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Imperial Gate. Design of the cultural center next to the Imperial Shipyard in Gdańsk

Dobrawa Bies
29 of April '21

The Imperial Shipyard and the Young City in Gdansk is a hot topic all the time. Work is constantly underway there to create a modern district, but so far only single buildings have been constructed. Malgorzata Okroj of the Sopot Academy of Applied Sciences has also taken up the subject of developing the area, proposing a multifunctional cultural center as a gateway to the shipyard area.

Concept of a multifunctional cultural center "Imperial Gate" / "Imperial Gate" on the site of the Imperial Shipyard in Gdansk - this is the topic of Małgorzata Okrój's engineering thesis, done under the supervision of Dr. Grzegorz Pęczek. The project was created in response to the accelerating plans to transform the post-shipyard area into a new residential and commercial district - the Young City. Before undertaking the work, the author conducted numerous analyses, both spatial - on an urban and architectural scale, as well as to find the genius loci of the Shipyard - the cultural and historical sphere.

Brama Cesarska
w Gdańsku

The author proposed an object in the form of a gate

© Malgorzata Okroj

integration of the district

The plot selected by the student is located at the intersection of the two main axes of the Young City - the automobile traffic route - Ks. Jerzy Popieluszko Street (the so-called New Embankment) and the Road to Freedom - the most important public space leading from the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers 1970 to the wharves at the drawbridge to Ostrow Island. At the same time, it is located on the border of the historic Imperial Shipyard and the areas planned for new development.

Uzupełnienie zabudowy

The new facility is intended to complement the urban structure

© Malgorzata Okroj

The designed object, due to its central location and proposed function of public character, is to become an integration point for the entire district, as well as serve as a kind of landmark in the area. The architectural form adopted is contemporary in character, referring to the industrial specificity of the place, but thanks to the scale of its volume, frontage and the materials and divisions of the facade used, it respects the context of the historic Imperial Shipyard complex.

historic character

The building proposed by Małgorzata Okrój is located in the immediate vicinity of buildings listed in the register of historical monuments, which obliged the author to preserve the historical character and fit in with the existing buildings. On the east side it neighbors the brick building of the Directorate of the Imperial Shipyard.

It is the oldest surviving building on the site of the former Gdansk Shipyard, originally the Imperial Shipyard. The entrance elevation and divisions on the Directorate building influenced the shape of the designed masses. The eastern wall of the designed building is intended to be a "mirror image" of a fragment of the Directorate building, by mapping the composition and division of the entrance facade, the author explains.

Inwentaryzacja stanu

existing condition of the developed site

© Malgorzata Okroj

In the northern part of the plot there is an air raid shelter and the building of the former Fire Station, built at the end of the 19th century. The characteristic element is the front elevation with metal gate gates designed to serve the fire trucks. Like the Directorate building, it has an eclectic design. On the south side is the turn-of-the-century BHP Hall building. In the northwest corner of the plot is a T-850 air raid shelter from the first half of the 1940s, testifying to the integrity of the Imperial Shipyard site, which could be adapted for tourist purposes. The rest of the plot is undeveloped, with some lawn, as well as a wild parking lot and fragments of demolished buildings.

combining modernity with history

Plan zagospodarowania
terenu stoczni

new site development plan

© Malgorzata Okroj

Taking into account the analyses carried out, a number of conclusions can be drawn regarding the shaping of future development. The most important of these, however, seem to be two, concerning the function and form of new development. First, the Young City is an extremely attractive area with huge investment potential [...]. Such a central location of the area obliges it to adopt a highly public function, aiming to become not only a generator, but also a distributor of traffic in the public space. Secondly, the historical character of the site with numerous conservation conditions determines the future form of development as respecting the existing spatial context. It seems necessary to adapt to the scale of the surrounding buildings, complementing the frontage and closing the quarters, using materials, architectural and construction solutions referring to the industrial character of the place. The designed buildings should at the same time carry freshness, modernity and be a reflection of the times in which they are built. A kind of hybridity - a combination of contemporary solutions with the above-mentioned factors, should give the desired effect of interesting and valuable architecture that fits well into the existing urban tissue," concludes Malgorzata Okroj.

Budynek jak brama

building is a passageway in the form of an open connector

© Malgorzata Okroj

building like a gate

The area of the Young City in the planning works of both the pre-1945 and post-World War II periods served as a kind of connector between the urban structure and the port and shipyard complex. A number of concepts were created, but implemented in an incredibly selective manner. This was also related to the huge land needs of the shipbuilding industry, making alternative use of the Young City space impossible.

YoungCity Gdansk, J. Lipinski, P. Lorens, Laboratory of urban development processes, Warsaw 2016, p. 165.

Budynek jak brama

The proposed facility is intended to encourage visits to the Imperial Shipyard area

© Małgorzata Okrój

The main idea of the young architect was to create a gateway element - a passage in the form of an open object, inviting to the Imperial Shipyard grounds. The building is supposed to "intercept" some of the pedestrian traffic from the Road to Freedom and encourage people to walk through the designed complex to Narzędziowców Street, which is the main axis of the Imperial Shipyard. This attractive, multifunctional space is intended to be both the focal point of the newly designed district and a friendly meeting place for various audiences, both tourists and residents of Gdansk and the Tri-City. The lump of the building complements the existing development and creates a functional dominant. On the other hand, adapting the building to the existing development both in terms of height and materials used, as well as complementing the external frontages of the Imperial Shipyard integrates it with the rest of the urban fabric.

Rzut parteru budynku Rzut poziomu +1

The facilities include an auditorium, a cinema hall, a cafe and a library, among others

© Malgorzata Okroj

The student divided the facility into three sections: A, B and C. Buildings A and B are functionally and communicatively connected. In the center of each is a reinforced concrete core, which contains communication for staff, an elevator shaft, toilets and technical rooms. Section C, is a footbridge that connects the two buildings on the top floor, forming a connector/gateway. The footbridge was made in a steel truss structure referring in form to the industrial character of the surroundings. Building A, located in the western part of the plot, has five independent entrances. In the overhanging part of the building, the author designed an auditorium and a cinema room with a viewing window overlooking Ostrow Island (where the functioning part of the Gdansk Shipyard is located). The overhang forms a canopy over the anti-aircraft shelter adapted for tourist purposes, which is listed in the register of monuments. Building B, located in the eastern part of the site, also has five independent entrances. The building houses a café, an open reading room and a multimedia library.

Footbridge, multimedia installations and square

i łącznik budynków

A model of the Young City will be visible through the glass floor

© Malgorzata Okroj

The designer has planned to install mulimedia screens on the underside of the footbridge's ceiling. They will display installations made by artists presenting their projects in the temporary exhibition room. The structure will create a square in place of the first floor with a view of the Young City mockup, which is located on level -1 and will be visible through the glass floor. A green viewing terrace will be located on the roof of the footbridge. Communication will take place through a single-space foyer covering all floors, connected to a representative staircase and two elevators in each building. In addition, there are two staircases on level -1 for communication in the underground garage.

Also, read Eve Karendys' column titled Young City at an Impasse.

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