A Place of Discovery: The Massar Children’s Discovery Centre by Henning Larsen Architects

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.

These are the words from Henning Larsen Architects, the minds behind the beautiful Massar Children’s Discovery Centre. Drawing inspiration from the Unique Damask Rose, the delicate structure of the building elegantly folds and wraps around the space, just like rose petals, also helping to filter light and create what has been described as playful and dazzling scenography of light into the interior spaces”.

Located befittingly in the heart of Damascus, Syria, the centre includes a library, exhibition spaces, educational facilities and administrative offices, all which are spread across the oval form sitting on 16, 000 sq m. The Central communal space which features a grand atrium and skylight sits at the core of the rose, helping to connect the upper and lower parts of the building through a series of steps and ramps. It remains ever bright with great amounts of daylight raining through, while the aforementioned exhibition and administrative areas find a home between the ‘rose petals’ creating a labyrinth of dynamic interior spaces reminiscent of a walk through the old city of Damascus. They also enjoy daylighting through the slits on the sides of the ‘petal’ walls. This communal nature of the core fosters interaction between users, allowing them meet, share and develop new thoughts and ideas together.

The Nature-inspired form and concept stem from a desire to create a “low energy building using local materials, skills and resources“. The ‘rose petals’ help keep the sun out and reduce energy loads needed for cooling, while solar water heating and pumping and geothermal heating systems work together to reduce energy needed for heating. Even the materials used add to this cooling and heating.

In all, Henning Larsen have woven a beautiful tapestry of space, light and form. The petals create this sense of adventure and discovery, inspiring the children within to search and explore within a very safe, practical, functional and Visually stimulating Building.

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