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Anthropocenter. Project of the Museum of Unnatural History in Katowice.

24 of March '21

We present another work that participated in the competition organized by the Polish Association "Green Roofs". The {tag:studenci}, an architecture graduate of the Wroclaw University of Technology, received an honorable mention for her design of two buildings: Reclamation Center and Museum of Unnatural History in Katowice, as well as the tourist route connecting them.

The purpose of the competition was to select the best theses in the field of green roofs and living walls. Participants could submit proposals in the form of bachelor's, engineering and master's theses. The projects were evaluated by a jury consisting of Dr. Justyna Rubaszek from the University of Life Sciences in Wroclaw, Magdalena Biela from the Department of Urban Greening in Katowice, Balbina Gryczynska from the Calla company, Dr. hab. Edyta Sierka of the University of Silesia in Katowice, and Anna Sylwester-Czapla of Optigruen.

Among the works competing in the master 's degree category was a project entitled. "New Geography: the Anthropocenter. Museum of Unnatural History in Katowice" by Dobrochna Lata, which the jury awarded an honorable mention. The diploma, made under the direction of Dr. Ada Kwiatkowska of the Department of Architecture and Visual Arts, was recognized for its evocative presentation of the design idea and creative approach to the topic of post-industrial landscapes.

Trasa turystyczna na
terenie obiektu

The author designed pine gardens, ornamental grasses and other plants to support processes that reduce soil pollution

© Dobrochna Lata

time of the anthropocene

Aristotle wrote that "nature created everything for the sake of man." Looking for the etymology of the word nature, we can see that its meaning is changing. Until the 13th century it was equated with birth, physis - the force of natural development. Since the publication of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," the definition began to change. He divided the elements of the world into nature and nurture - that is, those dependent and independent of man. The definition of nature as an entity separate from us quite suits us. Although we notice that nature is being destroyed, we can distance ourselves from the problem. Our actions, however, are not insignificant. Man has changed the Earth so radically that, according to many scientists, we can speak of a new geological epoch in which, for the first time, a species has such an impact on the planet that it becomes the dominant force shaping it. "Welcome to the Anthropocene," proclaimed the caption on the cover of the British weekly The Economist in 2011. During the Anthropocene, humans should return to the etymology of the word nasci [Latin for birth]. It is time to change the direction of the "unnatural history" we are following," Dobrochna Lata explains in the introduction.

terenu pogórniczej hałdy

The project is located on a post-mining heap in Katowice, Poland

© Dobrochna Lata

post-industrial landscape

The author dealt with the subject of post-industrial landscapes of the so-called "New Geography" and raised issues of matter and the impact of coal combustion on the landscape. The PWr graduate chose a post-mining heap in the southern district of Katowice - Kostuchna- as the site for the project. This part of the city is called "the green lungs of Silesia" because of the numerous forest areas surrounding it. The area is also associated with mining - the coal industry in Poland was born in this area, and the Murcki mine (later KWK Boże Dary) adjacent to the plot was one of the first in Poland. Measuring as much as 60 meters, the Kostuchine heap is one of the largest in the region. It is also distinguished by the fact that for many years it has been laid out in such a way that its reclamation could be attractive in the future. Here, the architect designed a tourist route that connects the two contexts that determined the district's shape - nature and the mine. Two facilities - the Reclamation Center and the Museum of Unnatural History- are also part of her design.

Centrum rekultywacji

The Reclamation Center houses an educational section and laboratories

© Dobrochna Lata

Reclamation Center

The beginning of the route is a platform made of compacted ash reminiscent of the mining past, placed at the height of the God's Gift coal mine, which is closing down. A railroad platform using its infrastructure would stand there. It would be created from ecological concrete, which would include slag and fly ash recovered from the dumps. A path would begin here, leading toward the first facility - the Reclamation Center housed in a low-rise, cuboidal building. Its function would be to restore usable and natural values to areas damaged by the activities of nearby mines.

Przekrój centrum

Two inverted cones are responsible for illuminating the building

© Dobrochna Lata

The center is divided into two parts - educational and scientific. The educational part includes an auditorium for 80 people, a hall with a checkroom and reception area, and on the upper floor: a library and smaller educational rooms. The scientific part includes laboratories with stations for soil and coal testing, reclamation and a sterile laboratory. Two inverted cones, which act as "pots," collecting water for the trees in the lab's skylights, are responsible for illuminating the facility. The building's vestibule features a spiral staircase that can be used to continue the tour.

Museum of Unnatural History

A ramp on the path leads to the interior of the museum, whose decor refers to the processes of coal formation and the time before coal mining. The exhibition, on a circular plan with a radius of 18 meters, delves into the terrain, moving from a forest of ferns, through peat and anthracite, to the ashes created in the combustion process. A sheaf of light enters from a large covered cone through an upper skylight.

Muzeum historii

The museum of unnatural history is partially hidden in the grounds

© Dobrochna Lata

In the center is a garden of ferns - a primordial source of coal - and a mezzanine exhibition space that would operate independently of the museum. Material solutions are a reference to the combustion process. The walls are made of earth rammed from ashes with the addition of clay and cement, which resemble layers of earth from the Cambrian era. Some of the structural elements are made of ecological concrete, a mixture of cement and reclaimed materials from the heap. The roof structure, on the other hand, consists of glulam roof trusses that meet in a central ring, which is the main element for illuminating the interior. The roof is covered with burl wood.

Amfiteatr refleksji

An amphitheater of reflection completes the tour

© Dobrochna Lata

Amphitheater of reflection

At the end of the tour is a place to reflect on nature. Emerging vegetation against the backdrop of the forest gives rise to hope for nature's renewal. The route ends in a salvaged section of the West Carpathian beech forest.

Theanthropocenter would encourage visitors to explore the genesis of the region to arouse environmental awareness. And it would also give hope, because the process of well thought-out reclamation creates chances for the rebirth of forests, Dobrochna Lata adds.

The competition organized by the Polish Association "Green Roofs" also included Lukasz Modrzejewski, who received first prize in the category of engineering works for his design of a hostel for cyclists in Wroclaw.

elaboration: Dobrawa Bies

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