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Estonian National Museum

National Museum of Estonia. Tartu, Estonia. International competition, 3rd prize

GFA 28 600m?

Atelier Thomas Pucher in collaboration with
bramberger [architects]
Thomas Pucher,
Mathy Martin, Ervin Poljak, Christine Pucher, Heidrun Steinhauser, Alfred Bramberger

Estonia has 1.341.664 inhabitants. 5% of the surface is covered with lakes, 44% with woods. The 45.227km² country has had a versatile history throughout the centuries. The first inhabitants appeared around 3.000 B.C.but it took a long time until the appearance of the Estonian state was marked on June 19, 1925. The Estonian people suffered hundreds of years of conquests and oppression. In 1991 it became independent and since 2004 it has been a member of the EU. The cultural history of Estonia will be preserved in the new Estonian national museum, a huge storehouse and a symbol of identity. As a metaphor for this point of time and as an object of the overwhelming landscape it is made of light.

The facade consists of two curtain-layers of enamelled glass, cut out into fields of leaves by laser-technology. The shapes used are borrowed from the Estonian landscape. Each shape reflects the shape of an Estonian lake. The brilliant surface of the material and the distance of layers force the building to become a reflection of the different light conditions of Estonia. By its size and appearance it becomes an object of the landscape itself.

The openness of the glass-layers is adapted to the function and needs of the area behind. Public areas like the reading hall, education etc. need much transparency. Here the layers are suspended in front of a glass-facade and also act as sun-blinds. Exhibition and storage areas shall be protected from natural light. Here the layers are suspended in front of a closed wall with some tiny openings, also in the form of lakes.

By its appearance and its sheer size, the building does not need any form more complicated than a cube. By stacking the entire programme simply on top of each other, the shortest possible way between programmes is achieved. By perforating the slab ceilings in a pixel-like manner the building becomes "transparent" inside, shortcuts and connections between different functions and areas are easily possible, linking everything with everything.

As a matter of fact the volume of 52.5 x 52.5 x 52.5m (=144.703m²) is also the most efficient way of organising the space allocation plan in terms of the relationship surface area / volume. This means economic construction-methods and a significant reduction of energy consumption over the life cycle of the building.

Estonian National Museum official site
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