Margit Argus, Margit Aule, Toomas Adrikorn, Kaiko Kerdmann, Laura Ojala, Katri Haarde (graphic design)
Vana-Vastseliina village, Võru County
Vastseliina Piiskopilinnuse Foundation
Pilgrims’ House is situated at the steep bank of the Meeksi creek that flows into the Piusa river next to the medieval episcopal castle of Vastseliina. Thanks to the miracle that took place in the 14th century the castle became quickly one of the most famous pilgrimages sites in Northern-Europe. the Pilgrims’ House visitor center opened in 2018 houses an interactive exhibition about the pilgrimage world in the medieval ages. One can explore the eating and drinking habits of the pilgrims, see how they slept and experience the visible and invisible threats they face.
The footprint of the building is in the shape of an irregular rectangle and as it is situated on a steep decline the ground floor is fully overground, but the basement level is only half buried onto the riverbank. The basement level opens towards east with magnificent views over the valley. The exterior of the building blends seamlessly into the historical environment without loosing its modernity. This is achieved by the harmony of the geometrical forms and the materials used. The free composition of openings can be trace to the openings in the castle walls and Cor-Ten, a material usually associated with corporate architecture, blends seamlessly to the environment thanks to its earthly tone. The overall form is quite castle-like, as only a few openings are larger. With the freeform composition of these openings modularity has been avoided. The strict, pilgrim and castle architecture aesthetics are somewhat softened by the cutout on the castle side and the step in on the valley side, that creates a canopy for the terrace.
The building houses the visitor center and its exhibition area but also several auxiliary rooms. On the ground floor you will find a library, a chapel, and a kitchen, on the lover level there is a tavern, dormitory and washing room. The interior design is also inspired by history – this is especially apparent in different furnishing details that have a highly stylized medieval look. The simple aesthetics are emphasized by the whitewash walls and charcoal-colored floors.