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Landscape in the lead role. The winning design of a model shelter on Luban

11 of January '21

The competition for the design of a model mountain shelter on Luban, which was settled on December 16, 2020, triggered a lively discussion both in the architectural community and among mountain lovers. The jury, chaired by Katarzyna Kozien-Kornecka, awarded the first prize to the concept proposed by a team of architects consisting of: Slawomir Janas, Bartosz Pionka and Michal Włoskowicz appreciating in the project, among other things, sensitivity to the relationship with the environment and understanding of human needs. The designers themselves talk about how the winning concept for the mountain shelter was created.

The year-round shelter is planned at an altitude of about 1200 meters above sea level, on a gentle slope of the Luban Range in the southeastern part of the Gorce Mountains. The previous structure, which burned down in 1944, was located more or less in this place, and the shape of the terrace of the new shelter is to be related to its outline.

The jury, in awarding the first prize to the proposal of the three architects, noted the reference of the designers to the archetype of a mountain shelter, appreciated the simplicity and expressiveness of the form that pays tribute to the history of the place, as well as the non-invasive interference in the natural landscape.

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competition board

© Slawomir Janas Pracownia ES-JOT, Bartosz Pionka Pracownia Architektoniczna, Architect Michal Włoskowicz.

In a simple, compact body, the architects centrally placed the staircase. In the first floor of the hostel building they located, among other things, a tourist kitchen and rooms for storing skis or bicycles; on the first floor, on the south side, the designers planned a terrace and the main entrance leading directly to the dining hall seating seventy people, as well as a kitchen, toilets, the hostel manager's apartment and a room adapted to the needs of the disabled. The following floors contained rooms with accommodations for forty-five tourists and six staff members.

mountain shelter

Ola Kloc: In your description of the project, you point out that an "overly elaborate, dejected" shelter could become a competition for the environment, instead of a safe haven. How did the landscape influence the final shape of the block? What was your design process like?

Slawomir Janas, Bartosz Pionka, Michal Włoskowicz: Luban is a peculiar peak, consisting of two peaks and a vast clearing located between them, from which, when the weather conditions are favorable, there are beautiful views. From the beginning it was obvious that the surrounding landscape was to play the main role, and the building was to complement it. The most important thing was to be the landscape, the mountain views, the clearing where you can relax. We started asking ourselves questions and looking for answers.

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© Slawomir Janas Pracownia ES-JOT, Bartosz Pionka Pracownia Architektoniczna, Architect Michal Włoskowicz.

The first question - what is a shelter in a mountainous area? Not what should it look like, but what is it, what can it be?

The shelter becomes nature itself, it can be trees, rock walls, caves. Man uses in the field anything under which he can take shelter, where he can hide, shelter from wind, rain or snow. It is important that there be some overhang, some crevice, a grotto or even a wall of trees. That's how it started.

The second question - how are the individual views, panoramas formed? How to protect, and at the same time orient to the surrounding landscape?

Here everything arranged itself in principle - on the south side we get view openings to the surrounding mountain ranges. The gap, the overhang, was meant to invite you in, but also to open up to the surrounding views. Also towards the panoramas of the Tatra and Pieniny Mountains were oriented the halls and guest rooms. On the north side, technical rooms, back rooms and communications had to be located.

The third question - where?

The place asked, the location near the ruins of the destroyed shelter, valuable Samorods. The location, the history of the site gave the opportunity to introduce a certain metaphor. The object, sited on a gentle hill, was to lean in such a way that it was the building itself that paid respect to the place, protecting and shielding what it found, what was in front of it.

This is how, in short, the landscape, the found environment shaped, influenced the block. The result was a building that, in our opinion, fits into the found environment, being as "mountainous" as possible, having its own dynamics, soaring, growing into the surroundings, becoming an extension of the adjacent greenery.

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visualization of the lump of the hostel

© Slawomir Janas Pracownia ES-JOT, Bartosz Pionka Pracownia Architektoniczna, Architect Michal Włoskowicz.

Ola: The jury appreciated in your design the reference to traditional forms of mountain shelters, were they the inspiration for you?

Slawomir, Bartosz, Michal: We decided that the project, due to its location, should be simple in form, yet functional like a mountain hut. An important factor for us was the assumptions about how they should be built and how the functions should be carried out.

Method of construction - as simple as possible , with locally available materials, using simple tools. Implementation of functions - provide shelter of the necessary size (area) with a minimum of conveniences.

Following this pattern, we used local wood as cladding on the exterior and interior of the building. It is a material that is alive. It affects us not only in appearance, but also in temperature, texture or smell. It can even talk back. It works on many senses. We like how it will change its appearance depending on the time, season and side of the world to which it is exposed.

In a way, confirmation for us that we had gone in the right direction came when we noticed that the form we haddeveloped had a lot in common with an existing hut at a camping base. In this case, we did not start from the inspiration of the existing hut, but arrived at a form that resembles it.

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dining room, visualization of the interior of the hostel

© Slawomir Janas Pracownia ES-JOT, Bartosz Pionka Pracownia Architektoniczna, Architect Michal Włoskowicz

architectural competitions

Ola: The competition, commissioned by the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society, was organized by the Cracow branch of the Association of Polish Architects. Do you often decide to participate in competitions? In your opinion, are they a good form of project selection?

Slawomir, Bartosz, Michal: We participate in competitions if time permits. Annually there are about two or three contests. We work together or separately, depending on our needs and opportunities. We mainly choose competitions prepared by SARP, preferably with two stages.

In our opinion, from the point of view of the ordering party, competitions are the best form of project selection. In addition, an undoubted advantage of competitions is the possible exchange of ideas and discussions that accompany them.

Ola: Thank you for the interview!

Ola Kloc

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