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Katarzyna Borek - "New Spa House. Revitalization of the former spa complex in Szczawnica".

14 of January '22
Technical data
Type: engineering thesis
Year of defense: 2020
Author: Katarzyna Borek
Wydział Architektury Politechniki Warszawskiej

Dr. Justyna Zdunek-Wielgołaska

Work submitted for the competition
"Best Diploma Architecture"

The work addresses the problem of the unwanted legacy of social modernism from the 1960s and 1970s. It is a response to the progressive aging and ruinization of architectural buildings of this period, a reinterpretation of their form and function, adapted to the present. It is the result of a study of the local historical and cultural context against the backdrop of the architecture of the post-war modernism period, which is considered to contradict it. It engages in a polemic with the passing of time, and accepts the natural processes occurring in nature and in man-made matter. It formulates a new quality for the space left behind.

The project assumes the acceptance of imperfect tissue as a skeleton that is the basis for building a new structure combining the old with the new, built around the notion of "health", undergoing natural transformations and concentrated in the heart of the existing facility.

plan land useplan land useplan land use

site development plan

© Katarzyna Borek

The revitalized complex includes the natural treatment facility building (here: the New Spa House) along with the Aida café, the spa clinic building and the Magdalena spring pavilion.

For several years, a private company has been carrying out a process in Szczawnica to revitalize the facilities and infrastructure of the spa, which envisions not adapting the Natural Treatment Facility building complex, but demolishing them and replacing them with an example of pseudo-Podhalean traditional architecture. The project is therefore an intervention initiative, an objection to the demolition of an element of the spa town's history.

przekrój A-Aprzekrój A-Aprzekrój A-A

cross-section A-A

© Katarzyna Borek

The concept is mainly based on architectural activities carried out in the atrium of the existing building, redefining it, adapting and building a completely fresh structure inside. This is done by enlarging the space of the current atrium and creating an outdoor atrial recreational pool on the +1 level, around which the life of the building circulates.

rzut kondygnacji +1 rzut kondygnacji +4

left: +1 floor plan; right:+4 floor plan

© Katarzyna Borek

The further development concept of the atrium is resultant and organic, taking the form of a rising and piling upward wooden structure, partially embedded in the water. Its design, echoing the modernist idea of pilotis and traditional wooden structures of the region, is a sequence of pools, gardens, terraces and footbridges. The new elements often "bite into" the current shape of the building, but also merge with each other, thus accentuating the original idea of uniting the new with the old. They permeate each other, being an important carrier of greenery and ultimately creating a vertical and natural composition.

niski basen atrialny basen kwiatowy

Left: low atrium pool; right: flower pool

© Katarzyna Borek

One of the main goals is to connect the building as strongly as possible with nature, which has already taken over in some way, after years of disuse. So the project allows this to continue with new greenery elements and walls finished with biological concrete - allowing organisms to grow on the building wall, absorb water, purify the air and improve the microclimate inside. It's a Podhale jungle. The roofs of the buildings are being transformed into leisure gardens with inhalatoriums. And the ascetic finish of the building's exterior facades, combined with the all-encompassing greenery and wooden elements of the new structures, are the main means of expression.

ciepły pool insideciepły pool insideciepły pool inside

warm pool inside

© Katarzyna Borek

The front facade of the building is the main expression and plasticity of the architecture from the outside. The use of variegated wooden fins on the facade is a reinterpretation of the original, formally modernist finish of its "razor blades." In order to give the cuboidal masses some fluidity, the vertical laths take the form of an organic, undulating, openwork outer shell.

fasada widok fasady


© Katarzyna Borek

Depending on the point of view, the facade is a solid and impenetrable structure, only to immediately dematerialize into a light and airy one. The contrasting interpretation and binary use of wood in the design - as heavy and light, solid and delicate, static and dynamic - is an important architectural statement.


Illustrations: © Author

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