CULTURAL CENTER IN WARSAW

project 2018 | competition for IDEAS FOR CULTURAL CENTER IN TWARDA STREET IN WARSAW |
team KATARZYNA IWAŃCZUK, MIKOŁAJ IWAŃCZUK

The part of Warsaw in which the cultural center is located was defined at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, when the urban development of Osiedle za Żelazną Bramą (OZZB) was established. A set of 19, almost identical blocks of flats, evaluated often very critically in hindsight, filled in a radical way the war-ravaged space of Wola and west Śródmieście with buildings of dual typology - 16-storey residential towers and much smaller, compact pavilions with complementary functions such as education, health service etc. The masterplan was complemented, in accordance with the spirit of modernism, by greenery. In many respects, the planned building of the cultural center is part of this logic, mainly because it implements a functional program that for various reasons, mainly economic, has never fully materialized.

One of the main design challenges was to place a new volume into the existing context of the housing estate behind of OZZB. In the urban sense, the shape of the building was reduced to the abstract - a rectangular square-shaped base, reminiscent of form and dimensions of service buildings created in the spirit of social-modernism. A building characterized by simple articulation gives the impression of a free-standing sculpture immersed in greenery. The form of a cultural center is subordinated in this sense to the rules of the game set by the authors of the modernist masterplan, it does not try to negate the surroundings, which, given the scale of the housing estate of OZZB, seems doomed to failure.

In the architectural sense, the building uses many quotes from classical modernism - such as the mass supported on the pillars (the zone of the main entrance with arcades from the square in front of the Nożyk synagogue), or a open garden on the roof of the building. At the same time, we tried to enrich the architectonic language of the building with borrowings from later experiences, often critical of modernism itself. The idea of creating an interior patio was abandoned, which was a standard solution for the building of similar dimensions (42x42 m) in the past. Instead we proposed the sequences of external, publicly accessible terraces with a diverse character. It gives the effect of fusing the building with the greenery in an unconstrained way, connecting park in front of the building and building itself, and at the same time it creates an interesting, vibrant fifth façade, visible from surrounding high-rises.

The building received the form of a modest, 4-storied cuboid with a diversified surface area on each floor. The last two levels are smaller, giving way to spacious terraces. The materials in which the outer skin of the building was clad - wood and a white steel mesh of high translucency tell two stories about the interior of a cultural center. On the one hand, the warmth and familiarity of wood used mainly on the southern side, and therefore on the side of the park, emphasize the unpretentious and open nature of the institution. On the other hand, the whiteness of the mesh, gives to the building an unreal character, reducing it to an abstract symbol of an unwritten sheet of paper or an unpainted canvas that brings to mind the unlimited possibilities of artistic creation.

The elevations of the building are characterized by a distinct rhythm corresponding to the construction module of the load-bearing structure of the building. The ground floor of the building, is glazed and fully integrated with the surroundings. On levels 3 and 4, there are two publicly accessible terraces with various functions. Wooden trestle that fences the space of the terraces enables to roof the space when necessary and provides a support frame for lighting. The lower terrace serves mainly as a meeting place, equipped with deckchairs and seats, it is also a place of outdoor cinema in the summer. The upper terrace has a different character - there is a vegetable garden and a small fruit orchard. The spacious plateau finished with terrace planks adheres directly to the fitness room and serves as an outdoor gym.