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Mysterium. Design of a museum and artists' house in Latvia by Polish students

Dobrawa Bies
04 of August '21

Architecture students of the Wroclaw University of Technology also took up this year's challenge of the Omuli Museum of the Horse competition. Julia Kochanska, Weronika Lis, Marcelina Terelak and Aleksandra Vasilenko are the authors ofthe Mysterium project. The concept, which refers to Latvian culture and traditions and the metaphor of the theater of life, was shortlisted for the Bee Breeders competition.

The goal of the Bee Bre eders competition was to adapt a historic elementary school building in Omula into a horse museum. The picturesque area where the abandoned school is located is part of the Biosphere Reserve of Northern Latvia. The plot selected for the project is located in a wooded area only 4 km from the Latvian-Estonian border. We wrote about the detailed guidelines and jury, as part of the project by the Gierbienis + Poklewski studio , which was also shortlisted.

Proces budowy

The authors planned a phased construction using local materials

© Julia Kochanska, Weronika Lis, Marcelina Terelak, Aleksandra Wasilenko

history told with architecture

Wanting to relate to the old way of life, the authors focused on proposing a program that would bring the existing building back into use. The main goal was to recover the character of the forgotten Omula Elementary School and develop the space around the building, which is in direct relation to the interior.

The team of architects decided to use the existing architecture to tell the story of Omula, showcase traditions and introduce a new museum and workshop function. In this way, the school building becomes a home for artists, designers and craftsmen to express their passions and teach the crafts to others.

projektowanego założenia

The authors divided the development of the site into three stages, enriching the area with additional buildings

© Julia Kochanska, Weronika Lis, Marcelina Terelak, Aleksandra Wasilenko

The students divided the development of the site into three stages, enriching the area with additional buildings. The new buildings they proposed closely relate to local buildings, materials and ways of shaping space. They make it possible to extend the activities of the main building, creating a kind of touring path throughout the area.

Honoring local aesthetics guided the design process in the context of the rural and natural landscape. This view consists of the main building along with surrounding smaller forms, situated irregularly, thus referring to the village plan. The preserved green areas give a free and natural shape to the tour path, providing successive stages of learning about history. The journey through the site begins in the existing building, whose interior connects to the outdoor space. Later, there is a transition into the zone of horse relations and learning about regional construction. The final stage is a form of rest and relaxation in traditional Latvian saunas and baths. The glue of the proposed program is contact with Latvian culture and tradition. All activities undertaken by us are in accordance with ancient beliefs and respect for folklore," the authors say.

Budynek szkoły
przekształcony w muzeum

Artistic life also takes place in the square between the buildings

© Julia Kochanska, Weronika Lis, Marcelina Terelak, Aleksandra Vasilenko

museum like a theater of life

Introducing a functional division into the existing school, the architects referred to the structure of the theater. As a result, the rooms designed around the common core act as backstage areas, and the stage on which life takes place is the heart of the building.

Such a division is a metaphor for the theater of life. The core of the building is an inner museum void surrounded by a gallery. On both sides there are rooms for creative work and exchange of artists, who create the space in their own way and enrich it with all kinds of artworks, the students add.

Rzut parteru
istniejącej szkoły

A museum, workshops and theater are planned in the former school building

© Julia Kochanska, Weronika Lis, Marcelina Terelak, Aleksandra Vasilenko

The next stage of development is to go beyond the building's boundaries with crafts and art. The exhibition space opens directly to the square, where the artists' lives are taking place.

spontaneous construction

The development emerging in the depths of the plot is the penultimate stage of creating the space. The proposed buildings have strong references to Latvian tradition and culture and are made of local materials such as wood, straw, clay and earth, creating a development that is adapted to the context of the site. The resulting buildings provide additional accommodation. The authors suggested that their construction can take place spontaneously, and artists can also participate in the process of their creation. In this way, the community itself creates its own setting and display for local crafts.

Ścieżka poznania
prowadząca wokół budynku szkoły

a path of cognition leads around the buildings

© Julia Kochanska, Weronika Lis, Marcelina Terelak, Aleksandra Vasilenko

The process also has a therapeutic aspect in the form of creating and learning together. What determines the shape of buildings to some extent is people's understanding of the properties of building materials. This type of therapy is based on the idea that how the physical environment is shaped affects the perception and attitude of the community towards itself and its surroundings, the authors explain.

Wnętrze istniejącego
budynku z widokiem na scenę i galerię tradycyjna łotewska sauna na
obrzeżach działki

The designed complex is also, in addition to artistic activities, a place for relaxation

© Julia Kochanska, Weronika Lis, Marcelina Terelak, Aleksandra Vasilenko

Horses, baths and herbal medicine

A continuation of the path of cognition is the zone of close contact with horses. Their presence is closely linked to the museum building and has therapeutic significance. Locating the stables close to the main building allows the animals to move freely towards the open space on the first floor and interact with visitors. The final stage on the path, the traditional Latvian baths are a zone of herbalism, relaxation and indulgence. Steam baths using regional herbs are a reference to ancient customs. The entire complex is a metaphorical museum conveying knowledge about local crafts and Latvian culture.

Read also about On the Way, a project by graduates of Wroclaw University of Technology, which was also shortlisted for this competition.


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