Materials and Technologies for Architects – free online version

Marek Grąbczewski - "Church and school as generators of public life in the landscape of the modern city"

11 of January '22
Technical data
Type: master's thesis
Year of defense: 2021
Author: Marek Grąbczewski
Wydział Architektury Politechniki Śląskiej

Dr. Damian Radwanski

Work submitted for the competition
"Best Diploma Architecture".

In Odolany, one of Warsaw's newly established housing estates, there is a dispute among residents. A plot of land belonging to the city, located within the estate, was given to the Catholic Church as compensation. It is carrying out its intention to build a temple there for the new community. Among some Odolan residents, however, such a decision aroused dissatisfaction. Over the course of two years, this group has organized several actions to block the construction and change the area's designation to educational use. Both sides have strong arguments: a neighborhood of 15,000 people needs both a church and a school.

szkoła and churchszkoła and churchszkoła and church

school and church

© Marek Grąbczewski

Granting another plot of land for either a church or a school is not possible. The Odolan area was dominated by industry and a very extensive railroad infrastructure until the 1990s. Over the past decade or so, however, the area has become an area of very intensive residential development. The post-industrial land was subdivided and almost entirely sold off to developers. As a result, the new housing development is virtually devoid of public land and facilities. The plot of land on Grodziska Street is the last free space belonging to the city, which can be used for public purposes. In view of the existing conditions, it is necessary to synthesize the contradictory expectations for the Odolany plot - the solution is an educational and sacred complex, consisting of a church and a school. Since this issue touches on very sensitive worldview issues and arouses great emotions, care should be taken to ensure that neither side feels discriminated against. Both groups are important and should be treated subjectively. Two separate facilities should therefore be built on the plot - a fully functional school and a church. By proving the possibility of coexistence, the dispute that divided the community can be resolved.

The sytuacjasytuacjasytuacja


© Marek Grąbczewski

Church and school, although separated, do not have to remain in opposition. What's more, their coexistence has many benefits, both for each other and for the communities that use them. Odolany suffers from a shortage of common and recreational spaces. The project should compensate for the lack of these spaces by creating a place with the potential to bring people together, where they can also spend their leisure time.

rzut level 0rzut level 0rzut level 0

level 0 projection

© Marek Grąbczewski

przerój longitudinalprzerój longitudinalprzerój longitudinal

longitudinal break

© Marek Grąbczewski

The balance and mutual respect between the church and the school should not be limited to the division of the plot. They should also be expressed in the architecture of the designed buildings. Using the same dimensions will prevent the educational or sacred function from symbolically dominating the space. This will emphasize the egalitarian and democratic nature of the establishment. Thus, the basis of both objects are squares of 50 by 50 meters and a height of 25 meters. Between the buildings there will be a third square of the same dimensions - a square that can serve both functions on special occasions - it is likely to become the main public space of the estate.

na foreground - churchna foreground - churchna foreground - church

in the foreground - church, in the background - school

© Marek Grąbczewski

The use of equal dimensions also has another important advantage. By emphasizing the mutual respect between the two entities, it provides an opportunity to show the differences between them all the more fully. The school and the church are different, not only ideologically, they also require completely different spaces.



© Marek Grąbczewski

Modularity and repetition is a basic feature of a school building. Classrooms should not differ significantly from each other, so as to provide all children with the same convenient learning environment. At the same time, the space of the school, in addition to academic, is also a place for common play - diversity and the use of non-obvious spatial solutions are desirable here. The school, as a public institution engaged in education, should be susceptible to possible changes that may be needed in the future, resulting from both new technologies and administrative changes. The school facility should therefore include some repetition, but with considerable room for individual changes, with possible participation of children.

szkoła - hallszkoła - hallszkoła - hall

school - hall

© Marek Grąbczewski

The rooms found in the sacred complex are characterized by great diversity. There we have both the vast main space of the temple and the high towers, as well as small living quarters for charitable and educational activities, as well as chapels and parish meeting rooms.



© Marek Grąbczewski

The diverse nature of the church spaces is combined with the constancy of their purpose. Regardless of possible liturgical changes, the interior of the church should always fulfill the same task - a place for the faithful to gather, pray and celebrate the sacrifice together. The appropriate principle here is to create a set of diverse but unchanging spaces, separated from each other so as not to interfere with each other.

kościół - external communicationkościół - external communicationkościół - external communication

church - external communication

© Marek Gr¹bczewski


Illustrations: © Author

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