INVESTOR:America for Bulgaria Foundation
GENERAL CONTRACTOR:Bigla III
CONSTRUCTOR:Structo Ltd,eng. Boris Parvanov, Bipak EOOD,eng.Jordan Atanasov
ARCHITECT:LHSA+DP, New York,A&А Architects,Sofia
The America for Bulgaria Foundation was created in 2008 with the mission to help support the market economy and democratic institutions in Bulgaria, as well as assisting the country in reaching its full potential as a successful and modern European nation. The Foundation works in six priority areas – education and libraries, civil society and democratic institutions, art and culture, agriculture, the social sphere and cultural heritage and tourism.
Muzieko is part of the Foundation’s efforts to raise the quality of Bulgarian education and the competitiveness of young people by introducing new technologies, an improved educational environment, innovative methodologies and informal education.
Muzeiko is the largest scientific-educational center for children in Eastern Europe. The investment in Muzeiko amounts to $20.85 million – donated by the America for Bulgaria Foundation. The America for Bulgaria Foundation created and developed the idea for the children`s museum, managed the design and construction process and completed the building according to the initial design, time schedule and budget. ABF will continue supporting the center financially after its opening.
The 38,000 square foot (3,500 square meter) children's museum and science center in Bulgaria's capital is an energy-efficient building that features some of the most up-to-date sustainable strategies. Solar arrays, geothermal energy, natural daylighting and LED fixtures, among other energy-efficient technologies, will allow kids to enjoy the space and learn about robotics, electronics, woodworking and 3D printing.
The concept of the building, Site Planning, Architectural Design, Interpretive Planning/Exhibition and Interior Design and part of the Graphic Design were developed by LHSA+DP, NY, a leading American company specializing in the creation of children’s museums. The preliminary and final design, including architecture and engineering, design coordination and site supervision of Muzeiko’s was completed by one of the leading Bulgarian A/E companies - A&A Architects, Sofia – the Architects of record for the project.
While the design intent was tempered by overall project costs, the project was able to remain on budget and on schedule by working closely with the participants in the design and construction process - contractors, sub-contractors, manufacturers, designers and suppliers, as needed to maintain budget parameters and time frame.
The main contractor is the Sofia based company from Bigla III, with the following subcontractors: Ataro clima (HVAC, Mechanical), Kamo Build Group (Electric), TAL Engineering (Façade), Zenit-2 (metal structures), Re Energy (Geothermal), Automation+ (BMS), Studio Gurkov (Landscape), Walltopia (Central tree, Cave, Climbing wall), Triple Green Building Group (LEED Certification).
Everything in Muzeiko’s home has been thought out down to the last detail – from the specialized architecture, through energy efficiency, to the space for interactive exhibits, each of which piques children’s curiosity about science, engineering, ecology, communication and the arts.
All of Muzeiko’s content was developed by leading scientists, educators and designers and is in line with contemporary trends in education. The exhibits are based on the theory of learning through play and applied activities, multiple intelligences, suggestopedia, and other techniques for accelerated learning and expanding children’s potential. Muzeiko will take you to different epochs and challenge you to enter the role of a scientist – an archeologist, geologist, architect or astronaut.
Organized conceptually as a journey moving through time and space, visitors can explore three levels of exhibits in the facility and the science park around the building. On the lowest level, children explore “The Past” through exhibits interpreting archaeology, geology and paleontology. The ground floor is “The Present,” represented by hands-on exhibits about the natural environment and contemporary cities. The top floor is dedicated to “The Future” with interactive exhibitions exploring cutting-edge technologies and space travel.
The museum’s architectural theme, “Little Mountains,” is an allusion to Bulgaria’s mountainous topography. The structure’s glass volume is interrupted by three sculptural forms, or mountains, each referencing through its color scheme and texture indigenous craft traditions in the country. One mountainous form features abstracted patterns inspired by textiles and embroidery, another by glazed ceramics, and the third by traditional wood carving. The museum utilizes large areas of glass to reveal the interior and creating the feeling of openness and transparency about the activity inside, in contrast with most Bulgarian museums that appear imposing and monumental. Interactivity also extends to the site, which includes a science playground, a green roof and rooftop climbing wall, a rain garden, outdoor activity space and an amphitheater.
The building is designed in accordance with the LEED GOLD standard and includes a series of “green” technologies for generating and storing energy, with reduced energy expenditure and high-quality construction materials. As of September 30, 2015 we have officially received the final round of Construction Review and we have been awarded a total of 65 points which give the project LEED Gold certification from the US Green building council.
Muzeiko generates electricity in his own home, collects rain water and heats himself with geothermal energy. The design of the glass portions of the building has struck a careful balance between factors such as heat loss, reflectiveness, the parameters of the glass used, visual quality and variations in the availability of daylight, assuring a sufficient quantity of light and a visual connection with the surrounding environment, which increases employees’ comfort and productivity. The green roof also contributes to the building’s comfortable interior by reducing external noise and vibrations.
“We expect Muzeiko to play an important role as a modern educational institution of the 21st century, securing a place for our children that will provoke their curiosity and interest in science, technology, ecology and the arts. We are convinced that the children’s science center will have an impact on the local economy, educational system, our children’s early development and the creation of civil societies. Children’s museums around the world are attractive tourist destinations. In the United States, for example, 35 percent of all such projects lead to significant improvements of the infrastructure of their regions,” notes Desislava Talyokova, executive director of the America for Bulgaria Foundation.