In 2009, after two decades of active marine conservation and education, the Blue World Institute launched an initiative to establish a Museum of Marine Science. Initially, the idea was to open a smaller exhibition space devoted to the marine environment, part of which would be the rescue facility for marine animals (primarily turtles). It was, however, soon replaced by the concept of a scientific centre befitting the 21st century; a dynamic,interdisciplinary, engaging communal hub. The position for the new centre is located on the central waterfront of Mali Lošinj, offering ease of access from land and sea, while simultaneously providing an exceptional public facility, unparalleled around the Adriatic Sea and beyond.
Recognising its immense potential contribution to the local community and the wider region, the initiative is supported by the City of Mali Lošinj and the Ministry of Tourism; it is endorsed by the (former) President of Croatia, Ivo Josipović, and numerous organisations, institutions and universities from the Croatia, Europe and globally who expressed their interest in participating in the future activities.
Located in Mali Lošinj Bay, a state-owned property built in the 1950s stands abandoned since 1970, without use and left decaying leading to the devastation of its infrastructure and its state presents a risk for people and reflects a bad image for the city itself. The Blue World Institute proposed putting this state property into a new use and to the benefit of the local community, through development and construction of a modern Marine Science Centre (MSC) on the location.
The idea was put into motion in 2010. After several rounds of presentations and discussions it received unanimous support from the Council of the City of Mali Lošinj, the Mayor Mr Gary Cappelli and Vice-mayor Ms Ana Kučić, the Committee for Urban Planning of the City, the Tourist Board of Mali Lošinj and others in 2013. With the significance of the project for tourism and the island development in general, support from the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Regional Development and the EU funds allowed for the preparation of documentation needed for application for funding through the EU Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014–2020. Meanwhile, Studio MVA architects developed the building’s conceptual design and 3D rendering. Special attention was paid to the principles of energy efficiency and sustainability making it the first such public building in the Croatian islands.
In 2015, the City of Mali Lošinj carried out a change to the Physical plan of the City thus enabling the construction of a new centre; the transfer of ownership to the City of Mali Lošinj from the Ministry of State Property will enable the final application for funding for the construction. The location allows easy access from the city centre and from the Čikat bay; ease of access by cars, buses and boats makes it ideal for group visits, schools and excursion boats, with nearby facilities for parking. The proximity to the port allows the construction of a small dock for excursion boats and anchoring of research vessels.
The Blue World Institute also seeks long-term private partners who share this vision and are willing to demonstrate commitment to the development of the new centre with its high profile and substantial public recognition. We welcome potential partners to come and visit the Centre and the staff of BWI to gain a first-hand impression of the potential for partnership.
The Marine Science Centre is a project that combines interdisciplinary science, culture, and education in order to promote sustainable development community involvement community in the conservation of natural heritage and environment. The project brings together scientific research, educational activity, cultural experience, tourism, learning and their engagement in everyday life. It stands to improve the quality of life of residents, promote scientific innovation, and support economic development, in particular tourism. The Marine Science Centre’s vision is to become a regional centre of excellence offering opportunities for scientific research, of students and researchers from across Adriatic and the Mediterranean. By using applied science, the centre will actively participate in the design and development of innovative methods for the conservation of marine species, habitats, and ecosystems. The Marine Science Centre will offer a contemporary educational framework based on permanent – and temporary thematic – exhibitions, public activities such as lectures, workshops, events, panel discussions and informal talks; such a programme will increase public understanding of the connections between the natural environment and human society. The Marine Science Centre visitor experience with be thought provoking and comprehensive, stimulating and fascinating, immersing and animating.
Using existing topography, the building is organized on three floors, each with external direct access. The rooms are centred on a central three floors shaft with some of the centre’s main exhibits and visually connecting the centre’s facilities while offering a flexible usage scenario. The building will rely on available techniques and technologies to reduce or fully neutralize the impact on the environment, aiming to become a model for planning other public or private buildings.
Each floor is designed with a distinct identity reflecting its separate function: the glass facade of the ground floor reflects the sea surface, the vertical stone strips forming the first-floor facade of educational spaces evokes the sense of the pine forest, while the secondfloor space is organised into smaller interconnected units, providing the feel of a “Science city”, using metal plates similar to those used in the nearby shipyard. The building will skilfully and seamlessly correspond with the surroundings and comprise of several parts: the visitor experience (permanent exhibition and temporary exhibitions), educational facilities (conference room, laboratory – classrooms, 3D – classroom), science section (laboratories, storerooms), flexible-purpose (the veterinary clinic, the “touch pool”), working space (offices, meeting rooms, library), dormitories for professional visitors, and technical rooms (server room, copy shop, garage, workshop, boiler room, air conditioning, water conditioning, etc.).