The idea of flying, the spirit of the place, the structure of the historic airfield – the new building for the Museum of Aviation takes up these references intellectually and synthesises them into an expressive and emblematic structure.
Justus Pysall, founder of Pysall Ruge Architekten
+ Project description by Pysall Ruge Architekten
The Muzeum Lotnictwa is one of the largest museums of aviation in the world. It is located in historically preserved buildings and hangars of the former historic airfield of Rakowice-Cyzyny in Cracow, the first airfield on polish terrain, build in 1912 for the air fleet no. 7 of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire.
In 2005 a competition was launched for the new main building – the first pan-European competition for architects, after the accession of Poland to the EU, to be won and realised by a German architect.
The idea of flying, the spirit of the place, the structure of the historic airfield – the new building for the Museum of Aviation takes up these references intellectually and synthesises them into an expressive and emblematic structure. The old hangars set the modular scale for the footprint (60×60 m) and the height (12m) for the new building.
Developed from this modular scale – cut out and folded, as if made like a paper airplane, a large structure has arisen – triangular wings made of concrete and yet as light as a wind-vane or propeller. Size and orientation of the wings got developed out of three different functions. 4500sqm usable area on three floors is for disposition now. Intertwining spaces provide good orientation for the visitor.
Entering the building one has the choice to go into the education wing with a voluminous 3D-cinema or directly into the exhibition area with the planes. The wings are generously glazed, opening in all directions. The exhibition thus links visually with the landscape around it and offers a view of the apron and the planes on display outdoors. The airplanes in the North wing seem by no means enclosed, but rather to have been placed in shelter, ready to roll out onto the runway at any time. The first floor is occupied with the conference room seating 150 people, a bibliotheca, a multimedia section and a restaurant with bar over viewing the exhibition. Arup International in Cracow planned the M&E and as well the structural services for the project.
Airplanes are presented side by side on the outside along the former taxiway up to the runway. The authenticity nearly makes one forget that those are ‘just’ exhibits. Beside the airfield are eight historical buildings and hangars in which the exhibition of precious objects takes place. Episodes and themes of aviation are summed up in each building. Their exhibition is expanded to the outside with big concrete patches, giving space for additional open-air presentation. The landscape architects from ST raum a, Berlin planned this six hectares large aviation exhibition park. This redesign connects the new buildings with the existing buildings through composition of historical aspects, completion of old alleys and the creation of new park paths. A tour through the history of aviation is developed. The path between houses through the park gives the visitors time to process the accumulated impressions and then resume to take in new ones.
The collection encompasses over 200 planes, avionic artefacts, technical documents, historical photos, one of a kinds planes, air planes from the last century in their original condition and a lot of Russian planes from the Cold War.
Furthermore, the museum has with 80 exhibits, one of the biggest, and from a technical standpoint most interesting, collections of motors, worldwide.
Exhibits from Berlin, Germany
An especialness are the exhibits of the former “Deutsche Luftfahrtsammlung Berlin”. Like many cultural assets and museum collections, the German collection of Aviation from Berlin was brought into safety from the bombings of World War II. The objects were transported by rail to Poznan, which became part of Poland after the Potsdam agree-ment. They were temporarily stored in engine sheds and warehouses in Poznan, Pilawa and Wroclaw until they were finally stored in Krakow in 1963. Until 1982 the collection was believed to have been lost. In January 1, 1986 the “Spiegel” proclaimed: “For air plane nerds the discovery in Krakow is the equivalent to the discovery of a pharaoh’s tomb”.
+ Project credits / data
Architect: Pysall Ruge Architekten | http://www.pysall-ruge.de
Project: Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego (Museum of Aviation and Aviation Exhibition Park in Cracow, Poland)
Location: Cracow, Poland
Typology: Culture | Museum, Exhibition
Text: Justus Pysall
Photographer: Jakub Pierzchala & Marcin Przybylko