The European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk, Poland was built to promote freedom and solidarity. Commemorating a significant episode in both Polish and European history, the centre shares the achievements of the peaceful struggle for freedom, justice, democracy and human rights - explaining the message of the solidarity movement and the anti-communist democratic opposition in Poland.
The winning design for the architecturally dramatic building was delivered by Gdańsk-based architectural biuro FORT . The designers have intended the buildings shape “to be marked with radical simplicity, just like the goals and methods of the Solidarity movement”. The walls are lined with CORTEN (weathered steel) giving an atmosphere reminiscent of a rusty ship’s hull. The heart of the ECS is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of Solidarity and the changes in Central and Eastern Europe, alongside which space is available for temporary exhibitions as well as an education centre, research centre, archive, library and media centre.
The signage of the ECS building was delivered by the Polish partner of Modulex, NAZCA TUTAM utilising Infinity from Modulex which clearly guides visitor through the space using simple graphics, a black colour palette and wayfinding logic. A range of items were also customised for the space in order to preserve and respect the architecture of the building. Directional Compass signs from Modulex are utilised at decision points in the huge atrium space.
The European Solidarity Centre is the only institution in Poland honoured with the Council of Europe Museum Prize (2016), which has been awarded annually for 40 years to museums that have made a significant contribution to the understanding of Europe’s cultural heritage. The European Commission has distinguished the complexity of the Historic Gdańsk Shipyard—BHP Hall, Gate No. 2, Solidarity Square with the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970 and the ECS—because it symbolises the birth of Solidarity and the peaceful revolution that has transformed Central and Eastern Europe.