Materials and Technologies for Architects – free online version

Architecture immersed in silence. Project by Marta Piglowska

Dobrawa Bies
24 of May '21

What should be the architecture that enables the experience of silence? This is the question that {tag:studenci}, a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk, is trying to answer. The place she designed - a fragment of the city - is designed to gradually immerse us in silence, to put us more firmly in the present and to stimulate concentration.

In the modern world, we have lost the ability to be in silence. We have also lost the ability to reclaim it. The initial state of our mind is chaos. We struggle to embed our presence in the present. The modern city does not seem to support us at all on our way to finding silence again. With its form, it does not seem to ask questions about the human condition, but only about the functional aspect of space," says Marta Piglowska.

During her research, the student tried to answer the questions: what, then, should architecture inspire the experience of silence? How should it enable its achievement and celebration? How can we use it to control our senses and change our state of mind to a more orderly one? Silence, according to the author, is an experience that touches various areas of perception, also going beyond the sense of hearing.

Architektura Ciszy,
biblioteka i schody

The place created by the author gradually immerses the audience in silence

© Marta Pigłowska

The place she created is designed to gradually immerse viewers in silence, deepen embedding in the present moment and stimulate concentration. The student sought to achieve this effect through transitions from places that have a stronger impact on perception, through those that are less stimulating, to places that are completely isolated. Spaces such as passageways, isthmuses and squares were important to her. She tried to make sure that, despite the urban hustle and bustle existing next to them, with their form and the atmosphere there, they would offer a chance to follow the silence.

I believe that thanks to the solution I propose, we will find a new way to ourselves, and, as a result, also to another human being," the author adds.

 Architektura Ciszy,

The work is one of the quarters of the Theoretical City designed jointly by students

© Marta Pigłowska

theoretical city in the spirit of dialogue

The graduation project was created in the Studio of Urban Interior Design led by Professor Jacek Dominiczak and assistant Martyna Rajewska. It was an attempt to develop a joint next part of the Theoretical City, a continuation of the vision initiated by last year's graduates. The starting point of the joint project was the decision to design the premise around a lake shaped in a controlled manner. The student works were created in quarters of 100×100 meters. The designed main streets are designed to handle more intensive automobile traffic, running on the outer sides of the establishment, while the streets running across, between the quarters, are passages of a more intimate nature. Between the lake and the quarters, footbridges were designed to maintain the order of the city's grid. As another assumption, consistent with those of its predecessors, the students set the building height of the street frontage at 12 meters. Such assumptions provided a basis for further dialogue and design activities consistent in perception. Marta Piglowska was assigned a corner spot in the city.

Architektura Ciszy,
rzut parteru  Architektura Ciszy, rzut 1.

The designed space consists of three floors

© Marta Pigłowska

features of the architecture of silence

As the architect explains:

In my opinion, architecture that induces silence should at times be a background. Do not try to snatch our attention with a multitude of forms, colors arguing for our attention. It should make it possible to achieve a state of slowing down, stopping, observing from a distance or even hiding. It gave a chance to get lost as if in a labyrinth, to get to know places anew, to enter a space giving a sense of crossing a boundary. I noticed that it was also important that it gave a chance to assume the role of a watchful observer, closely following every detail, to enable experiencing - experiencing with the full range of senses. Secrecy is also key. So as to arouse the curiosity of discovery, without immediately showing all the mystery we possess - giving a sense of places for a moment only ours and discovered by us. I have tried to transfer these ideas of space inducing a state of silence to the architecture I create.

Droga wodna

The waterway leads to the Architecture of Silence

© Marta Pigłowska


One of the ways to discover the space of the Architecture of Silence is through the quarter, the waterway. It is delineated by a canal flowing through the central points of the project. Through it, a person entering the designed area is gradually introduced to a state of silence. Through numerous details, snapshots of places framed by gaps, the grasping of which requires increased vigilance, attentiveness from the observer - it is possible to calm the mind. Present through the flows of water white noise allows a gradual soothing of the senses, a sense of separation from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Istota przejść

important for the author were passages, passages and squares

© Marta Pigłowska

place of meditation

The main concept of the places with a defined functional program (Place of Solitary Work, Library and Place of Meditation) was to design them in such a way that each of them had a heart - a secret courtyard like a monastery cloister. According to the author, these are the ones inhabited by silence. On the lowest floor of the building, in direct contact with the course of the canal, there is a common space. It consists of a kitchen area, a resting place and conversation areas separated by differences in floor height. On the next floor is a meditation space - divisible into two smaller ones if necessary by means of sliding glazing and natural airy textile curtains. The last tier is made up of single, ascetic rooms for a small group of people coming for a several-day meditation course. From the lobby leading to the rooms there is direct access to an intimate patio located on the axis of the square below. This is a place separated from the hustle and bustle of the city, but has an excellent view of the lake, thanks to a gap in the view axis that continues.

Sala kontemplacji

The Contemplation Room overlooking the lake

© Marta Piglowska

The key, most essential spaces of this building are designed on the other side of the canal. We get to them through a connector placed quite low over the surface of the canal, allowing a small boat to pass underneath. It was designed to act as a bridge across the wall into the public space. A wide wooden staircase on its other side leads to an intimate meditation room. It is it that remains in closest contact with the heart of the building - an open courtyard that finds its continuation in a green square on the opposite side of the canal. This courtyard is enclosed by a low wall designed along the southeastern border of the plot. Leaving the meditation room, we find ourselves in the Hall of Contemplation, which by its size is meant to evoke a feeling of sublimity in the viewers. It is in opposition to the previous hall - three stories high, cool, shaded, with rather small window openings that do not illuminate the entire space, providing places of twilight. A simple staircase climbing along one of the walls leads to the upper floors, where one can enjoy the view of the shimmering lake. The thickness, massiveness of the masonry and appropriate height allow one to sit in the light of the window and contemplate.

i Wodny Dziedziniec

The library and the Water Courtyard

© Marta Pigłowska

library and water courtyard

Thelibrary is a public place, open to the public, with two entrances. One on the side of the main square, which is accessed by stepping into a secret crevice. The second entrance is more formal - it is on the side of a less busy street. Upon entering, we find ourselves in a three-story high interior, which includes a lobby connected to an open small cafeteria. Through a mezzanine with a press corner, shelves of increasing height begin to lead us. They also stretch uninterrupted through the connector, thus leading us to the other side of the canal. In this part of the building we reach its heart, which the author calls the Water Courtyard. It is flanked by a high wall adjacent to the walls of the building measuring eight meters. Half of its space is overgrown with shade-loving vegetation. The other half is occupied by a sheet, calm water, in the form ofa fountain pool . On the axis of symmetry of the courtyard, the author designed a narrow gap in the wall along with a shallow trough. It gives the water a chance to overflow slowly, creating a small waterfall - providing an additional sound experience.

Droga wodna
i szczelina w murze dziedzińca biblioteki

The waterway and the crack in the wall of the library courtyard

© Marta Pigłowska

The axis of the fissure continues in the form of a glazing located in the opposite part of the building. The part of the library in direct contact with the courtyard consists of three open floors. The spaces behind the bookshelves are dedicated to communication, and by moving the bookshelves away from the wall, intimate reading spaces were found under each flight of stairs, providing greater tranquility. The openwork brick facade provides views of the water. The top floor features a loggia. It allows observation of the Water Courtyard and part of the rest of the quarter, while a passageway in the form of a connector provides contact between the library and the Solitary Workplace.

Na terenie znajdują
się różne przejścia  Architektura Ciszy, rzut 2.

The louder places are placed in the outer layers of the building, and the contemplative ones in the depths

© Marta Pigłowska

place of solitary work

The Place of Solitary Work is strongly connected to the lakeshore and the wild beach and is accessible to all residents. An outdoor staircase placed in the structure of its facade leads across a footbridge to a walkway in the double wall, framing the view into the lake. Through them we have the opportunity to get to the isolated wild beach. The main idea locating the spaces in the building is the idea of layering. The author placed the noisier spaces in the outer layers of the building, and the most contemplative ones in the depths or on the top floors. The idea of layering is also linked by the designer, to the gradation of the intensity of the feeling of solitude. On the lowest floor, in direct contact with the heart of the building - a courtyard overgrown with lush vegetation separated from the rest of the city by a wall, she designed work spaces. By lowering the floor, she placed some of the work surfaces at a height level with the lower parts of the greenery. Along the second façade shaping the courtyard are spaces inspired by the Whispering Grottoes from Oliva Park. They were designed as half-cylinder-shaped niches contained in the concrete reinforced wall supporting the mezzanine structure. Each of them is a place for solitary work. The designer also included glazing, allowing such division and opening so that on warm days, when fully open, they connect to the courtyard.

Schody zatopione
w toni jeziora

spaces are connected to water

© Marta Pigłowska

On the top floor are solitary spaces. These are places of total seclusion, providing opportunities for work as well as for free regeneration. Two types of solitary rooms are envisioned. Those on the less sunny side, have large glazing providing contact with the courtyard. On the other hand, those on the lake side allow for complete separation and concentration on the interior. Apertures in the windows allow the view to be framed or completely obscured. On the roof, the author has placed skylights, which, when obscured, provide what she feels is a meditative in perception, but sufficient for working and reading, a source of daylight.

I am aware that the Architecture of Silence I am creating, designed on the basis of my subjective feelings, will not evoke a similar reaction in everyone - intentionally, it is not aimed at everyone. However, I have a feeling that there are more people with similar longings for such places in the city. The architecture I designed is an expression of these dreams and longings. It is an architecture that testifies to the essence of silence in our lives and the life of the city," the author concludes.

The work was included in the list of the best art and design diplomas of 2020 of the "Font Not Font" competition.

elaborated: Dobrawa Bies

The vote has already been cast

TRENDS [2023] - Software
NOVATOR® CITY - wielkoformatowe płyty brukowe
Trendy 2023 - kuchnie Neolith
Air conditioning units to suit your needs

Air conditioning units to suit your needs

In response to the needs of customers in the air handling unit market, VBW Engineering has a sectional air conditioning system that allows selected functional sections to be tailored to individual facility and customer requirements. VBW Engineering [...]
Rotenso RVF air conditioning systems for commercial buildings

Rotenso RVF air conditioning systems for commercial buildings

Modern, highly efficient and energy-saving Rotenso RVF air conditioning systems are ideal for numerous offices, prestigious hotel and restaurant facilities and public buildings. Rotenso air conditioning units are an excellent choice for commercial [...]
Twinson terrace - an ecological alternative to stone or natural wood

Twinson terrace - an ecological alternative to stone or natural wood

What sets Twinson brand decking boards apart? The combination of wood and PVC, and with it the most important advantages of these two materials: beautiful, natural appearance, as well as durability and resistance to wear and biodegradation. Twinson [...]