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Jakub Dunal - " The Road. A museum project at the site of the German Nazi extermination and labor camp at Treblinka"

17 of August '23
Technical data
Type: master's thesis
Year of defense: 2022

Jakub Dunal

Wydział Architektury Politechniki Śląskiej

Dr. Jan Kubec

Work submitted for the competition
"Best Diploma Architecture"

"When we attribute our memory to the form of a monument, it deprives us of the sense of obligation to remember" - James Young

James Young, creator of the term "anti-monument," pointed out that monuments do the work of memory for their recipients and, as a result, cause displacement. He believed that the use of traditional forms can be counterproductive.

fotografia stanu istniejącego

photo of existing state

© Jakub Dunal

Commemorating the Holocaust is doubly difficult in this context. After all, how to convey the horror of the unimaginable events of the death camp and compel the viewer to remember? How to avoid the feeling of visiting a tourist attraction, full of crowds and the hustle and bustle of coaches, which even there can give a sense of security? The real horror is silence.

fotografia stanu istniejącego fotografia stanu istniejącego

stock photo

© Jakub Dunal

The site of the former Treblinka camps seems to be at the end of the world. Today neither trains nor buses get there. The camps are hidden in a dense forest, far from human settlements. It is rare to see people there, and even rarer to see an organized tour. The silence of Treblinka and the boundless forest surrounding its remains offers no choice - it forces you to think and, although we don't always want to, it activates the imagination.

schemat ideowy

idea diagram

© Jakub Dunal

In 2021 the Treblinka Museum, with the participation of the Association of Polish Architects, announced a competition for the design of the museum building - this thesis is a response to it. The proposed design solution is the Road - a 2860-meter-long stretch running from the edge of the forest to the Execution Site. The Road runs through (or right next to) the most significant areas in the study area: Extermination Camp, Labor Camp and the former Gravel Pit, crossing the course of the Black Road twice.

plan zagospodarowania terenu

site development plan

© Jakub Dunal

Following the postulates of Oskar Hansen's Open Form theory, the Road acts as a frame for the landscape and events in its space. By operating with economical expressive treatments and forms, it removes itself from its dominant position and gives priority to nature and man. The Road acts as a guide, highlighting the most essential elements of the Treblinka camp area, while at the same time allowing one to deviate from it and, through the forest paths that crisscross it, discover the vast area in an individual and appropriate way for each visitor.

rzut rozdziału 5 fotografia modelu

Chapter 5

© Jakub Dunal

The nearly three-kilometer section of the Path is divided into five chapters, corresponding in their content to each area. The chapters are named, in turn, Abyss, Pandemonium, Oblivion, Trace and Silence. The first of the chapters of The Road is an introduction to it, a vestibule of what the viewer will face later. In the functional sphere, the volume part - the Museum - extends along its entire length.

rzuty i przekroje budynku muzeum

plans and sections of the museum building

© Jakub Dunal

The building is, in fact, an equal part of the whole establishment and in the ideological layer is an enclosed Road. Its walls, foundations and roof are not partitions per se, but have a function given to them: the horizontal partitions are full floors - service, storage and technical spaces below, and teaching and office spaces above. The east wall, in its thickness, hides vertical communication and installation shafts. In between is a void - the actual content of the Museum.

model projektu

design model

© Jakub Dunal

The 326-meter-long volume is cut in one quarter of its length by an entrance plaza, from which one passes through high gates to the auditorium section and to the section proper with the museum exhibition; both are connected by an underground floor and passage between them is possible.

przekrój przez budynek muzeum fotografia modelu

cross-section through the museum building, photo by model

© Jakub Dunal

The exhibition space, like the multi-purpose hall, is fully transformable by means of 34 mobile platforms, each 4 meters wide, allowing to achieve any configuration of their layout and easily modify it according to the needs of the current exhibition.

przekrój przez Drogę

cross-section through the Road

© Jakub Dunal

The overriding principle remains the lack of design interference with the remains of the camps and the existing monument establishment. The project avoids competition with it, adopting the principle of the less intervention the closer to the area of the 1964 monument. The road crosses the symbolic tracks and passes under the ground level, without disturbing the existing landscape.


Illustrations: © Author

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