MASSAR - Discovery Centre for children

Progetto vincitore del concorso Damascus / Syria / 2006

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The basis for Henning Larsen Architects’ project is ‘ca-pacity building’. The idea is to develop a project across cultures with a mutual learning process and understanding involving users, the organisa-tion and the team.
‘Capacity building’ is a method often used by NGO’s or development or-ganisations to help organisations in developing countries. It has been used for developing both specific capabilities and for a broad skill en-hancement. It is only a few private companies that use the method. In this project it is obvious to use it. By involving local users, project staff and collaborative partners learning is fully incorporated in the design and projecting stage.
The new discovery centre will be the cornerstone in a new Syrian educa-tional programme, Massar, providing Syrian children with the opportu-nity to meet and discover the world through play. Massar’s ambition is to create better educational opportunities for young people in a country where 40% of the population is under age 14.
The centre will comprise various scientific thematic exhibitions for chil-dren aged 5-15. Additionally, the centre will have special exhibition areas, a library, classrooms and facilities for research. The discovery centre is located on a 170.000 m2 site – a river bed – in the heart of Damascus. It is located centrally in walking distance from Damascus’ historic city cen-tre with the Umayyad Mosque and university, national opera and national museum as its neighbours.
The idea of the project is to create a park like a quilt of activities inter-woven with the discovery centre. The visitors will be led through several intimate spatial experiences addressing all the senses. Water will be a re-current theme – both as activity and as a visualisation of sustainable measures and educational media.
The floor of the discovery centre lies as a plateau on the river bed from where ramps and stairs rise and become an innovative course of spaces ready to be discovered.
The learning processes that are included in the project are far from the education that Syrian children know today. Even though Henning Larsen Architects attach great importance to creating a discovery centre that grows from the local context, while starting from a Scandinavian educa-tional tradition. It will be a meeting between different learning cultures. At the same time the latest educational research will be involved and the completed project will be abreast of the development.
The discovery centre’s form is inspired by the unique Damascus rose. Its centre forms a large communal orientation space. This is where the chil-dren will meet, share their knowledge and develop new ideas together.
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    The basis for Henning Larsen Architects’ project is ‘ca-pacity building’. The idea is to develop a project across cultures with a mutual learning process and understanding involving users, the organisa-tion and the team.‘Capacity building’ is a method often used by NGO’s or development or-ganisations to help organisations in developing countries. It has been used for developing both specific capabilities and for a broad skill en-hancement. It is only a few private companies that use the method....

    Project details
    • Year 2006
    • Client Massar (NGO)
    • Status Competition works
    • Type Kindergartens
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