Studio Class at Yale University
Studio Class at Yale University

Myst Museum

This project was developed by Davis Butner as a student from Yale School of Architecture and was submited to the WAS awards 2017 under the Facilities category.

Mist is a phenomenon caused by small droplets of water suspended in air. It can occur as part of natural weather or volcanic activity, and is common in cold air above warmer water, in exhaled air in the cold, and in a steam room of a sauna. It can also be created artificially with aerosol canisters if the humidity conditions are right.

Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, orconscious of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight.

The Myst Museum manifests its absence; it is light, floating in the air as a cloud, subtlety aligning with the ground yet framing a cathedral-like space where the light defies materiality.

The exquisite historical context of our site in the structure of the city of Yaroslavl, its relation to nature and its proximity to the river, the intricate topography, the surrounding edifices and activities: many of the particularities of this site already establish it as an optimal public space dedicated to culture.

Arguably, the museum already exists and we can consider that little would need to be transformed to transform this underused open space into the most prominent space of gathering and events of the city of Yaroslavl. 

The Myst Museum proposal aims to respect the peculiar condition of the site; it simply covers this topographical cavity with a long and light elongated landscape providing both a natural public space, continuous to the level of the city above, and a very large open enclosed space below.

Taking advantage of the topography, the surface provides horizontal connectivity across the site; the wonderer can access this open public space from any direction, it therefore acts as a central platform creating high connectivity between the different icons in this cultural environment and facilitating public activities.

The museum itself exists below the surface. Accessed from above and from the south street level, it is a space defined by light. The high performance structural system enables to create a punctured roof. The absence of structure is the key to the Myst Museum, the cultural program is open, and the flexibility of the space means that any type of event can happen: It is mainly a space for exhibition but can house fashion shows, concerts, theatre shows…

Much like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the investigation of the project has led to unique and innovative form finding experiments, constructing the model upside down, subjecting an elastic membrane to weights. Finding homogeneous surface tensions, the structure is optimized and can therefore be built as two thin collaborating fiber concrete shells.

Myst doesn’t question the very organisation of the museum which is left open. Further investigation would address a variety of functional schemes and continue the attempt to relate this new cultural monument to its inspiring context.

Please visit for a complete summary of the manifestation of the project, and for sound and light studies related to the formal geometries of the project.

Project by Edouard Cabay, Davis Butner, Jin Shihui