The design of the Museum is composed of two principle parts. The base, which is embedded in the earth and surrounded by the Bay’s water and a giant lily pond, and a flower-like structure made of 10 petals, generated by the geometry of spheroids of varying radii that seemingly floats above the landscaped pond base. The petals, or fingers as some refer to them, rise towards the sky with varying heights, each crowned by a skylight which draws in daylight penetrating the base and illuminating the galleries within.
The overall form has been compared to a lotus flower and been dubbed, “The welcoming hand of Singapore,” by Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corporation which developed Marina Bay Sands. The museum is entered through a free-standing glass pavilion. Large elevators and escalators convey the public to the lower and upper galleries. In total, there are three levels of galleries with a total area of 6,000 square meters.
The dish-like roof form collects rainwater and drains it through an oculus, creating a waterfall through the center of the museum that feeds an interior pond. The asymmetrical museum structure, conceived by Arup, reaches upward into the skyline as high as 60 meters and is supported by an elaborate steel lattice structure. This assembly is supported by ten columns and tied down at its center by a basket-like diagrid–a sculptural centerpiece that accommodates the asymmetrical forces that the building’s form generates. The result in an efficient resolution of the structural forces for the building, giving it a seemingly weightless quality as it hovers above the ground.
The museum’s envelope is composed of double-curved Fiber Reinforced Polymer [FRP] skin typically used at such a scale in the construction of boats and yachts. The vertical sides of each petal are sheathed in bead-blasted stainless steel panels. The unprecedented use of FRP has made possible the joint-less, continuous skin for each of the sail-like surfaces achieving a sense of lightness with their gleaming petals. As elsewhere in Marina Bay Sands, the building aims and achieves the highest levels of sustainability.