ArtScience Museum

Year:2011

Duration:3 years

Cost:Unknown

Country: Singapore

What did this project achieve?

The first museum of its kind in the world

The diverse exhibitions especially focus on connecting art and science through digital technologies and allowing young people to explore the real and digital world in new ways.

It has 21 galleries in total across 6,000 square metres.

The museum has a display about the creative and scientific engineering processes in building the museum. On exhibit are original sketches and design models, as well as descriptions of the engineering research carried out for construction during construction.

Difference the project has made

The ArtScience museum is a major part of the new developments breathing life into Singapore's Marina Bay and significantly boosting the state’s tourism trade.

How the work was done

This spectacular building is part of the Marina Bay Sands complex, built on land engineers have reclaimed from the sea and next to the famous Bay Gardens.

The construction has a circular core around which radiate 10 ‘fingers’ housing different galleries. Each ‘finger’ gallery space has a large window at the end, allowing a lot of natural light to illuminate the curved spaces within. The tallest finger is 60 metres above ground. The building’s design is also often compared to a lotus flower.

The ‘upside-down’ building appears to ‘float’ above a strong steel lattice structure at its core and 10 tall steel columns supporting the outer petals or fingers.

The architect’s design was translated into a buildable structure by using a wireframe model and 3D modelling software. The drawings produced using the modelling software were then used to make the unusual steel structure.

Each structural steel had different measurements – if any of the 5,000 pieces were produced in the wrong size, then this incredibly complex 3D jigsaw wouldn’t have fitted together.

Trying to make a building stand upside down was a challenge, explains Peter Bowtell, Buildings Leader for Arup in Australasia.

“With one side of the ‘lotus flower’ bigger than the other, the structure naturally wants to fall to one side. To get around this we had to design a rational and simple way of holding these galleries in the air. The final solution involved balancing the structure in space and dealing with very complex geometry.”

Fascinating facts

The outside of the building is covered with a fibre-reinforced polymer usually used in boat and yacht construction.

The building’s eco-friendly credentials include harvesting rainwater for domestic use, which is channelled through the bowl-like roof, falling in a spectacular waterfall into a central pond.

The museum has its air conditioning built into the floor to help save energy – by lowering the temperature at the visitor’s height, rather than trying to cool the entire space.

People who made it happen

  • Arup consulted on the design and structure
  • Yongnam detailed and fabricated the steel skeleton

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