Architecture is a serious matter – in that respect, OVO Grąbczewscy is no exception. Functional, constructive, legal, and financial requirements as well as client expectations mean that architecture is the most “unfree” of all the arts, and the trend is rising. In order to retain the creative freedom necessary for their profession, the architects have developed the thesis of “playing architecture”. This enables them – despite stringent conditions – to apply their vision, research, and sense of freedom, fun, and humor as they see fit.
The Museum of Fire (Żory, 2015), for example, was originally intended to be a simple information pavilion – until the architects took the history of the city at its word: Żory is the Polish word for “fire”. In the competition for the Małopolska Science Center in Krakow (2018, 3rd prize in competition), they combined six seemingly incompatible concepts. And the administrative center in Wielka Wieś (2016) was not “designed” at all; the architects copied the characteristics of the surrounding buildings in terms of scale, form, and material.
This playful approach is also reflected in the exhibition concept. Playing architecture is not only for architects, but for everybody. Visitors will be asked to participate, to play, to change the exhibition totally – to build their own vision of architecture. The usual museum mantra “please do not touch the exhibits” will be replaced by “please touch the exhibits”.
OVO Grąbczewscy was founded in Katowice in 2002 by Barbara and Oskar Grabczewscy and count among Poland’s most successful architecture studios. They have since realized numerous projects and been widely recognized for their award-winning work: among others they received the SARP Award of the Year by the Association of Polish Architects in 2006 and 2016; the Museum of Fire was nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Prize in 2017. OVO Grąbczewscy is currently working on a housing complex on Mariacka Street, Katowice’s popular historical promenade (2019, 1st prize in competition).