Eastern Europe’s First Children’s Museum and Science Center, Designed by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership MUZEIKO, a new science discovery center for kids and families in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia,adopts U.S. best practices in immersive experience and “informal learning.” Organized conceptually as a journey moving through time and space, visitors can explore three levels of exhibits in the 35,000 sf (3,250 sm) facility. 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 team of architects, interior designers and exhibition and graphic specialists have conceived the science center’s personality to reflect Bulgaria’s special character, beginning with the three major types of traditional Bulgarian crafts: decorative woodcarving, glazed ceramics, and textile embroidery. Each craft is represented as a pattern on the facing of the “little mountains”, which appear on both the outside and inside of the museum. In keeping with the wishes of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, which sought a distinctive, inventive design, Skolnick’s design departs sharply from the country’s traditional museum buildings, many built in the early 20th century with limitedwindows and in neoclassical. Source by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership.
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria
Architects: Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership
Design Principal: Lee H. Skolnick, FAIA
Managing Principal: Paul S. Alter, AIA
Director of Museum Services: Jo Ann Secor
Project Manager: Scott Briggs
Project Architect: Larry Sassi
Photographs: Roland Halbe, Courtesy of Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership