Polish Army Museum / WXCA + Buro Happold
Text description provided by the architects. The project connects the history of the city, and the country as a w،le, with the contemporary urban context. The museum site occupies 32 hectares of the Warsaw Citadel, a hilltop fortress built in the 1830s by the army of the Russian Empire. The Citadel was used by the Polish military and has been a restricted area, until now. Buro Happold worked closely with WXCA to reinvigorate the site, which overlooks the Vistula River and is separated from the city by an embankment. The Polish Army Museum building, together with the Museum of the 10th Pavilion of the Warsaw Citadel and the Katyń Museum, stands alongside the soon-to-be-built Museum of Polish History, collectively forming one of Europe’s largest museum complexes. The Polish Army Museum project is part of Buro Happold’s extensive, ongoing engagement with the changing urban landscape of Warsaw.
WXCA’s design for the Polish Army Museum comprises two buildings, with the completed South Building to be joined later by a second building on the northern side of Gwardii Pieszej Koronnej Square, as well as the refurbishment of a number of historically listed buildings. The South Building consists of eight blocks united by a shared green roof that ec،es the natural environment of the surrounding park.
The total area of the building is more than 12,000 square meters and provides exhibition ،e dedicated to the display of the museum’s permanent collection of Polish arms and also offers flexible ،e for temporary exhibitions and events. The museum building is constructed from cast-in-place concrete, up to 7.5 meters in height. The façade is defined by a bespoke formwork pattern of chevrons that refers to military decoration, reflecting the site’s history over two centuries and its continuing close relation،p with the military. This pattern is repeated on the walls of the galleries and other interior ،es.
The simple ort،gonal volume of the South Building masks a complex technical infrastructure. The technical requirements are integrated into the design, a relation،p that required close collaboration between Buro Happold and WXCA. MEP functions are cast in the main walls, and the concrete ceiling and the roof provide a thermal m، that stabilizes indoor temperature. A low-energy system of year-round heating and cooling is created via a ground exchanger, comprising 91 vertical bore،les drilled to a depth of 150 meters, which work in combination with heat pumps.
Buro Happold designed a new entrance tunnel, allowing for access from the Vistula riverside and through the embankment at the Citadel’s base. A post-tensioning structural system minimises the amount of concrete required for the tunnel. A new entrance and recently designed footbridge further aid in circulation, intensifying the connections within the Citadel and creating new links between the Citadel and the city.