garden and museum in łazienki park

design competition for the Garden of XXI c. and exhibition pavilion in Royal Łazienki Park in Warsaw, Poland
I prize
jojko+nawrocki architekci, Mecanoo Architecten, Michael van Gessel, Delva Landscape Architects
Jelmar Brouwer, Jakub Bortko, Steven Delva, Dick van Gameren, Michael van Gessel, Marcin Jojko, Grzegorz Jurasz, Sebastian Kaal, Vladimir Konovalov, Maja Korzuch, Bartłomiej Nawrocki, Bianka Swinder, Agnieszka Weber, Iwona Zaczek


Through centuries gardens have always been the expression of the relationship of humanity towards nature. In medieval times the gardens were introvert, enclosed and inward looking. Keeping out the dangers lying in nature surrounding humanity at that moment. In the Renaissance people started looking outwards. Discovering the benefits and pleasure of nature. As a result gardens gradually open up to nature. The formal French gardens are the ultimate expression of man’s dominance over nature. In the landscape style period working with nature towards idealistic, uncorrupted and very pastoral landscapes became the driving theme. In modernist period we thought we could make our world both physically and socially. Now we know better. We can only make our world to a certain extent and with the help of society and especially nature. It is in our power to dominate and exploit nature and our natural resources but in the end to the detriment of our selves. We gradually become aware of our responsibilities to take care of our planet and to respond maturely towards the problems facing the earth because of the very consuming and exploiting attitude of humanity. So our awakening attitude towards nature is that of respect for and a willingness to really understand and work with the forces of nature. And this contemporary attitude towards nature should be presented in this garden of the 21st century.


We propose a prairie. A flowering meadow in which the richness and variety of nature is exposed, which is inviting and can be entered and experienced informally and by everybody. An open, democratic, spacious and joyful garden for everybody but with a multi layered meaning for the informed observer, the plants man or women. A natural flowering meadow that is maintained not by intensive pruning, planting and weeding. No. A continually changing meadow that is carefully composed to suit this specific location in this specific climate and that is able to gradually enrich itself by careful and loving coaching. A meadow that is beautiful in all seasons, not because it always flowers, but because it show that there is beauty in every season, even in winter when the plants stay uncut to show their abstract basic forms and often expressive seedpods.


pavilions & gardens


connections system of paths & alleys

We furthermore suggest to reinforce the Chinese Alley so as to make it more formal and stronger. At the moment the western side of this beautiful avenue has a somewhat loose row of trees while the eastern side has at least two rows of formally planted trees. We propose to add a new row of trees so the Avenue becomes more symmetrical and more formal. This in contrast with its surroundings.

garden of XXI century

view of the garden from Chinese Alley

The garden can be entered from all sides, but first of all from Chinese Alley. It keeps a respectful distance towards its boundaries so that the trees can grow undisturbed towards monumentality. In that way becoming like the rest of the present park. The edge of the undulating garden is well defined by a broad path and adjacent retaining wall and balustrade which functions also as a long and informal bench. Seen from the outside this playful garden forms a stretched platform above which the exhibition pavilion floats. The entrance hall marks the transition from garden to building.
Building and garden form one composition, one entity.


The new exhibition pavilion seems to grow out of the undulating walkway that surrounds the new garden. The entrances on both the west and east side of the garden are carved out of the sidewalls A of the walkway that reaches its highest level at the entrance points. A third more informal access is made in them idle of the garden, where a large terrace, carved out of the landscape, makes a direct connection between the pavilion and the garden.

roof plan – garden

level 0

level -1

level -2



The exhibition pavilion lies nestled under the garden, only showing its presence by way of a suddenly stronger undulation/ of the garden’s topography, and the carved out access points in the garden and the bordering walkway. Skylights protrude here as well through the garden’s vegetation, creating a mysterious presence of light in the garden after sunset. All entrances give access to the central access hall of the pavilion that connects the garden level with the lower level of the exhibition spaces.


A dramatic waterfall of steps on the west side, and a sculptural spiral stair on the west side lead the visitors to the exhibitions. Entering the hall is a dramatic experience, when the vaulted space unfolds itself, lighted from the top by a number of oculis – large circular skylights. The space itself and the movement over the stairs recall typical features of historic landscape gardens, such as grottoes, waterfalls and bridges, but then in a new setting and a 21st century architectural language.


Arriving on the lower level, the visitor will immediately find his way to the two major exhibition spaces that are positioned on both sides of the hall. Two smaller gallery spaces connect the exhibition rooms independently from the central hall.  In this way, a continuous circuit can be made, connecting all exhibition spaces with one single access point. The modular lay-out of the two main spaces create endless possibilities for putting up exhibitions, with or without daylight access.



space division and routing in the exhibition space