Science World’s iconic, geodesic dome from Expo 1986 is a well-known Vancouver landmark. And with approximately 700,000 visitors a year, the science center is one of its most popular attractions.
Science World offers experiential learning in a variety of galleries and circulation spaces with different themes that require a unique look and feel. Good design is key to creating a positive experience for visitors, and material choice is equally important in creating spaces that offer long term performance with enhanced flexibility.
Jodie Braaten, senior exhibition designer for Science World, oversees and manages the design of exhibition and gallery spaces throughout the building. Galleries range from quieter, focused learning in the natural history and tinkering spaces to higher energy, interactive experience in the Eureka physics gallery. She says, “When I’m designing the galleries, it is important to me that they look and feel different. We don’t change flooring very often because it’s quite an undertaking. So, I’m always looking for versatility in the products I’m selectingto have a lot of design flexibility.”
Because of the museum’s complex structure, she first considers the flow of visitors as they travel throughout the space. She says, “Flooring is essential to me because I’m creating direction and highlighting specific areas of the galleries through pattern and color. It’s subliminal in a way, using design to lead them in a certain direction and draw sightlines todifferent areas.”
Braaten recalls the impact of changing the flooring in the second circulation space. It’s a large space, and she advocated for years to convince people it was worth the sizable investment of replacing it. The original installation was sheet goods, and the flooring could not be selectively replaced to hide more thana decade’s worth of wear and tear.
A longtime fan of nora rubber, Braaten chose nora’s modular flooring for this replacement so that individual tiles could be swapped out as needed. And the result? “To change the flooring is everything,” Braaten says. “People really ‘got it’ once they saw it installed. You can view the space from above, and people could see that the patterns and colors I chose—as well as how the tiles were installed—created movement and flow in the space.”