National Cold War Museum

Architect: Feilden Clegg Bradley
2006 . Cosford

This building houses the UK’s national exhibition dedicated to documenting the Cold War. The Royal Air Force Museum wished to raise their profile with a landmark building to house a collection of rare and unique aircraft, including 13 Cold War bombers with wingspans stretching up to 50 metres.

The design gives physical expression to the two opposing forces locked in the Cold War. Two curvilinear triangular volumes are forced 30 metres up out of the ground creating a 130 metre long ‘fault line’ along their adjoining edges with the metaphor continued in the twisted plane geometry of the roof. The display hall is split onto two levels with high level viewing access to provide multiple views of the museum’s collection.

A simple and strong statement is achieved through the combination of large enclosure, dramatic gesture, robust materials and the technology required to produce an environmentally sustainable solution. The project represents a real shift in thinking on museum environmental conditions. Humidity is controlled within the 6,200 sq metre display hall without using energy intensive air conditioning but through controlled ventilation, low level conservation heating, exposed thermal mass and a heavily insulated roof structure.

The smooth lines of the aluminium standing seam roof dominate the sculptural form of the building’s exterior. The industrial aesthetic of the interior is one of stark contrasts: dark structural steel supports bright galvanized decking while daylight entering via a continuous strip of rooflights along the central spine provides a constantly changing dynamic of lights and darks. The ancillary facilities, including an auditorium and classrooms, are buried in the ground below and continue the expression of contrasts with exposed concrete block work walls with black timber joinery

by, Feilden Clegg Bradley


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