Tatars’ Textil Manufactory
Ewa Kostecka & Julia Domańska @ TU Berlin, prof. Donatella Fioretti [10th semester, Master thesis 2017]
The project develops from the analysis of the current situation of ethnic minorities worldwide to question how architectural instruments have the potential to improve and solve the most pressing issues faced by these people, before their culture vanishes completely. The project specifically looks at the Tatars population in Europe, where the westernmost location of the remaining Tatars is in a small village in East Poland – Kruszniany. As opposed to the new Muslim residents in Western Europe, which can be considered quite a new social phenomenon, the Tatars have been settled in Kruszyniany for over 300 years to the extent that they are perfectly integrated with the locals and represent one of the best examples of multicultural cooperation and interaction.
Nowadays, globalisation brings out an increasing homogeneity that works against the richness and diversity of local cultures. The preservation of cultural identity is an essential aspect of peaceful cooperation. People with a strong sense of identity are more likely to interact with other cultures.
Instead of making another centre with a passive program, such as a museum, the project is a fabric manufactory which aims to support the Tatars community of this region, through effortlessly and actively cultivating their traditions. The intervention aims to establish and distribute new job opportunities, protecting the nearby city from uncontrolled urban growth. The program of a manufactory, is tied to the local history and industry of the region which is based on manufacturing fabrics from flax for weaving and sewing.
The traditional treatment of flax includes 14 steps, from the planting of the flax to the final fabric. Processing the bundles of stems to extract the fibers for spinning is a complex task that requires simple but special tools, a lot of hard physical work, and a sense of timing and judgement that comes only from experience. Half of the steps in the process must be completed outside and must be done three months after the flax is harvested.
One of the challenges of the project was the designing of these flexible rooms which are only occupied for a quarter of the year. As a response, the structure features a flexible elevation where the flax can be stored – a system of movable steel ropes where the bundles of flax are placed in between these ropes, here they are wicked and dried naturally. The staff members can here control and change the configurations as needed whilst creating a perfect work environment for themselves. For the remaining 3/4 of the year, the elevation disappears to become a semi-open space for many other activities such as celebrating traditional Tatars holidays.
The space is divided into three sectors – the flexible space outside for employees, the permanent production space, and the separated space for visitors. The middle of the building is occupied by an exhibition room accessible to visitors and featuring final products such as carpets and traditional clothing. This is the heart of the building with its circular shape alluding to traditional Mongolian architecture – a yurt. Furthermore, the form simplifies the arrangement of the other seven processes for the industrial treatment of flax. This all happens in a circular pattern and makes the handing over of the products to further processing extremely efficient. In addition, the horizontal slit windows in the visitors’ room enable them to take a closer look at the factory without disturbing the employees. The manufacturing process interlaces two typologies which are reflected in the roof structure. The rural image is expressed from the main street side as a gable roof and is combined with the industrial character on the western and eastern side of the building. The Tartars’ Cultural Centre will therefore fit within the community in its architectural style, but also as a culturally and economically significant hub for the Tartar people.
Who influences you graphically?
There are many different artists, architects, designers and objects of common use which were influencing us. In the project we aimed to use simplified minimalistic graphics.
During that design process this project the big inspiration for as were the beauty of carpets from Mongolia and middle east but the whole idea of representing the project at the way we did started from rabari carpets.
Offices which definitely made a big impression on us were Fosbury Architecture, Heju, Lifeboat studio. Through the use of simple combination of textures and colors their graphics become somehow naive, giving us at the same time a lot of space for our own interpretation.
What role did the model play in the development and representation of the project?
Building even small models definitely helped us with making decisions about the design.
For some time we had a huge struggle about the roof of the manufacture. How can it combine the regional architecture, but at the end still look like a production building and work with the interiors? Through models we were able to judge the ideas we had and find a solution that worked for us. We think that its a really important tool for understanding and visualizing ideas we architects have.
Apart from that it also helps the others to identify with your project. During presentations the first thing most of us do is look at the them. It is actually the only think you can really touch. It somehow gives us the ability to feel the atmosphere of the building and understand its concept.
What defined the language of representation through which you craft the views?
We think that the representational language of the views was partially influenced by the concept of the project. We created an abstract idea, that was never really a topic for some architectural competition. The contextual intention as well as the function of the building were created by us. Because of that it was important for us, to show our project in simple and abstract graphics, without defining every single detail of the building. For us it was not only a proposal for a factory, but also a project about the history, about traditions and customs of national minorities. We were convinced that a realistic rendering wouldn`t show the picture and the atmosphere of the place and such a wide topic we were dealing with.