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Odonata Wildlife Museum For Children

Part 2 Project 2003
Sharni Bullock
Anna Gillies
University of Technology Kingston Jamaica, West Indies

The design project was generated from a desire to redefine the meaning of “museum” in the tropical context.

The dragonfly (odonata) was the starting point for the exploration of structural and spatial relationships. It was chosen as an appropriate insect to represent the qualities of a child; delicate-looking yet strong, swift and beautiful. The resulting tensile structures which embrace the museum spaces act as the outer, flexible, semi-transparent skins. The detachment from the exhibit walls allows for not only the flexibility of spatial planning but also the natural flow of air through the complex during hurricanes.

Part of the existing site was home to a small stream teeming with wildlife. This area was expanded by the use of constructed wetlands which handle water filtration and encourage the regeneration of wetland insects. Rainwater from the tensile skins drains directly into the ponds and aids in the collection and redistribution of water.

While most museums rely on artificial ventilation and lighting, the tropical museum has the advantage of being able to maximise the merging of interior and exterior spaces while minimising the dependence on artificial systems.

Sharni Bullock
Anna Gillies

The designer’s clear intentions on a small, ecologically sensitive site has resulted in a scheme well done architecturally with no loss of vision and with few and acceptable ecological compromises. Her handling of forms, image, scale, content, spatial variety and hierarchy, the use of materials for skin, structure and climatic moderation belie an apparently simple yet quite sophisticated and challenging design.

The scheme’s restraint both in response to the setting and in abstracting the insect motif to allow children and adults to see and view with wonderment was thought appropriate.

The project’s modest yet appropriate virtuosity recommends itself.

Prof Vaughan Hart
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