The Museum of the Second World War stands on a plot of land in the Władysław Bartoszewski Square near the city centre. It is a symbolic location with an important past, as it is just 3 kilometres from the Westerplatte peninsula and 200 metres from the historic Polish post office that were the first places the Nazi army attacked in September 1939 when they invaded Poland and sparked the start of the Second World War. The 1,700 square metre plot on which the museum is built reaches as far as the Radunia canal to the west and the Motława river to the south. Today, this suburban area lies just outside Old Gdansk, but it will soon be right at the heart of the city when the regeneration project designed to transform the historic local shipyard into Gdansk’s new modern centre has been completed.
Settlements have existed in this area since ancient times and it was first fortified in the year thousand. In the mid-seventeenth century the area underwent a significant transformation and its first regular urban plan was laid down at the beginning of the eighteenth century.
The architectural design for the Second World War Museum was decided through an international architectural competition and the jury proclaimed the winner on September 1st 2010.
The competition notice asked not only for design ideas for the museum, but also for the rearrangement of the entire area, and the contest was decided by a jury, presided over by Daniel Libeskind, who judged the winner to be the project presented by the Kwadrat studio on account of its comprehensive consideration of all the various urban, architectural, functional and aesthetic criteria.
The building covers a surface area of about 23,000 square metres, of which 5,000 are dedicated to the permanent exhibition that uses cutting-edge display systems to tell the story of the Second World War, with a focus on the lives of ordinary people as well as the policies of the Great Powers. The international community of architects applauded the museum’s design which divides the museum area into three areas symbolizing the relationship between the past, the present and the future of war. The past is located on the museum’s underground floors, the present is represented by the open space around the building and the future is the part that rises up from the ground. The lighting design is based on Palco luminaires that are track-mounted in the exhibition spaces as well as in the transit areas. Both spot and wall washer versions of the projector have been track-installed to offer maximum versatility, and its notable power and efficiency succeeds in illuminating the building effectively, despite its extremely high ceilings. Outside, Underscore InOut luminaires have been installed under the handrails on the walkways.
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