Museum of Contemporary Art 


Design: 2008

Client: The Wroclaw Municipal Goverment, competitions

Location: Wroclaw, Poland

Team: Marcin Mostafa, Natalia Paszkowska, Piotr Musiałowski / 2PM, Izabela Bartosik, Artur Gosk

The starting point for the present design was such a concept of a museum of contemporary art where the main task is not so much collecting and presenting works of art, as an up-to-date recording of new artistic phenomena and events. It frequently happens in modern art that a creative process per se is actually much more significant than a final, material outcome. Besides exibiting works of art, a museum may play the role of a catalyst for encouraging, provoking and accelerating some events.

In accord with this premise, the present design assigns a considerable part of the Museum’s ground floor to a widely accessible public space, open in all directions and leading to various functional zones. This open form, white and neutral in its character, will undergo changes resulting from artistic interferences, can become an artistic forum for public discussions, performances, experiments and even demonstrations. The staircase, shaped like a big, open auditorium emphasizes this function of the Museum. The cubature of the Museum is divided into independently functioning blocks, arranged around the inner square and interconnected on the highest storey. Thus acquired space directly communicates and identifies with the city street, and art exhibited here perversely becomes ‘street art’.

In the elevation of the Museum there are spots allowing visitors for viewing, among others, such places as Dunikowski Boulevard and J. Słowacki Park with Racławice Panorama. These viewpoints are combined with recreational zones.

The inspiration for irregularity of the forum’s shape was derived from the history of the site – there used to be there a compact block of residential buildings with narrow courtyards inside. The last floor of the construction is a faithful reflection of pre-war shapes throwing past shadows onto the inner walls of the building. At the same time the form of the building is very modern. Its height, subdued colours and elevation materials make reference to Wrocław’s tradition and to the directly neigbourhing Museum of Architecture. Designed on the principle of a contrast between the massive and dark elevation and the light, illuminated inner forum the Museum is open to visitors approaching it from all the parts of the city. The primary entrance and all the most open functions have been situated in the east side, in place of a historical square. The Museum’s opening onto the park is accentuated by the flooring and by exhibition pavilions strewing from it into the city space. Rather than posters, small-scale architectural forms inform city dwellers about current exhibitions and cultural events organized by the Museum.


The idea of an inner forum-cum-street space was the key to solving a problem of extended functions of the Museum. The project assumes the division of the building into independentaly accessible activity zones. Each department has a separate, vertical communications route, sanitary and admin facilities. The basic part of technical and storage space, as well as a 50-car-garage are located underground. The -1 level also contains conference facilities and an exhibition hall, directly accessible from the forum and additionaly illuminated by skylights fitted in the floor of the entrance square.

Besides main entrances, it is also a coffee bar that opens onto J.Słowacki Park, as well as the library reading room, a club and a plastic arts study for children. The alternative way into the museum is from the side of the Museum of Architecture, from Bernardyńska Street, through the shop or via the planned pedestrian route leading from Dunikowski Arcade, passing the restaurant. The zones located on the museum’s groundfloor can function independentaly from its opening hours, but, through the contact with the forum, they are closely linked with it.

The pre-eminent design objective was reconciling need of creating an outstanding, modern and characteristic building with respect for tradition and context of its surrounding. The decisions concerning building materials were as important as historical references containeded in the structure and scale of the Museum. The outer elevations of the museum are detailed in graphite colour brick. There are two kinds of it – a polished, glazed one to be used in upper parts of the elevation in order to reflect the sunrays, and a matt, hand-made one in lower parts. The brick is to be laid everywhere with a minimal, graphite colour grout. The elevation is additionally finished with milk glass bricks irregularly scattered across its surface, during the day letting the daylight into the building and appearing as a galaxy of shining points at night. In contrast to compact, almost monolithic exterior elevations, the inner walls of the forum are finished with glass profiles in milky colours. Here, one can notice a number of shadows resulting from the layout of the building’s interior but also those cast by historical oulines of old courtyards.