Frederic Schwartz Architects


Wroclaw, Poland

Wroclaw Contemporary Museum

Our approach for the new Wroclaw Contemporary Museum (WCM) is marked by clarity and restraint to create a highly functional museum and support spaces that are beautiful and compelling without being overbearing or excessive. The architecture of the museum (inside and out) is a neutral container for art that promotes public access for the users. Contrasting modern materials (glass and concrete) are juxtaposed to identify the opaque and transparent parts of the program and to contrast with the historic detailing of the neighboring church. The design offers a dynamic interaction between inside and outside, transparence and opacity, lightness and weight. From the interior, the transparency of glass offers the church as an inner facade of the great hall and from the exterior the glass reflects the church as the south facade. The museum’s massing and materials in contrast to the historic church will promote a cultural dialogue about new and old.

Volumetrically the design concept stacks the program in east and west volumes connected by a light filled central void. The new museum captures light, connects the visitor to the history of the city, and creates a beautiful and rich experience. With a dramatic public space at its heart, the design highlights the value of open dialogue and understanding from interaction with the arts.

The museum was conceived as a totality—an interaction of art, light, materials and space—a place that offers new perspectives to experience art. The openness and transparency welcomes visitors, and the spaciousness of the great hall and its direct access to the cafe and restaurant promotes the connection and engagement of art and leisure after lectures held in the auditorium and the multi-function space. In the broadest sense the design will foster a lively public house of culture.

The museum incorporates 3,000 square meters of rooftop landscaping, creating opportunities for sustainable rooftop gardens that contribute to the building's energy efficiency. Green roofs achieve high insulation and minimize storm water run-off. “Green” rooftops are covered with a thin layer of “sedum’” which is possible due to the advanced improvement in rooftop mesh fabric technology. Other “green” aspects of the design will include grey water recycling. These measures will set an exemplary design for 21st century museum architecture.

On the exterior the floating volumes of the three galleries are expressed in textured concrete panels on the east and west and on the north front facade with a new innovative concrete material know as Litracon. These volumes express the important nature of the program and contrast with the glass to provide the museum a strong sense of materiality. The textured concrete walls will offer a give the building a visceral, tactile quality and are juxtaposed to the smooth transparent glass walls. This openness speaks to the museums open program.

Litracon is a light transmitting concrete. It is a combination of optical fibers and fine concrete that can be produced as prefabricated panels. Due to the small size of the fibers, they blend into concrete becoming a component of the material like small pieces of aggregate. In this manner, the result is not only two materials—glass in concrete—mixed, but a third, new material, which is homogeneous in its inner structure and on its main surfaces as well. It introduces new possibilities for architects to create interesting light and shadow effects. For interiors it creates a magical subdued atmospheric light, ideal for art events–for the exterior, it animates the facade with shadows of visitors that are visible through the highlighted interior.

Wroclaw Contemporary Museum







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