Mecanoo designs a pavilion with a spiral
staircase underneath a garden in Warsaw

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News: Dutch architects Mecanoo have won a competition to design a garden and an underground pavilion with a corkscrew staircase in the Polish capital, Warsaw (+ slideshow).

Garden of the 21st Century pavilion with spiral staircase under a park in Warsaw by Mecanoo

The garden and pavilion proposed by Mecanoo will be located in the city's popular Lazienki Park, which was designed around a series of buildings from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Called the Garden of the 21st Century, this new addition comprises a triangular sliver of landscaped parkland criss-crossed by an undulating path, with exhibition spaces hidden underneath.

Garden of the 21st Century pavilion with spiral staircase under a park in Warsaw by Mecanoo

"The Garden of the 21st Century is special, because the design of the pavilion follows from that of the landscape," said the architects.

Mecanoo collaborated with Dutch landscape architect Michael van Gessel, Delva Landscape Architects and Polish firm Jojko Nawrocki Architekci on the design of the landscaping and pavilion.

Garden of the 21st Century pavilion with spiral staircase under a park in Warsaw by Mecanoo

Entrances in the walls that run along both of the park's long edges lead into the pavilion, which can also be entered from a public plaza that slices into the landscape.

"Two entry points are carved out of the side walls and another one out of the landscape," explained the architects. "All give access to a central hall, which connects two major exhibition spaces and two smaller ones that have modular layouts."

Garden of the 21st Century pavilion with spiral staircase under a park in Warsaw by Mecanoo

This entrance foyer contains a spiralling staircase connecting two levels and a series of skylights that appear above ground as rounded oculi embedded in the garden.

The pavilion is designed to house temporary exhibitions, while the garden will be used for educational as well as recreational purposes.

Garden of the 21st Century pavilion with spiral staircase under a park in Warsaw by Mecanoo - site plan
Site plan - click for larger image

Here's a brief project description from the architects:


Garden of the 21st Century in Warsaw

A team consisting of Mecanoo, Michael van Gessel, Delva Landscape Architects and Jojko Nawrocki Architekci has won the competition to design the new Garden of the 21st Century with integrated exhibition pavilion in Warsaw. In a ceremony at the Royal Lazienki Museum on Friday 16 November, the Polish Minister of Culture & National Heritage and the Minister of Environment jointly announced the result of an international competition with 80 submissions.

The new 2,5 hectare garden will be part of Lazienki Park, one of the most important touristic destinations in Warsaw that includes many 18th and 19th century buildings such as the Royal Baths, a Roman-inspired theatre and a water tower. The existing gardens in the park were all designed around these historic buildings. The Garden of the 21st Century is special, because the design of the pavilion follows from that of the landscape.

The 1800 m2, underground exhibition pavilion seems to grow out of the undulating walkway that surrounds the garden. Two entry points are carved out of the sidewalls and another one out of the landscape. All give access to a central hall, which connects two major exhibition spaces and two smaller ones that have modular lay-outs. Several oculi, or large round skylights, protrude through the walkway and the vegetation creating a mysterious play of light in the garden, but also providing carefully controlled daylight in the pavilion.

Both the garden and pavilion will provide new cultural life to the park with its many museums. The pavilion will host large temporary exhibitions, whereas the garden will play a role in local environmental education as well as be an example of 21st century landscape architecture.

  • H-J

    It’s more like a spiral ramp than a staircase.