Poland’s new museum of vodka, the world’s first, is fast becoming one the country’s go-to destinations. Hosted within the grounds of the former Koneser distillery at the heart of Warsaw’s Praga-Północ district, the museum will celebrate more than 500 years of vodka history in the country.
Vodka distilling from both cereals and potatoes has a proud tradition in Poland, and is on the EU’s list of Protected Geographical Indications. The museum’s multimedia exhibition rooms showcase several aspects of the country’s vodka heritage, celebrating the local manufacturing tradition through the ages and exploring aspects of the distilling craft such as the raw materials used, as well as shining a light on some of the ways in which vodka has shaped local culture. The museum also hosts a Vodka Academy Bar offering tastings and training workshops, and a lounge bar where visitors can sample cocktails.
The post-industrial, red brick Koneser distillery complex, once home to flagship Polish vodka brands Wyborowa and Luksusowa, is being redeveloped to feature a mix of apartments, offices and art galleries, as well as bars, restaurants and shops.
5 multimedia galleries
180,000 visitors/year estimated flow
Comprehensive advisory services
The concept for the interior and the exhibition was designed by renowned Polish designer Mirosław Nizio’s architectural studio (Nizio Design International). Arup was appointed to provide technical advisory services, acting as the technical advisor during the design stage, and going on to provide advisory services such as site supervision as well as the schedule and financial management during the construction phase. The Museum, which opened to the public in June 2018, was led by The Polish Vodka Foundation is part funded by the European Union. A general investor of commercial part of the building is Pernod Ricard, the global producer of distilled beverages.
Technology preserving the existing heritage
The design plays up the historical heritage of the former distillery throughout, emphasising different aspects of the vodka craft by means of textures and finishes, while making use of multimedia technology to provide visitors with a fully immersive experience.
To preserve the site’s original character, including the steel structures and other finishes, the Building Services were incorporated by means of an additional underground level. The museum also features wooden flooring throughout, repurposed from original 100-year-old casks from former vodka distilleries.
Evoking distilling casks, copper sheets were used in the cinema, all the while giving careful consideration to the acoustic requirements. Significant cost savings were realised through a value engineering evaluation of the AV system, which also resulted in improved electrical efficiency.
A tribute to all things vodka in Poland, the museum details the set of stringent requirements that the white spirit needs to meet to win the Protected Geographical Indicator: traditional ingredients such as rye, wheat, barley, oats, triticale or potatoes must be the product of Polish cultivation methods and, bar the bottling, must be processed entirely in the country.