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Fix the space and add character - an original office building from EASST Architects

16 of March '23

Between a scaled-down traffic circle and behind a large shopping mall will stand an original office landmark. The interestingly composed block has a chance to become an attractive accent in the amorphous surroundings of Poznan's Rataje district. Designers from EASST Architects approached the challenging task with great sensitivity.

The carefully sculpted mass of the „Industrial” office building by EASST Architects (Marcin Sucharski, Łukasz Sterzyński) has a chance to become an interesting accent or even a landmark of the right bank of Poznan. Together with the planned lower building, it will be built at the busy and very extensive Rataje traffic circle; in the foreground of the gigantic and bland Posnania shopping center, at the exit to the expressway in the direction of Katowice.

Rondo Rataje/ul. Komedy, Poznań

Rataje traffic circle, Poznań — View from the Rataje traffic circle towards Komeda Street and the shopping center (visible in the background); the office building will stand in front of it

Photo: Jakub Głaz

Will it tame the traffic circle?

The 15-story office building will reach nearly 60 meters (55 meters to the base of the attic covering the technical floor) and will be the first such expressive and well-designed building in the amorphous space around the Rataje traffic junction. This is very good news, because a large traffic circle is almost always an anti-urban space. A scaled-down roundabout usually bursts the typical urban fabric or, in the case of non-urbanized areas, makes it difficult to create. Such a traffic circle can be tamed either by compact and fairly tall outlying buildings, or by a sufficiently tall accent that balances the visually expansive asphalt „pan”.

Biurowce przy rondzie Rataje i ul. Komedy w Poznaniu, wizualizacja, proj. EASST Architects

Office buildings at Rataje traffic circle and Komeda street in Poznań, visualization, design by EASST Architects — view from the west, from the side of the traffic circle; on the far right, one of the entrances to Posnania shopping center

© EASST Architects

At the Rataje traffic circle, compact development is rather impossible, as the two adjacent quarters are occupied by modernist housing estates (Piastowskiego and Jagiellońskiego), which are subordinated to the sun line. In the third quarter there is a bus transfer station near the traffic circle, with a dynamic but low, horizontal form (designed by Ewa and Stanislaw Sipinski Architectural Studio, 1998). Behind it, a bulky residential building (the so-called Warta Terraces) from more than a decade ago scares.

Rondo Rataje/ul. Komedy, Poznań

Rataje roundabout/Komeda street, Poznan

Photo: Jakub Głaz

two towers

That's why in the fourth, northeast quadrant by the traffic circle, planners and councilors allowed (mpzp 2020) the construction of two service buildings with a maximum height of 64 and 100 meters. Firstly, they can give a distinct character to the immediate space, and secondly, they can become a meaningful dominant and landmark in the scale of the city. Their tertiary (implicitly: office) function will also complement the commercial and residential character of the neighborhood (to the east of Posnania, an over-dense, almost mono-functional development is currently growing). A short and dead-end Komeda Street, with a wide pedestrian walkway leading to the „gallery” set back from the traffic circle, runs between the plots designated for these higher accents.

Biurowice przy rondzie Rataje i ul. Komedy w Poznaniu, wizualizacja, proj. EASST Architects

Office buildings at the Rataje traffic circle and Komeda Street in Poznań, visualization, design by EASST Architects; view from the side of the shopping center, from the passage along Komeda Street (northern roadway of the street visible)

© EASST Architects

The office building by EASST Architects will occupy the plot intended for a lower building, on the northern side of Komeda Street (the main entrance will be located there). It was bought from the city by TMT SA in 2021. There is already a legal permit for the construction of the spot building, the investment is expected to start this year and be completed after 18 months (the construction of the lower office building next door is planned later). What are the details of the project? Let's give the architects the floor:

The main idea [...] was to create a multidimensional building, whose facades will be perceived as a sculptural form, changing with the discovery of its individual parts. It was assumed that the building would be divided into two parts in terms of height. The low five-story base is wide and has been sculpted by the withdrawal of elevation fragments. The upper part, which contains ten floors, was divided into two blocks offset in plan relative to each other. In addition, three floors have been shifted on the longitudinal axis.

trapezoid will revitalize

Such a well-thought-out dynamic form will be unified by the form and color of the truss facades. They will be clad almost entirely in graphite-colored aluminum composites (with accents of raw steel sheeting), and almost all windows are of the same size. At first glance, the vertical elements between the windows look like cuboidal „razor blades” with a rectangular base. However, it is more interesting. The base of each „razor blade” is a rectangular trapezoid. These elements composed to the right or left and in different sequences will give the facades a differentiated expression, and will also enable an interesting play of light and shadow. This will also be helped by the considerable "meatiness" of the facades far from the banal curtain wall. This is not just an aesthetic procedure. Designers from EASST Architects report that.

a very important element of the project [...] was the aspect of protecting the building from the sun. For this reason, the façade has a great depth, which is expected to result in increased shading of the interior, and thus savings on air-conditioning the office space.

Biurowce przy rondzie Rataje i ul. Komedy w Poznaniu, wizualizacja, proj. EASST Architects

Office buildings at Rataje traffic circle and Komeda Street in Poznań, visualization, design by EASST Architects; view from the side of the shopping center, towards the traffic circle; on the left, a lower office building planned for the next stage of construction

© EASST Architects

Consistent with the exterior is to be the character of the open, flexible interiors. They have been organized classically: around a central riser with elevators and a staircase (an additional staircase will serve the more spacious lower part of the building). Their appearance, in keeping with the project's name, is to have an industrial character:

The interiors of the office building [...] will be made of materials such as architectural concrete, steel sheeting and expanded metal.

streetcar to the door

No casement windows or vents are planned for the office building. Instead, the building is in the process of obtaining a BREEAM certificate (which analyzes, among other things, access to transportation, energy and water consumption, air quality and the use of environmentally friendly materials). The technical floor will include the installation of photovoltaic panels over ventilation and air-conditioning equipment. Terraced roof slopes on staggered parts of the block, meanwhile, will be planted with „extensive greenery”.

In turn, a garage hall for 87 cars and a spacious bicycle room with facilities for cyclists are planned on two underground floors. The „Industrial” is also easy to get to by public transportation. Numerous streetcar and bus lines will allow you to get almost to your doorstep and are a much better solution than driving. Especially since the Rataje traffic circle, after its recent general modernization (and fixing some of the unfavorable old solutions), generates a lot of car congestion.

Biurowiec przy rondzie Rataje i ul. Komedy w Poznaniu, wizualizacja, proj. EASST Architects

Office building at Rataje traffic circle and Komeda street in Poznań, visualization, design by EASST Architects; view from the west, from under the bus station

© EASST Architects

Thus, the office building from EASST Architects will help divert attention from the uninteresting traffic circle (and shopping center) and - if built in the form presented today - will value the space of Poznan. It will also correspond well with other successful office buildings with somewhat similar facade forms, also located on the outskirts of the city center: the acclaimed Baltic (designed by MVRDV, 2017) and the just-completed corner landmark of the Nowy Rynek complex (designed by JEMS Architects). Now all that remains is to keep our fingers crossed that the neighboring skyscraper permitted by the plan at the traffic circle (the one that can reach 100 meters) will be designed with equal ingenuity and care.

Jakub Głaz

The vote has already been cast