Budapest-based A4 studio shared with us their proposal for the Museum of WWII in Gdańsk Competition. More images and architect’s description after the break.
Scar and healing
The basic concept of the museum is a symbolic scar, that cuts the body into two parts. Bridges are built from the opposing walls of the scar, forming a continous tissue like skin, or bone structure. The bridges are the essential part of the exhibiton’s circulation, forming a system like blood circulation. This symbolic healing recalls the regenerating ability of the organic tissue. The exhibition ends in the highest part of the building. This high mark is a dominant element in the city landscape, indetifying the museum from distance. One wall of the tower is solid, the others are made of a steel mesh, covered with various plants. The solid wall is suitable for projection, light painting artists or advertisement for temporary exhibitions. If opened, it can host outdoor perfomances. The plants growing on the steel mesh make the structure dynamic, introducing the final symbol of healing: time.
Cutting the body forms a path, that leads the visitors through the building. At the end, they have to face a totem reflecting a deformed mirror image, suggesting their responsibily for the actions taken. This public path, covered with basalt paving blocks, is open to all visitors. It connects the urban public space in front of the main entrance with the park at the rear corner. This area can give place to events, open-air exhibitions or performances. Along the Raduna canal, this green area gently penetrates under the rear facade of the building. The organic surface slowly becomes covered, just as the space of the corner filled with spiritual tension transforms into a space of public and commercial use. Approaching the rear bridge of the Radunia canal unfolds the rear facade of the restaurant and the conference centre, inviting the visitors with its huge glass surfaces. This zone serves as a rear entrance, providing access to the conference centre, library and gastronomy block, even after the museum has closed.
The two main principles forming the building is cutting the body, and the separation of levels. The original form of a deformed rectangle is cut diagonally. The two parts also separate in levels, forming a smaller and a larger bulk. All the exhibits are placed on the top level. Mainly in the larger part, can the permanent exhibition be found, and accross a transparent bridge, the temporary, in the small one. Between the two, the essential component of the comlex, the museum circulation establishes connection, so the last room of the permament collection is placed in the smaller part. That contains the huge projection screen, with its immense dimensions, inteding to give a catharsis experience to the visitors walking through the exhibition. Passing another transparent bridge, the route returns to the main building. The circulation this way connects the two parts like blood circulation and fills the intermediate space with life. The rest zones, reaching over the Radunia canal, provide a captivating view of the historic city of Gdansk. On the ground level, can all the functions like the conference centre, the library or the restaurant, be found, all linked to the main lobby. This separation of levels enables the institutions to function independetly from the museum.
The external walls are neutral-white concrete surfaces. The horizontal, outdoor surfaces are covered in basalt paving blocks, that reflects the atmosphere of the historic city of Gdansk. The interior walls are also white concrete surfaces. The horizontal ones are smoothed concrete surfaces with flat, synthetic resin. Corten stripes of rusty metal are inserted into the floors to prodive help for orientation. In the lobby a transition of flooring materials is planned to diminish the difference between the external and internal space. Also a mass of thin, rusty pillars of corten metal form a thickening line starting from the main entrance, until they blend with the solid concrete surface of the wall inside the cut.