The results of the competition for the architectonic-urban design of the new Visitor Service Center at the Auschwitz Memorial have been announced. The contest aimed at developing a complex solution including a service center, hotel, parking facilities, and the accompanying infrastructure. Thirty submissions arrived by the deadline. The winner was the Cracow firm KKM Kozień Architekci, whose previous designs include the Przemyśl Regional Museum and the Radio Koszalin building.
“The award recognizes the subtle but expressive concept for the layout of the visitor service center, based on the idea of below-ground entry to and exit from the Museum,” said Jolanta Banaś-Maciaszczyk, head of the Conservation Department and a member of the competition jury. The jury felt that the overall composition and the proposed nature of the architecture combine to produce the feeling of calm and reflection essential at a Museum of this type. Additionally, the design retains the historical appearance of the original camp slaughterhouse building and envisions the removal of later additions; the hotel building is designed as a neutral background for the original structure.
Commenting on this important event, Museum Director Piotr M.A. Cywiński said that “the new reception area will make it easier to receive and cater to the needs of visitors, whose numbers have tripled over the last decade and remain at a very high level. In 2009, 1,300,000 people came to the Auschwitz Memorial. Over 700,000 came from abroad. In many cases, this was the sole reason for them to come to the country. The worldwide remembrance of this most tragic episode in the history of Europe and the world cannot fail to inspire hope.”
Relocating visitor services will also make it possible to create a new introductory exhibition in the original building that now serves as a reception facility. That exhibition is intended to provide visitors with essential knowledge about the history of the 1930s, the rise of Nazism, propaganda, and the totalitarian system, and finally the start of the war and the German policies in occupied Poland.
The International Auschwitz Council has approved the construction of the new visitor center at the site of the PKSiS bus garage, and financing is possible thanks to exceptional support from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Ground should be broken next year. The first stage envisions the renovation and adaptation of the original camp slaughterhouse and dairy buildings.
All competition sumbmissions can be watched in the loundry building of the former Auschwitz I camp until August 31.
Camp slaughterhouse and dairy buildings and the surrounding grounds
Before World War II, ammunition bunkers for the Polish Army barracks were located at the future site of the camp slaughterhouse and dairy buildings. The area belonged to Auschwitz Concentration Camp throughout the war. Initially, it was the site of the gravel pit where the Germans shot forty Poles on November 22, 1940. This was the first execution by shooting in Auschwitz.
The gravel pit site was designated in 1941 as the location for the camp slaughterhouse and dairy. These facilities underwent expansion until 1943. The task of the slaughterhouse was to supply meat and sausages to the SS garrison and the camp. Nearby were vegetable gardens for the SS and motor vehicle workshops, and part of the terrain was used to grow livestock feed. The Waffen SS and Police Central Construction Board in Oświęcim (Zentralbauleitung der Waffen SS und Polizei Auschwitz O/S) also used part of the site.
Results of the competition for the architectonic-urban design of the new Visitor Service Center at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
KKM KOZIEŃ ARCHITECTS
Marek Kozień, Magdalena Kozień-Woźniak, Katarzyna Kozień-Kornecka
Tomasz MAREK, Piotr Adamczewski, Krzysztof Koziorowski
STELMACH AND PARTNERS ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE L.L.C.
Lead designer: Bolesław Stelmach
Marek Zarzeczny, Zbigniew Wypych, Rafał Szmigielski
Jacek Grudziński, Krzysztof Łopucki, Konrad Opasała, Michał Rakowski, Paulina Filas, Ryszard Siata
Distinction (ex aequo)
ATELIER LOEGLER L.L.C.
Łukasz Ruda, Piotr Woliński, Bogdan Pszonak, Anna Pszonak, Rafał Kłos, Piotr Lutarewicz, Joanna Ostrowska (interior design), Karol Wiśniewski
Distinction (ex aequo)
Piotr-Rudolf Łabowicz-Sajkiewicz, Andrzej Poznański
A + U Przemysław Szymański