Winning the first Finlandia Prize is the latest achievement for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, designed by Finnish firm Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects. The Finlandia Prize for Architecture is awarded to a design or renovation of an outstanding new building or complex completed within the past three years. The prize also recognizes Finnish architects and firms for a project built within Finland or abroad.
After Lahdelma & Mahlamäki won the international competition in 2005, the museum -- which is located in a World War II-era ghetto -- was completed in 2013 and then recently opened its main exhibition on October 29, 2014.
Scroll further down to learn more about the project.
"According to Sixten Korkman, Professor of Practice in Economics at Aalto University, the building's restrained design, when experienced on-site, feels like absolutely the right approach to take, considering its use. It is an approach that respects the history and tragic fate of the Polish Jews.
Korkman evaluated the designs based on three selection criteria: What is the relationship between the formal idiom of the building and its use? How well does the design combine aesthetics and function? How does the building 'sit' in its environment?"
"A multifunctional building to promote research, education, and the culture of the Jewish tradition: The museum building is a multifunctional facility that promotes research, education, and the culture of the Jewish tradition. The permanent exhibition is housed in a 'raw' space of 5,000 sq.m, located under the entrance hall. The exhibition presents the various forms of the culture of the Polish Jews, from the Middle Ages to the present day.
"The frame of the building is cast-in-situ concrete. The curved walls and the adjoining curved ceiling structures in the entrance hall are part of the frame. The technical design of the curved load-bearing walls was particularly challenging. The walls are large, uniform, and geometrically double-curved blocks, the largest ever realised. The exterior of the museum is glass. In the outer layer of the double-layer facade, laminated glass fins alternate with pre-patinated copper mesh."
"The museum project was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, the Jewish Historical Institute and the City of Warsaw. Earlier this year, the Association of Polish Architects recognised the museum building with two awards (the SARP Award of the Year and the Award for the Best Architectural Object Built Using Public Funds under the Honorary Patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland)"
The head designer of the museum was Rainer Mahlamäki, with Riitta Id (from 2005 to 2007) and Marita Kukkonen (2008 onwards) as project architects. The museum was then realized in collaboration with the local Polish architectural firm Kuryłowicz & Associates.
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