The Interactive Children’s Museum Papalote Verde Monterrey, now under construction in Mexico, is a full-throated effort to reduce building impact and inspire inhabitants through sustainable design. The museum is a mix of old and new, with a provocative twist that comes by submerging an addition into the landscape and hosting glass-lined chasms to feed light into the exhibition spaces. Architect Iñaki Echeverria's vision is a splendid attempt to integrate green building with the museum’s educational role, incorporating exhibit halls, a vertical garden and even an underground IMAX theater.
Standing at the site of an old steel mill, the reclaimed buildings will host administration, storage, exhibit development, and an eatery in the old brick buildings. Adjacent to the original buildings rests the submerged museum, an immersed educational resource that director Marinela Servitje explains is for “children and their families interested in nature, natural resources, flora, fauna, water, wind, earth, energy.” The design, which literally becomes part of the landscapes helps provide a connection with the exhibits and the environment in addition to preserving the existing viewscape.
The museum is separated into three main sections; an exhibit hall, IMAX Theater and a vertical garden. The central hall’s glazed roof is protected by shade devices, but the open multi-story floor plan allows for sunlight to reach deep into the interior and the lower open-air plaza. An observation tower thrusts into the sky.
The roof will be covered in native species and extend into the landscape using three planting themes that reflect different local eco-systems. Underneath, the museum is connected by submerged halls that visitors to take multiple tracks through the complex.
A 300-seat subterranean IMAX Theater will be naturally cooled by the earth, making it one of the most unique in the world. 20% of the building will be constructed with recycled materials and another 20% using only locally sourced and produced materials.
Like the California Academy of Sciences, the Children’s Museum’s integration of a nature-science museum and green building is a powerful experience that allows the public to explore how buildings can enhance experiences while reducing impact.