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Michal Karpeta - "House of the Written Word"

21 of February '22
Technical data
Type: engineering thesis
Year of defense: 2020
Author: Michal Karpeta

Dr. Marcin Goncikowski

Work submitted for the competition
"Best Diploma Architecture".

The project of the House of the Written Word raises the question of the future of literature in the age of advancing technological development. It attempts to respond to the problem of devaluation of paper books by creating a place dedicated to their re-circulation, and enters into a dialogue with the current model of reading room institutions, focused on the protection of collections at the expense of the freedom of their use.

The subject of the study is a four-story frontage building located in Warsaw's Old Praga, on Brzeska Street. It creates an accessible space with a neighborly character, intended as a counterbalance to the progressive gentrification of the neighborhood, also to provide conditions for the exchange of ideas, work and tranquility - and openness to local initiatives.

aksonometria widok z ulicy Brzeskiej

Left: axonometry; right: view from Brzeska Street

© Michal Karpeta


The presented architectural concept is a response to the imagined future condition of reading. It focuses on the transient phenomenon of the paper book, trying to find a new way for it to function in the world by creating a place dedicated to collecting unwanted literature and making it available for free.

The evolution of literature will require a change in the way it has been perceived so far, and thus the creation of new institutions and facilities adapted to these needs and requirements. Literature is an extremely important part of culture, in addition to being protected, it should also be made available as much as possible.

czytelnia on the 2nd floorczytelnia on the 2nd floorczytelnia on the 2nd floor

reading room on the 2nd floor

© Michal Karpeta

Library, from the Greek combination of the words biblion - book, and thēkē - receptacle, for centuries meant a place to store collections in order to preserve the information they contain. This function has remained unchanged. In the spaces of today's libraries and reading rooms, the user is still a visitor, a visitor forced to respect the rules of access, silence and hygiene.


The project involves the creation of a public space in the urban fabric - a reading room based on the idea of re-circulating books, not restricted by rules, barriers, access cards or return deadlines.

czytelnia on the 3rd floorczytelnia on the 3rd floorczytelnia on the 3rd floor

reading room on the 3rd floor

© Michal Karpeta

The reading room is divided into three zones, corresponding to three floors, designed for three activities: exchange of ideas, meetings and discussions; work and study; concentration, rest and isolation.

An important element of the concept is the creation of an interior that is a fluid experience for the viewer, encouraging interaction or allowing for temporary isolation. This is to be helped by the chosen construction principle, which involves the use of a grid of cross columns and the differentiation of their cross-section and shape in a way that corresponds to the gradation of the nature of the floors.

rzut 1st floorrzut 1st floorrzut 1st floor

1st floor plan

© Michal Karpeta

The architectural shape of the structure is the most important element of the concept, it defines both the spatial and architectural aspects of the interior and exterior. The rounded form of the columns and the passages between them is meant to be a distant transformation and reference to the gates of Prague townhouses.

{Image@url=,alt=przekrój B-B section and elevation,title=B-B section and elevation}

B-B cross-section and elevation

© Michal Karpeta

The building is a unified and compact mass, continuing the street frontage and closing the development quarter on three sides. It also forms an internal open space identical to the neighborhood, connected by a passageway to the neighboring courtyards.

In order to break up the monumentalism of the block and emphasize the functional division of the floors, delicate divisions were used, as well as faults of the floors. The light color used on the concrete facade is intended to lighten the mass. The facades of the building are prefabricated and impregnated elements, stamped in concrete stained to a shade of warm white. Closed corners compositionally enclose the facade and create architectural dominants in the street frontage.

przekrój C-Cprzekrój C-Cprzekrój C-C

cross section C-C

© Michal Karpeta

The functional plan was divided into three parts: the body containing the main rooms of the building (reading rooms, offices, workshops, exhibition spaces) and two communication and sanitary shafts. A communication route runs through each floor along the courtyard, connecting all floor elements. The heart of the establishment is an open staircase connecting the above-ground floors.

ogród on the roofogród on the roofogród on the roof

garden on the roof

© Michal Karpeta

There is an open intensive garden on the roof, which was designed to create nooks and crannies, and can serve as a fourth green area of the reading room in summer. The greenery is varied in a flowing manner, from low grasses to low shrubs.


Illustrations: © Author

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