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Museum of Fire – Honorable mention in architectural design

Design: OVO Grabczewscy Architekci (Barbara Grabczewska & Oskar Grabczewski)

Team: Beata Kosok, Marta Musiał, Agnieszka Krzysztonek, Martyna Wojtuszek
Client: City of Żory, Nowe Miasto Żory Ltd.
Photo credits: Tomasz Zakrzewski / archifolio


The story of Museum of Fire started when we were asked to design exposition pavilion that should promote the city of Żory and to showcase its offerings to newcomers, tourists, partners and investors as well. The pavilion was to be situated with prominence on an exposed site near the main access road to the city. The plot had a lot of disadvantages, especially a great number of underground infrastructure that left only very strange, irregular shaped piece of land to build on. We were not able for a long time to come up with any reasonable solution. We started to study again and again the commision. We were seeking for the crucial factor that should define the design – the main idea. The name of the city – Żory means “fire”, ”burnt”, “flames”. In XII century, when Żory was founded, forest was burnt in order to create free space for the new city. This tradition is still alive – there is a Festival of Fire in summer, and the logo of the city is a small Flame. It became obvious to us, that a building should look like a fire. The strange shape on the plot suddenly started to resemble dancing flames. The idea started to crystallize The building consists of three independent walls that “swim” next to each other. Their composition and shapes covered with copper plates resemble dancing flames. Copper is covered with HDP layer in order to avoid patina and keep fiery appearance. Spaces between the walls are fully glazed forming entrances to the pavilion. Walls are made of architectural concrete, covered on the outside with copper and left untouched inside. The floor is paved with black stone, and continued to the outdoor elements. During the construction, when the ground was excavated, our client came with an idea to use the underground space to place a big exhibition hall there. That’s how we came up with the idea that the whole building should become the Museum of Fire. Finally the building has three entrances. There is a multifunctional hall and reception/information on the ground floor and an exhibition hall underground with a multimedia show and exhibits devoted to the phenomena of fire – its physical, chemical, historical, cultural and art aspects. With restrooms and technical rooms the program is complete. The only museum of fire in the world combines multimedia with play and learn attitude. Its educational function is strenghtened with the unique architectural design. The whole building is a big metaphore of fire – its color, material and shape resembles the fire and clearly shows its function. The building became a very popular place for fire-dancers, art events, different exhibitions, festivals, wedding photograps, commercials, etc. It became a symbol of Żory – a small Silesian city, where contemporary, experimental architecture is a part of identity and a reason for pride.