Multifamily residential architecture is primarily associated with developments aimed at easy profit with maximum cost optimization. Housing estates without common spaces for residents, without well-designed vegetation, built using the cheapest facade materials, are being built en masse. In Gdansk - specifically, in the seaside town of Jelitkowo - the Botanica estate has been completed, which is an exception to this infamous developer rule. The founder of the MAARTE studio, which is the author of the project, Marek Łańcucki, is interviewed by Eliza Makowska.
Eliza Makowska: The design of the estate was selected through a competition. This is not a practice often used by developers. Please tell us about the criteria of the competition and the main assumptions of your project, which won first place.
Marek Łańcucki: The requirement to announce a competition resulted directly from the provisions of the local zoning plan, where it was recommended to "prepare multivariant concepts drawn up by different designers." The investor consciously decided to invite several Tricity studios to the competition, including the MAARTE studio. The competition requirements included basic guidelines arising from the plan, soil and water conditions and technical infrastructure, the proximity of a large retention basin, as well as specific guidelines, such as the required structure and size of apartments, phasing, material standard of architecture and others.
Of course, requirements for the presentation of the work were also specified.
The idea of the competition design of the estate was our author's reference to Ebenezer Howard's concept of a garden city, contained in three points:
- The interplay of architecture with the landscape, where the surroundings of the buildings, i.e. landscaping, greenery, small forms of architecture, will be as important as the buildings themselves;
- The outdoor space is to provide comfort and good living conditions, as are the interiors of housing, recreation or communication spaces;
- Landscaping is to shape residents' aesthetic sensitivity to beauty, just as the architecture of the buildings does.
vision: © MAARTE
Eliza: Watching the realization, analyzing the facade materials used or the importance given to the design of greenery and common spaces, I can risk saying that you were lucky to find a conscious developer. In the project you can't see the typical savings, which are a common pain in the implementation of multi-family residential buildings. How was the cooperation with the investor?
Marek: The investor is the Gdynia-based company Invest Komfort, with which we have previously had the pleasure of cooperating on the award-winning and published projects of the Gdansk housing estates Nadmorski Dwór and Bursztynowa, and more recently on another one: Nadmorski Park. I say pleasure of cooperation, because with the professionalism and reliability of this developer, the quality of cooperation and co-creation process was at the highest level. The developer was fully aware of the costs of implementation, and when making decisions he was also guided by economic calculation. At the same time, he was ready to talk and work together on practically every important detail of the project, knowing that it is of vital importance for the recipient of the architecture - the resident of the estate. In a word: the cooperation went very well.
Eliza: Did the local zoning plan have a significant impact on the way the buildings and the development of the plot were shaped?
Marek: The area of the estate is covered by the local zoning plan. The plan imposes a low intensity and limits the height of development, while requiring it to be "dispersed with individual expression and a high level of architecture, taking into account landscape requirements." I think we have managed to meet these requirements. The estate is extensively developed, with low-rise, 3-story buildings, and landscaping plays a key role in shaping the space. The plan also dictated the character of the development, requiring roofs to have a minimum pitch of thirty-five degrees and ceramic roofing. This was therefore a fairly rigid design framework.
The theme of the landscape is water
Photo: Inwest Komfort
Eliza: What is the idea behind the design? Where did the idea of shaping the solids and the surroundings come from?
Marek: I think that with each successive project we develop the idea of full integrity of architecture and landscape initiated in the project of the Nadmorski Dwór estate in Gdansk. In Gdansk Jelitkowo, a short distance from the sea, we wanted to realize buildings located in high quality greenery, amidst innovative landscaping, where each apartment is provided with individual, unique surroundings, giving a sense of identity to the place. We wanted architecture and landscape to play an equal role in the perception of the space. The idea had been clarifying for quite a long time, the deadline for the project was already approaching, when the final concept sketch was created almost on a napkin, drawn with a black thin pen. The theme of the landscape became water, or more precisely: a meandering river.
The buildings follow the shape of the landscape. The plan of each two-story building is broken, and the angle of the two parts of the building leaning toward each other corresponds to the broken lines of the landscape. The basic body of the building is covered with a traditional gable roof. It intertwines with the perpendicular block with a dynamic horizontal layout with cornices, glazed staircases, the entrance to the building, windows, balconies and movable shutters. The whole is crowned by a chimney wall located along the entire length of the roof ridge. The rectangular block is covered with green spreader mat, and the base block with ceramic tiles.
Eliza: Comparing the designs from the competition and the realized one, one can notice some differences. Can you tell us about them? What were they due to?
Marek: The realized estate is the result of cooperation between the investor and designers and the compromises they made. For example, the layout of the estate's landscape changed significantly when a landscape architect joined the project, with whom we clashed over the concept and the idea behind it. In the end, however, a project was created that was the joint work of all the designers and the investor, being a development of our competition solution. In turn, the investor reduced the number of water assumptions, and the scope of interventions in the landscape outside the project site also decreased: the piers/pier on the retention basin and the floating club/café barge were not built.
The architecture of the buildings evolved from the competition's three building types - we called them "stone," "wood" and "plaster," corresponding conventionally to the assumed development standards - to one type, we called "natural," in two sets of colors: "white" and "black." The buildings are now identical in material, but different in color.
The gabled roofs of the buildings are covered with simple ceramic tiles, either white or anthracite
Photo: Inwest Komfort