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Warsaw Museum of Modern Art

The site is almost like a conceptual art installation of recent Polish history – downtown Warsaw, destruction during war, Palace of Culture from the communist era, new skyscrapers of the liberated economy – and a major opportunity for a landmark cultural institution for the new millennium. The new museum building is expected to stand out both on local and global scales. On local scale the museum is inevitably involved in a clash of statements and values with its Soviet era neighbor, the Palace of Culture. The museum should be strong enough to attract artists and visitors on its own terms, and to act as a beacon for the new contemporary Polish culture.

The building has only two surfaces. The glass wall represents and enables the digital world of direct communication that is independent of location. 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 sculptural curving wall is a solid and permanent feature inspired by the existing conditions. 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. The museum interior is delineated by these two surfaces. There are generic and unique aspects, light and dark moments and both permanent and temporary features. Art can be completely isolated inside, or fully 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. When required, the large gallery spaces can be divided into smaller units, or the whole museum can act as one continuous space.

NAME: Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw competition

TYPE: Open competition, 2007, Special Award

STATUS: Concluded

LOCATION: Warsaw, Poland

CLIENT: City of Warsaw

PROGRAM: Museum 35,800 m2, garage 12,200 m2

TEAM: ALA partners Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta and Samuli Woolston

COLLABORATORS: Grupa5, Jaroslaw Kosaciewicz, Klaus Stolt