The Cossack History Museum is situated in the heart of Volgograd, the Russian Federation, on one of the most prestigious sites of the city centre. The Client’s intention is to preserve, explore and demonstrate the historical and cultural Cossack heritage and with a unique architectural statement to attract Volgograd citizens as well as foreign tourists.
The concept of the building is defined by the key components of Cossack’s life: flexibility and freedom in time and space, and the ability to live in perfect harmony with the surrounding nature. The unique appearance of the museum takes inspiration from the Cossack architectural heritage, transforming old wooden buildings into a contemporary museum space. The museum with the public area, cosy pedestrian space and surrounding park is connected to nearby synagogue and benefits from the vibe of this lively part of the city. Three wooden volumes connected by transparent glass membranes incorporate the main functions of the museum: the exhibition block, the reception & office block and the cafe & conference block. Service functions are located underground. Visitors enter the museum at the public square side and effortlessly proceed through the entire building. Public functions such as café and museum shop are located immediately at the entrance lobby. Exploration of the museum space starts on the ground floor where the permanent collection is placed, then reaches the 1st floor interactive space, ascends to the watch tower, and then, through the office block and conference lounge, gradually descends to the main entrance lobby again. Design of stairs, lobbies and lounges adds to the whole impression by blurring borderline between elegant public spaces and displayed works of art.
Sustainability lies in the heart of contemporary innovative architecture and therefore use of indigenous materials has a primary importance. The choice of wood as building material is a key aspect of the design concept. In vernacular architecture wood is suitable for structure, thermal insulation or water proofing and due to its aesthetical qualities it does not need additional finishing. Frameless glass structures are used in the connecting atriums between the solid blocks. Narrow planks of wood in front of glass walls or skylights will simultaneously serve as sun-shades and allow daylight penetrate the wooden blocks at certain points. The appropriate combination of traditional materials and contemporary building and exhibition techniques results a modern interpretation of a vernacular Cossack building. This modern architectural language with historical overtones is both understandable and fascinating.