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"Raised Meadow" - a public toilet hidden in the Tatra National Park... with a green amphitheater

Dobrawa Bies
11 of April '22

Late last year we learned the results of the 23rd edition of the KOŁO competition. The challenge was to design a public toilet in the area of the Tatra National Park - in the area of Huciska Glade in Chocholowska Valley. From among 178 submitted works, the jury selected the project entitled Uniesiona łąka( Raised Meadow ) by Marcin Gierbienis(Gierbienis + Poklewski) and Ewa Pokrywa, a student of the Faculty of Architecture at the Cracow University of Technology. Their proposal, blended into the landscape, which is also a green amphitheater, received the Grand Prix of the competition.

178 projects were submitted to the 23rd edition of the KOŁO competition. They were evaluated by a jury composed of prof. Ewa Kuryłowicz, Robert Konieczny, Magdalena Federowicz-Boule, prof. Jan Sikora, Przemo Łukasik, Aleksandra Kozłowska, Przemysław Powalacz (president of Geberit), Filip Zięba (deputy director of the Tatra National Park), Ewa Holek-Krzysztof (Department of Communications and Publishing of the Tatra National Park), Agnieszka Grzegorczyk (representative of the Municipality of Koscielisko), Jan Karpiel-Bułecka senior, Marcin Rząsa (sculptor). The Grand Prix was awarded to the work entitled Uniesiona Łąka by Marcin Gierbienis and Ewa Pokrzywa.

Uniesiona łąka może powstać w Tatrzańskim Parku Narodowym

Under the green roof hides the toilet and pavilion buildings

© Marcin Gierbienis, Ewa Pokrzywa

concept honoring nature won

The project was appreciated by the jury for its outstanding idea, which compromises respect for nature and the unique landscape with a new function.

Chocholowska Valley is a special place - the largest, longest, one of the most beautiful and popular valleys in the Tatra Mountains, visited annually by thousands of tourists. The square on the Hucisko Glade, although located almost in the middle of the valley, is a transformed area. There used to be a parking lot for cars there, which operated until 1997, leaving a trace to this day. The winning entry obliterates this trace. It is the only one to consider the entire area of the former parking lot in such a way that it offers the possibility of its reclamation. Instead of a paved plaza, it offers an extension of the clearing. [...] The design effectively conceals the function of the visitor facility. It provides an opportunity to reconcile two of the most difficult issues that the Tatra National Park faces on a daily basis - protecting nature and making it available to the multitude of tourists who want to be in the Tatras and admire its beauty. The jury emphasized with its choice that the winning concept was a tribute to nature, the jury's justification reads.

Uniesiona łąka, schemat budowania formy

The authors focused on the interpenetration of architecture and nature

© Marcin Gierbienis, Ewa Pokrzywa

A meadow hiding the buildings

The area in which the toilet is to be built is heavily degraded, but surrounded by beautiful views, so the main idea of the winning concept was to integrate the designed building with the land use - to hide the visible human interference in the natural landscape.

When embarking on the task of designing a toilet on the trail in Chocholowska Valley, we decided to reject the thinking of classically understood construction. Instead of creating a building - an interpretation of the folk style, we chose the direction of architecture that interpenetrates with nature. The relationship with nature is close, visible both in the form of the green hill and through the use of natural materials, wood and stone," the authors explain.

Uniesiona łąka, plan zagospodarowania terenu  Projekt Uniesiona
łąka, ikony projektu

oalets and pavilion

© Marcin Gierbienis, Ewa Pokrzywa

The first design activity of Marcin Gierbienis and Ewa Pokrzywa was to give the paved area of the development site back to nature. A green meadow covers not only the site, but also the designed facilities - the restroom building and the covered pavilion. Another point was to create a compact toilet facility with an intimate access from the forest wall. Closing the composition of the entire green establishment is the covered pavilion.

Amfiteatr na zielonym dachu

The raised roof can be used as an amphitheater

© Marcin Gierbienis, Ewa Pokrzywa

amphitheater on a green roof

Both the meadow space on the knoll and under the canopy carry additional potential for hosting events. As a result, the whole site has a chance to become a place of cultural significance, hence the authors proposed to use the raised roof as a green amphitheater, as well as to create a small square in the slit between the two blocks.

Uniesiona łąka, rzut

Raised meadow, project plan

© Marcin Gierbienis, Ewa Pokrzywa

The authors also did not forget about environmentally friendly and energy-saving solutions. They used materials that reduce carbon emissions, proposed rainwater collection and use, as well as recuperation and energy-efficient lighting. Both the buildings' structures and finishes were made with CLT technology. An important function is also to educate visitors about ecology and respect for the environment, hence the numerous infographics on the walls.

obiektów została wykonana z drewna CLT

Both on the walls of the buildings and in their interiors infographics have been placed

© Marcin Gierbienis, Ewa Pokrzywa

The entire project can be read as a response to the ongoing climate change and how, through sustainable design, we can respond to it, starting precisely with places that are frequently visited and set a certain design standard for the region. Such a place is certainly the Chocholowska Valley in the Tatra National Park," Ewa Pokrzywa concludes.

Read also about the unusual, almost abstract project TWO WH EELS by Jakub Lazarowicz, which received, in this competition, a third degree honorable mention.

We remind you that the 24th edition of the KOŁO competition is currently underway. This time the challenge is the design of a pavilion at the Orangery of the King John III Palace in Wilanów, housing a modern toilet for visitors.

Dobrawa Bies

The vote has already been cast

Interior trends 2023
Interior trends 2023