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WXCA and Buro Happold complete Polish Army Museum complex in Warsaw

Poland Architecture News - Aug 15, 2023 - 13:20   894 views

WXCA and Buro Happold complete Polish Army Museum complex in Warsaw

Polish architecture practice WXCA architects and global engineering consultancy and design firm Buro Happold have completed the Polish Army Museum complex in Warsaw, Poland

Named Polish Army Museum, the project was completed as a major addition to the cultural landscape of the Polish capital. 

Composed of a mix of historic buildings and new construction, the project draws a sensitivity approach in accordance with the relationship between the different components and their context.

The museum has been opened in Warsaw on the weekend before 15 August 2023, marking the occasion of Armed Forces Day in Poland. 

WXCA and Buro Happold complete Polish Army Museum complex in Warsaw

WXCA's design for the Polish Army Museum comprises two buildings, with the completed South Building to be joined later by a second building on the northern side of Gwardii Pieszej Koronnej Square, as well as the refurbishment of a number of historically listed buildings.

On the other hand, Buro Happold was responsible for structural, concrete façade and MEP engineering for the museum’s building, as well as underground parking, an entrance tunnel and underground utilities throughout the Citadel.

The project connects the history of the city, and the country as a whole, with the contemporary urban context. The museum site occupies 32 hectares of the Warsaw Citadel, a hilltop fortress built in the 1830s by the army of the Russian Empire. The Citadel was used by the Polish military and has been a restricted area, until now.

The team, WXCA and Buro Happold, closely worked together to reinvigorate the site, which overlooks the Vistula River and is separated from the city by an embankment. 

WXCA and Buro Happold complete Polish Army Museum complex in Warsaw

The Polish Army Museum building, together with the Museum of the 10th Pavilion of the Warsaw Citadel and the Katyń Museum, stands alongside the soon-to-be-built Museum of Polish History, collectively forming one of Europe's largest museum complexes. 

The Polish Army Museum project is part of Buro Happold’s extensive, ongoing engagement with the changing urban landscape of Warsaw. 

Over 25 years and multiple projects, Buro Happold’s Warsaw office has made a lasting contribution to the evolution of one of Europe’s most dynamic and exciting cities.

The South Building consists of 8 blocks united by a shared green roof that echoes the natural environment of the surrounding park. 

WXCA and Buro Happold complete Polish Army Museum complex in Warsaw

The total area of the building is more than 12,000 square metres and provides exhibition space dedicated to the display of the museum’s permanent collection of Polish arms and also offers flexible space for temporary exhibitions and events. 

The museum building is constructed from cast-in-place concrete, up to 7.5 metres in height. 

The façade is defined by a bespoke formwork pattern of chevrons that refers to military decoration, reflecting the site’s history over two centuries and its continuing close relationship with the military. This pattern is repeated on the walls of the galleries and other interior spaces.

WXCA and Buro Happold complete Polish Army Museum complex in Warsaw

The simple orthogonal volume of the South Building masks a complex technical infrastructure. The technical requirements are integrated into the design, a relationship that required close collaboration between Buro Happold and WXCA. 

MEP functions are cast in the main walls, and the concrete ceiling and the roof provide a thermal mass that stabilises indoor temperature. A low-energy system of year-round heating and cooling is created via a ground exchanger, comprising 91 vertical boreholes drilled to a depth of 150 metres, which work in combination with heat pumps.

Buro Happold designed a new entrance tunnel, allowing for access from the Vistula riverside and through the embankment at the Citadel’s base. A post-tensioning structural system minimises the amount of concrete required for the tunnel. A new entrance and recently designed footbridge further aid in circulation, intensifying the connections within the Citadel and creating new links between the Citadel and the city.

WXCA and Buro Happold complete Polish Army Museum complex in Warsaw

"We opted for coloured architectural concrete, which has a similar colour to the brick walls of the Warsaw Citadel. The monumentality of the geometric body of the museum was softened by a specially designed spatial pattern imprinted on the plane of the massive blocks—the chevron pattern," said WXCA. 

"The chevron pattern was intended to bring military motifs to mind. Its spatial form was conceived as a surface for a sculptural play of light and shadow that changes depending on the time of day and thus alters the overall perception of the building." 

"The size of the individual ornamental modules was designed based on the scale of a human being, namely the human hand, thanks to which we can experience a gradual aesthetic experience—as you approach the monumental, disciplined body, the details of the façade come to the fore," WXCA added.

WXCA and Buro Happold complete Polish Army Museum complex in Warsaw

"The Warsaw Citadel has been an unapproachable, mysterious point in the city’s urban fabric for almost two centuries. With the project for the Polish Army Museum, this rich historical site is reimagined for a contemporary public, for the people of Warsaw and Poland as a whole," said Sławomir Pastuszka, Group Director, Buro Happold. 

"The project provided an opportunity for Buro Happold to apply our expertise in combining structural and MEP engineering within architectural design, working in close cooperation with WXCA." 

"This approach was especially important in adapting to the Citadel's significance as an essential part of the city's architectural heritage while envisioning its revitalisation. The result is a site that is open to the city, welcoming to visitors, and an exciting new hub of culture and heritage for the city of Warsaw," Pastuszka added.

WXCA and Buro Happold complete Polish Army Museum complex in Warsaw

Based in Warsaw, WXCA is an architecture office offering a wide range of Investor services.

Buro Happold is an international, integrated consultancy of engineers,  designers  and advisers. For over 45 years, they have built an unrivalled reputation by delivering creative, value-led solutions for the benefit of people, places and planet. 

Project facts

Name: Polish Army Museum

Location: Warsaw, Poland

Client: Ministry of National Defence, Poland

Architect: WXCA

Completion date: 2023

All images © Marcin Czechowicz.

> via WXCA & Buro Happold

Buro Happold concrete cultural building museum WXCA