WAF 2016 – KWK Promes’ Robert Konieczny won the Building of the Year Award at World Architecture Festival 2016 with the subterranean National Museum in Szczecin, Poland. The project creates an open concrete square for public engagement. The Polish studio aimed to create a continuity with the city’s XX century history and dialogue with the surrounding architecture.
The new project takes the place of a former urban quarter that was destroyed by air raids in WWII when Szczecin was German. After the war when the city became Polish and a square that appeared where the quarter once raised. In 1970, clashes against the militia ended in blood. Since then, the square became a symbol of the fight for freedom.
“Our Szczecin National Museum is a urban-hybrid project that encloses the space as a quarter, keeping the values of an open public space” says Robert Konieczny to Archipanic.
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The former quarter is marked on the opposite corners by smooth uplifts of the square. One of them contains the National Museum. The other one works as a hill, protecting square from the busy street”.
As a result, an amphitheatric space of the square was created. “To receive a monolithic character of the whole design, we attributed one material – concrete – to it, so on the material division of the square floor go in elevation”.
Rotating concrete panels at street level unveil the entrance of the museum. Stairway leads to the underground exhibition space.
“This idea came up when it turned out, that we would not design the exhibition space. We were afraid of some overwhelming scenography, which pretends to be the past, so that we wanted to cut off from it by this move”.
“However the authors of interior design asked us for consultation and, by then, a collaboration began. As a result, we reject scenography and replace it by art. At the same time historical museum became the museum of art”.
The sloping surface of the square encourages skateboarding, skating or sledding but also public events like open air concerts and summer cinema and annual ceremonies.
“Szczecin inhabitants understood, this is their square and now they are gathering there to celebrate as well to manifest and express their opinions”.