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Restoring memory. On the Way project - horse museum in Omula

30 of July '21

We present another project for a horse museum in Omuli, which has been shortlisted as a finalist in an international competition by the Bee Breaders platform titled Omuli Museum of the Horse. A team consisting of: Jakub Biernacki, Weronika Dardzinska, Michalina Debska, Kaja Kirilenko.

The goal of the Bee Breeders competition was to adapt a historic elementary school building in Omula into a horse museum. The Latvian village is located in the area of the UNESCO-recognized 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.

 Projekt muzeum,

entrance to the museum site in Omula

© Jakub Biernacki, Weronika Dardzińska, Michalina Dębska, Kaja Kirilenko

The organizers wanted the former elementary school building to become a museum that would educate visitors about the nature and history of local horse breeds. The 2.37-hectare site was also to include guesthouses, as well as housing and work space for resident artists. One of the guidelines was that the concept should be open-ended and take into account the future development of the site - starting with a place for temporary art workshops, a home for resident artists, and transforming it into a museum with a permanent exhibition and a guesthouse.

Projekt On the Way,
plan zagospodarowania terenu

The On the Way project is an open concept that can be expanded

© Jakub Biernacki, Weronika Dardzińska, Michalina Dębska, Kaja Kirilenko

The current owners of the building also asked the participants to respect the historic building in form and material. The designers were given the option of restoring and preserving the building or transforming it respecting the original design. According to the aspirations of the competition organizers and the investors themselves, Museum of the Horse is expected to become a regional example of green building practice, emphasizing sustainable construction techniques. The international jury composed of: Diego Baraona, Robin Dhar, Meritxell Inaraja Genís, Joe Martinolich, and Julie Nelson and Todd Poisson, focused on selecting proposals with strong, clear concepts using natural materials. The shortlisted project announced included On the Way by a team of young architects from Poland, consisting of: Jakub Biernacki, Weronika Dardzińska, Michalina Dębska, Kaja Kirilenko.

Projekt muzeum, Dom dla
Artystów Budynek warsztatu

The Artists' House and the building with workshops are made using traditional construction techniques

© Jakub Biernacki, Weronika Dardzińska, Michalina Dębska, Kaja Kirilenko

restoring memory

On The Way: Museum of the Horse is the architects' tribute to the Valka region and the symbolism of the horse in Baltic culture. The project was inspired by the process of forgetting and rediscovering local stories concerning the village of Omuli, the school building located on the plot, and horse breeding. The motif of forgetting was treated universally by the authors, referring not only to the path of the tour, but also to the construction methods used and the arousal of emotions among visitors. As a result of these analyses, a set of smaller objects and exhibitions has been created, and the tour path itself extends beyond the walls of the building.

 Projekt On the Way,
fazy projektowe

The authors designed the tour path

© Jakub Biernacki, Weronika Dardzińska, Michalina Dębska, Kaja Kirilenko

Visitors begin by entering the site through a pathway surrounded by a line of trees. They reach the square in front of the school, where the Artists' House is also located. The path continues through the forest and herb garden, acting on all the visitor's senses. The path is marked by the course of the sun in the sky; following it, visitors reach the next stop, the workshop. This place reveals ancient craft techniques inseparable from horses, such as blacksmithing, tanning or weaving techniques. The road then leads to the sauna, where the cleansing takes place. Before reaching the hall with the exhibit, visitors pass a horse-bond, directly referring to the Baltic traditions of horse worship. The school building is entered through a new entrance located to the south. The tour ends with an invitation to the table, a symbol of the home hearth. Each stop reveals another element related to the history and civilizational significance of horses, the authors say.

Sauna zbudowana
z bali Wnętrze budynku
z warsztatami

The sauna was built of logs, and the workshop building was built of timber

© Jakub Biernacki, Weronika Dardzińska, Michalina Dębska, Kaja Kirilenko

local construction techniques

An important element of the project was the research of local Latvian construction techniques and their application in a modern form when shaping the buildings: Artists' House, sauna and workshop. This treatment applied by the Polish team was not only aimed at promoting local history, but was also the most ecological solution, reducing the carbon footprint of the investment and being part of a closed-loop economy.

Parter szkoły
przeznaczony na wystawę

The former elementary school will house a museum

© Jakub Biernacki, Weronika Dardzińska, Michalina Dębska, Kaja Kirilenko

The authors managed to distinguish three unique folk construction methods present in the Baltics are: lofted houses, timber-framed houses and log structures. Attic construction, that is, created from straw and clay, was used in the building with artists' apartments. The walls and roof of the building were designed in the form of a braid supplemented with clay. The building's structure is wooden and insulated to achieve the favorable parameters of a passive house.

Projekt muzeum,

The walls are made of braid supplemented with clay

© Jakub Biernacki, Weronika Dardzińska, Michalina Dębska, Kaja Kirilenko

The workshop is built of logs and clay, or what is known as woodclay. The logs, arranged in a checkerboard pattern, form a solid wall and give the building a distinctive look. Wooden logs, on the other hand, are a material commonly used in the construction of saunas because of their strength. The advantages of the techniques used are their naturalness and biodegradability, as well as readily available materials. This reduces the cost of investment and allows for development, which is in keeping with the spirit of the museum's open form.

Zwiedzanie kończy
się zaproszeniem do stołu

tour ends with an invitation to a table

© Jakub Biernacki, Weronika Dardzińska, Michalina Dębska, Kaja Kirilenko

architecture like a story

The entire design process on the museum required us to be sensitive and comprehensive in our approach. That's why we are especially pleased that we managed to present a full story about the process of forgetting, in which architecture plays as important a role as landscape and time. The museum became a road, creating an atmosphere and creating a unique experience. We tried to achieve a sincere effect and not to pretend anything. We also achieved this by minimally interfering with the landscape and the existing structure of the school building. Here we were looking for simple solutions that led to bringing out the potential that lay in the building and the surrounding area. In addition, the competition became a reason to discover construction techniques that were previously unknown to us. For us, working with unusual solutions meant building prototypes, that is, real work with the material. It was extremely educational and confirmed us in the correctness of our low-cost and ecological approach to the subject," the authors conclude.

Read also about the project by the Gierbienis + Poklewski studio , which was also shortlisted for the Omuli Museum of the Horse competition.

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