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The second life of a furniture factory. PRL design museum project

Dobrawa Bies
13 of September '21

Michal Rzepka of the Wroclaw University of Technology, using the example of the wyszkow "Fama" furniture factory, took up the subject of the forgotten heritage of post-war modernist architecture. His proposal is to revitalize the building and transform its function into a museum of communist design.

The project "Museum of PRL design in the revitalized objects of the "Fama" furniture factory in Wyszków" received this year the second prize in the Wroclaw edition of the SARP Diploma of the Year competition named after Zbyszek Zawistowski. Michal Rzepka prepared his master's thesis under the supervision of supervisor Dr. Tomasz Glowacki from the Department of Architecture and Visual Arts at the Faculty of Architecture of the Warsaw University of Technology.

Muzeum wzornictwaw dawnej fabryce mebli, aksonometria

years ago, the factory was the main center of industry in the Ostroleka district

© Michał Rzepka

forgotten architecture

Years ago, the factory was the main center of industry in Ostrołęka County, employing more than 2,000 people. The plant was established in the 1960s as part of the so-called "Ring of Industrial Cities" plan around Warsaw. It made furniture according to the designs of outstanding Polish designers, which were later used by thousands of Poles throughout the country. Wyszków furniture was also exported behind the Iron Curtain. The building was designed by Waclaw Zalewski (an outstanding Polish engineer who created the structure of, among others, the Katowice "Spodek" or the "Supersam" pavilion in Warsaw, and also taught as a professor at the American MIT) in cooperation with architect Andrzej Dzierżowski.

Muzeum wzornictwa
w dawnej fabryce mebli

"Fama" is an example of modernist architecture

© Michal Rzepka

"Fama" is an outstanding example of modernist architecture, but today the building bears little resemblance to its original design. The building's representative modern form has proved difficult to maintain and preserve. Over the years, large-format glazing has been bricked up and numerous makeshift alterations have been made, disrupting the original concept. The technical condition of the hall is deteriorating, and the finesse structural solutions were not properly protected," says Michal Rzepka.

Rzut parteru muzeum

First floor plan of the revitalized factory

© Michal Rzepka

communist people's republic design museum

The young architect's concept is part of the first stage of the assumed revitalization of the former factory site. Michal Rzepka proposed transforming the building into a multifunctional public facility. The museum of a supra-local character will expand the tourist offer of the city, which is now visited due to its attractive floodplain areas on the Bug River and its proximity to Warsaw. The square footage of the former hall will make it possible to create a comprehensive exhibition on the history of "Fama" and design of the communist era, which is gaining more and more enthusiasts and collectors. The facility also includes an additional exhibition hall on the mezzanine with a restaurant area, as well as rooms for workshops and student studios - each with a separate entrance. The additional conference area is intended to provide space for various types of events organized by the museum, the city or private entrepreneurs from Wyszkow's growing industrial zone.

Sala wystawiennicza
z meblami

part devoted to design of communist times

© Michal Rzepka

restoring the former splendor

The reconstruction concept makes it possible to expose the original qualities of the building's architecture while maintaining modern technical requirements. The author's basic assumption was to restore the more than 200-meter-high, glazed eastern elevation, which was a welcome sight at the entrance to the former factory site. The original character of the other elevations was maintained through the use of three-layer wall technology, preserving the characteristic texture of light-colored concrete blocks.

Rzut antresoli fabryki

mezzanine floor plan

© Michal Rzepka

The fine construction of the ceilings was exposed both outside and inside the building. Cut-outs of the volume in the west aisle of the hall create spacious entrance arcades, allowing the extension of function activities from inside also to the covered plaza area. Internal installations, including ventilation ducts, were run in ducts under the floor level. Thanks to this solution, the view of the ribbed ceilings and the light through the strip roof windows in the interiors are not disturbed by technical elements. The various sub-functions in the hall were organized on a "box-in-a-box" basis, clearly distinguishing the spatial elements introduced from the original structure.

Muzeum wzornictwa,
wnętrze hali wystawienniczej

The construction of the ceilings was also exposed in the interiors

© Michal Rzepka

workshop zone

The student workshop zone proposed by the author will enable the return of cooperation with the academic community from Warsaw. During the years of the factory's operation, a branch of the University of Warsaw operated in Wyszków - the Basic Woodworking School, which educated woodworking technicians. In this zone, there are thematic stud ios - printing, 3D printing, photography, a computer lab and individual studios, possible periodically, as well as the largest-size workshop hall for working with large-scale machines and objects. Students would also be able to use material and product storage there. Museum staff would also have access to the hall and machinery for processing and conservation of collections or construction of exhibition scenery.

Muzeum wzornictwa
w Wyszkowie

The concept envisions green and public spaces and a train stop

© Michal Rzepka

urban binder

The various functions in the facility are to be complementary, and the structure of the building allows for their potential changes in the future. The revitalization of the hall would go hand in hand with the revitalization of the entire area of the former factory. The concept envisages the introduction of public spaces, green areas and a regional railroad stop with an underpass to the opposite side of the railroad route. The site there is envisioned in local government plans as an area for the development of the city's residential and service areas. The former factory can become an urban binder with the new part of Wyszkow, the author concludes.

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