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 3 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 strong and simple 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 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 and black timber joinery.
National Cold War Exhibition at the RAF Museum, RAF Cosford
Client: Bridgnorth District Council
Construction value: £9,000,000
Completion: July 2006
•2008: Civic Trust Awards
•2008: Civic Trust Awards: Special Award for Sustainability
•2007: RIBA Awards: winner
•2007: British Construction Industry Awards: Building Award: Winner
•2007: Structural Steel Awards: Commendation
"This striking building presents a stunning spectacle on the windswept airfield and provides an appropriate setting for an evocative experience."
UK Structural Steel Awards 2007 - Judges' comments
For RAF Cosford
“A dynamic and exciting building . . . fulfilling its client’s brief meticulously, economically and extremely satisfactorily. The form and shape of the building entirely represents the demands of its need, content and use. How it looks is what it is and there is nothing superfluous, unnecessary, fanciful or extravagant.”
Michael Manser, Architects’ Journal, February 2007
For RAF Cosford