would become indistinguishable from another: is man the ultimate biological machine? Will man-made machines surpass men themselves?
Our goal was to explore the overlaps, the moments in which, man, nature and machine blend together. For designers the inclined plane – one of the first man-made machines – is a complex tool for shaping geometries and joining programs. Our form uses inclines to work with and against the nature of the island, inviting the park into the machine, sometimes organically and sometimes via manipulation. Ideally, a visitor would experience the complexity of nature and man without realizing the presence of the machine.
The massing of the center creates the focal point of a new riverwalk at the water’s edge, which wraps around the island, and a boulevard of grass stretches across the island terminating atop the planetarium providing visitors with a view of the city and river in all directions.
Inside, visitors are always reminded of the park outside. Openings punched in the floor of the cantilever allow visitors to watch the river below in a near-theater setting. Patrons can catch quick glimpses of the exhibitions on the floors above or below as they pass through strategically-placed, double-height spaces, which also provide curators a variety of lighting types for exhibition purposes.