The Massar Children’s Discovery Centre will be the heart of a Syrian educational programme – Massar. The centre will through science-based, hands-on experiences offer activities to empower young Syrians to contribute actively in building their future.
The discovery centre has a unique location in the heart of Damascus. The building comprises exhibition, library, education and administration space. The centre will be an integrated main attraction within a new 170,000m² public realm on the site. The form is inspired by the unique Damask rose. The proposal suggests a shell structure allowing a playful and dazzling scenography of light into the interior spaces – like light filtering between rose petals. Exhibition and administrative areas are laid out between the rose petals creating interior labyrinth journeys inspired by walks in the old city of Damascus formed by walls with the sky as the window.
The centre of the rose forms a large communal orientation space. This is where people meet, share knowledge and develop new ideas together – a cross pollination of knowledge. From here series of journeys rise upwards in form of a web of ramps and steps interweaving the public plateau with the upstairs shell structure. The central vertical movement under the open sky challenges the traditional horizontal movement in the Arab city.Location: Damascus, Syria Architect: Henning Larsen Architects
Client: Syria Trust for Development
Gross floor area: 16,000 m2
Year of construction: 2008 – 2013
Type of assignment: First prize in competition
Landscape architects: Martha Schwartz Partners
Engineers: Buro Happold