A116Shkodra Lake Museum and Visitor Centre (The Nest)
Shkodra, Albania. 2017-
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Client: Municipality of Shkodra / Albanian Development Fund (ADF)
Program: Shkodra Lake Museum and Visitor Centre
Site Area: 1120 m2
Current phase: Technical phase finished

CONCEPT

The Museum of Shkodra Lake & Visitor Centre is designed as a light structure made of wood and steel, located on top of the existing concrete pier of Shiroka's shore. The building, named "The Nest", will be a new landmark in the landscape and will become the iconic image of the new recreational, cultural and ecological network of the Shkodra Lake.

Situated over the water, it is reached by a pedestrian bridge made of wood that connects Shiroka square with the entrance square. From there, a helicoidal ramp allows visitors to reach several viewing platforms ending in a top panoramic platform on the roof of the building from where it is possible to enjoy a privileged 360 degrees view of the lake and the mountains.

The building works as an attracting point for locals and visitors alike, and hosts two connected parts: the Shkodra Lake Museum that provides information and activities related to the history of the lake and its ecology, and the Shkodra Lake Visitor Centre that provides tourist information and rental facilities to explore and discover the lake and its surroundings.

SPACE

The interior space of the museum is divided into three zones:

1. An interior helicoidal ramp located underneath the exterior ramp that connects the museum square, platforms and roof terrace. This ascendant ramp presents the exhibition about the Shkodra Lake Ecosystem. It is organized as a virtual trip showing the biodiversity of the lake. It starts in the Water section, which presents the aquatic plants and animals, continues with the Earth section, presenting the terrestrial animals living at the shore, and finishes in the Air section that shows the life of insects and birds.

2. A central vertical space that is limited by the walls of the interior helicoidal ramp. This double height space is illuminated by the natural light filtered through five skylights located in the roof. The central space presents a chronological exhibition about the history of Shkodra Lake and is linked to a thematic exhibition that shows different aspects of the lake culture.

3. A series of spaces connected to the exterior platforms and to the interior helicoidal ramp, such as the entrance hall, the multifunctional room, the temporary exhibition room and the cafeteria. They have independent accesses from the exterior platforms as well, which allows visitors to use them with a certain degree of autonomy. These spaces can therefore be opened when the museum is closed or can be rented for events.

PROGRAM

The program of the building is divided into the following sections:

1. VISITOR FACILITIES AND TOURIST INFORMATION (ground floor and first level)

1.1 Entrance hall and info-desk

The entrance hall and info-desk is located on ground floor and it is accessible from the Entrance Square. At the info-desk, visitors will find tourist information, museum tickets and rental facilities for kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling and bikes. The shop is integrated into the info-desk and will be specialized in local products, guides and books about the area, and about the different kinds of birds, plants and flowers that visitors will see when exploring it.

1.2 Cloakroom

The cloakroom is placed in the service area located in front of the info-desk, in a position that can be visually controlled by the museum staff.

1.3 Toilets

The toilets are placed in the service area located in front of the info-desk, near the cloakroom and also in a position that can be visually controlled by the museum staff.
There are two cabins, one for man and another for women, and one of them is equipped for disabled people.
1.4 Lift

The lift is placed in the service area located in front of the info-desk, in a position that can be visually controlled by the museum staff. It has capacity for disable people and connects the ground floor with the first floor where the temporary exhibitions are located.
The lift is meant to be used mostly by disable people and people with problems of mobility, while most of the visitors will use the ramp and stairs of the museum.

1.5 Cafeteria

The Lake Café is placed on the first floor and it is accessible from the interior of the building. It has also an independent access from the café terrace connected to the exterior public ramp in a way that it can be rented and run independently from the Museum and the Visitor Center.

2. EDUCATIONAL AREA

The Shkodra Lake Museum is an unforgettable learning destination for children, youth and adults. Its mission is to promote environmental education and research, while simultaneously providing entertainment for visitors of all ages. Educational workshops will be organized for schools and groups with the aim of underlining the importance of respecting the ecosystems, awaking the respect for nature in the younger generations.
The Centre's programme will also work on the engagement of the local community to protect the local environment,
developing eco-awareness through competitions and events.

The educational area is divided into two rooms:

2.1 Multifunctional room (ground floor)

It is located close to the entrance hall with visual contact with the info-desk. It has a sliding partition wall that can insulate acoustically the room when needed and it is equipped with a video projector and a projection screen integrated in the false ceiling. There are three basic layouts that can be organized in this room by using different furniture:

- Info-lounge. This will be the most common layout in which the sliding wall is open and the space is occupied by a lounge area with tourist information.

- Conference room. In this layout the multifunctional room is equipped with chairs and the sliding wall is closed to provide acoustic insulation. Blinders regulate the luminosity of the room and lectures can be organized using the projector and the sound equipment of the room.

- Workshops. In this layout the room is equipped with tables and chairs that can be displayed in several ways to allow groups of children and adults to work together.

2.2 Educational room (ground floor)

The educational room is a small room located on ground floor, near the administration area. It is a space designed to be used by children due to the low height of the ceiling, around 2.4 m. It is equipped with cushions and small tables for children to play on the wooden floor. It has access to a exterior terrace separated from the public space for organizing outdoor activities for children.

3. EXHIBITIONS

3.1 Permanent exhibition (ground floor and first level)

Shkodra Lake Ecosystem and biodiversity.
An interactive exhibition explains visitors the functioning of the ecosystem of Shkodra Lake, teaching children and adults how to appreciate its large biodiversity and how to recognize its fauna, flora and more than 300 different species of birds with interactive devices.

History of Shkodra Lake.
A permanent exhibition explains visitors the history of the Shkodra Lake and its importance, not only for the city of Shkodra but also for the Balkan Peninsula. Three videos show visitors the different periods of the history of the lake.

Shkodra lake Culture.
From ancient times, Shkodra Lake has been the origin of many forms of culture, such as handicrafts, fishing culture, culinary culture and myths and legends. Also the lake has been an inspiration source for writers, painters and photographers. The exhibition shows all these cultures in relation with the history of the lake.

3.2. Temporary exhibition (first level)

The programme of temporary exhibitions is a flexible tool that allows to keep the centre alive, attracting very different kinds of public, many of them locals, that will repeat the visit to the centre to visit the new exhibitions. Temporary exhibitions work also as an attractive showcase to promote many people and organizations who work promoting the ecological and cultural values of the lake: ecological groups, local craftsmen, local artists, historians, etc.

4. ADMINISTRATION (ground floor)

The administration area is located near the info-desk, the multi-functional room, the educational room and the service area in a way that the staff of the museum can reach the main working and service areas with a short walk.

4.1 Office

The office space is placed on the southeast facade of the building. It has a long window that provides natural light, views over the lake and access over a terrace.

4.2 Storage

Apart of the storage space provided in the office space, there is an extra storage room located close to the office. There are other smaller storage spaces integrated into the walls of the building and under the ramps of the ground floor, convenient to store furniture for the multi-functional room and the material available in the tourist information.

5. TECHNICAL ROOM (ground floor)

The technical room is located on ground floor in a space located underneath the cafeteria. It is vertically connected with it through a shaft that could distribute conducts and pipes through the false ceiling of the main rooms.

6. STORAGE OF RENTAL FACILITIES (ground floor)

Part of the terrace located underneath the exterior ramp is used as a storage for the rental material available at the info-desk. Bicycles are stored near the administration area and water sport material, such as kayaks, paddle boards, and snorkeling are stored in the terrace located at the back of the installation room. The storage area is accessible from the administration area, but also from the museum square, which makes it possible for visitors to rent a bicycle and ride directly along the bridge or to rent water sport material and go directly to the water using the ramp that connects with the floating platform underneath the building.


MUSEUM IDENTITY AND GRAPHIC DESIGN

The Museum of Shkodra Lake has been named The Nest to symbolize the goal of the museum, which is not only to present the ecological richness and biodiversity of Shkodra Lake but also to incubate ecological awareness with exhibitions and activities.

The logo of the Nest is an abstract image made of many intersected lines and it is inspired, on the one hand, by the exterior aspect of the museum when it is observed from the lake, and, on the other hand, by the wooden constructions made by birds, such as the pelicans that inhabit the lake.

The logo of the Nest is integrated into different elements of the building such as the entrance board placed at the entrance square or the furniture and walls of the interior spaces of the building. The graphic design of the signs of the building is inspired by the logo, that contrary to conventional graphic design, is made by hand, showing the human trace as the identity of the building.

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