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Nature in place of a parking lot! Design of a green enclave in the Culture Zone in Katowice

Dobrawa Bies
09 of December '22

Michalina Dębska has an idea for the area located in Katowice's Culture Zone. Instead of the multi-level parking lot planned by the city, for which a competition was held in 2020, the graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at the Wrocław University of Technology proposes to give the place back to nature. Her concept is a park with earth pavilions with a workshop and experimental function. The project was awarded First Prize in the 2021 Engineering Diploma of the Year competition organized by SARP Wrocław District.

The presented engineering work entitled. "Nature in place of parking. Landscaping the Culture Zone in Katowice" was carried out under the direction of Dr. Tomasz Glowacki. The intervention area proposed by Michalina includes the area of the parking lot bounded by Harald, Góreckiego, Olimpijska and Wojciech Kilar Square streets in Katowice. It constituted a plot in the competition to develop an urban-architectural concept for a multi-story parking lot in the Cultural Zone in Katowice, which was won by the design team ARPA Architektoniczna Pracownia Autorska Jerzy Gurawski and SKI Studio Błażej Szurkowski. You can see the results here.

Projekt kształtowania krajobrazu Strefy Kultury, aksonometria

axonometry of the Culture Zone area

© Michalina Dębska

The thriving city of Katowice has been enriched in recent years with million-dollar investments and phenomenal architecture. The largest of these is the constantly expanding Cultural Zone. Newly constructed facilities are far from sustainable, often involving the adaptation of recreational spaces in favor of new development buildings. The Katowice metropolitan area gathers tens of thousands of students every day, as well as workers arriving by car from neighboring towns and cities. The response of those in power to the city's infrastructure problem is to create another multi-story parking lot, not realizing that the more parking lots, the more cars. Nature in place of a parking lot is a manifesto against the creation of a new facility. It is a settlement formed from the ground constituting nine pavilions with a workshop and experimental function. It turns a concrete neighborhood into a green enclave, making up for the shortage of recreational spaces. It provides an answer to needs that we do not remember, being fascinated by progress. Ultimately, it improves the quality of life, producing a new ecosystem and providing better living conditions for smaller creatures," says Michalinia Debska.

Proces powstawania nowej topografii terenu

the process of creating a new topography of the land

© Michalina Debska

instead of parking lot nature

The proposed project continues the natural topography of the described area and transforms the parking lot into a biologically active surface. The concept restores the natural topography of the Cultural Zone and creates a neutral landscape as a counterpoint to the existing complex of high-tech buildings. The author's transformation of the artificial, flat slab of the parking lot into a living settlement is meant to be a form of manifesto and draw attention to the insufficient amount of greenery around the intervention site. The designed ensemble is a reshaped area, thanks to the use of earth as a construction material and covering the pavilions proposed by the young architect with a layer of earth with greenery.

Rzuty proponowanych pawilonów

The construction of the pavilions was made of earth

© Michalina Debska

pavilions, basins, gardens

The concept is a park including nine pavilions built from the ground, workshop yards, rainwater collection basins, vegetable and flower gardens. Walking avenues, connecting the whole establishment, are covered with gravel and clay paving, making the area alive and biologically active. The goal of the concept is to introduce biodiversity and prepare for the natural "wilderness" of the area. Initially used by humans, the space will be taken over by flora and fauna in the future. The landscape proposed by the PWr graduate is the result of methodical work on models. Administered to numerous physical phenomena, the mock-ups made of salt paste, clay, dough and paper in effect made it possible to create a natural composition of land use.

The pavilion premise is experiential in nature. The visitor is expected to experience and realize for himself how his individual and group actions affect the environment. By doing manual and garden work, he not only reduces the consumption of raw materials, but also develops a sensitivity and attachment to the environment. Nature's activities at the parking lot site are meant to develop the public's responsibility for how it lives and make them aware of what it really needs, the author explains.

Przyroda w Strefie Kultury

Michalina Debska gives the area of the Culture Zone back to nature

© Michalina Debska

buildings from the ground

The buildings retain a human scale, and their organic shaped interiors affect the perception and behavior of users differently than in orthogonal spaces. Each pavilion is accessed by a door-gate, after which one notices a beam of daylight coming through an elliptical skylight. The furnishings of each structure follow the irregular geometry of the walls - they are usually hollowed-out shelves in the earthen mass, or over-built seats. According to the designer, the raw arrangement made of rammed earth strengthens the relationship between man and nature.

Pawilon wykonany z gliny Wnętrze jednego z pawilonów

The author has created numerous models from various materials, here clay

© Michalina Debska

four zones

The premise was divided into four zones corresponding to basic human needs. According to the author, these zones are: influence, care, well-being and action. The zone of influence is made up of workshop pavilions along with outdoor workshop yards for craftsmen. The care is an urban garden with a storage pavilion and community kitchen, as well as oases for animals. The well-being zone is a space for tranquility and outdoor activities. The last zone - action - focuses on the activities of urban activists.

Cykl życia pawilonów Makieta

The pavilions and the entire area is given back to nature

© Michalina Debska

a better end

With the catastrophic narrative of the widespread discussion of climate change, "Nature in Place of Parking" is already preparing Katowice for a better end. According to the "Third Landscape" theory by Gilles Clement, the sum total of the space in which humans leave the evolution of the landscape exclusively to nature is determined. Compared to areas subject to human control and exploitation, the "Third Landscape" represents an area of openness to biodiversity. Continuing this thought, it can be considered a reservoir of our planet, a space of the future. "Nature in place of parking" is meant to be a symbol of what is constantly being taken away in Katowice. It is the place of the culture of life. The shaped new topography breathes every inch of its surface. It creates a unique atmosphere and teaches about climate at the same time. It helps to make the residents of Katowice aware of what is important to them and what is worth cherishing. It motivates reflection on the future of public spaces in our cities," Michalina Debska concludes.

The promoter of Michalina Debska's thesis was Dr. Tomasz Glowacki, currently struggling with a serious illness. SARP Wrocław, together with the cooperation of the Faculty of Architecture of the Wroclaw University of Technology, has organized an auction for the further treatment of the lecturer and architect. There are still intangible objects left to be auctioned. We encourage you to read the information on FB of SARP Wroclaw [link].

compiled by: Dobrawa Bies

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