This site is soaked with complex memories of WWII and bloody protests in a fight for freedom in the 1970′. The heaviness of the past is contrasted by the lightness of the absolutely marvellous grading of the square. There are traces and signs of those memories still that suggest respect and soberness, but nothing is heavy about this design. So maybe the new ‘feel of the place’ suggests that confronting the past is perhaps behind? It optimistically allows for new uses in the times to come. Another thing worth mentioning is if you read the design statement, the museum was supposed to look more like a house and less like a landscape at first. The architects proposed a square also to give some space to the new Philharmonic (by another architect) across the street which is an act of super-consciousness in the world of architecture and I’m not sure how many architects are capable of that. This attitude makes the Philharmonic look like an Instagram ready teenager and the square it’s grown up neighbour.See other editor's picks
KWK Promes: Before the WWII, Szczecin was a german city and location of our museum used to be a urban quarter. During the war, due to air raids, a quarter was destroyed. After war, Szczecin became a polish city, meanwhile an empty square accidentally appeared in place of a former quarter. In December ’70, there were bloody clashes against the militia with tragic results of 16 fatalities. Since those events, a square has became a symbol of the fight for freedom, which is commemorated by a monument over there. Thus, an idea of a museum of the latest history of Szczecin in that place came up. Philharmonic Hall, designed by Estudio Barozzi Veiga was meant to be built on the opposite side of the street. Even then, we concluded, that this new building would become the new icon of the city, so we decided to step aside to the second plan with our museum design.
A building is bringing together two contradictory traditions – prewar urban quarter and postwar square. That is how an urban hybrid was created – it encloses the space as a quarter, keeping the values of an open public space. We needed some foreground in front of the philharmonic hall and the church, so that we stayed there on the level of existing square. Former quarter is marked on the opposite corners by smooth uplifts of the square. One of them contains a museum and another 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.
Competition site didn’t included whole square, however, we decided to break it to give to the city an added value – a space, which gives brand new opportunities. Outline of the museum came from the competition site. Groundfloor is mainly the entrance zone, underground level became is exhibition space.
Stairway the exhibition space is the border between two worlds, due to blackness of the whole underground level. This idea came up during the realization, 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. Despite of the ban, we pushed trough a smooth flooring, best for riding and doing sports, therefore, while museum is closed, life is still goes on on a square. Topography of the square encourages to skateboarding, skating or sledding. A square has preserved its symbolic character, this is still a place for annual ceremonies. City authorities began to use sloping surface of the square for open-air concerts and summer cinema. Szczecin inhabitants understood, this is their square and now they are gathering there to celebrate as well to manifest and express their opinions.
Authors: KWK Promes, architects Robert Konieczny, Michał Lisiński, Dorota Żurek, Katarzyna Furgalińska Collaboration: architects Aleksandra Stolecka, Piotr Tokarski, Adam Radzimski, Joanna Biedna, Magdalena Adamczak General contractor: Skanska
Investor: National Museum in Szczecin (Muzeum Narodowe w Szczecinie)
Site area: 9577 m2
Gross covered area: 1628 m2
Usable floor area: 2117 m2
Exhibition surface: 960 m2
Volume: 15 845 m3
Construction: Jan 2012- Feb 2016