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MUSE – Museo delle Scienze

The new science museum opened in July 2013 forms the heart of the new Trento quarter designed by Renzo Piano. MUSE tells fascinating stories about mountain environments, from the beautiful local Dolomites through to the tropical setting of the Tanzanian Eastern Arc. MUSE – The Science Museum of Trento is one of the most innovative museums in Italy. Mixing scientific information and practical experimentation, it launched a new way of interacting with the public.

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© MUSE Museo delle Scienze

  • The Quartiere delle Albere district, the site of a former Michelin factory, is now a new part of the city of Trento. This transformed post-industrial brownfield site now shares many characteristics with Trento’s urban fabric – the clear hierarchy of the design, its functional stratification and an overall similarity in the size of buildings and materials used for their construction. This urban renewal project has reconnected the city to its natural context, which in Trento is defined by the nearby Adige River and Monte Bondone. This new district, for a long time physically separated from the city centre by the railway, now feels psychologically closer. Quartiere delle Albere is home to MuSe, the new Science Museum, serving to reinforce the cultural identity of this area of Trento.
MUSE-Museo-delle-Scienze-By-Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop-07-flickr-EcsiteExecutiveOffice-759x506 MUSE - Museo delle Scienze / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

© flickr-EcsiteExecutiveOffice

It combines nature, science and technology with current ethical and social issues. Its innovative design intertwines science, arts, society and nature in an evocative building nestled in the Alpine skyline. MUSE has quickly established itself as a lively arena for citizens to lead informed discussions about challenges of the future.

The MUSE building offers the Ecsite Annual Conference a first class location, combining avant-garde architecture designed by a world-class architect with innovative solutions both in terms of sustainable architecture and high technology. It will host the Pre-conference and some sessions during the conference.

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The building to integrate with the environment. With its jagged forms the building seems to reflect the nearby Dolomite mountains. Light and shadow, landmasses and empty spaces define the structure from the outside, giving it an easily recognisable appearance.

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© Hufton + Crow

It combines the traditional approach of a science museum with new ways of interacting. Visitors are invited to experience and learn about the evolution of man and his relationship with the environment through interactive exhibits, multimedia installations and various interdisciplinary workshops. Touch a glacier with your own hands. Follow the footprints of dinosaurs. Listen to the sounds of a rainforest as you walk through tropical foliage. The 6-storey exhibition overlooks a large open space called “Big Void”, which penetrates the entire height of the building, letting in natural light from the central skylight and side windows. In this unique vertical void, exhibition pieces appear to float in the air in ”zero gravity”.

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© MUSE Museo delle Scienze

Everything in the architecture and construction of the museum speaks of respect for nature and protecting its resources, plants, animals and energy. Renzo Piano has become known through the years for his way of designing environmentally intelligent buildings by focusing on two main aspects: the use of natural materials and renewable energy sources.

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© Hufton + Crow

The construction techniques pursue environmental sustainability and energy savings by utilising solar panels, geothermal energy, temperature and light sensors, daylight harvesting and more. The used materials are of local origin. For the successful design, the building has earned a gold HELVAR NEWS | ISSUE 17 18 level LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

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© MUSE Museo delle Scienze

Renzo Piano Building Workshop:

The boundaries of the new district, which covers an area of 116,300 sq m, are clearly defined by the Adige River to the west and the railway to the east. The northern edge borders the Palazzo delle Albere, a renaissance villa-cum-fortress. The project called for a mixed development so that the area could be, in and of itself, self-contained with all the services and functions that implies. The new buildings have a clear and unified horizontal impact on a similar scale to those in Trento’s historical centre and are located on the eastern side of the huge site, leaving the western part open for a new public park facing the river. The buildings are interspersed with green areas and waterways, a system of canals that crosses over the entire area and actively connects it with the river and natural landscape.

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The layout of the commercial buildings is linear and their ‘green’ facades become something of a natural screen hiding the tracks along which they are, to a large degree, lined up. The residential buildings have open courtyards that have been cut into them so that glimpses of the internal treed gardens can be seen from the outside. The buildings are four to five storeys high and their zinc roofs give the neighbourhood a certain visual unity. A taller building stands on either side of the complex: a multipurpose building to the south and MuSe – a large interactive science museum – on the northern end. The museum acts as the project’s magnet and, together with the Palazzo delle Albere (today the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum), attracts the public and confirms the revitalized area’s vocation for culture and recreation. The layout of the urban plan placed these two buildings as its main anchors, surrounded by water and connected to one another by the two main pathways: one is a straight footpath along the east and the other a curved one along a canal that serves to connect the buildings to the park.

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© Hufton + Crow

The regeneration of the Quartiere delle Albere project had sustainability as an integral part of the design. The buildings use little energy with the extensive use of renewable resources. MuSe has been given LEED Gold certification, and all of the residences and offices have a level B CasaClima classification. They were among the winners of the 2013 CasaClima Awards.

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© RPBW-Stefano Goldberg

Project Data:

Project name: MUSE – Museo delle Scienze
Location: Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza, 3, 38122 Trento, Italy
Coordinates: 46.062594, 11.114496
Type: Museum
Building Scale: The museum covers 7 floors of exhibition areas over
Project Area: 12,600 sqm
Project Year: 2003–2013
Status: Built
Opening Date: July 27, 2013
Visit MUSE – Museo delle Scienze’s website: here


  • 2013 – CasaClima Awards – Winner

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali
Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop – Via Rubens 29, 16158 Genova, Italy
Partner and associate in charge: S. Scarabicchi, E. Donadel
Prroject team:

  • S. Scarabicchi, E. Donadel (partner and associate in charge) with M.Menardo, M.Orlandi, G.Traverso, D.Vespier and P.Carrera, L.Soprani, M.Pineda; I.Corsaro (models)

General contractor: Colombo Construction, Lecco
Electrical contractor: Electromechanical Galli + Barzon & Dainese

  • Project co-ordination: Iure
  • Structure: Riccardo Giovannelli
  • Building services: Manens Intertecnica
  • Cost consultant: Dia Servizi
  • Fire prevention: GAE Engineering
  • Acoustics: Müller BBM
  • Graphic design: Origoni & Steiner
  • Lighting design: Piero Castiglioni
  • Thermomechanical installations: Gelmini, Verona
  • Lighting management: Helvar DALI system with DIGIDIM router

Text Description: © Courtesy of Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Images: © Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Hufton + Crow, RPBW-Cristiano Zaccaria, RPBW-Stefano Goldberg, RPBW-Paolo Pelanda, Alessandro Gadotti. Archivio Trento, MUSE Museo delle Scienze, flickr-EcsiteExecutiveOffice


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