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Polish architecture students winners in international competition

Dobrawa Bies
18 of September '20

Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski and Pawel Bialas, students of the Faculty of Architecture at the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, were among the regional winners of the International VELUX Award 2020 competition. Their project "Theater of Light" received recognition from the international jury and won in the "Natural Light Research" category in the Eastern Europe and Middle East region.

A film interpretation of the winning project titled "Theater of Light"

© Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski, Paweł Białas

The International VELUX Award competition has been held every two years since 2004, with the aim of encouraging students to pay special attention to the role of natural light in architecture as an important source of lighting, energy, well-being and comfort.

international success of polish students

This year's 9th edition received 579 projects submitted by 250 schools from 60 countries. Projects were submitted in two categories: "Natural Light in Buildings" and "Natural Light Research." The entries were judged by an international jury consisting of:

  • OdileDecq - Studio Odile Decq, France,
  • Nora Demeter - Demeter Design Studio, Hungary,
  • Sebastian Adamo - Adamo-Faiden Architects, Argentina,
  • Juri Troy - Juri Troy Architects, Austria,
  • Martin Pors Jepsen - VELUX A/S, Denmark.

The judges selected ten winning projects and awarded one honorable mention. Among them was a Polish project entitled. "Theater of Light" by Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski and Paweł Białas from the Faculty of Architecture at the Silesian University of Technology. The students won in the "Natural Light Research" category in the Eastern Europe and Middle East region.

The scientific supervisor of the winning team was Dr. Jerzy Wojewódka, Professor at the Silesian University of Technology:

For a didactician, each appreciated student work is of great importance, because it confirms the validity of the individually adopted teaching path. It is also the satisfaction of trust on the part of the students, because the choice of tutor was arbitrary. One enters each competition with the hope of succeeding, although this is always accompanied by a considerable margin of concern as to whether the adopted design solution will interest the jury. This makes it all the more satisfying when the judges include such prominent representatives of the architectural profession. I think this is a great honor for our team.

theater of light in the night sky

Plansza konkursowa
Teatr światła

The project addresses the problem of pollution by artificial light

© Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski, Paweł Białas

The winning project entitled. "Theater of Light" touches on the problem of the modern world - pollution by artificial light, and its main goal is to raise awareness and the importance of this problem. The students decided to analyze the night sky, their project consists in creating a vast land art, allowing to observe a fragment of the sky like a performance - a theater of light. As a location, the authors chose the Izera Dark Sky Park - one of the few completely dark places in Europe.

As Paweł Białas says about the idea of the project:

The main idea of the project is to consider the subject (which is quite paradoxical), the lack of light. We were fascinated by the role of darkness. How does it affect man and his environment, is it necessary? What are the consequences of its absence? While carrying out the project, we noticed the problem of artificial light pollution of the night sky. There are three parks protecting the dark sky. This means that there are only very few places left where the night sky is clear, free of artificial light pollution. [...] Natural light has always determined the rhythm of human life. However, with the growth of technology, artificial light is increasingly disrupting it. We have created a symbolic earth circle to make us reflect on the changes in nature and their consequences. [...] This is our manifesto, in which we want to draw attention to the fact that we are losing naturalness irretrievably, and the role of natural light is being drastically disrupted in it.

Zanieczyszczenie
światłem Polski Zagospodarowanie terenu

As a location, the authors chose the Izera Dark Sky Park - one of the few completely dark places in Europe

© Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski, Paweł Białas

The form of our land art, from my perspective, stems from the movement of all the nocturnal light sources - stars, planets, moon - that we observe every clear night over our heads. They circle around the polar star, traveling on the vault and forming a beautiful luminous representation [...]," adds Dominik Kowalski.

symbolic land art

The project itself involves the creation of a ditch based on a circular plan - a ring like in a planetarium, narrowing the view of the light theater taking place in the sky at night. The authors used natural materials, wood and earth, for the construction.

In the words of Julia Giżewska:

"The Theater of Light is a land art - a symbolic place where everyone can become a spectator of a wild and ephemeral performance, showing light and darkness. [...] In its non-literal form, the project is characterized by austerity, adding character to the whole establishment. We chose the Jizera Hall as the location, along which a long wooden bench was placed , consisting of smaller parts. [...] Tangent to the bench is a circle, created as a ditch, is a reinterpretation of the amphitheater, so to speak. Passing through the hollow (ditch) is the climactic stage, then the performance proper takes place, in which we ourselves decide how much time we will spend on subsequent scenes, we can pass it quickly, but we can also stop and sit on the slope, looking out for more light images. A long bench guides the viewer to the circle, and then, after crossing the ditch-path, it is the lead out of the whole performance.

Obserwacja niebaLand art
Teatr światła

"Theater of Light", is a land art - symbolic place where everyone can become a spectator of a wild and ephemeral performance

© Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski, Paweł Białas

The entire establishment lives in the landscape and matures in it. Depending on atmospheric conditions, it appears in a different form, sometimes fading into the terrain. The wood, depending on the humidity, will take on different shades, and in the future some parts of the bench will be covered with moss, while the ditch will be overgrown with greenery.

Growing into the landscape, it shows a certain natural transience in which we should try to see beauty. We can say that the "Theater of Light" is a tool for observing light, a stimulus, in a way sensitizing us to various forms of both natural brightness and darkness that we can observe in everyday life. - adds Julia Giżewska

The team from the Silesian University of Technology is yet to compete in the global Grand Prix competition. Ten regional winners will present their projects in person at the World Architecture Festival. The jury will select one global winner in each of the competition categories.

Light pollution and the protection of the dark sky were also considered by Agnieszka Roś, designing an astronomical observatory in the Jizera Mountains. The topic of observing the sky is also addressed by Anna Jaruga-Rozdolska in her design of a research center in Jordan.

compiled by {tag:AuthorAiB}

illustrations courtesy of Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski and Pawel Bialas

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