Batumi Aquarium by Henning Larsen Architects


Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects have won a competition to design an aquarium in Batumi, Georgia, resembling a cluster of pebbles.

Called Batumi Aquarium, the design of the building is inspired by characteristic pebbles found on Batumi beach and will provide views of the beach and the Black sea.

The building will be made of four pebble-shaped structures, each housing an exhibition space representing a unique marine biotype - the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, the Indian ocean, the Black and Red seas and an interactive exhibition.

The four areas will be connected by a central space, which will include a café, auditorium and retail areas.

Here's some more information from the architects:

Henning Larsen Architects wins Georgian Aquarium

Batumi Aquarium is inspired by the characteristic pebbles of the Batumi beach – the residue of dynamic seas continually shaping the shorefront throughout millennia.

The building will be situated in the Georgian port of Batumi and will stand out as an iconic rock formation – visible from both land and sea.

The formation constitutes four self-supporting exhibition areas where each of the four stones represents a unique marine biotype – the Aegean Sea & the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Black Sea & the Red Sea and finally the more interactive exhibition.

The four dispersed aquarium exhibitions are connected by a central, multipurpose space including café, auditorium and retail functions with views of the black sea and Batumi beach as scenic backdrop.

Visitors gather in the central space to convene, play, eat, shop and relax before continuing their adventures through the exhibitions. Batumi Aquarium will become a modern, cultural aquarium offering visitors an educational, entertaining and visually stimulating journey through the different seas.

Unfolding around the aquarium, a landscape of different sea archipelagos provides attractive opportunities for innovative outdoor research and learning, public space and meeting places along the beach.

The building's significant expression inspired by nature will not only make Batumi Aquarium a spectacular new landmark in Georgia but also a state-of-the-art contribution to exploring life underneath the sea surface.

Project Facts

Project: Batumi Aquarium
Location: Rustaveli Str., Batumi, The Republic of Georgia

Client: Association A.T.U.
Architect: Henning Larsen Architects
Gross floor area: 2,000 m2

Type of assignment: First prize in invited competition. Other participants were the German architecture company Drei Architekten as well as the two American companies PJA Architects and Pryor & Morrow Architects.

The project team from Henning Larsen Architects includes Louis Becker (design director, partner) Anders Park (project manager), Viggo Haremst (design responsible), Michael Sørensen and Jaewoo Chun.

See also:


Harpa by
Henning Larsen Architects
National Museum of Qatar by Jean Nouvel More architecture stories
on Dezeen

Posted on Wednesday July 7th 2010 at 12:20 am by Catherine Warmann. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • is it coincidence that “batu” means stone/pebble in Indonesian language?

    • Gigi

      Definitely a coincidence

      • Yourself

        No, I bet it’s planned, matey.

    • Nick Mazanishvili

      As for the origin of the name of Georgia’s seaside town Batumi, it was named after the Latin word – Batius Liman (a deep harbour). Another version says it was named after the Greek god Bachus.

  • zafar

    cool!! this is somthing realy NEW!

  • Pritesh


  • This is one of those buildings which I imagined as a small kid. I love it!

  • RogerH

    I wonder what they are planning to clad this in? Would be cool in a solid surface product!

  • edward

    The interiors look great. As for the exterior, I am not a fan of literal interpretations of natural or organic objects for buildings.

  • George L

    This just looks like an exercise in uncontextual form making to me. 30 seconds to come up with the concept, 10 minutes to draw in CAD but a nightmare to construct and occupy.

    • KIM

      Poors..the probleme is that your rigid brain will never take you such ideas..

  • Pebbles

    Quite remeniscent of Snøhettas “pebble” building for King Abdulaziz in Saudi Arabia.øhetta/

    • KIM

      what is important on such projects is that justification of the idea… I think the idea above is not so bad as that of snohetta

  • Beka Pkhakadze

    I’m from Batumi, so for me it’s pleasure

  • mean deviation

    wow nice visualisations!

  • amc

    This isn’t architecture, it is just a big effigy of pebbles. There is no thought, abstraction, methodology and no contribution to discourse in a project like this. And it’s a shame to see it from such a well-respected set of architects. They have taken advantage of a naive client too, it seems.

  • ALDO

    When did architecture turn into Disneys scenography design for Little Mermaid… this project should be biult in Orlando :(

  • Edwards says he’s “not a fan of literal interpretations of natural or organic objects for buildings.” And I would agree, such designs can be problematic … designing a museum to look like a tree, for example. But there is something so pure and aesthetically pleasing about river stones that have been smoothed over time, that I think this simple design really works. I think it’s wonderful.

  • Werker

    Really eye pleasing and natural design. Like it a lot!

  • Jürgen

    Po-mo at its worst. Where is the vision behind this design?

  • DMV

    I agree with George L, architecture shouldn’t be just about “natural, shape, organic… blabla” hope this era of future ordinary buildings is over soon.

  • recon::decon

    I imagine some frantic undergrad student the night before the final presentation, having failed to produce anything of merit all semester, in one final act of desperation hot gluing some rocks to a cardboard site model and throwing together some arbitrary plans… all in the time span of about 8 hours (which includes the hasty post rationalization concept and requite foam mounting.)

    That is what this project looks like to me.

  • steven

    I’m with Chuck Anziulewicz. At first I read it and thought “oh God no” but as I looked on I found it to be really quite pleasant. Kind of looks like something out of the Flintstones, but it’s still quite delicate.

  • white

    Hey guys,

    please built it with such ease – with all facade detailing that is so easily missing in your renderings.
    then we will judge …
    best, K

  • this is the kind of project that takes 1 day to make in 3dsmax and some very painfull years of building to get a result that has nothing to do with the initial image.

  • I might be a minority but I really like this project. I don’t think it is anything like Disney world but far from it.
    The proportions are right and comfortable to the eye. If it will be constructed and detailed right, it can be as powerful as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao by Frank Gehry.
    It is a shame that some don’t consider it as architecture because that is what architecture is all about.

  • Marcus

    I love it. Yeah, might have been easy to produce in a rendering programme and might be difficult to build but hey, this is a structure for the everyday man to enjoy, especially the people that live there. You really think they are going to over-analyse the architectural direction – as long as it looks great, is eco-conscious and adds value to their economy.

  • michelalano

    Again, in agreement with Chuck Anziulewicz…

    I think we’re taught to have a knee-jerk aversion to “literal” architecture, but there are so many natural forms out there that could potentially inform amazing architecture. If the aquarium were textured and painted to look like giant stones, you could put it in the disney category, but in this case I agree that it’s quite beautiful.

    And who cares how “easy” it is to draw or render? So many famous buildings out there were derived from simple 2 minute-or-less sketches. It’s all about the idea.

  • junihaoni

    how is that hammer-head fish floating in the air outside the aquarium

  • cacas

    I have to comment this one! I always dream about doing this kind of form.. I love it! bravo!

  • ipantro

    I like it! I think its correct POV of how it should look like. Yet comments shows that its not beloved, but sure after the launching the opening everyone will agree, that it was right desision to build this Batumi Aquarium.

  • facade detailing? Apparently a lot of architects are engrossed in painstaking yet uninspiring architecture that a simple concept as rocks is merely seen as a mockery to the profession. Cut some loose. Open your mind. Access possibilities rather than criticize imagination.

  • ROOMS likes the project and thinks that in real it will be more impressionable.

  • Fizz

    So why shouldn’t architecture also be seen as sculpture in landscape? This example is admittedly a simplistic interpretation of that idea but none the less has a certain visual appeal. I suspect however its success will depend on the material used for its facade and the execution of its application.

  • Chauncey

    @ ‘recon::decon’ your story of the student who “failed to produce anything of merit all semester” and desperately throws together a last minute concept looking like this; sounds like you are talking from experience?

    Some people are pretentious pseuds about architecture, needing abstraction and the confusion it creates to pass themselves off as having gravitas.

    It appears similar to a pebble, deal with it.

  • Jakob

    new age megalith….

  • dEvi

    Perfectly sculpted as continuation of Batumi seafront. Idea is what matters the rest is just details. Must admit, very poor and pointless criticism?!

  • aleksandr

    there is a missed opportunity in the graphic presentation of the landscaping around the pebble form itself, it seems natural to me to take advantage of the inward curves of the forms to make a more interactive exterior, where passerby's can stop and rest in their shade

    the straight horizontal line seems to be an afterthought- since its pebbles at the beach one can assume there is sand as well and sand can have dips and curves and mounds and taking that geometry and incorporating that into the immediate landscaping around the building would make it a nicer public space, a more welcoming attraction, further reinforce your main idea and make a functional use of the dynamic space that is already being created

    im sure there was so much interior and technical issues to work out in this design that the integration into the immediate surroundings has been put on hold, and this set of drawings is more of a rough concept, so perhaps in the next phase when the project becomes more technical these additions can be addressed, and i think subtlety would be key, to go with the serenity of the forms already concieved

  • Behnaz F

    This architecture operates beyond limited concepts. This is one of those buildings which I consider it as a good representative of Iranian contemporary architecture. That’s a pity we have lost such a great architect. However, his tremendous impact is immortal.

  • Yeah, I want to know about the floating hammerhead too!