silesian museum

New Silesian Museum in Katowice design competition, Poland
III prize
Marcin Jojko, Bartłomiej Nawrocki, Dick van Gameren


The site of the new Silesian Museum in Katowice stands as an industrial acropolis on the edge of Katowice city centre. The new museum, consisting of three separate volumes on a single base, becomes an integral part of the site, enhancing its character and adding new visual and functional connections to the site. The new buildings don’t hide the site from the city, but by clearly articulating the extraordinary position of the site and its main lines of sights, create a strong connection to the city as a whole.

The new buildings will define together with the existing ones a parklike open space. The new and old buildings stand as pavilions in the park, routes connect them, weaving their way between and through the pavilions, and passing old retaining walls and other remnants of the old mine. The park and its buildings (museums, theatres and performance spaces, restaurants etc.) will be the new green cultural heart of Katowice.


The main entrance to the site for pedestrians, coming from the city, is formed by a series of wide slowly ascending stairs. The stairs are flanked on the eastern side by the new museum. The clearly visible base  of the museum acts visually as the last retaining wall between the site and the city. The stairs continue after passing the museum to the proposed central access hall for the site, but other routes deviate here from the main access to the other buildings and to the clearly visible entrance to the new museum, positioned in the heart of the complex.


The three new pavilions have been carefully positioned in relation to the existing buildings, emphasising the central position of the existing freestanding mine tower and creating series of sight lines between the new and old buildings and the surrounding city. Both the entrance to the new museum and the entrance to the central hall are made as openings (cuts) in the site’s topography, making the exterior and interior spaces inseparable parts of one continuous landscape.


The entrance hall of the new museum can be seen as an interior continuation of the public space surrounding it. The entrance leads to a succession of horizontal and vertical spaces that together form a central hall  that gives access to all parts of the building. Large stairs in the vertical spaces lead up to the three pavilions on top of the base. The system of entrance, halls and corridors reminds one of the former mine’s shafts and corridors. In contrast with the former mine however, the museum’s circulation spaces are filled with daylight, coming through façades or roofs.


The new pavilions respect the scale of the existing buildings. The red-grey colour of their brickwork blends with the old façades. The filigrain patterns of openings in the brickwork of the museum create an intricate texture that changes continuously depending the on the sun’s position and that will light up in the evening.