Organizing a Public Aquarium: Objectives, Design, Operation and Missions


I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge those who helped, supported and inspired me during this research process. Thanks to them I have managed to complete my graduation research project which is another step towards me becoming an architect. I would like to thank DR. Sherif. M El-Wageeh for his guidance and support and I would like to thank my family and my friends.


Many Public Aquaria have been designed and constructed all over the world during the last three decades.

The serial arrangement of relatively small, rectangular, concrete tanks has been replaced by fewer large, irregularly shaped tanks, replicating habitats. The “taxonomic concept” of displaying specimens in the old aquaria has now been succeeded by the more ecological,  “community concept” type of display. At the same time, most of the “old aquaria” has been renovated. Aquarium missions have also been broadened nowadays including research, conservation, and education. Aquaria are ideal places for research on husbandry, life cycles, reproduction, behavior, autecology, and fish pathology.

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Collaboration with Universities and Research Centers increases the research potential in scientific disciplines such as ecology, genetics, physiology, and biochemistry.

Chapter 1


Research Aim

The main aim of this research is to collect points and information about the project: Design principles concepts, issues, problems and solutions to help with the design process, while also ensuring that the project is beneficial for Bahrain and its people in terms of its economic, social and environmental impact.

Research Objectives

The objectives serve as a guide to combine the ecological, social and economic aspects into one design and it needs to be:

  • Site accessibility
  • General design
  • Finishes and materials
  • Utilities (plumbing and electricity)
  • Indoor and Outdoor spaces
  • Cover all aspects of aquarium activities that is visitor’s, recreation, research, education and conservation.

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  • Recreational activities.
  • Education.
  • Tourism and Economy.

Research Structure

The research consists of eight Chapters. The first chapter introduces the research, the second chapter contains two proposed themes for the graduation project the Aquarium and Marine Life and Maritime City, the third chapter literature review about historical background and types of selected theme, the fourth chapter contains the design guidelines. Chapter five explaining the case study, chapter six introduce the users’ needs analysis, chapter seven introduces context and site analysis, chapter eight contains the design program, chapter nine contains design concept and finally chapter ten consists of structural, technical and environmental system.

Chapter 2

Project Theme Selection


Exploring the project’s themes, its different aspects, uses and impact on the chosen site and on Bahrain overall, and the motivation driving the project into fruition.

First theme:

Aquarium and Marine Life

Theme Description

Public aquarium that drives visitors to explore natural marine life and educates them about its various elements, while having a research facility that investigate Bahrain marine life.

Proposed Sites:

Two sites were proposed for the project Asker area and Manama. An aquarium building requires a large area to accommodate all its facilities and, also the building needs to be located next a sea due to the research facilities. Fortunately, Bahrain surrounded by sea and has many large empty lands in the south.

Elements to be considered for the site analysis include:

  • Site size and location.
  • Natural physical features
  • Competition for future university uses.
  • Neighborhood context
  • Utilities available.
  • Good view.
  • Services access
  • Topography

Asker Area

The selected site serves both needs while also allowing visitors to easy reachability from king Hamad highway. The site next to newly developed Khalifa town meaning that life and activities are expanding next to it.

Chapter 3

Literature Review


The Bahrain marine life continues to struggle, global warming, excessive fishing and Land reclamation caused the Bahraini government (Supreme Council for Environment) to implement strategies to reduce the damage and revive the marine life, Bahrain also has an economic plan for 2030 vision that involves development in the tourism sector, an aquarium can help develop these strategies and educate the public on marine life.

Chapter 4

Design Guidelines


The same features that make a home attractive and convenient should be included in aquarium planning. Entrance and exit of the visitor should be through attractive landscaping at the front of the structure, and not far from the parking area. The trash-can area, where a miscellaneous accumulation of operational materials may be ever present should be out of sight at the rear of the structure. The service core, inside the building, for food preparation and storage, shipping and receiving, some holding facilities and general storage, should be a compact grouping near the loading dock. The display tanks, in which are the specimens to be fed, should be as close as possible to the food preparation room, but this can seldom be satisfactorily accomplished. (Pete Mohan, December,2002)

Chapter 5

Case Study

  • Each one of the four sides have a different fa?ade.
  • Aluminum is used as an envelope for the building due to its lightness and its affordability.
  • Glass is used to have natural lighting; daylight is emitted in each part of the building.

Chapter 6

User’s Needs Analysis


This chapter focuses on collecting information. As well as making questionnaire to know other people’s suggestions and opinions. Then make an analysis from the data that are collected through the questionnaire.

Questionnaire Design

Public aquarium that drives visitors to explore natural marine life and educates them about its various elements, while having a research facility that investigate Bahrain marine life.


  • Under 20 years old
  • 20 to 29 years old
  • 30 to 39 years old
  • 40 to or older


  • Male
  • Female

Where are you from?

  • Bahrain
  • Other

Social status

  • Single
  • Married

What kind of people would be interested in this project?

  • Adults
  • Kids
  • Teenager
  • all above

Do you think this kind of projects will be interesting in Bahrain?

  • Yes
  • No

Do you think this project will benefit Bahrain in future?

  • Yes
  • No

What facilities do you think that aquarium and marine life should have to serve the visitors?

  • Coffee shop
  • Fish market
  • Diving
  • Gift shop
  • Traditional museum
  • All above

What type of exhibits do you want to see? (you can choose more than one)

  • The Ocean Exhibits
  • Diving
  • Coral Reef
  • Touch pool
  • Antarctic World Exhibits
  • Turtle Exhibits
  • Octupus Exhibits

Where do you think the project should take place in Bahrain?

  • Manama
  • Muharraq
  • Asker
  • Other

Do you prefer the building to be situated in downtown or next to a waterfront?

  • Downtown
  • Waterfront

From the scale of 1 to 5 how beneficial do you think this project is to Bahrain

(1 very Strong and 5 is very weak)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Survey Analysis

This chart shows us the age group difference that filled the survey most of them were aged between 20-29 years old which form 40.8%. then comes people between 30-39 years old which is 25.2%. And the other between 23.3% to 10.7%

This chart shows us that male is 54.7% and female are 45.3%

Helps to better understand the people who do the survey. Most of them from Bahrain 95.3%

This chart shows us that most of the people are single 52.8 % And 47.2% married

Determining which group of people (kids, teenagers and adults) are most interested in this project helps to create a better atmosphere for them. 66% think that all given groups would be interested in the project.

Helps to determine if this would be an interesting project to create in Bahrain or not. 94.3% consider the project interesting.

Helps to decide if the project can benefit Bahrain socially, environmentally and economically. 95.3% of people expect the project to bring social, environment and economical success to Bahrain.

Serves to decide which facilities should be included in the project (coffee shop, fish market, diving, gift shop, traditional museum). 61.3% believe that all the facilities should be included.

Serves to decide which exhibits (ocean exhibit, diving, coral reef, touch pool, ataractic exhibit, turtle exhibit, octopus exhibit. Visitors would be interested to see.

Helps to determine the best location for the project in Bahrain. 41.5% of people prefer the project to be in Asker.

Dictates the people’s preference on the project surroundings. Most people prefer to see the project next to a waterfront.

Gives a scale of how much the project can benefit Bahrain. 57.5% chose 5 which is the highest rate, meaning that the project is very beneficial for Bahrain.

Chapter 7

Context and Site Analysis


This chapter is going to focus on the site and context, an diagrammatic analysis that shows the area and its surroundings. Detailed diagrams that shows main roads, secondary roads, residential areas, mixed land use. Environmental aspects also have been considered including sun movement, wind direction, humidity levels, rain and air temperature.

Context Analysis

The sites location is in the Arabian Gulf, Bahrain, Asker, it is in the eastern coast of Bahrain. It is overlooking the Arabian Gulf and has easy accessibility from King Hamad highway. The site provides developers with a location next to the newly developed Khalifa town, As well as internal transportation links to the residential, commercial and industrial development zones.

Site analysis

The total area is 17160 m2, including the main building, all the facilities, green spaces, Parking and circulation.

Chapter 8

Design Program


The area and sizes of the project spaces need to be considered while also taking into perspective the number of the users in order to make sure that the building can accommodate all users.

Users Profile

The survey indicates that mixed group of people are interested on the project across different ages, kids are the group that the design process will focus on and will work in order to enhance their entertaining visit while also keeping in mind teenagers and adult.

Design Program

Each zone contains different types of spaces. (The given dimensions are calculated based on the minimum required space and will be modified later the research process).


Design Concept


Configuring a basic concept for the project should help us with the design process. The concept at this stage can be preliminary and will be further developed as the design process continues. The concept should include the inspiration and the elements affecting it and development process of the form shown by sketches and diagrams.

Design Problem

The project has some problems that need to be considered, the problems can inspire changes in the concept and help develop a harmonic project. Design problems:

  1. Shallow water: the sea facing the building has semi shallow water. Excavation needs to be done in order to include diving activities and boat parking which requires deeper water.
  2. Circulation: the building faces the danger of being overcrowded. The building form can help circulate the visitors smoothly through the facilities.
  3. Environmental issues: Bahrain hot climate requires constant artificial ventilation. Passive methods can be used to minimize the energy requirement.


There’re many elements that help inspire the concept. Bahrain always had a marine life culture and the site location next to the sea inspires natural sea forms which can establish a connection between the building and the sea while also has a connection with the building’s function.

The seahorse is used as inspiration for the form. Seahorses have bony armor and a curly tail.

Design Concept Statement

Circular shapes help smoothly circulate the visitors through the facilities, giving the sense of movement.

Dividing the form to create the seahorse’s bony exterior. This can be used to create different sections for the building that facilities and exhibits can placed in.

Each divided section allows natural light and ventilation through the gaps.

Cite this page

Organizing a Public Aquarium: Objectives, Design, Operation and Missions. (2019, Nov 25). Retrieved from

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