More

    MuSo: Designing ‘Museum of Solutions’

    The sensitivity to the environment, integration of technology, and seamless interiors are key design aspects that coalesce to reflect the museum's larger child-centric philosophy.

    Our perception of museums in the Indian context has recently undergone a sea change. Once seen as repositories of valuable art and artifacts, they are now being reimagined – placing the audience at front and centre and the living heritage of their immediate environment as the focus. Against this backdrop are institutions such as the Museum of Solutions (MuSo). The museum opened in late 2023, as the first of its kind initiative, dedicated to the children of Mumbai.

    Museum of the City

    MuSo, with its prime Central Mumbai location, is nestled within a dense commercial district. At its core, the building is a museum that belongs to its city. Its playful façade with the distinctive branding, highlights its primary intent and audience – children.

    Slide2

    At an urban design level, the architects consciously steered away from designing it as a typical glass box that often has little to do with its context or function, yet managed to create a striking addition to the cityscape. This approach enabled each element of the tiered façade to be treated independently – responding to the external context and internal functions while creating a coherent building block.

    The 3 components – the double height entrance that welcomes visitors in, the green wall that acts as a screen for the parking floors and the glazed facade above, all dialogue with the city beyond.

    Museum of Daylight

    The architects of MuSo, always kept in mind the powerful impact that daylight would have in a space like this. The architects of MuSo always considered the powerful impact of daylight in a space like this.

    Slide38Zhdj69

    While certain exhibit areas, where screens and digital interfaces play a key role, had to be kept glare-free, other areas, such as the ground floor Commons (where people gather for events), the crowd-favorite ‘Luckey Climber,’ the Play Floor, and the Make Floor, are flooded with natural light through the external glazing and open floor plan. This design also allows for a passive yet constant interaction with the city at large.

    Slide4URbPxGT
    Slide52apoNWo

    Museum of Playfulness

    As a space designed primarily for children, it was natural to prioritize playfulness as a key design criterion. At the same time, there was a clear understanding that today’s children cannot be talked down to or considered naïve; the difference between childish and child-like was clearly delineated. Therefore, a certain maturity was integral to the creation process.

    Slide6Tdz7q6w

    For example, the subtle, fluid lines of the Discover floor flow seamlessly from the entrance portal to the wave-like partitions and up to the diffused light coves above. The water-level exhibits and the art room are designed to encourage children toward self-discovery and exploration through play, rather than being instructional or preachy.

    Slide8

    Museum of Thoughtfulness

    The adage “God is in the details” was taken very seriously at MuSo. The handrails for the main staircase were designed to be functional at two levels—one for adults and a lower one for kids—ensuring comfort and safety for both.

    Slide9

    Similarly, in the public washrooms, the washbasins were ergonomically designed to be suitable for everyone.

    Slide10

    These seemingly small details go a long way in cementing the core concept that children had to be at the front and center of every design decision.

    Museum of Curiosity

    In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with multimedia information. This can cause children to be quickly bored, distracted and have a limited attention span. The designers of MuSo acknowledged these challenges by conceptualizing spaces that foster curiosity and engage their audience in an unobtrusive manner.

    For example, the Toolbar corner displays all tools, even when not in use.

    Slide11

    The Box of Curiosity is designed with various drawers and audio guides, making exploring the secrets of the oceans fun and stimulating across age groups.

    Slide12

    Museum of Interaction

    Fostering a spirit of interaction through the project was considered essential, given a scenario where unintentional social contact among children has seen a drastic drop, especially post pandemic. Corners for creation that inspire users to interact and share resources were deliberately scattered across the Play Floor.

    Slide13

    The most obvious symbol of this communal spirit is seen right at the MuSo entrance itself, where the Commons takes the form of a welcoming amphitheatre for occasional events, but on a day to day basis is an open, informal space for observation, chance encounters and a vital pause point.

    Slide14

    Museum of Continuous Creation

    During MuSo’s design phase, a key goal was to ensure that the process of creation continued even after handing over to the clients.

    From the start, the aim was for the building to first serve as an exhibit and experience through its design, and then as a tool for empowerment in the years ahead. Both, tangible and intangible aspects were meant to work together to create a greater impact than their individual parts, with the intention of making a lasting difference through its spaces, programs, and exhibits.

    Thus, once built and occupied, the museum would evolve over time as a force for change, rather than remaining frozen as a static architectural monument.

    Slide15

     The architecture and interior spaces of the MuSo building have been indigenously designed by Ratan J. Batliboi – Consultants Pvt Ltd. and Bricolage Bombay, in collaboration with the MuSo team. The resultant MuSo experience thus reflects the collective efforts of all the multidisciplinary teams involved.

    All Images: MuSo team, Kartik Rathod & the architects.

    Explore More In
    Amrita Ravimohan
    Amrita Ravimohan
    Amrita Ravimohan is a Mumbai based architect with nearly 2 decades of experience as a design professional. She enjoys wearing many hats, juggling her interests in design, writing, research and teaching. Amrita is currently associated with ISDI Atlas Skilltech University as a senior faculty of the Interior Design Department, and has published numerous articles on architecture, design, food and travel across media.

    Click Culture!

    Submit a photo of your favourite object from a museum collection to help us improve the coverage of Indian culture, art and heritage related content on the internet beginning with Wikipedia.