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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » August 29, 2014
On the town
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Ambitious Makeover for Defilad Square
August 29, 2014   
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New York architects Thomas Phifer and Partners will design the ambitious new headquarters of the Museum of Contemporary Art and the TR Warszawa theater next to the Palace of Culture and Science on Defilad Square in Warsaw.

The studio’s design won a contest organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art and TR Warszawa, which said in a joint statement, “The museum and the theater are embarking on a collaborative project with the architect in the belief that his concept and vision of architecture and vision of the city as well as all his achievements to date will make it possible to create a complex of buildings that will finally transform this vacant and hostile piece of land in the heart of the country into a space teeming with culture and the everyday life of a big city—living up to the expectations that Poles have with regard to their capital in the third decade of freedom and the second decade of the 21st century.”

The complex will consist of a museum building 15,000 square meters in size and a 10,000-sq-m theater building, joined together with a roofed city square, the first of its kind in Warsaw.

The Museum of Contemporary Art building will occupy the east side of Defilad Square along Marszałkowska Street and the building’s facade will be glazed and open to the city. The interior will be divided into three large areas. The permanent collection will be housed in a setting typical for a museum. A separate area will be designed for temporary exhibitions. On the ground floor will be an area for organizing minor events and exhibitions.

The heart of the museum will be a hall on the first floor. It will be located inside the building, but will not be enclosed with walls.

The theater building will be erected on the western side of the square, next to the right wing of the Palace of Culture and Science. The building will house four stages. One of these will be a separate stage whereas the other three will share a revolving auditorium. Thanks to this, the theater will be able to stage three plays without the need to change the stage design. Once one play ends, the auditorium will rotate 90 degrees, allowing another play to be staged on another stage.

One of the main attractions of the new TR Warszawa building will be that one of the stages will open up (as a result of pulling down a wall) onto Defilad Square, thus making it possible to hold events that viewers will be able to watch from both inside and outside the building. As a result, the surroundings of the building can be treated as part of the stage design.

Some of the theater rehearsal halls and museum storerooms and backroom areas will be glazed and overlook the roofed square.

The architect’s motto for the project is “A building that reveals all it has.”

Thomas Phifer and Partners will also be responsible for the look of the square between the buildings, including a passageway between the Świętokrzyski Park (and the Świętokrzyska metro station) and Defilad Square and the Palace of Culture and Science. The multifunctional square will be a venue for public art projects, music concerts and open-air performances.

The museum will be built on credit and cost zl.270 million. The theater will be financed from municipal funds to the tune of zl.125 million. Work on the complex of buildings is due to be completed by the end of 2019.

Marzena Robinson
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