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Closer to nature. An idea for the development of Gdansk fortifications

10 of August '22

Maja Kryzynska from the Faculty of Architecture and Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk has an idea for developing the southern fortifications of Gdansk. Her architectural project brings Gdansk residents closer to nature, allows them to discover it and sensitizes them to their immediate surroundings. The concept, which is also a master's thesis, captivated the jury of the ASP Diplomas: Architecture and Design 2022 competition, which awarded it the Grand Prix.

The art is the ability to reconcile nature and a thriving city. The expansion of urbanization entails economic, social and cultural changes, pushing the natural environment into the background. Living a life of constant running and stress, we also need a moment to breathe and escape from the everyday. However, are our efforts so far yielding results? This is the question I asked myself when choosing the topic and area for the development of my master's thesis," says Maja Krzyzinska.

Most łączący fosę

The bridge connecting the two banks of the moat

© Maja Krzyzynska

The southern string of the Danzig fortifications is an extensive biodiverse green area of considerable cultural and historical significance. That's why the slogan nature became a key one for the author of the project, who focused on the nature-rich areas of the fragment of the fortification located on the side of the Olszynka district. As she says, her goal was to sensitize people to their native surroundings and to cover Gdansk from a new perspective. The presented master's thesis was titled "On the other side - a concept for the development of Gdansk's southern fortifications" and was carried out under the direction of Dr. Rafał Setlak.

Projekt zagospodarowania fortyfikacji gdańskich, analiza przyrodnicza

gdansk fortifications development project, natural analysis

© Maja Krzyzynska

a new look at the moat

The author conducted research and analysis of the entire establishment, during which she noticed a sizable barrier between the banks of the historic moat. As she believes, this barrier is not only a physical limitation, but also in some ways a mental one.

The functionality and frequency of visiting the area on the Downtown and Lower Town sides is significantly different, while the other side of the moat is characterized by a more "wild," less tame nature. The rushes, water, and shoreline vegetation are home and breeding grounds for birds and other animals, and an area for valuable plants. Another discovery was that I found new and attractive perspectives and emotions about the amazing views that I wanted to share," explains the designer.

Projektowana kładka widziana od strony zachodniej

the designed footbridge seen from the west side

© Maja Krzyzynska

Based on the analysis, Maja Krzyzynska decided to propose anarchitecture that helps the residents of Gdansk maintain a good relationship with nature, shifting the focus to less frequented areas of the city. The project consists of four elements: a footbridge, urban furniture, a pavilion and a viewpoint.

Footbridge, or a walk over water

A change of perspective in many situations works out for the best. Sometimes even this, in the literal sense, allows us to appreciate the cultural and scenic qualities that are at our fingertips. The footbridge being designed is the essence of a concept whose main idea is to "turn the other way," - claims Maja.

Przystań widziana z lotu ptaka

marina seen from a bird's eye view

© Maja Krzyzynska

The introduction of a new form of activity opens access to a section of the moat previously unexplored. Crossing the Lowland Gate and following Bridge Street, the route begins, smoothly ascending the stratified platform. Like a winding ribbon, the footbridge smoothly changes its height above the ground, adjusting to the terrain. The path forms a form of a "loop", inside of which a wider platform has been designed, serving as a haven for walkers and kayakers. The marina allows people to rest on wide wooden benches and openwork metal stairs.

Wizualizacja przystani kajakowej

visualization of the canoe landing

© Maja Krzyzynska

along the moat

After crossing the footbridge, we find ourselves on the other bank of the moat, and after passing two bends we can reach the water again, thanks to the fork in the footbridge, the form of which encourages us to enter and discover the view of the Kamienna Sluice and Biskupia Górka. On the slope of the gentle escarpment, the author placed wooden benches, which were moved towards the water. This treatment made it possible to move away from the traffic route and focus users' eyes on the other side of the bank, where the soft line of the pavilion emerges from the east.

Pawilon widziany od strony wschodniej

The pavilion from the east side of the establishment

© Maja Krzyzynska

biophilic pavilion

The culmination of the developed site is a pavilion with a biomorphic shape, melding with the terrain. The object is difficult to spot between the hills, as its structure has been greened from above and its interior is made of wood. The author proposed the pavilion in a larger green area, surrounded by four historic hawthorn trees on the bank of the Motlawa River. Inscribed in the slope of the area, it leads users from the path along the green grass lower and higher.

Wnętrze pawilonu wykonane parametrycznie

The interior of the pavilion was designed parametrically

© Maja Krzyzynska

Every element of the pavilion's interior, benches and corrugated walls were parametrically designed in oak wood. The place was created with the idea of being able to take shelter from inclement weather and for a break during a walk or bicycle tour. In the building, the author envisioned a place to sell hot and cold drinks and snacks. The pavilion itself is also intended to be an incentive for the resumption of many cultural events previously held at the bastions.

Widok panoramiczny na pawilon

The pavilion is covered with a green roof

© Maja Krzyzynska

viewpoint on the roof

The green roof of the pavilion is also a vantage point, accessed by two entrances located on the rising ground. The natural grassy roof covering on warm days encourages picnics, relaxation or outdoor activities. The abundant vegetation on the roof facilitates rainwater management and increases the biodiversity of the environment.

Panorama Gdańska widziana z dachu pawilonu

panorama of Gdansk as seen from the roof of the pavilion

© Maja Krzyzynska

prospects for development

The complex of the developed fortification area on the side of the Olszynka district is a desire to show how to reconnect the two sides, separated by the historic moat. In my project, I tried to depict the harmony between man and nature, as well as to ask the question - what could such a relationship look like in the future? The environmental crisis is an ailment of past inadequate design, in effect it is a design crisis. Thoughtful design can connect culture and nature, and have a decisive impact on the environment. The growing sustainability model is the first green design movement, and the key to expanding awareness, is to understand our ecosystem," concludes Maja Krzyzynska.


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