An alternative approach

03 May 2011

A copper-induced contrast is key at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki’s Museum of the History of Polish Jews, currently under construction in Warsaw, features a layered façade design using pre-patinated copper in combination with glazing. Here, a regular grid of vertical, alternating glass and copper panels saw-tooth across the building face.

The ‘living’ green surface copper is pierced with square holes for ventilation: earlier trials experimented with expanded copper sheet. This contrasts with the glass which is decorated with white Hebrew and Latin text motifs. Behind, and separated by a void, the façade plane is clad with matching green copper in vertically corrugated sheet form, incorporating some windows.

The final façade build-up is the result of onsite trials with full-scale mock-ups and aims to create the luminous green, vertically folded surface envisioned in the competition-winning design. The sharp, engineered rhythm of the copper and glass saw-toothed facades contrasts with an organic, free-form route through the building, representing the parting of the Red Sea and deliverance. The architects’ intent is to create a lantern in the park and the play of advanced LED lighting behind the decorated glass on the green corrugated copper will play a key role in this.

Chris Hodson

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