museum of the history of polish jews by lahdelma & mahlamäki architects museum of the history of polish jews by lahdelma & mahlamäki architects
apr 18, 2013

museum of the history of polish jews by lahdelma & mahlamäki architects

museum of the history of polish jews by lahdelma & mahlamäki architectsimage © salminenall images courtesy of lahdelma & mahlamäki architects



the ‘museum of the history of polish jews’, designed by finnish firm lahdelma & mahlamäki architects in collaboration with local practice kurylowicz & assoc first began as a competition entry in 2005, and as of november 2014 is finally open to the public. the competition was won from amidst a panel of international participants that included studio daniel libeskind, kengo kuma, zvi hecker architects, peter eisenman, and david chipperfield.

glass facadeimage © salminen




the museum, titled ‘yum suf’ (‘sea of reeds’) is dedicated to the research and exhibition of the jewish heritage, education, and culture through a series of multi-functional programmatic elements in response to an increased public interest. the primary exhibition room is located under the main hall, with 5,000 square meters of open space loosely organized into different ambiances that aim to present the many facets that make up polish jewish culture and history. 

facade of silk-printed glass louversimage © salminen




the adjacent plaza that houses the ghetto uprising memorial became a fundamental starting point for the overall footprint of the concrete and steel structure, mirroring the proportions that led to a rectangular plan. the facade is a combination of vertical silk-printed glass louvers, expanses of curtain walls allowing views and sunlight into the building, and copper panels over their consequent seams. the most striking feature is the interior hall for which the project was titled. 

(left) detail of the vertical glass louvers(right) curtain wall detailimage © salminen




an enormous organic tunnel-like space, ‘pure and silent’, welcomes visitors to the museum and cuts through the orthogonal structure with its lightly textured concrete walls. soft gradient shadows and its constantly transforming sinuous nature finds roots in the old testament and at times abstractly references nature’s phenomena. as of november 2014, the core exhibition of the museum is open to the public.

interior hall connection with facadeimage © salminen

image © salminen

entrance to exhibition spaceimage © salminen

undulating organic concrete walls of the main hallimage © salminen

detail of the main hallimage © markus wikar

image © markus wikar


project info:


project name: the museum of the history of polish jewsarchitects (firm): architects lahdelma & mahlamäki (finland) with local firm kuryłowicz & associates in warsawprincipal architects: finland/rainer mahlamäki with team riitta id ( – design phase), maritta kukkonen, miguel silva, jukka savolainen, markus wikar, mirja sillanpää -poland/stefan kuryłowicz (* passed), ewa kuryłowicz, paweł grodzicki (-design phase), marcin ferenc, tomasz kopec, michał gratkowskistructural engineering: arbo projekt, polandhvac engineering: pol-con consulting, polandcontractor: polimex – mostostal sa, polandcharacter of space: museum consisting of exhibition spaces, auditorium and officesclient: city of warsaw and ministry of culture, polandtenant: the museum of the history of polish jewstotal floor area: 18,300 sqmbuilding area: 4,400 sqmsite area: 12,442 sqmprincipal materials: silk printed glass, copper, concreteprincipal structure: concrete, steellocation: warsaw, park area surrounded be streets anielewicza, zamenthofa, lewartowskiego and karmelicka (belonged to the former jewish district)cost: 160 million pln (~39 million €, 48 million usd)

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