Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 50, Tuesday, May 25, 2004

















lost in space

THE Novo Theatre or the Space Theatre is an amazing piece of architecture considering the fact that it has been built in this country by someone from this country. This distinction is a nice digression from that of us being one of the most corrupt and polluted countries of the world.

The Space Theatre consists of a huge, bluish, domed structure that looks like a giant soccer ball flanked by angular wings with big glass plates. The theatre has three levels of airy floors to display various exhibits over time. The floors are tiled in light blue seemingly reflecting the sky outside.

There are a couple of corners inside that are designated as halls of fame/art. These two places span the entire height of the building allowing visitors to view the exhibits from the balconies of different floors. One hall is to house data and artefacts related to famous scientists and the other would house objects of art and sculpture. There are plans to set up a large model of a rocket that will stand upright and be viewed from different angles from the different floors. The high walls would be used to display paintings. The lighting of this area is a very interesting feature. High above there are several pyramids made of specially grooved fibreglass that draws in and filters the sunlight down into the hall area. This helps to create a nice airy atmosphere inside.

Light has been used extensively here to avoid the gloomy pall of other such places. It is the designer's idea that young people will find dark places stuffy. Even the spiral staircase designed to imitate a reflecting microscope has a lot of thick glass blocks that draw in the natural light. Of course the artificial lighting has been also well planned to provide a visual delight. Wait till you see the fountains at night.

Ali Imam, the architect who brought the entire structure from conception to materialisation, wanted to create a place that combines education with entertainment. His vision has been to create a place where people can come spend a lot of time. The space theatre houses just about everything related to astronomy and science. Hence there is a curved lecture room with seats set on an incline like in a movie theatre. This can be used for lectures and debating by various educational institutions. Acoustics are well handled with sound dampening material. Best of all a lot of open space has been left up front to allow visitors to roam around. There are fountains and plenty of greenery to keep in touch with nature. It is a nice contrast to the closed jam-packed structures that are so common these days.

By now you are probably wondering what the domed structure is all about. On the inside it is a glass enclosure whose interior surface is used by a projector to display videos. This is done by something called an astro-projector that costs more than you can imagine. The viewers seated in the centre are presented to a true surround experience with images swirling all around and over their heads. Now this is a good way to be lost in space. The outside of the dome is made of aluminium that acts as a heat shield.

Plans are also on the way for a simulation chamber with limited seats that vibrate in tune with what is being shown all around. This helps to create a truly immersive experience. What with all the rickshaws being banned from all the city streets someday we might just need that to relieve the good old days of three wheeled transport.

The place has been designed for the greatest convenience of the visitors. It starts from the ticket counters that are situated outside as well as in the underground parking area. There are also several food shops on different levels allowing you to take care of your growling stomach from all the walking. You see, there is a lot of walking involved. Different floors and staircases with short steps mean a lot of stepping. It is a good way to force lazy Bengalis to work out. For the faint of heart and lungs there is also an elevator.

There is scope for renting the floor space for events such as science fairs and what other place could be a more prefect venue than the space theatre. The tentative date for the opening is set for some time end of next month.

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny
Photo credit: Zahedul I Khan













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