Szczecin is one of the largest victims of historical violence in Poland. Until 1945, the city lay within the borders of Germany, after which it was suddenly incorporated into Poland. Instant exchange of its population deconstructed the social fabric and distorted the city's identity. Before the war, the current Solidarnosci Square was the showcase of the city, featuring a quarter of representative tenements, enclosed by the Konzerthaus in the North. During bombing raids of the Allied forces the quarter and its vicinity ceased to exist, creating a gap in the urban tissue. This place became the arena for worker protest in 1970, which was brutally pacified. From that moment on, this place became a symbol of fight for freedom.
In the 21st century, the area became the arena of significant architectural interventions. In 2014, the former Konzerthaus was replaced by a new philharmonic venue designed by Estudio Barozzi Veiga. The building became the new city icon, winning the main Mies van der Rohe award in 2015.
The next initiative, which contributed to changing the perception of the space was the National Museum's Dialogue Centre "Przelomy", devoted to the history of Szczecin. When designing the Museum we set our mind humble to the history of the place and the new city icon closeby. Thus, the idea to hide the museum underground to create a background architecture.
Two contradictory traditions: of a quarter and of a square were the point of departure for the design, an urban design hybrid which encloses the space as a quarter, while retaining the values of open public space. The flattened areas of the square create foregrounds in front of the philharmonic and the church.
Previously, the square was only to commemorate the history - as a result of redevelopment this part of the city became attractive for other habitants. Artificial hills provide an opportunity for discovering new outlooks on the city. The slanted floor inspires various activities: for skateboarders, this is the ideal spot to practice. In the winter, the square serves as a sled track.
The exhibition space is hidden underground. When we go down the stairs, the concrete ends and we submerge in blackness that is a background for the tale of Szczecin since the World War 2. It is the first historical building that is also a museum of art, as underground, works made by various artists tell the story about the city's history. The blackness is a great background for it.