Studio Emergence, a Mumbai-based Parametric Architecture firm, is extremely honoured to present its work for the prestigious Visakhapatnam Planetarium that has been spearheaded by VMRDA, Government of Andhra Pradesh.
Project Name: Hybrid Planetarium
Architect: Studio Emergence
Structural Engineer: Gloentech Private Limited PMC: AP Urban Infrastructure
DPR : Creative Museum Designers, NCSM, Kolkatta Client: VMRDA
Status: Tender Stage
Located at the iconic Kailasgiri Hill-Top Park at the edge of the Bay of Bengal, that overlooks this emerging city, the Planetarium has been designed to provoke and encourage the study of Educational Astrophysics among AP’S students as well as provide Edutainment for adults. Studio Emergence was brought on board to create a space that inspires awe – one that is ripe for learning
and research. Rooted in principles of astronomy, the design of the Planetarium is inspired by the Black Hole, a mysterious yet all-powerful phenomenon which was recently documented by the world’s astrophysicists. The Black Hole idea was then brought to reality by a process of abstraction and optimization wherein its form was reinterpreted through the lens of architecture.
With the potential of Visakhapatnam unfurling year after year as it is set to become the executive capital of Andhra Pradesh, the city is being recognized and funded by national and international bodies. For this project, Kailasgiri Hilltop park, which is pristine eco-tourist development spread across 380 acres forms the canvas for the Hybrid planetarium and other activities. The hilltop currently has a no-car policy and the only way to access the same is by a cable car or on foot. Sweeping views of the entire city and the beach embrace you as you reach the top.
The Hybrid Planetarium is a part of the Science City initiative to create infrastructure and edutainment for the children of the State and outskirts. Inspired from the past, advancing towards the future; the Hybrid Planetarium is a case study in Biomimicry, Aerodynamics and Digital Fabrication. While designing a Planetarium, a lot of theories related to astronomy were studied that could spark curiosity, the study and research of Black Holes intrigued due to their unpredictable nature in space. The unpredictable nature of these bodies in space was an inspiration to create abstract morphology by using references of the recently-caught images of the Black Hole by NASA.
The black hole idea was then brought to reality via a process of abstraction and optimization. The design mainly consists of four major structural parts amalgamated together, the external ramp connecting the entrance, the outer ring, the inner ring, and the dome. The dome of the Planetarium replicates the glowing doughnut shape of the black hole, which will also be lit by LED surface on the exterior surface to visually highlight the concept of space and celestial bodies.
The outer ring which curves around the structure replicates the dust and gas orbiting the black hole’s point of no return. As one walks through the ramp, we enter the upper level of the Planetarium Inner ring, which houses the main Celestial lobby and Planetarium Dome. One can gaze through the clear skies through telescopes in this playful space. After that, one can experience the Dome shows according to schedules and then access to the outer exhibition ring housing current affairs related to astronomy.
As you move down towards the lower level, the astronomy and physics experiments gallery take the patrons though the fun part of science. Various spaces are designed in conjunction with the geometries of these galleries. Ancillary spaces like the cafeteria, exhibition spaces, Admin and office spaces, astronomy club, library are designed keeping in mind the circulation patterns, proximities, and easier accessibility to spaces.
The physical geometry of a building affects its aerodynamics properties and how well it can withstand the cyclone since the site is located in a cyclone prone zone. The design was moulded after studying advanced wind and daylight analysis to create the optimized design solution which responds well to a sensitive environment. Geodesic dome roofs or buildings have low drag coefficients and can withstand higher wind forces than a square building of the same area. Moreover, openings have been strategically placed on the outer ring of the structure at a good height such that these become conduits for air movement and reduce stresses on the structure. Rings of skylight have been provided in the design to maximize the amount of daylight entering the public space, also utilizing less electricity throughout the day.
The nature of this structure is based on a futuristic yet sustainable design, considering that knowledge of space is infinite and ever-growing in the future. To replicate the complex form and structure of a Black Hole, advanced construction techniques were essential to bring this project to reality. This design includes the use of high end bent steel and digital fabrication of the GFRP panels to create the curvilinear shape of the façade.
The design also talks about the concept of visually entering the vast space of a black hole by creating rings around the main structure which overlap in the centre and move away from each other on two sides. The cantilevered ring of 50m span is possible with the balanced saddle shape ring. Fibre Reinforced Concrete panels are used as exterior panelling of the structure for a seamless visual of Planetarium.
The team work along with experts from different areas like the Creative Museum designers from NSCM, the structural engineers and the visionary team from AP urban Infrastructure and VMRDA has been a good experience. IIT Mumbai has been a catalyst in promoting these complex geometries and validating their structural integrity. The collaboration from all of these bodies has helped us, as architects bring this
project closer to reality. The Supportive administrative body also shows that Visakhapatnam is ready for the future and it’s position as an upcoming major metro city in the near future. Honour of being associated with such a prestigious project that is set to transform one of India’s up-and-coming cities’ skylines, and pride because of the individualistic approach and critical thinking is appreciated and cherished.
“As the architectural landscape of India is growing and evolving, we at Studio Emergence believe in a vision that’s different, bold, yet intuitive. We believe architecture, when amalgamated with context and technology ethically, can synergise built spaces with nature and inspire experiences that reconnect us to our roots.”
Khushbu Davda & Seeja Sudhakaran, Co-Founders, Studio Emergence
The Planetarium project has been a challenging yet fun project for us. The Architects at Studio emergence have come up with innovative ideas and solutions for the project and we are really looking forward to commencing the construction of this project. This project will be one of the most unique projects in Andhra Pradesh and will soon become a major tourist destination. – Mr. Narayan Reddy, CEO, APUIAML (PMC, Hybrid Planetarium)