The site is almost like a conceptual art installation of recent Polish history- downtown Warsaw, destruction during war, Palace of Culture from the communist years, new skyscrapers of the liberated economy- and a major opportunity for a landmark cultural institution for the new millennium.
GENERAL ARCHITECTURAL CONCEPT
The new museum building is expected to stand out on a local and global scale. The competition for "Bilbao-effect" architecture worldwide is fierce, with major cities craving attention by building extravagant monuments. Form and complexity alone are not enough to attract attention. If the 20th century architecture was focused on style and form, the 21st century could be the time for content.
In local scale the new museum is inevitably involved in a clash of statements and values with the Soviet-era neighbor, the Palace of Culture. A strong architecture is needed, capable of challenging the iconic status of the Palace of Culture -and also escaping that discussion completely. The museum should be strong enough to attract artists and visitors on its own terms, and act as a beacon for the new contemporary Polish culture.
To achieve these goals we propose a sculptural building based on the programmatic and functional needs intertwined with the global and local context. The proposal is conceived as interplay between two surfaces: a sculptural curving wall forming the gallery spaces, and a vertical flat glass surface displaying the exhibitions to the surroundings.
The glass wall represents and enables the digital world of direct, location-independent communication. It works locally as a gigantic shop window and display board, utilizing visual communication methods from transparency to manual manipulation and digital projection. It reveals, protects and enhances the physical, "real" art behind it. The exterior can develop a hole or view where needed (suspension of disbelief vs. the alienation effect in Brecths Epic Theatre; verfremdungseffekt) to the art and other spaces within. The aim is to create maximum impact with minimal surface- this surface needs breaking through to get to the museum ("breaking the fourth wall).
The sculptural curving wall is a solid and permanent feature born out of the current conditions and inspirations. It is real and mesmerizing, and will remain as a document of our time while the glass wall keeps evolving and the contents changing. It is clad in a chromium-like finish, thus literally reflecting the local surroundings in a unique way. Continuous organic spatial dramatics shaping the rooms behind the wall "plot holes"/windows towards the square. Tension structures within this mass to hold up the wall (and form the shapes themselves).
The museum interior is delineated by these two surfaces. It is a combination of their different qualities. It has generic and unique aspects, light and dark moments and permanent and temporary features. The art can be totally isolated inside, or it can be totally exposed to the outside.
The art can be inspired by the space and take on its unique qualities, or it can ignore the space and turn it into a new condition just for itself. The amount and quality of light can be modified by manipulating the glass wall. The large gallery spaces can be divided into smaller units, or the whole museum can act as one continuous space.