14 Apr 2011
The world’s first ArtScience Museum was officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 17 February 2011.
The celebration marks the completion of Marina Bay Sands® – a US$5.5bn waterfront resort complex in Singapore’s latest downtown development.
Built in the shape of a lotus flower on an outstretched hand, the museum features over 4,600m2 of gallery space and a spectrum of influences from art and science, to media and technology, design and architecture.
The museum’s design is simple and pure in its expression yet complex in form – typical of both art and science. It hosts ten petals of varying height and width, from 62m above ground. With an 11m vertical support below waters and reflecting pool surrounding the structure, the museum appears to float upside-down. To add to the visual impact, the shape of the galleries inside mirrors the museum’s external form.
Trying to make a building stand upside down was a challenge, explains Peter Bowtell, Buildings Leader for Arup in Australasia. “With one side of the ‘lotus flower’ bigger than the other, the structure naturally wants to fall to one side. To get around this we had to design a rational and simple way of holding these galleries in the air. The final solution involved balancing the structure in space and dealing with very complex geometry.”
The power of technology
3D modelling played a pivotal role in delivering this challenging project in such a short timeframe, allowing work that could’ve taken three years to deliver manually to be completed in just three days. Understanding the structure in three dimensions and determining the right size and forces of each of the structural members was crucial to the project success.
The ArtScience museum is a major part of the new developments breathing life into Singapore's Marina Bay and significantly boosting the state’s tourism trade.