Museum of Housing Estates

Format Archive

City Lublin, Poland

Grażyny 7 pavilion, Lublin Housing Cooperative (LSM) – You enter the space where you see objects, retro-souvenirs on cubes made out of beaverboard. It might be old projector or pair of trousers. Each of them was an impulse to share a story. Some were summed up as short texts, some has QR codes sticked next to an item, where you can listen to broaden version, read a text or watch a movie and learn its context. All “artefacts” are being put according to certain thematic path. On the walls you can watch urban plans of the estates with curators’ comments. Headphones hanging next to drawings invite you to listen to contradictory views (from designers, administrators, users, those who care to safe the buildings and those who would prefer to have them demolished). Several housing structures from different locations provoke parallel dialogues over analogous matters. Museum space itself is crucial here. It’s never an accidental building but an object itself exposing its layers and everyday life routines it used to be generating.

Iconic-late modernist pavilion from the 64’, where there used to be famous local caffee and culture club called informally “high life for 2 euros” is now in danger of demolition. Unique realization of terrace architecture for neighborhood scale since the end of the 90.cannot find its new profitable functions nor any new hosts, who could revival it and maintain its economical demands. Lublin Days of Modernism Festival delivered a pretext to make it Museum of its own and by this intervention to talk about its meaning to the local estate and talk with its visitors about the district current hot topics.


There are 40% of people in Poland who live in housing estates, 20% of those are housing structures made of blocks of flats from the 70’. Only 11% of its population is satisfied of where they live and they’d like to stay in their apartments. Museum helps to incorporate controversial concrete heritage into individual myths and build up common -yet agonistic identity. An idea was to create patchwork memoir of specific housing estate; collective monument of their inhabitants. To use understandable yet a bit stale (in purpouse) format, to involve cross-generational audiences. To record memories of generation planting first trees there. To ask people who have spend their childhood there, how have they been shaped by growing up on this estate. To reveal the myths acccompanying settlements, but most of all - TO USE THE PAST AS A PRETEXT TO ASK ABOUT THE PRESENT issues and their nearest future of the space between the buildings and destroying difficult heritage.


We've managed to prototype the Museum and launch it during Lublin Days of Modernism. During 2017 we've built evironment around the idea of the Museum and this speciffic space. Together with inhabitatns we're searching for other functions it could cover, so it keeps being alive and delivers other uses like non-comercial place to meet or workshop sapce, integrating local community.

Mobilization Call for action

Produce simple flyers [having big budget version – collage postcards of an estate ] asking inhabitants to deliver their stories and share personal souvenirs. We deliver flyers, posters to every building. As we operate in an area, where majority of residents are seniors, they prefer old school way of communication with a very simple and clear design. We use a snowball method, where one person gives contact to 5 neighbors, family or friends, who could be interested in co-creating Museum.

Location Gathering of the collection and researches

Conduct at least 30 interviews with residents, users, administrators –if possible – architects and visioners of the estate. While interviewing - collect at least 15 objects. Sometimes story comes from an item, sometimes we ask for object to share that would illustrate the story. When it’s difficult to get any, we ask for photos. Additionally we make desk research in the housing structures archives, libraries, digital archives. While making decision on the topics, we follow our “donors of memory” to explore wider contexts, they’ve mentioned (or they intentionally wanted to keep silent about]. For example our interlocutors explained how they’ve created an environment for a new generation of urban citizens, coming to live in towns in the 60. and 70., still neglecting his rural provenience. We have found there interesting topic to dig in.

People Power Museum in the Dialogue. Participatory set (organizing) of an exhibition together with series of manual workshops

Time for creating curatorial descriptions and arranging thematic collections according to thematic paths. Museum purposely combines collections from several places at the same time to stimulate dialogue on specific phenomena, and in the case of high-level discussions, avoid stigmatizing specific sites. Participatory planning of the collection is led in the process of workshops. Around already existing collections we weave the new plots with inhabitants interested to contribute in creative process. Museum is being shaped of the minor components (puzzles), coming directly from citizens in the formal support of artists and curators. Co-authors of the Museum are the Residents and invited artists, who deliver workshop situations for forming individual subjective reflections threw art tools. E.G. “Family manual workshop for designing settlements with cardboard, including objects that no longer exist or are threatened with demolition” or “Workshops for exploring urbanism and local urban greenery and organizing a hint of it into a museum collection” .“Digital storytelling and remix of materials; sound installations, animations or giffs with tales of inhabitants “etc.

Communication Museum in Travel. Promoting the idea of Museum.

Travel of the scattered collection (themed by topic) starts with a trip to partner estates participating in the project. It’s being hosted in culture institutions and private dwellings. We talked to the owners of the flats involved in the ventures and usually expressed pride and emotion due to taking part in such a brave and wide-ranging initiative. The alternative will be spaces of publicly accessible service points and educational institutions. Possibly in other towns. Each residence of the museum delivers new contexts and provokes it to be a tool discussing local challenges and hot topics.

Communication Communication and evaluation. Reflection and discussions

We try to interest local press to dedicate thematic insert and encourage experts derived from different professions; antropologists, urbanists, sociologists, historians, archivists, even developers to write articles about our Museum realization from their perspective.

The district have influenced our imagination when we were children. It seemed exotic land alluring to explore. As its inhabitants, we create formats to construct the local mythology.

Open Territory Foundation