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"An architect not only has to be able to design well." Bartek Bajon on the condition of the architectural profession

13 of May '22

statement fromA&B 04 | 2022 issue

Starting slightly amusingly, we always see what kind of shape someone is in when they come to us. We have a studio on the fourth floor of an apartment building - so taking the stairs without getting out of breath tells us something about the person. Fortunately, we ourselves also have a steady breathing, so our physical condition despite forty years of age is probably not the worst. Anyway, it has always been important for us to run the studio in such a way that there is no overtime or late calls from clients; that everyone finishes work at 5pm and has time for their non-architectural life.

Dom Rozcięty

The Slit House received First Prize in the SARP 2021 Award of the Year competition
in the Single-Family Residential Building category

Photo: Tom Kurek © PL.architekci

We primarily design for individual clients: single-family houses in various scales, along with interiors. You could say that we are a bit pigeonholed architecturally, but we like to be in control and have an impact on everything, and working with individual clients makes this possible. That's why we always have author's supervision priced and included in the contract - we don't do projects without it. After all, our goal is not to make super visualizations of houses with interiors equipped with high-end world design, but to actually realize such an object and make a beautiful photo shoot at the end.

Dom Rozcięty powstał w Poznaniu Fragment Domu Rozciętego

From the street, a minimalist, simple block is visible,
modest cube covered with narrow and elongated ceramic tiles

Photo: Tom Kurek © PL.architekci

An architect not only needs to be able to design well. Equally important is the ability to sell the project and a strong character not to let go. With every implementation there are some problems, cost cuts, changes, the whole art is to fight to the end and be consistent. This is a bit of a positivist attitude, sometimes it is not rewarded financially, but it gives great satisfaction and further interesting orders. That's why I'm especially pained by all kinds of public investments (both small and large), where, architectural qualities aside, you can see how many things are underdeveloped, haphazard, how public money is wasted on various scales. And it's hard for me to say what the remedy for this is. It should be handled by the Chamber or the SARP, but I guess they still don't have a lot of clout or ideas on how to do it either.

Wnętrze Domu Rozciętego

the solid is dissected by a skylight running the entire length,
which illuminates both the first floor and the first floor

Photo: Tom Kurek © PL.architekci

So, what is left again is a one-on-one fight: not only against the blandness of the space, but also against imprecise and sometimes illogical regulations, their diverse and often contradictory interpretation. Truly, sometimes the level of absurdity takes you out of balance, especially when it comes to provisions in local plans: once read literally, once almost figuratively. But again, we do not let go: we write appeals, sometimes we even go to court - with success. Although there is no denying that this is very frustrating, and is indicative of how our profession is perceived: supposedly, these are departments of architecture and urban planning, but the quality and form of architecture is of the least importance here. You can put up a real Gargamel's castle with towers, the important thing is that it has literal sloping roofs.

Wnętrze Domu Rozciętego Wnętrze domu w Poznaniu

A diagonally running shear from the skylight to the ceiling of the first floor extends the natural lighting of the first floor

Photo: Tom Kurek © PL.architekci

It is certainly gratifying to see investors' growing awareness of architecture and the fact that a smart and well-done project must cost its own money and takes time. We need about twenty weeks for the concept alone, and the project from concept to detailed design takes us about a year; then the interior design continues. But clients wait, because they can already see from the realizations or awards that it's probably worth it. Although we always say that the greatest reward for us is customer satisfaction.

So has anything changed over the years in this profession? I think not - if you want to design in harmony with yourself and your values, you have to be passionate, keep fighting and not give up.

Bartek Bajon


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