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A Respectful Dialogue Between The Historic and The New

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A Respectful Dialogue Between The Historic and The New

Tomasz Zablotny

OFFICE BUILDING IN THE FORMER ROYAL SHIPYARD OF GDAŃSK

The project of an office building located in the oldest part of Gdansk Shipyard is an attempt to determine the appropriate character of modern architecture in the surroundings of historic buildings of the former Royal Shipyard of Gdańsk. The existing halls located along Nabrzeże Remontowe and Ulica Narzędziowców, together with partially preserved street layout and three cranes, constitute the remains of former spatial arrangement and form a basis for the district’s development. An important element contributing to the city’s new image – a modern district with a waterfront conecting the former shipyard with the old town, should be preserving and emphasising the district’s unique identity. The new architecture should therefore be balanced in its form and yet distinguishable from the old industrial buildings. It ought to be a background for the genuine urban fabric. Its aims are to properly function within the new public space and the environment, as well as to reveal the potential of the remaining buildings. One of the project’s main goals is combining the brick halls of the former shipyard with a modern building characterised by high transparency. A building which has been designed in modular system of hybrid timber-concrete construction.

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The building is based on a hybrid construction using timber as its main load bearing structure. One of the main ideas is to make it seem as transparent as possible. By doing so, the interior, comprising restaurant, workshops and co-working spaces becomes an extension of the remarkable historic context of the building. Double-glazed facade system was used to create a comfortable environment in the spaces exposed to direct sunlight.

Building’s harmonious and coherent form, put together with the environmentally friendly technology are indeed the very features of the new architecture, so blatantly different from the existing buildings. The modular design of construction which is being used, enables one to fill out the vacant spaces in the historic urban fabric with functional, sublime modern architecture which will always remain a mere background for the original buildings of the former shipyard.

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Interview

Who influences you graphically?
This project’s graphic was influenced by surrealistic landscapes of the former royal shipyard area. Also by memories of the remarkable shipyard’s premises that don’t exist anymore. Nevertheless, I was impressed when I first saw drawings of Dogma Studio from Basel, a few years ago. A friend of mine, who works in a bookbinding workshop in London, suggested I should see their drawings after he had worked on a book with a collection of their works.

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How does the book as a format influence the way the proposal is explained and subsequently perceived?
I made two books for this project: one with just pictures and the other one to describe what the project is all about. The first book shows the special character of the remaining, post-industrial landscape. In the other one I’ve collected information about how the area used to work before, what the remaining buildings were used for, what determined the existing masterplan, and eventually, why it should be preserved. Having all this information, one may better understand the main aims of the project and the simple form of the architectural proposal.

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You explore your proposal through all means of representation and or model, to what extent do you trust that only like this is it possible to fully convey a project?
Every project has it’s very unique context and this, I think, determines the form of representation that is best to fully express the idea. In this case, to understand the project itself, it is essential to have an idea about the context. This is why I had made two separate books . Then, there are drawings and a physical model, which, I think, are just basic parts of any project.

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What is your take on the hyper realistic render?
I think that illustrative representation of architecture has always been a very interesting, unique form of graphic, using specific techniques to point out certain features of architecture/space. Using the technology and software we have access to, I find it more interesting to study new ways of creating stimulating, more abstract, graphic than to make a 100% complete vision of something that is not real. Although I do think that in many cases hyper realistic rendering might be useful at some further stage of a project.

You talk about creating the new as connecting to the historic, how relevant is the historic in a culture so saturated with stuff? Do we need to preserve and build on the basis of the past to maintain a certain identity?
In many cases the cultural and historical background may set useful guidelines for new architecture. With these guidelines a respectful dialog between the historic and the new is possible. This way we can create a coherent , well balanced space with it’s very unique identity. And an identity is usually what makes a certain place more liveable.

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