The new Museum of Natural Sciences (MUSE), designed by Renzo Piano, is expected to open in early 2012 in Trento, Italy. Built on the brownfield site of a former Michelin tire manufacturing plant, MUSE will become an integral part of the central city and host a range of exhibitions devoted entirely to the natural sciences and ecosystems surrounding Trento. Renewable energy will help power the building, which was inspired by the nearby mountains, while harvested rainwater will irrigate an indoor tropical garden. The energy efficient building is aiming for LEED Silver certification.
MUSE is located on an 11-hectare brownfield industrial area adjacent to the Adige river and what used to be a Michelin tire factory. The factory was on the edge of the city center and effectively cut residents off from the river, and once the factory closed, the site became completely neglected. The new museum is part of a much larger redevelopment project that includes housing, leisure, commerce and office space and reconnects the area to the city center. The entire project is designed by Renzo Piano, and the first stage, which is the museum, will be completed in early 2012.
The 140 meter-long building features peaks and valleys that are inspired by the mountains surrounding Trento. Exhibits inside the museum will be specifically tied to ecosystems of the alpine and coastal environments of Northern Italy. A large lobby conceived as a covered piazza welcomes visitors to the museum. From there visitors can explore the exhibits or a large indoor tropical garden. The building is surrounded by a moat and appears to float on the water.
Energy efficiency was one of the top priorities for the design of the museum, and Renzo Piano and his team implemented a number of sustainable design strategies to minimize energy use. Many of the facades are clad with green stone to absorb solar energy, while natural ventilation helps keep the building cool when necessary. Windows and facades were carefully designed to optimize the building’s thermal properties, and daylighting reduces the energy load from lighting.
Photovoltaic panels on the roof produce some electricity for the building and a geothermal system provides energy-efficient heating and cooling. Rainwater collected from the roof reduces the building’s water usage by 50% and is used to irrigate the indoor garden. Some of the materials are sourced locally and bamboo is used for the exhibition floors. Finally, space is provided for bike parking along with showers and changing rooms for employees, and car parking spaces are limited to encourage the use of public transportation.