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Medal Winner 2013
SOM Foundation UK Award

Kizhi Island

Part 2 Project 2013
Ben Hayes
Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) | UK
This proposal is for a museum landscape that will facilitate the restoration and reassembly of 250 wooden Orthodox churches onto Kizhi Island in Northern Russia.

These fragile, desecrated structures have a spiritual presence that commands respect, however, in the next 10-15 years these wooden monuments will almost totally disappear. The churches were once central to their communities, just as the Orthodox faith was central to the people, they speak of the inner lives of the people in this place. This lyrical proposal explores in depth the changing relationship between the Russian landscape and national identity, tracing back the influence of Romanticism at the start of the nineteenth century and looking at the wide scale impact of Soviet collectivisation and de-ruralisation.

This project challenges the programme of the existing museum on Kizhi Island and considers a more ambitious architectural intervention, radically expanding it to include all 250 wooden churches. I propose a new restoration facility and museum to facilitate the dismantling of the church monuments from their original location, their transportation to Kizhi via shipping, their restoration and open-air curation across the whole island. The facility will contain temporary and permanent structures for research, storage, preservation and exhibition of each church that has been relocated. The project addresses two problems: it protects and restores this fragile heritage, that today is on the verge of total extinction, and it dramatically redesigns the visitor experience on the island.

The intervention adopts an approach to the island’s landscape: the whole island is treated as a repository of protected buildings that is constantly transforming, thus challenging existing notions of preservation and heritage. The new formation of this landscape will be the impetus for the comprehensive study of the buildings and amassing data connected to them. The project is an earnest call for the protection and celebration of this most fragile part of the cultural heritage of Russia.

Ben Hayes

Dr Yeoryia Manolopoulou
Mr Niall McLaughlin
Michiko Sumi
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