Nominee for the Annual Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia in Architecture 2023
Nominee for the annual award of the Estonian Association of Interior Architects 2023
Architecture
Helen Rebane, Kaie Kuldkepp, Tanel Teder, Elo Liina Kaivo (NÜÜD arhitektid)
Interior architecture
Helen Rebane, Tanel Teder, Kaie Kuldkepp, Elo Liina Kaivo (NÜÜD arhitektid)
Landscape architecture
Helen Rebane, Tanel Teder, Kaie Kuldkepp, Elo Liina Kaivo (NÜÜD arhitektid)
Project Lead
Sille Roomets
Graphic design
Mari Tosmin
Structural design
Veiko Vill, Ants Teppe (Ehituskonstrueerimise ja Katsetuste osaühing)
Construction
Ehitustrust
Commissioned by
Mulgi Elamuskeskus
Total area
1590m2
Design
2017–2022
Completed
2022
Photos
Tõnu Tunnel, Helen Rebane

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The fascinating and distinctive solution for the Mulgi Experience Centre will undoubtedly attract extra attention. The result could be interpreted as a building within a building, new and old together. The curiosity among visitors about the unusual architecture is palpable and when they leave, they come away with a fantastic emotional surge. The building is simple and logical, yet positively unexpected. The exhibition hall is in harmony with the centre’s buildings and makes an integral impact.
Ülle Juht, Mulgi Experience Centre

Opened this summer, Mulgi Experience Centre is unique in both content and form. The intriguing and singular architectural solution of the exhibition building provides a completely new context for the content and location of the centre. A building within a building, binding the old and the new, these are the keywords to describe the result. You can actually feel the visitors’ interest and curiosity. The emotion is amazing. The solution is simple and logical but at the same time positively unexpected. Its harmony with the rest of the complex has a comprehensive feel, with the historical farmyard thus given a new life.
Ülle Juht, head of Mulgi Experience Centre

Mulgi Experience Centre operates on Sooglemäe Farm, whose ensemble preserves a former farmhouse, a large and small storehouse, a threshing house and stable walls. Sooglemäe has become a landmark and symbol of the identity of Mulgimaa, a region in south-central Estonia, where every visitor can partake of the hospitality. It is supported and encouraged by architecture by the practice of NÜÜD – an attractive bridge between past and present.

The farmhouse was built in 1909, and now functions as an entrance building, with an information centre, gift shop and exhibit introducing the experience centre. The interior has the characteristic ambience of a prosperous farm, but a modern sheen, since everything needed for the centre has been integrated into the house. As many of the original details as possible were preserved in the renovation: old doors and stoves were restored, and the roof beans were exposed; even the window frames are based on the original ones. The added materials are conservative, natural and distinguished – the walls and sloping ceilings are plastered with a lime compound, the wooden details and stairs are stained with linseed oil. Mulgimaa motif emblazoned crafts are on display, giving a sense of a whole in the interior.

The core of the experience centre is exhibited in the former fieldstone stable built in 1900. It was used as a grain drying facility on a Soviet-era state farm. The fieldstone walls are conserved skilfully – the new exhibition hall was built among and around them. One of the greatest points of interest at the experience centre is the stables, which is now inside the new building, but has a roof over it.

The permanent exhibition can be seen around the wall perimeter, it also contains the event hall and reception and auxiliary rooms. Between the old wall and new exterior wall runs the Mulgimaa timeline in the form of a gallery. The sovkhoz-era drying tower has also been restored and it functions as a continuation of the semi-open interior. Here, too, as much use as possible has been made of natural materials. The rustic wall and concrete floor with white pigment is supported by the atmospheric light-coloured oiled cross laminated timber and plywood panelling. The ceiling is finished with white lime plaster, yet the interior roof supported by the stable walls is painted black, which leaves a bit of a mysterious impression.

The people of Mulgimaa now have themselves integral premises with a common design theme where they can ponder and tell their story to visitors in an experience-oriented manner. The architects of NÜÜD have hit the nail on the head.

The experience centre is established in the former Sooglemäe farmstead (main building, garners, threshing barn, stable). It is a meeting place of the Mulgi people and bearer of their identity, a museum, information centre, venue for events and sales point for local products and services.

Visiting Sooglemäe for the first time, we were fascinated by the environment and natural features – the impressive park, avenue lined with old trees, vast grasslands and the dignified presence of the buildings ravaged by time. The Mulgi people understood the wealth hidden in land and were the first ones to buy up their farms. When designing the centre, we tried to keep it all in mind and turn the farm into a landmark highlighting the county, the context and historical stages of their history and culture, the periods of private and state farms, today and tomorrow. The aim was to preserve the old and add contemporary layers and functions, while also integrating the architecture of the buildings and outdoor areas, the interior architecture and the exposition into a spatial whole unfolding the uninterrupted story of the Mulgi people.

When reconstructing the main building completed in 1909 into the entrance, we wanted to recreate the ambience of a typical Mulgi farm in a modern key thus functionally integrating the needs and vision of the centre.

The exposition building is based on the house-within-a-house concept around the preserved stone walls of the stable built in 1900 (used as a grain dryer during its state farm days). Based on the farmhouse archetype, the building volume with a glulam structure and wood façade features a board roof in the north and a solar roof generating energy in the south. The timeline gallery between the new volume and old walls allows you to ponder on the past and future of the Mulgi people while the black inner roof of the second floor may even unveil the Mulgi myth. The tower dryer marking the state farm period is a continuation of the interior as an observation tower and outdoor stage.

The centre helps to understand the essence of the Mulgi people and dwell on their heritage, it is a place for gathering as well as promoting their values and ideas.

NÜÜD Architects