The Cradle of Poland
The region of today’s Wielkopolska (Great Poland) is a place of key importance for the development of the Polish statehood. It is here that the first settlements and towns were established in which the local community organised itself. Within those small groups of people the first social relations and bonds originated and laid the foundations for the future structured state. This Polish identity that emerged in Great Poland area formed within the community a strong sense of belonging to this country that they had initiated. This common conviction of constituting a part of Poland, of being able to create towns, settlements and villages thanks to joint effort, and of holding the same identity of Great Poles, made it possible for those people to strongly oppose the inclusion of their home in the borders of the invading country.
The Concept of the Museum
The success of the Great Poland Uprising is therefore a result of preserving the national identity characterised by such values as cooperation, integration and systematic bond-building. The need for contact with other people and for joint action is a fundamental principle driving the creation of a museum whose heart beats in the courtyard – a space for an exchange of thoughts, for a public debate and for a dialogue directed at deepening social relationships. Its round form recalls the primary ways of expressing the fact of being a community, thus naturally inclines towards integration. The functions of the museum which gather and connect people the most, are grouped around the courtyard. The form of the museum is shaped by several small-scale buildings which thanks to their size create a human-friendly space and invite you to stop there for a little longer.
The organization of the buildings around the central area should allude to the beginnings of our state: to the strongholds and settlements in which the first community formed. Simultaneously, it constitutes a kind of a prologue to the exhibition which presents itself the foundations of the Polish statehood in its introductory part. The character of the museum is determined then by two co-existing values mentioned by Ignacy Paderewski in his speech of 1918: the Polish identity build by a community of committed people.
Dividing the body of the building into several smaller elements made it possible to integrate the whole complex in the setting of the park and St Adalbert’s Hill. The spatial arrangement of the designed object does not compete with the historic church. Quite the contrary, it allows the church to become a part of the courtyard. Standing high on the hill, the monument becomes a landmark and a clear reference to the history of the place. The church building constitutes an integral part of the museum just like the institution of the Church was an important part of the process of creating the Polish identity.
Another important element of the museum landscape is the park, the integrity of which is preserved thanks to a small volume of the buildings. The greenery at the foot of the hill stretches across the entire quarter width up to Północna Street, and the complex does not cause an obstruction to it on any side. The openness of the complex and its small-scale allow for the park to remain undivided and for the designed building to work as a complementation to it. A free passage through the museum complex is preserved in all relations: from the direction of the Citadel, from the area of Old Slaughterhouse, the city centre, and from the St. Adalbert’s Hill. Retaining these relationships in space provides for many more opportunities for spontaneous contact not only with the museum and its offerings, but also with other people.
Building the Community
Since the concept design is grounded in the idea to create an important public space, the museum has a chance to become not only a place that narrates the history, but also an important centre of dialogue between the inhabitants of Great Poland region. The proposed arrangement of space can help to build a community that will liaise more and will have a stronger sense of belonging to a place. And it is only a well-integrated community that can handle crises in the moments of trial.
The narration focused on community building will also allow to direct the attention of the “listeners” towards organic work – grassroots work – which is an important element of the exhibition scenario. A difficult and bloody history which underlies the account, can serve as a starting point for building a positive vision of the future based now on the respect for life and on the mutual understanding. The museum can then take on a mission of supporting interpersonal relationships and preserving this particular sense of belonging which made it possible for the Uprising to be successful and for the cradle of Poland – Great Poland region – to remain within the borders of the Polish State till today.
Underlying the architecture of the building was the idea of contemporary times as rooted strongly in the history. The ground floor of the museum will be constructed from a raw natural stone recalling the first structures on the Polish soil. The next storeys for that matter will be constructed out of smoothly cut stone which brings associations with modern times. The whole narrative of the building is reflected in materials solutions applied. The impression created by the solid stone exterior walls is contrasted with a warm interior design which through its white walls complemented with wooden elements lend an atmosphere of a traditional house.