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Maria Pączek - "Project of the Cistercian Museum with Meditation Center in the ruins of the former Cistercian monastery in Sulejów."

08 of September '23
Technical data
Type: master's thesis
Year of defense: 2022

Maria Pączek

Wydział Architektury Politechniki Krakowskiej
Dr. Anna Bojęś-Białasik Prof. PK

Work submitted for the competition
"Best Diploma Architecture".

The Cistercian abbey in Sulejow is a unique monument on the map of Poland. Six defensive towers and a perimeter fortified wall formerly guarded the wealth of the monastery. Sulejow Abbey was the setting of important historical events, and on a daily basis here was a peaceful monastic life according to the Cistercian rule ora et labora (pray and work).

projekt zagospodarowania terenu

land development project

© Maria Pączek

As a result of the dissolution of the monastery in 1819, numerous fires, wars and looting, the site was largely destroyed, and the abbot's palace and most of the monastery quadrangle were demolished. The church, fragments of the defensive wall, defensive towers, some outbuildings and the remains of the demolished palace and monastery quadrangle have survived to this day. The abbot's palace survived only in the form of foundations and a fragment of the south wall, while fragments of the monastery quadrangle survived in the form of the south wall of the south wing, fragments of the walls of the west wing and cloisters, as well as well-preserved rooms of the chapter house and sacristy, and four bays of the cloister in the east wing. Although the surviving section of the east wing has been taken care of and kept in good shape, the rest of the former Cistercian monastery is in very poor condition, getting worse every year. The walls have become overgrown with ivy, which increases the damage to the walls, the basement ceilings are collapsed and the cellars are cluttered. If the ruins are not properly protected and restored, their deterioration will continue.

wizualizacja, widok z lotu ptaka wejście do centrum

visualizations, aerial view and entrance

© Maria Pączek

The project of the Cistercian Museum with Meditation Center in Sulejów involves creating a new quality of space on the grounds of the former monastery and abbey palace. The main idea of the concept is to integrate the new building into the existing ruins, so that it will form a background for the historic walls, emphasizing their qualities. The benefit of such a procedure is to save the ruins from further degradation. The leading idea is to revitalize the ruins, bringing life back to centuries-old walls, breathing spirit into a desolate space.



© Maria Pączek

Based on the analysis and observations, it can be concluded that today's society is overtired, stressed and overstimulated. We often suffer from depression, feel apathy, professional burnout or lack of a sense of meaning and fulfillment, which is why it is so important to take care of balance and mental health. The project of the Cistercian Museum with Meditation Center in Sulejow is a response to these needs, in a charming, historical setting. The meditation center is a complementary function to the museum. It contains rooms designed for sensory meditation and contemplation, which promote tranquility and listening to oneself.

rzut parteru

first floor plan

© Maria Pączek

These rooms are supplemented by the necessary checkroom and sanitary facilities. The center also includes rooms for individual and group meetings with a psychologist. The meditation center allows one to restore balance, relax and gain strength - in a place that for centuries served such a function for the Cistercian order.

The facility is also intended to provide more space for the Cistercians - as the facility's owners, they need a place to live. It was designed on the first floor of the west wing of the monastery quadrangle and on the foundations of the former outbuilding, which connects the west wing to the existing building of today's rectory. The room in the south wing intended for the Cistercians is a beautiful chapel with antique biforium windows overlooking the river.



© Maria Pączek

The main function of the building is a modern, interactive Museum of the History of the Cistercians of Sulejów, which is intended to convey knowledge about the 850-year history of the site in an interesting way. The museum includes exhibition halls, and will present the monastic rules and Cistercian architecture. A beautiful room with biforiums in the south wing overlooking Pilica and Sulejów is intended for an exhibition on the history of the town. It is an 8.5-meter high room with a ramp along which, like a timeline, the history of the Sulejów abbey is shown, while in the floor, under the glazing, one can see the historic walls and furnaces of the hypocaust.

detale i szkice

details and sketches

© Maria Pączek

The tour of the museum takes place in one direction and ends with an educational path located in the preserved basement of the abbey palace, along which teaching rooms with screens have been planned. The museum also has a multipurpose lecture and conference room with a foyer, as well as a small café and store.


Illustrations: © Author

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