Safdie Architects’ Artscience Museum in Singapore looks like a giant lilypad floating on the Bay waterfront. Each of its 10 petals has a skylight that lets natural light into its large gallery spaces. The building collects rainwater and creates a waterfall through the center of the museum that supplies an interior pond with freshwater.
The museum, the structure of which was conceived by Arup, is supported by a complex steel lattice and 10 columns that come together toward the bottom in a basket-like shape. The envelope is made out of a double-curved layer of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) commonly used in the construction of boats and yachts. The building is accessed through a free-standing glass pavilion whose lower and upper galleries, amounting to an area of 6,000 square meters, are connected with elevators and escalators.
The spheroid structure floats above the landscaped pond and rises toward the sky with its fingers of varying heights. The fingers, or petals, are clad in bead-blasted stainless steel panels. FRP’s were used for the facades thanks to a joint-free system which creates a sense of lightness.