The simple and subtle form of Porta Posnania is a perfect background for the Gothic, renaissance and baroque buildings of Poznań's oldest district.
Porta Posnania is an interactive museum intended to familiarize people with the history of Cathedral Island, where one of the first settlements on these lands was built and which became a significant centre of authority of the state of Polanie (the ancestral tribe of Poland’s first rulers). The first Polish cathedral was built here as well. The aim of Porta Posnania is to show, in an innovative form, that Poznań was one of the key towns during the formation of the Polish state.
The centre is located in an outstanding building. Both the form and location are unique. The new facility was placed at Śródka, the oldest district of Poznań, linked with Cathedral Island by Bishop Jordan’s bridge. Even though a vast part of the development was destroyed during World War II and some more buildings were demolished during the communist period, the island is part of in an urban conservation area.
In March 2009 the contest for the design of the new facility of the Heritage Centre was launched. 52 architectural teams entered and eventually it was won by the Ad Artis Emerla, Jagiełłowicz, Wojda studio.
Despite the historical surroundings, the architects decided to place a cold minimalist cube in front of the cathedral. Although it formally stands out amongst the other buildings in the area, it seems to fit perfectly in context and integrates into the existing architecture.
The designers linked the concrete paving stone and brick historic building of the cathedral with an illuminated bridge.
The Porta Posnania facility is cut through with a glazed aperture which points to the towers of the nearby cathedral; a few windows cut out in the concrete façades target the visitors’ sight at the most beautiful fragments of the area.
On the side by the river, the building was undercut so that it hangs above the water and leaves enough space on the ground for a promenade. The idea of the opening of the building towards the river is an essential idea of the project. Poznań, like many other cities in Poland, struggles to make use of the potential of its riverbanks. The designers’ hope was that Porta Posnania and its promenade will start the process of turning the city’s attention to the Warta river.
Poznań Porta Posnania is an extraordinary facility. It is the first institution which ‘interprets heritage’. It is a place where the history of Cathedral Island is told by multimedia and interactive devices. This unusual way of narration, without museum pieces, was designed by Tempora, a Belgian specialist in the field of exhibition design.
For this modern way of presenting history, the architects developed an appropriate setting. The interior of the building is as equally minimalist as its external shell; the hall and corridors are dominated by blackness - the floor is made of basalt plates and the walls are painted black as well. This bare space aims at stimulating visitors' focus on the exhibition. This exceptionally compact and coherently realised project is proof that a minimalist shape can be very attractive.
Source: press materials, ed.: NZ. March 2014, Translated by W.O., April 14th 2014