I can’t remember a time when there was so much new and relatively exciting development going on in Warsaw. In mid-construction we have the national stadium, the Copernicus science centre, the Jewish museum and the new north bridge and shortly to join that list is the new Museum of Modern Art next to the Palace of Culture. There’s also threatened to be a Museum of Polish History built next to Ujazdowskie Palace, a competition has been held and won late in 2009 but I can’t find any dates for construction. I’ll try to cover all those that are underway sometime over the summer but for now lets look at MoMA.
The story of this museum started back in 2005 when the project was announced and guidelines set down. Late that year an architectural competition was organised but it ultimately failed to get anywhere thanks to some rather strange conditions that discriminated against both international firms as well as smaller Polish firms. This led to the entire jury resigning in mid 2006 and the whole thing starting again with new rules and the eventual selection of Christian Kerez as the winner. There were then further delays while everyone worried about how to remove the large enclosed bazaar that stood on the site of the new museum, know locally as the KDT (Kupieckie Domy Towarowe). They eventually bit the bullet and evicted the traders after some protests and you can see from the photos below that demolition works are now well underway with that well named demolition company “Kruszer”. [Edit – since I wrote this it has been completely flattened]
If you’re badly missing your fave rajstopy-trader from KDT, rumour has it that many of them have moved into the lower floors of what I call “Dubai tower” on Jerozolimskie – actually called Millennium Plaza.
There has been much complaint about the selected design for the new MoMA. Christian Kerez’s building is not the most exciting design from the outside and many people would have preferred something more immediately inspiring, more of an obvious landmark for the city rather than something that could be mistaken for a multi-story car park. There is, of course, an explanation. One that might persuade the more architecturally intellectual people that this was the right choice but I’m not sure it’s going to persuade many others:
Kerez has built relatively few buildings; yet those executed are characterized as strikingly beautiful in their stringent preciseness. The concern for precise investigation of clear architectural concepts has made Kerez one of the most influential recent architects from the Swiss architectural scene.
“My interest in reduction to essentials has nothing to do with modesty and restraint…The reduction that I aim for heightens the elements of architecture. It makes architectural relations more radical and more visible”
Kerez recent works radically exploit the concept of space. This clearly seems true with his latest project, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. Here a stringent façade is hiding an unexpected and varied landscape of light within the building. Kerez denial of creating an expressive proposal for the museum can be seen as a move away from the trend of expressive iconic museum buildings. His seemingly modest approach hence hides a radical content, not being dictated by current trends of stylistic expression.
“It is not an extravagant icon, a visible beacon of form. It’s a building that only comes to life on the inside” Christian Kerez on The Warsaw museum project
This is actually a brilliant piece of mumbo-jumbo. “Okay, it might look like crap from the outside but when you actually get inside the finished building you’ll be amazed!”. Which of course is hard to disprove until you can walk inside the finished building a few years from now so the architect has plenty of time to work something out. Let’s hope it does not turn out to be the Emperor’s new clothes because this could become a regular venue for me when I”m in need of an inspirational lunch-break.
Here is the winning design, thought by some to be in desperate need of a Carrefour or Auchan sign on the roof:
And here are a few others that were considered:
Gareth Hoskins Architects – got nowhere
Szaroszyk & Rycerski Architekci – 2nd Prize
Tamizo Architects – got nowhere
Atelier WW Architekten – 3rd Prize
I quite like the Gareth Hoskins version although, depending on exactly what those materials are, it is potentially the most expensive to build. I wonder if there there will be an entrance fee to pay and if so, how much?
I think Poland has a great deal of artistic talent to offer so I hope they manage to fill this with plenty of good inspirational stuff. The exhibits in the Ujazdowskie palace tend to be a little too “deep and impenetrable” for my liking so I’m hoping a place this size will have room for the whacky as well as the slightly more mainstream.
Anybody want to enlighten us as to what is likely to be exhibited there? This perhaps – Włodzimierz Pawlak, Poles forming a national flag, 1989: