Miroslaw Nizio

Polish Vodka Museum: exclusive with architect Miroslaw Nizio

A 19th century historic rectification plant is located in the premises of the former Warsaw Vodka Factory “Koneser”. Miroslaw Nizio, architect of the project provides insights about the unique museum in this extract of an exclusive interview with Domus Sri Lanka.

The Polish Vodka Museum incorporates a stately façade

Can you elaborate on the concept of this unique project?
It was clear to us that the Polish Vodka Museum would require a creative and unusual approach. Our concepts combine two main functions within the facility: the museum and a commercial one. We knew the innovation and uniqueness of the project would lie in the materials and in the technology developed to revitalize the building. Industrial architecture and the preserved elements of furnishing of the former plant is a unique witness to history and a perfect place to recount it. We have tools in the form of state-of-the-art technological achievements. I knew from the beginning that such a museum should not only tell a story but had to appeal to all senses. 

Can you describe the location and the relationship with the design?
Warsaw’s Praga Północ is the place where the Polish Vodka Museum was established. I have known Koneser’s building for years and I have always been impressed by it. I started preparing for the project and saw the interiors for the first time, I got to know their structure and characteristics. After an analysis of the architectural conditions, I was convinced that the vats, other furnishing, as well as the brick walls with the boilers, had to be preserved. We had to create a quality that complemented the historical interior with modern elements. The shape of the exposition space is determined by the context of the place and its unusual history. It was important for us to show it in the exhibition space. Its individual layers are designed and constructed in a way to allow visitors to fully grasp the story of Polish Vodka.

I knew from the beginning that such a museum should not only tell a story but had to appeal to all senses

Can you describe the permanent exhibition?
The permanent exhibition is located in five galleries. Visitors start their adventure with a narrative of the museum by walking through a cinema hall and viewing a documentary film. The interior of the cinema hall features copper cladding walls and the attractive ceiling has an appearance similar to that of a distillery vat. In successive, museums galleries the visitors can see wood-lined walls, on which short texts about the historical development of the vodka industry are burnt. The exhibition recreates the interiors of alchemy laboratories, old distillation equipment, concrete vats and kilns. In the walls, tables and displays designed for the exhibition we hid interactive and passive multimedia stands, screens with projections and educational materials.

Relationship between Vodka and Polish culture and how this was incorporated into the design?
Polish Vodka is inseparably connected with Polish culture and customs. During educational workshops, visitors will have the opportunity to discover the variety and differences in flavors and aromas of Polish Vodkas made from traditional cereals and potatoes. The mission of the Museum is to make people aware of the centuries old traditional methods of vodka production. This guided us in developing the rectification of the museum, and I hope that we have achieved the desired effect.

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