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The Kazakhstan Pavilion and Science Museum is the iconic, high-performing centerpiece of EXPO-2017, last year’s international exposition. The building accomplishes the client’s goals of a spherical-shaped building, while also meet the designer’s programmatic and sustainability goals.
A pure-glass sphere—smooth, not faceted like a typical geosphere structure—was envisioned. The innovative, double-curved-glass façade gently curves in three dimensions. To achieve these results, the glass fabricator heated the glass in special ovens until the material was soft enough to take the form of a mold and then slowly cooled.
The 80-meter-diameter structure is slightly modified from a perfect sphere. The form was tested and modeled to determine how to minimize energy use, maximize daylighting, control glare, and take advantage of renewable sources with integrated photovoltaics and wind turbines.
The sphere is supported by a central double core that is used to organize stairways and support functions such as service elevators and restrooms. A central atrium is surrounded by eight passenger elevators where visitors can experience the building and exhibitions as they travel on glass elevators from the ground level plaza to the top observation and event space.
At the base, a covered access plaza organizes the entry sequence to the museum floors and provides additional exhibition space. Visitors can walk under the sphere and see into the interior spaces for alternative vantage points. Levels 2-7 are designated exhibition floors and level 8, the highest floor, is an event space with a viewing platform to observe optimum views of Astana.
Sustainable Design Intent and Innovation
The epitome the EXPO-2017 theme “Future Energy,” is the exposition’s centerpiece, the Kazakhstan Pavilion and Science Museum, which seeks to educate visitors about our complex relationship with energy use.
The design team used Building Information Modeling (BIM) to explore multiple iterations of the design in a virtual space early in the design process. Each version was analyzed for design expression, energy impact, and structural integrity. The sphere’s complex design required close collaboration with the structural consultant for all opportunities for energy generation to be investigated, and several were incorporated into the building’s design.
After the initial form was chosen, more detailed analysis was conducted using Rhino/Grasshopper to further refine the form and to maximize sun exposure for the solar panels. Many investigations were completed and tested to integrate the BIPV panels while balancing the requirements of other critical building components such as MEP surface area requirements, collision with other architectural elements, maximizing wind swept area for the turbines, and the rationalization the double-curved minimal surface geometry. Ultimately Building Integrated Photo Voltaic cells (BIPV) were installed at the top of the sphere to generate renewable energy for the building.
During the testing phase, the energy model predicted 81,056 kWh/yr of electricity or 2.21% of total energy demand.
To further improve energy generation, a scoop was carved out of the building’s top on for wind turbines. Countless designs were modeled and tested to find an appropriate form that responded to the programmatic requirements but that also optimized the amount of energy generation that could occur. For the design of the sphere these iterations focused on the wind energy that could be harvested from the surface of the sphere. The design team worked closely with wind engineers to design and test multiple overall building forms and eventually the various shape of an inlet on the surface of the building. Predominant southwest winds activate the turbines that were designed specifically for the harsh winter conditions of Astana. The turbines are predicted to produce a total of 52,700 kWh/yr of electricity or the equivalent of 1.6% of the buildings total electricity demand or 0.9% of total energy demand.
Other sustainable strategies that reduce energy costs include:
- High-performance glazing maximizes solar heat gain in winter while providing shading in the summer. All glazing is ultra-clear low-iron glass with low-E coating and ceramic frit in a varied pattern.
- The horizontal mullions support a perforated enclosure with a radiant heating tube system.
- Efficient LED lighting is integrated into the exterior curtain wall mullion system.
- A Building Management System (BMS) controlled shading system is integrated into the exterior wall mullion system.
The building incorporates PV that is integrated into the glazing of the air scoop and housing for the wind turbines that are mounted at the top of the pavilion. The monocrystalline semi-transparent BIPV panels range from 40% to 80% density. The energy model created for the project specified a target of 81,056 kWh/yr of electricity. Currently about 2.21% of the building’s energy demand is created from the PV system.
28% of the post expo electrical demand will be met from on-site BIPV energy systems. The total post-expo grid energy demand is 47% less than an ASHRAE 90.1 2010 Baseline, while the office buildings during post-expo will use 21%-39% less energy than ASHRAE 90.1:2010 Baseline (overall reduction is 38%).
• Predicted EUI in kBtu/sf/yr excluding on-site renewable energy contribution: 85
• Predicted EUI in kBtu/sf/yr including on-site renewable energy contribution (carbon offsets will not be counted): 83
• Predicted % regional energy reduction per Energy Star Target Finder: 12
Located south of Bayterek Tower and east of Nazarbayev University, the Kazakhstan Pavilion and Science Museum is the centerpiece of EXPO-2017 and is positioned to become a significant new landmark for Astana. The theme of the expo, “Future Energy,” reflects a broader community interest with the problem of energy consumption, which is having an increasingly negative impact on our planet. A major objective of the exposition was to engage people in a call for responsibility, one that fosters a discussion and works to develop a knowledge that will enable people to plan and control energy consumption on our planet and to minimize damage to the environment.
The main goal of the Kazakhstan Pavilion and Science Museum was to offer an ideal example of universal design. The team knew early in the design process that their roles as architects and planners would go beyond the delivery of standard design. The goal was to design a building that would be a symbol of pride for everyone in the community. It was important that designers work toward a higher standard for urban development and architectural design, one that would serve the needs of a diverse 21st-Century community. For example, the entire building is accessible to people with disabilities. People in wheelchairs will be able to access all levels and spaces of the building and the exhibits are multi-sensory, meaning they can be enjoyed by people who are deaf or blind. The building is also design for all ages in mind, with interactive displays at different heights, for different educational levels, and different interests.
The entire park is currently transforming into a cultural and research park. In studying the fate of previous exposition sites, the design team learned that the approval needed for a legacy development is often difficult and lengthy to obtain from the client perspective due to upfront fundraising. The designer worked closely with the client and the governments in Astana and Kazakhstan to develop a building that in many instances challenged the established standards, obsolete codes, and regulations. Through creativity, patience, and compromise the team was able to successfully procure and implement a sustainable building that can catalyze a new city development in a totally new way.
The team always approached the project focusing on the design of a high-performing and integrated post-expo community. While the three-month exposition phase was the immediate goal, once concluded the Expo site will transition into a permanent development that serves the needs of a 21st Century community that will benefit the entire community in Astana. The site currently has a walk score of 84, as it is close to amenities and public transportation options.
Water savings for the project is tied into the overall master plan of EXPO-2017 and current water savings have not been determined. The site-wide water infrastructure is an integration of occupants, buildings, and utilities. A smart energy grid, smart recycled water grid, integrated waste management system, and inter-seasonal underground thermal energy storage is being developed under the purview of a sustainable design group with sustainability goals that include peak and total energy demand reduction, water reduction, and waste to landfill reduction targets.
Because of this approach, the post-expo development will be one of the most sustainably built in the world. 100% of the post-expo non-potable water demand will be provided by the on-site water reclamation facility.
It was important to the client that the expo centerpiece be spherical in shape. The designer was inspired by forms from expos in the past, like the Montreal Biodome from Expo ’67. But they wanted to take the example a step further and instead of segmented glass, like other geostructures around the world, it was decided to use double-curved, insulated, fritted glass. While the “pure-glass sphere” form posed unique engineering challenges due to the undefined transition of heat across its surface—which the team solved by using convection to move air throughout the space—fabricating the glass panels proved an engineering feat of its own.
To ensure that the client received the sphere that they envisioned, and to maximize views from the inside and reduce the number of glass panels, the team opted for a three-meter-sized lite for a total of about 2,900 double-curved spherical panels with an additional 315 double-curved panels to make up the side walls of the wind turbine inlet at the top of the sphere, as well as 388 flat panels with integrated photovoltaics.
The resulting site-wide infrastructure concept fully integrates the occupants, buildings, and utilities using a smart-energy grid, a smart recycled-water grid, an integrated waste-management system, and an inter-seasonal underground thermal energy storage system. The grid’s goal is to manage the Expo community’s sustainability goals including peak and total energy-demand reduction, water reduction, and waste-to-landfill reduction. The current plan is that 90% of waste generated on site will be diverted from a landfill.
It was also specified that all insulation (a significant component of the energy performance strategy) was accompanied by third party verified EPDs allowing us to reduce the Global Warming Potential and other environmental impacts of the materials used on the project.
Design Architect (FIRM)
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Building Information Specialist