- Environment & Infrastructure
- Strategic consulting
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- The Living City
- Happold Consulting
Thirteen years after the concept was first mooted, Warsaw’s newest attraction, the Copernicus Science Centre, has celebrated its opening with a spectacular light and animation show created by British art house film director Peter Greenaway.
Situated on the banks of the River Vistula, the mission of Poland’s most modern education and cultural centre is to inspire curiosity, support learning and make science more accessible and comprehensible to a wider audience. It will do this by combining science with art; the centre will champion scientific discovery through science shows, workshops, laboratory classes and planetarium sessions together with more artistic endeavours such as concerts, performances and films to build a positive image of science and show the part it plays in today’s culture.
Financed through Warsaw city council’s ‘Infrastructure and Environment’ programme the Copernicus Science Centre is the biggest cultural project in the Masovia region, east central Poland. International multidisciplinary engineering consultancy Buro Happold provided multidisciplinary design services for the concept and scheme stage of the project, and structural engineering during the construction stage of the building. The architect was Polish firm RAr-2 Laboratorium Architektury.
The centre which emulates a wave-like form in keeping with its river-side location, features a number of innovative construction solutions and many finishing materials never used before in Poland. The internal exhibition spaces are lit by natural daylight which filters through crater-like skylights in the roof which also regulate temperature and internal ventilation. The façade is made of a newly developed fibre-glass reinforced concrete, which features an exterior design created by a team of artists, construction specialists, geologists and landscape architects to be sympathetic to its environment. The planetarium which stands higher than the rest of the building is covered in special red raster glass designed to prevent light reflection. The building is surrounded by parkland, which even extends to the roof.
A key challenge faced by the Buro Happold team was delivering 15000m² of floor space on two levels within a building frame with strict height limitations, over an existing six lane road tunnel. This resulted in Poland’s biggest post-tensioned platform with a main span of over 30m and also storey high steel trusses spanning 48m with a 20m long cantilever. Another was to ensure the building was flood proof, given its proximity to the Vistula. The river has been known to experience strong floods and when this year it reached its highest level in 160 years, the consultancy was given the ideal opportunity to test its preventative flood measures. Once the floods gradually subsided it became clear that the design has passed this fortuitous test with no serious incidents or damage and that the building elements of the centre would be protected from possible future reoccurrences.
The centre will feature six themed galleries, a multimedia Planetarium, workshop and laboratory spaces, auditorium, cafe, offices and a rooftop garden.
Warsaw City Council
RAr-2 Laboratorium Architektury
Concept and scheme – multidisciplinary engineering services
Construction stage - structural engineering
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Buro Happold is a multi-disciplinary international practice of consulting engineers established in 1976. It offers civil and structural engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, quantity surveying, building services and environmental engineering, health and safety management, infrastructure and traffic engineering, ground engineering, façade engineering, fire engineering, computational fluid dynamics analysis, inclusive design consultancy, project management, urban design and a range of specialist CAD services.