Check out the A&B portal!

Library of the future. Cognitarium Knowledge Center in Koszalin

12 of November '20
Technical data
Name: Cognitarium Knowledge Center
Location: Poland, Koszalin
Studio: OVO Grąbczewscy Architekci
Design team:

Barbara Grąbczewska, Oskar Grąbczewski, Marek Grąbczewski, Kamil Kajdas, Natalia Hołoś, Anna Ławecka, Kinga Bugaj, Marta Kalisz, Agnieszka Stasiak, Alicja Kowalewska, Natalia Wojtaś, Olga Domalewska


  • project (competition)


On November 6 we learned the results of the competition organized by Koszalin University of Technology for the design of the Cognitarium Knowledge Center. The winning concept - a project by OVO Grąbczewscy Architekci studio - was appreciated by the competition jury for, among other things, its clear and expressive formula and the combination of urban, architectural and symbolic qualities with simultaneous functional flexibility.

library of the future

The building of the Cognitarium - the library of the future housing space for work, study, meetings, conversations, creative interactions and leisure activities - is to be the closing of the composition of the Koszalin University of Technology campus, and at the same time its main attraction. The award-winning facility was designed as an open urban structure inside the said campus - a plot of land bounded by Gdańska, Jana Pawła II, Śniadeckich and Chrząszczyńskiego streets.

plan zagospodarowania terenu

site development plan

© OVO Grąbczewscy Architekci

The individual functional blocks of the building, connected below and above ground, form a system of pedestrian routes, streets, which can be used to go from the campus to the sports hall and from the parking lots to the green area, which in the future is to turn into a science and technology park of the Koszalin University of Technology.

modular structure

The open structure is expected to allow for possible expansion of the facility or functional changes, if necessary. The building at ground level is composed of nine independent modules - cuboid blocks, between which will be located eight accesses leading to a centrally located, multi-level hall, which will facilitate orientation inside the building. The building, as the authors of the project write, will be both simple, based on a very clear principle, and extremely rich in space - the possibility of connections and mutual relations between modules is innumerable, thus allowing the organization of individual functions horizontally, vertically or in any spatial sequence.



© OVO Grąbczewscy Architekci

The rectangular modules forming the building, which have a square base, vary in height - reaching from 6 to 24 meters. The whole is connected by underground storage facilities and pedestrian bridges running above the paths separating the individual blocks. The building is also divided in strips - the middle strand is formed by a sequence of courtyards and the entrance hall, the northern strand is the administrative rooms, and the southern strand is the library and reading rooms.

przekrój A-A

cross-section A-A

© OVO Grąbczewscy Architekci

more than a building

Ola Kloc
: You begin your description of the project with the words of Borges, "I always imagined paradise in the form of a library," and the assertion that the Cognitarium should be more than a building. What would you like your project to be for the students using it?

Oskar Grąbczewski: The library is a place that should be magical, mysterious, unusual - it is, after all, a treasury of books, a place where all things possible and impossible are described. While working on the Cognitarium, we came up with a dozen concepts together, each of which had the potential to make a good design. We chose from them the one that, in addition to meeting urban, functional, technical and technological guidelines, gives us the opportunity to find ourselves, if only for a moment, in another world - a labyrinth, a monastery, a secret garden? Our proposal is an architecture that is altogether very simple, but at the same time full of hidden meanings, afterimages, buildings once seen or perhaps only imagined, narrow streets, secret passages, non-obvious symbolism.



© OVO Grąbczewscy Architekci

: The body of the building is simple, based on clear modules, and at the same time, as the competition jury emphasized, it carries an emotional charge inherent in the iconic form. What influenced such a choice of form and the traditional material from which it will be made?

Oskar: This project is based on paradoxes. We were looking for a structure that is simple and legible, but at the same time complex and ambiguous. Our building is axial, but it is not symmetrical - each module is similar, but at the same time each is different. It is a collection of independent masses, which, however, constitute one building. It's a strong whole that can be expanded in any direction without losing cohesion.

Brick for this project was an ideal choice - because each brick is a repetitive element, and at the same time, thanks to imperfections, burnouts, unevenness - each is individual. Of course, the context of Koszalin as a city on the trail of brick Gothic, the association with brick public buildings, the expression of modern architecture in a building material thousands of years old, was also important.

przejście między bryłami centralnie położony, wielopoziomowy hall wewnątrz budynku

left: the passage between the blocks; right: the centrally located, multi-level hall inside the building

© OVO Grąbczewscy Architekci

architectural competitions

: The competition was organized by Koszalin University of Technology, and the local branch of SARP recommended it. In your opinion, are architectural competitions the best way to choose a project?

Oskar: We all know examples of failed competitions. There are also outstanding architects who have never won an architectural competition (sometimes they don't participate in them at all), but create great buildings. However, we definitely believe that a well-organized and conducted competition is the best form of project selection, especially if we are talking about public investments. Ideally, the investor gets several to dozens of high-quality concepts, from which the best professionals - independent judges - help him make a choice. The competition unleashes exceptional energy and creativity in architects, and the very work on the competition is a fantastic form of architectural training.

: Thank you for the interview!

elaborated: Ola Kloc

The vote has already been cast