Impactful Entry Space: The Polin Museum

In this Impactful Entry Space blog series, we will feature a designer or artist that has created an attention-grabbing design for the main lobby space of a building. Drawing inspiration from completed entry spaces around the world, we travel beyond the image by diving into the design process and concepts behind it.

Today, we feature our interview with Rainer Mahlamaki of  Lahdelma & Mahlamaki Architects about the lobby design of The Polin Museum in Warsaw, Poland.


GPI Design: What did the lobby space mean to the building as a whole?

Rainer Mahlamaki: The main space of the museum is the Core Exhibition area, but that has nothing to do with architecture: It is a black box – it is difficult to create any architecture about that. So, creating the lobby was actually a strategic choice: I wanted to create a space the people will remember after their visit besides the exhibition.


GPI: What were your functional and conceptual goals for the lobby?

Mahlamaki: The goal was to give the building a restrained wow effect and that the visitors will have a certain feeling before they enter the exhibition and also afterwards. The lobby is simple and elegant – a space for to compose one’s self.


GPI: How did you use specific design tools (such as color, form, materiality, lighting) to create the space?

Mahlamaki: The color, the form, the lighting, the materiality are all connected with each other. During the time of a day/year it all acts in a varying way. The form is not geometric, it is 3-dimensionally curving freely – the restrictions of the structure (bearing structure) had its own limits.

Polish Museum

GPI: What was the biggest constraint in turning this design into a reality?

Mahlamaki: The bearing structure was technically difficult; it was to give a firm and solid impression – and to have a spiritual connection with the theme of the museum.


GPI: What makes this space impactful?

Mahlamaki: The space is impactful for the reason that such free form spaces sparsely exist. There are some but their geometry is not based on rectangle form. The museum has strong identity, it is iconic. It is not enough for a museum about Jewish history in Europe to have good architecture – it has to be also impressive.


Many thanks to Rainer for sharing the inspiration for this lobby design. Stay tuned to our next Impactful Entry Space interview coming up in two weeks. For more visual inspiration, follow our Impactful Entry Space board on Pinterest.


Image Credits: archdailystrangelinepublicseminararchitecturelabphotoroomconstructalia