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"Disneylandization of space". Will there be changes to the design at the Technician's House?

15 of April '24

SARP "Wybrzeże" and the Architect of the City of Gdansk have joined those criticizing the development project for the plot on Wodopój Street in Gdansk. "We are exploring options, " responds the developer when asked about the chance to change the project.

The echoes are not silent after the publication concerning the building to be erected in the Old Town in Gdansk. Last week we wrote that developer Moderna had applied for a building permit for a residential development with services on Wodopój Street. The plot is located in the vicinity of the modernist building Dom Technika NOT and the 19-story Mercure Hotel, built in the late 1970s. 72 apartments and four commercial units are planned in the building designed by the Tricity-based Wolski Architekci studio. Controversy surrounds the architecture, or more precisely, the combination of a glass modern block with historicizing tenements.

Former preservationist defends controversial vision

Speaking to A&B , Igor Strzok, a former Pomeranian preservationist who agreed on the disputed project, says the area posed a real preservationist challenge.

This is a space where the historic urban fabric, whose dominant features are the churches of St. Catherine and St. Brigid, and the few surviving canal-side houses from the 19th century, comes into violent contact with very tall hotel and office buildings - with rather questionable aesthetic qualities. I believed that erecting another tall building would only worsen the relationship between the low pre-war residential buildings ," says Igor Strzok.

He adds that the 2016 competition design was too tall and had too much building area.

I believed that several investments planned simultaneously in recent years, gave a chance to revalue the entire thoroughfare, with the assumption that the sequence of facades would be limited to the height of the former buildings , Igor Strzok explains. - The idea was that the pedestrian thoroughfare would be created by new development, referring to the proportions of the historic buildings and the buildings that still remain. The reference to the historical facades and the withdrawal of the neo-modernist structure a few meters back and its carving up allows to visually minimize the impact of such a large volume on the surroundings.

Inwestor złożył wniosek o pozwolenie na budowę dla tego projektu

The developer has applied for a building permit for this project

competition and three similar projects

The project was criticized by SARP Branch "Coast".

We stand on the position that such a development cannot be built in this place ," says Natalia Balcerzak, president of SARP Branch "Wybrzeże".

Recall that in 2017 the investor organized a closed study competition under the auspices of SARP, the works were then prepared by three studios: KD Kozikowski Design, Wolski Architekci and Interurban Architekci. But the results did not impress. After the competition ended, a debate was held.

The result of the competition was three very similar designs - the same height, differing only in the color scheme of the facade. What is the point of a post-competition discussion then? As a board we were divided, some of us thought that the competition should be open, not imposing parameters so strongly, then we would get a variety of proposals: low-rise, high-rise, diverse or non-obvious buildings, " Natalia Balcerzak explains.

The winning project was aimed at working out parameters, which would be used to obtain a zoning decision, since there was no local zoning plan for the area.

"The form should be modern".

Now, unexpectedly, we learn that a new project has been created, combining a modern style, albeit dating back to the 2000s, with an imitation of historic tenements , says Natalia Balcerzak. - I believe that the area should not be developed at all, but there is already an investor and he has specific plans for the plot. A minimalist, modern development with brick cladding and flat roofs has been created near the Dom Technika [this is Rajska 8, project: JEMS Architekci - ed.], and I think it is necessary to go in this direction, and not bet on pseudo-historicizing solutions.

Piotr Lorens, Architect of the City of Gdansk, is also convinced that the proposed solution is not good for this place.

We are dealing with pseudo-historical elevations and Disneylandization of the space. I believe that it is better to only outline the historical gabarites and bet on a modern form. I understand the considerations that guided the preservationist, but this is a flawed solution that needs to be changed. Fortunately, the investor is interested in such changes, we are working on this topic.

We asked the investor if it is true that, as we unofficially established, the company has commissioned an alternative design.

We are studying the options, at this point we can't say anything certain ," replies Szymon Nadolny of Moderna.

If the project is indeed changed, it will have to go to the historic preservation office again. This time, the approvals would be issued by Dariusz Chmielewski, the current Pomeranian monument conservator, who is not in favor of historicizing forms.

Ewa Karendys

The vote has already been cast