Architect : Simplex Architecture
The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part. The islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Today, since this Island is open to public, the natural inhabitants Introduced plants and animals, such as feral goats, cats, and cattle, brought accidentally or willingly to the islands by humans, represent the main threat to Galápagos. Quick to reproduce and with no natural predators, these alien species decimated the habitats of native species. The native animals, lacking natural predators on the islands, are defenseless to introduced predators.
The proposed Galápagos Interpretation Center is not only a place to learn and understand the Galápagos Islands, but also an artificial landscape that provides a habitat for all the native species in the Galápagos Islands. The topography of the mountain is extended towards the ocean side, as a extension of the nature. The nature is unobstructed by the building, since the rooftop of the building is on the same level as the ground level, functioning as a pedestrian walk ways as well as a place for the animals occupy.
All the space for the Interpretation Center is located below the ground level, ramping down from the pedestrian walk way. However, since the building is cantilevered out from the cliff of the mountain, the building has plenty of natural lights coming in, and also a full ocean view from each side of the building. The Interpretation Center is nestled into the mountain and conceived as a part of the natural ground from the access level, yet provides an unprecedented scenery from below, with the interesting form of the building. The building is deeply rooted into the ground, with the tapered cantilever structure. The shape of the building in plan also has a pointy edge, which mimics the shape of the stones in the Galápagos Islands, so that it is conceived as a natural element.
At the ground level of the Interpretation Center, which is the rooftop of the building, people will encounter the native animals of the Galápagos Islands. Since it is very important to understand the characteristics of these animals to understand the Galápagos Islands, people will be familiar with these natural inhabitants before entering the building.
As people walk into the building using the ramp, people will come across the main lobby of the Interpretation Center. This lobby is a reception area for the visitors, as well as a rest area for people to take a rest, wait for other people, and enjoy the scenery outside the building. The facade of the building consists of mixture of clear glass and fritted glass, which provides an interesting look from outside as well as a versatile pattern of shadows created by the sunlight. Passing by the reception area, the exhibition area will welcome visitors with the information about the Galápagos Islands, including Charles Darwin’s study on the islands. This floor also has the multimedia classrooms, which can be used to hold lectures, small conferences, instructional videos, etc.
The vertically tapered shape of the building functions as a ramp for the visitors to access the second basement floor from the first basement floor. A cafeteria with open table area with the ocean view is located on this floor, where people can sit around and have food or beverages. On the other side of the cafeteria, hostel rooms with 4 people dormitories are provided, in order to provide accommodations. All the hostel rooms have ocean views, as well as separate bathrooms and changing rooms to share among the guests.
The Galápagos Interpretation Center will provide the visitors information about the Galápagos Islands as well as promote a creative learning environment, seeking to reveal to the visitors the significance of cultural heritage of the place.