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Samarth Rana, Kumar Abhidev & Hazel Bhatia

According to the brief of this competition, a museum had to be designed with the purpose to understand the effectiveness of variations of environmental and design elements upon human emotions. And the objective is to make the visitor understand the impact of different architectural spaces on their mind, to identify with their emotions and what are the environmental changes that they require for their well‐being.
The human life is full of chaos and suffering, with most of it being self-imposed. The fear of missing out and the fear of the unknown is something that this generation is very familiar with. With almost everyone comparing themselves to others, its easy to get jealous of others’ experiences. But more often than not, we all go through the same experiences but just at different points of our lives. Focusing on that, our project museum revolves around theme of dilemma, indecisiveness and the feeling of the unknown.
With these negative emotions plaguing our human existence, we often tend to not appreciate the little joys of our lives. We start taking them for granted and hence we become entitled and bored. This museum aims to break that cycle by deliberately providing spaces which induce discomfort and negative emotions so that once they are through with the museum, even the basic of the monotony of their lives seem interesting.
Set on a hypothetical site on the edge of a cliff, the museum is an introverted space with nothing of the inside visible from the outside, giving sense of mystery and the feeling of the unknown. With a monumental scale, its volumetric play and bare concrete walls, museum is an intimidating and foreboding structure set against the horizon, with its skylights projecting out, adding a rhythmic flow to the entire scenery. The undulating skylights represent the mountains, which are symbolic of the absolute, unchanging and the ineffable, still Reality.
The planning is based on the repetition and mirroring of a single module inspired from the golden ratio. The module consists of 7 exhibition spaces with interspersed break out spaces around a common courtyard. The access to all the rooms has been provided from the courtyard itself, allowing the visitors to take a break and absorb everything that they saw before moving from one exhibit to the other. Lightwells have been provided at strategic locations, so as to emphasize certain points and add a dramatic flair to the environment. There are variations in the area of the exhibit rooms adding interest and breaking the monotony of the environment. The same module is repeated 4 times, with the order of the exhibits changed in each of them, hence resulting in the change of scale and experience of every installation. The repetition of the same module has been done deliberately so as to give the visitors a chance to fully absorb the exhibits by seeing them in a different light with different spatial environment. It will also help the visitor understand the impact a spatial environment can have on the same installation/exhibit. The repetition of the same module has resulted in a hierarchy of the open spaces and a balance and symmetry in the entire plan.
The main central courtyard has a waterbody in the centre with a seating space around it and a mix of open to sky and semi covered spaces. The top of the waterbody is covered with a lattice(jaali) , creating interesting shadow patterns throughout the day with the sun movement. All of this combined with the calm and peacefulness of the entire space, makes for a perfect spot to sit back and connect with one’s mind spiritually and emotionally. The rippling water in the pond in the centre, distorts one’s reflection and stimulates the thought process of questioning if we know who we really are. A similar plan with the same spaces and some slight variations has been followed for the first floor, with bridges connecting the different modules.
ENTRANCE-The dilemma starts from the moment one has to enter the museum. On the entrance itself, one has to choose to either go to the first floor via the staircase or the ground floor through the entrance hall. Once the choice has been made, one cannot retrace their steps and experience the other floor as well. With only the exterior visible and no idea of what lay ahead, let alone the knowledge of whether both the floors have the same spaces or not, it creates a mental pressure to choose the “correct” option so as to have the best experience. The sense of mystery and the unknown leads to a fear of missing out and the constant worry if they have made the “wrong” choice. This will induce a feeling of tension in the visitors throughout the tour of the museum.
Different spaces have been provided in the room to trigger different emotions as follows:
Mirror room- This space has its each and every surface covered with mirrors, bringing forth a sense of the infinite and disorientation and crowding in a person.
Colour room- Colours have a huge impact of one’s emotions. While there are some which can uplift one’s mood, there also some colours when looked at for too long can create a sense a of discomfort and dizziness. Neon colours especially tend to have that effect. This space will have all the walls as well as the ceiling and the floor painted in such colours to cause discomfort via the sense of vision.
Star room- a room with teeny tiny holes in the walls allowing narrow shafts of light to enter a dark room sparkling like stars in the night. The dark would symbolise the hopelessness in life and the shafts of light would symbolise the rays of hope. With something as vast and infinite as the stars captured in a room, one would not be able to help but feel the tendrils of hope creep in.
Drapery room- A room full of hanging translucent sheer fabrics allowing you to see through them but you can't just pass through them and have to move around reach the end. With the light free flowing fabric and its soft touch all one could feel is a bit whimsical and surreal.
Chaos room- One’s mind can at times be a dark space full of chaos if not kept in control. A physical manifestation of this state of mind would define the chaos room with dark interiors and strings and thread hanging around from the walls and ceiling like cobwebs in an abandoned house. With the space full of clutter, the entire space would resonate with hopelessness.
Mist room- A room of total darkness and mist all around. With no sight, the only way to navigate would be to rely on all the other senses by being mindful to one’s own self.
At end of the museum, the visitors would all get united again, with the ones from the first floor coming down to the ground floor via the staircase at the end and the ones from the ground floor going through the exit hall. One exits the same way they enter and they find themselves at the cliff overlooking the beach with a ramp and an array of windchimes along the ramp leading to it before them. The light chiming of the windchimes with the subtle sea breeze and the sound of the ocean waves, makes for a fitting end to the entire experience of the museum symbolising freedom from one’s own shackles.

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