Italian designer Andrea Branzi collaborated with 2A+P/A to design a remarkable new art museum that takes the form of a light-filled urban forest. Planned for Slovenia, the New Maribor Museum attempts mix the daily activities of city life into the museum’s exhibits. Covered in a completely transparent skin, the museum gives one the sense of looking in on an aquarium — the indoor gardens and exhibit halls are bustling with creativity, while the artificial trees generate energy and regulate the indoor climate.
The structure takes the form of a large, clear rectangular box filled with architectural elements shaped like “trees” that give the impression of a forest. Indoor greenhouses and sunken gardens dot the interior landscape, while three stepped platforms provide visitors access to different levels inside the museum. Ramps lead to the tops of the “trees” from which visitors can visit, lounge and explore. The museum contains areas for exhibits, theaters, cafes, a bookstore and a gift shop, a children’s museum, a library and archives as well as office space.
Light suffuses the main part of the structure and filters down through the sunken gardens to the levels below. The trees also serve as environmental controls that help regulate the indoor climate. Some of the trees are structured as chimneys to facilitate natural ventilation, while others are outfitted with photovoltaic panels to generate renewable energy. Still more tree towers collect rainwater to irrigate the indoor green halls, and some serve as light tubes to pull light down to the floors below. Those are some pretty spectacular and useful trees!