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Katarzyna Szmołda - "Nursing home for the elderly in Powsin".

07 of October '21
Technical data
Type: engineering thesis
Year of defense: 2020
Author: Katarzyna Szmołda
Wydział Architektury Politechniki Warszawskiej

Prof. Dr. Elżbieta Dagny Ryńska

Work submitted for the competition
"Best Diploma Architecture"

The nursing home for the elderly in Powsin is a facility that responds to both social needs, including intergenerational integration, and ecological needs, with an emphasis on current climate change.

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visualization, view of elevations with photovoltaic panels

© Katarzyna Szmołda

The building was designed to provide a high quality of life for the elderly. It consists of four volumes connected to each other by glass connectors. This division makes it easier to distinguish between two zones: a private one for residents and a semi-public one, accessible to outsiders. In addition, behind the nursing home there is a garden with elements of small architecture, which blends in with the surroundings of the neighboring Powsin Culture Park. It is accessible only to seniors, giving them a sense of security and privacy. It is up to the residents to spend time in silence among nature, or get acquainted with visitors to the nursing home. During the development of the space for the elderly, all possible facilities for people with various disabilities were taken into account.

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assumption schemes

© Katarzyna Szmołda

In order to encourage Powsin residents to make new friends, regardless of age, public functions have been placed in the two front buildings with single-pitched roofs. These include rooms for group activities, a library, a cafeteria with a cafeteria, a rehabilitation and medical complex, and a gymnasium. Any rooms designed to accommodate a larger group are located in the corners of the volumes facing the common courtyard. Both the intimate outdoor space and the use of a large amount of glazing mean that users build ties while creating a small, local community. Senior citizens offer knowledge, experience and time, while visitors offer conversation and support.


visualization, view from the courtyard side

© Katarzyna Szmołda

Other very important spaces for social integration are the glazed connectors. The use of sheets of glass for both the facade and part of the structure makes the boundary between inside and outside blur. Greenery permeates from the courtyard to the inside, giving users the opportunity to interfere with it. Caring for the plants makes people become attached to the place and more willing to return to it. To ensure the safety and comfort of the elderly, horizontal warning and information markings were placed on the floor, and in addition, two layers of glass with noticeable bracing between them were used to make the vertical partition visible.


visualizations, interiors of common spaces

© Katarzyna Szmołda

Out of concern for the climate, as well as for the heating of the building caused by the large area of glazing, modern pro-environmental technologies were used in the project in addition to a high ratio of biologically active area. Already at an early stage of the project, consideration was given to supporting natural ventilation through the use of a single-pitched roof and automatically opening or closing vents. Another element of the facility's interior cooling is the use of double skin technology. Thanks to the air void between the two panes of glass, air can heat up in winter and cool down in summer. Lowering the cost of using the facilities also comes from the use of gray water and renewable energy. Photovoltaic panels placed on the south side respond to the direction of light. Their variable position maximizes energy generation, and also gives residents the ability to adjust the shading in their rooms.


cross sections

© Katarzyna Szmołda

In addition, there is a solar farm on the roof, along with tar paper to reduce harmful substances in the air. The last environmentally friendly element is glazing with fused photovoltaic cells - in the project they were used as roofing for the connectors. A layer of quantum dots sandwiched between the glass sheets not only works to benefit the energy balance, but also absorbs IR and UV radiation, and additionally, thanks to its size, offers the possibility to personalize the transparency of the glazing.

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first floor plan

© Katarzyna Szmołda

The project was created in harmony with nature, and its division into four independent units makes it more versatile and easy to adapt to current and future users' needs.

Katarzyna SZMOŁDA

Illustrations: © Author

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