Łódź architects reveal ‘sensitive’ plans for new ‘Museum of Westerplatte and the War of 1939’
Set to be built over the next four years, plans for the Museum of Westerplatte and the War of 1939 have been made public following a two-stage competitive process to decide on an architectural and construction concept.
Conducted earlier in the year, the first stage saw fourteen studios submit their proposals for the area. These were then whittled down to a shortlist of five potential candidates who were then invited to present more in-depth solutions.
Announced at a press conference last week, the winning entry was a collaboration between three Łódź-based studios: Muro Architekci, Krystyna Lachman-Pabich Architekci and Projektownia.
According to them, the primary goal had been to present as closely as possible how the Westerplatte Military Transit Depot would have appeared in 1939. To do so, research was conducted based on German photographs as well as images provided by the competitions organisers, The Museum of World War Two in Gdańsk.
“The dimensions of individual warehouses were recreated using archival materials and cross-sections, and the façade from photographs and drawings,” they said.
Among other things, historic tree lines will be added as will slopes and embankments that have been lost over time. Other elements that were added post-war, such as the car park, will face liquidation.
“After a thorough analysis we also decided to change the course of the seafront promenade, moving it so it follows the historical path of Guardhouse No. 3,” they said.
The main exhibition pavilion will bring to mind “an open wound” say the architectural team. “It is a mark in a field, living in symbiosis with what has witnessed cruel history. A mark that time cannot remove.
“It is intended to evoke a sense of uncertainty and anxiety, which gradually increases as visitors head towards the square in front of the entrance to the facility.”
Run as a sidearm of The Museum of World War Two, the investment will cover an outdoor area of 250,000 sq/m, an underground exhibition pavilion and will see seven buildings reconstructed as well as other historical elements preserved.
The news has been welcomed across the board, not just for its sensitive architectural style, but also for its cultural and historical significance. Widely regarded as the opening battle of WWII, the Siege of Westerplatte is inscribed in national folklore.
Pounded by the Schleswig-Holstein battleship in the early hours of September 1st, 1939, the Polish garrison stationed at Westerplatte defied the odds to hold out until September 7th against attacks from air, sea and land.
Announcing the winners, the jury panel said: “What is notable is the high level of spatial and landscape compositions that emphasise the character of the place and take into account the restoration of the historical layout.
“The concept will successfully disseminate knowledge about the heroic defence of Westerplatte whilst also protecting, maintaining and restoring the military architectural objects in the area.”
They added: “The work is characterised by high-quality architectural solutions and a restrained form fitting of the atmosphere.”