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Maria Katsan - "Social Integration Center in Odessa".

29 of November '22
Technical data
Type: master's thesis
Year of defense: 2022
Author: Maria Katsan
Krakowska Akademia im. Andrzeja Frycza Modrzewskiego

Dr. Piotr Wróbel

Work submitted for the competition
"Best Diploma Architecture".

The topic of the thesis is a direct response to events that have become a new reality for millions of people. Every day there is more and more anger and hatred in our environment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain hope and the desire to strive for something better. This project tried to identify and show the possibilities of architecture to design religious buildings that can help people find faith and hope in a peaceful future. The study part sought answers to the questions: how, with what tools is architecture able to create places that can encourage people to do good? Is there and what is sacred space? At what point does architecture change - when does ordinary space become sacred, transcendent, authentic?

lokalizacja makieta projektu

location and mockup of the project

© Maria Katsan

The project includes a complex of buildings of the Integration Center, but the most important part is the ecumenical chapel. The center was located in my hometown, Odessa, where I was born and spent my childhood and youth, and which, unfortunately, is now experiencing less than ideal times. The plot for the designed establishment is located on the outskirts of the city and has direct access to the beach.

schemat kształtowania bryły

scheme of shaping the solid

© Maria Katsan

The designed establishment consists of four cubic objects. The resulting form is an arrangement of disjointed solids, which, thanks to the composition, actually form a single whole. They are arranged on the main axis of the project stretching from the southwest to the northeast, beginning with the main entrance and entrance to the complex, passing through all the buildings, and ending at the lighthouse.

plan zagospodarowania terenu

site development plan

© Maria Katsan

The first building of the complex is a day care center, a kind of public meeting house or community center. It is a rectangular-plan building, designed primarily for elderly, able-bodied, active people who come to the center and return to their homes.

The second facility is a square building with an inner courtyard designed for elderly care. The program provides for specialized care rooms under the supervision of medical staff, but it is not a hospital function.

elewacja Centrum opieki nad osobami starszymi

Elevation of the elderly care center

© Maria Katsan

Another element of the Integration Center complex is an ecumenical chapel, which will be hosted by a representative of the Orthodox Church. The building refers to the traditional composition of sacred architecture thanks to the axiality of the plan and the east-west alignment. However, the form of the building, a neutral concrete cuboid, does not correspond to the traditional architectural costume of religious buildings. A minimalist, austere building on a rectangular plan should not suggest from the outside that it is a religious building.

rzut kaplicy

projection of the chapel

© Maria Katsan

After entering the strict territory of the chapel, we find ourselves in a courtyard enclosed by a high wall, where the scale, proportions, material, and silence begin to affect us. Almost isolated from the outside world, a person can focus on inner sensations and experiences. Entering the interior of the chapel through a narrow gap, we see the first symbolic form - a ribbon rising spirally to the very ceiling, ending in an open oculus through which the sky can be seen.

wizualizacja okulus w kaplicy

visualization and oculus in the chapel

© Maria Katsan

The concrete sculpture, covered with a layer of gold, is the result of an effort to avoid the traditional dome and transform its form multiple times. The main hall of the chapel is open, unheated. Next to it, a smaller, enclosed, heated room has been designed. In it one will be able to pray, sit in silence, looking outside through a large window. To enhance the sense of connection between man and nature, it was decided to cut an opening in the eastern part of the outer wall. This will allow one to look at the sea even while inside the chapel. The elaborate architectural detail shows how the proper framing of the view was achieved in such a way that no visitor to the outside obscures the view.

wnętrze kaplicy widok z kaplicy

Interior and view from the chapel

© Maria Katsan

The tower will be the closing element in the composition of the entire establishment. The walls of the memorial will be cast in concrete with fragments of buildings demolished and destroyed during the war, to emphasize the importance of creating something rather than destroying it these days.

zadaszone przejście między obiektami

A covered walkway between the structures

© Maria Katsan

All the buildings are connected by a covered walkway at the second floor level. Along the main axis are paths, ramps and boardwalks that lead through the entire site all the way to the beach. The center has gardens for growing vegetables and fruits, a park with trees, an outdoor gym, and a gathering place around a fire pit. The entrance to the site and the parking area in front of the entrance for sixty places are located on the southwest side of the plot. The utility driveway was resolved on the north side. More than 50 percent of the total area of the site is occupied by green areas.

fragment elewacji Centrum opieki dziennej

A fragment of the facade of the day care center

© Maria Katsan

The light color of the concrete and the proportions of the elements create chances that the architecture will be clear and legible. Facades cast from concrete in plank formwork reflect the natural grain and texture of the wood with reproduction of the grain and even defects in the planks, "dirt" in the form of grass and bubbles resulting from imperfections in the technology. The gray concrete exposes its changeable nature, showing different hues in shades of gray and rough texture.

I am convinced that architecture can create places that sustain, protect and allow the best in us to flourish, away from a world that inevitably threatens and saddens us.


Illustrations: © Author

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