The new discovery centre will be the cornerstone in a new Syrian educational programme, Massar, providing Syrian children with the opportunity to meet and discover the world through play. Massar’s ambition is to create better educational opportunities for young people in a country where 40% of the population is under age 14.

The centre will comprise various scientific thematic exhibitions for children aged 5-15. Additionally, the centre will have special exhibition areas, a library, classrooms and facilities for research. The discovery centre is located on a 170.000 m2 site – a river bed – in the heart of Damascus. It is located centrally in walking distance from Damascus’ historic city centre with the Umayyad Mosque and university, national opera and national museum as its neighbours.

The idea of the project is to create a park like a quilt of activities inter-woven with the discovery centre. The visitors will be led through several intimate spatial experiences addressing all the senses. Water will be a re-current theme – both as activity and as a visualisation of sustainable measures and educational media.

The floor of the discovery centre lies as a plateau on the river bed from where ramps and stairs rise and become an innovative course of spaces ready to be discovered. The discovery centre’s form is inspired by the unique Damascus rose. Its centre forms a large communal orientation space. This is where the children will meet, share their knowledge and develop new ideas together.



Gross floor area:15,000 m2,Type of assignment: 1st prize in international competition, 2006, Client: Massar

Martha Schwartz Partners, Buro Happold


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