Scoring the highest out of three finalist teams, SMAR Architecture Studio from Australia and Spain was appointed to design Lithuania's new National Science and Innovation Centre — a.k.a. Science Island — in Kaunas. Organized by London-based Malcolm Reading Consultants, the competition started out with 144 teams from 44 countries. The other two finalist teams were SimpsonHaugh and Partners from the UK and Donghua Chen Studio from China, who were awarded honoraria of €15,000 (approx. $18,000).
The €25 million (approx. $30.6 million) Science Island will be built on a 33-hectare site on Nemunas Island, not far from Kaunas' historic Centras district.
According to Dr. Fernando Jerez, SMAR Architecture Studio's Founder and Creative Director, their design draws inspiration from the island's topography. “On the roof, circular access points will work as public stages and natural seating areas, our aim being that the museum spills into the landscape and the park comes into the building. The existing landscape gives shape to the Innovation Centre, which is topped by a sloping and reflecting upper disk: a landmark for the city. This will be a new sun for Kaunas,” Dr. Jerez describes.
Collaborating with Lithuanian practice UAB Architektų biuras G. Natkevičius ir partneriai, SMAR will further develop their design through February 2019. Initially planned for a 2018 opening as previously reported, Science Island is now scheduled to open in 2021, a year ahead of Kaunas' term as the European Capital of Culture 2022.
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