Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
The Ulma Family Museum of Poles in Markowa, Poland by Nizio Design International
May 31st, 2016 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Business & Culture – strategies and communication
The Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jewish People during World War II in Markowa is Poland’s first institution commemorating Poles who helped Jews. The museum’s ascetic architectural form that cuts into the ground, as well as the exhibition hidden inside, was designed by Nizio Design International. The museum was opened March 17, 2016.
Within the museum’s layout composition it is not only the form, but all the other elements, too, such as texture and material, that are to express the content related to the museum’s message. The minimalist, abstract architectural forms that have been applied here trigger certain feelings in visitors. The ascetic shape of the building is reminiscent of a house. The symbolic vision of home, which is associated with love and security, was confronted by the designers with compositional forms that express anxiety and threat. The building of reinforced concrete has facades clad in weathering steel sheets which develop a rust-like appearance indicative of the passage of time. With the architectural form being recessed in the terrain and with the materials used, the building blends in with the surroundings and amalgamates with them. For becoming a part of the context of the village and the broader history it reminds visitors of the history and life of the pre-war Markowa. Not only does it refer to the time of the Shoah, but also reveals the unchanging nature of being, against the odds of fate and history.
The partially glazed facade of the museum is a gate that is simplified to the form of a sign. Inside the museum there is twilight, illuminated by the glow of light coming from the heart of the building, which is a glass cuboid symbolising the home of Józef and Wiktoria Ulma, as well as the homes of thousands of Poles who risked their lives to help the Jews. The exhibits include the original furniture, woodworking shop, beehive, books, Józef Ulma’s cameras and family documents. Within this space displayed are projections that bring back the scenes from everyday life of the married couple and their children. The symbolic home of the Ulmas is perched on a steel substructure, the walls are finished with safety glass covered with engravings on film substrate. The wall on which projections are displayed is covered with anti-reflective film. The floor is made of pine boards with brushed and aged surfaces.
The viewing path of the museum leads around the cuboid and across the 7 thematic sections, where the story is told through artefacts, documents, photographs, and materials presented at manual and multimedia stands. In the middle of the exhibition room are 4 infoboxes in the form of steel cubes with touch screens and seats. All elements of the exhibition are arranged so as to tell the story of the shared past of Poles and Jews in the context of the tragic time of war. The interior of the Museum is kept in simple and monumental poetics of concrete walls. Its culmination – at the back of the exhibition room – is the illuminated vertical and sharp gap which symbolises the narrow gate that leads through the incomprehensible area of death.
The sharp wedge-shaped structure of the building cuts into the terrain behind the house, where the designers have located the Memory Orchard planted with apple, pear, and plum trees and which refers both to Józef Ulma’s orchard and the Olive Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem. On the monumental wall adjacent to the plane of the yard symbolising a cross-section of the soil placed are sandblasted granite plaques featuring the names of the Poles who saved Jews. Then, “embedded” in the very plane of the yard are highlighted plaques with the names of those who lost their lives for saving Jews. The density of the illuminated plaques increases towards the entrance to the museum. On the plane of the yard, like boats on a river, they form a peculiar procession of travelling lights that approach the threshold of the gate that is symbolised by the house elevation.
The museum building occupies the site by the main road running through Markowa and commemorates the events of 24 March, 1944. During World War II in Markowa Nazi gendarmes shot Wiktoria and Józef Ulma, their six children and the Jewish families they had been hiding. In 1995, the Israeli Yad Vashem institute granted the Ulmas the title of the Righteous Among the Nations. In 2009, out of 25 designs submitted for the contest, the jury selected the proposal put forward by Nizio Design International.
MIROSŁAW NIZIO – profile
Mirosław Nizio studied at the Department of Interior Architecture and Sculpture, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, and at the faculty of Interior Design, Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. He started his own design business in the 1990s in New York, where he received a number of awards and honorary mentions, e.g.: Glenn Boyles Memorial Rendering And Design (1993), Educational Foundation for the Design Industries in Interior Design (1998).
He is an architect who is mainly recognised for designs of public spaces: museums, historical exhibitions, shows, commemoration monuments, scenographies. He co-designed and built the core exhibition of the Warsaw Rising Museum which is the most frequently visited cultural institution in Poland and for the works on which he received the Gold Medal of Merit in July of 2006. For his contribution to the making of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in 2015 Mirosław Nizio was honoured with the Bronze Medal “Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis ”.
In the course of his career in United States and Poland Mirosław Nizio has designed tens of architectural objects, interiors, permanent and temporary exhibitions, revitalisation projects, recreational facilities, offices and private residences.
NIZIO DESIGN INTERNATIONAL – profile
In 2002 Mirosław Nizio opened his Nizio Design International studio in Warsaw’s Praga district. The Company boasts long-standing experience of designing and completing architectural, revitalisation, and exhibition projects. The studio’s associate teams of architects deal with developing the most essential cultural spaces in the country by providing comprehensive services – from opinion polls, case studies, to developing concept proposals, preparing detailed designs, through architect supervision and actual construction. To help develop such projects the studio works closely with experts in culture, science, and art.
Contact Nizio Design International