ANOHA is a special environment of the Jewish Museum of Berlin designed specifically for kindergarten and elementary school-aged children to discover, explore, and play. The focal point of the children’s museum is the story of Noah’s Ark from the Torah, a recreation of the fabled ship with which Noah saved his family and a pair of each species from The Flood. The attraction was designed by Seattle-based architecture and exhibition firm Olson Kundig after being selected from over 100 entries in an international competition. In order to ensure a warm, welcoming environment for its child visitors, the museum design team secured the services of WSDG to perfect the acoustics of the space without compromising the ingenuity of the design.
Positioned at the heart of the 70,000 ft2 /6,500 m2 hall is a circular ark structure constructed entirely from wood. Rather than imitate the historic biblical ark form, ANOHA was conceived as a modern ark inspired by two seemingly disparate sources: an ancient Sumerian text discovered a decade ago that describes a circular ark; as well as spaceship from Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The ark structure’s curvilinear form introduces a softening counterpoint to the rectilinear concrete structure of the hall where it resides. Naturally ventilated and passively lit, the ark is populated with interactive play experiences that include an ark design/build activity, and multiple options for visitors to help care for a menagerie of 150 animals fabricated locally from recycled objects.
WSDG’s acoustic challenge was to create a comfortable atmosphere in the exhibit by addressing the long reverberation times of the existing concrete hall which housed the ark. Through extensive planning and the use of acoustic modeling, the team determined that the use of absorptive material both within the wooden slats of the ark and surrounding it would bring down the reverberation time significantly. Absorptive material between the wooden slats within the ark and perforated, absorptive gypsum boards on the ceiling outside the ark were used to accomplish this, thus bringing the reverberation time from in excess of 7.5 seconds down to a 1 second, creating a calming environment appropriate for children.
Photography by Hufton & Crow