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Inclusive Okrąglak in the Metaverse. Eco-shop by A8 Architektura

16 of March '23
Technical data


Location: Metaverse
Project: A8 Architektura
Architects: Piotr Lewandowski, Tomasz Smol, Dominika Dolębska, Karol Zaniuk
Investor: INTERSEROH Packaging Recovery Organization
Visualizations: A8 Architecture
Usable area: 100 m²
Project: 2022
Implementation: -

Architects from the A8 Architektura studio have designed Okrąglak, an eco-friendly store with a mission. For now it's only available in virtual reality, but it's already giving us information about closed-loop resources, responsible production and sustainable design. We talk about the concept, Metaverse and the future of Okrąglak with designers Dominika Dolębska and Tomasz Smol.

The idea for the store was developed with the investment support of the INTERSEROH group, the Packaging Recovery Organization, which approached the architects to create a virtual concept that would educate about ecology and the closed-loop economy. Studio A8 Architektura took on the challenge, designing in such a way that in the future Okrąglak could also be physically built.

If you're curious to see what the store looks like inside and what functions it might serve, take a virtual tour.

Wnętrze Okrąglaka. Przestrzeń jest inkluzywna dostosowana do potrzeb wszystkich osób

The interior of Okrąglak. The space is inclusive adapted to the needs of all people

© A8 Architecture

The idea for Okrąglak, an ideal ecological store, came from designing an environmentally and human-friendly space through the selection of natural materials, the use of daylight and eco-friendly solutions that create local places for commerce and meetings, the project's authors say.

Okrąglak, aksonometria Okrąglak, rzut

The circular form of the store was a design challenge

© A8 Architecture

Okrąglak is a building reminiscent of a spreading tree crown, whose character is given by the wooden structure supporting the roof. The building's roof was made in the form of a two-tone shield with a skylight located in the center. The facade is glazed on the south side, while the north side is overgrown with ivy. The store's surroundings and interior have been designed to take into account the needs of people with disabilities (such as a specially lowered counter) and to respect the environment. You can read about the technical details of the project on the website of the A8 Architektura studio.

Dach Okrąglaka został skonstruowany w formie charakterystycznej dwukolorowej tarczy

The roof of Okrąglak has been constructed in the form of a characteristic two-color shield

© A8 Architektura

Interview with Dominika Dolębska and Tomasz Smol of A8 Architektura

Dobrawa Bies: We have several Okrąglak in Poland, one of the most famous is in Krakow, another in Poznan. Now there is a special, inclusive Okrąglak in Metaverse, of which you are the authors. What was its design path like?

Dominika Dolębska and Tomasz Smol: Investors from the INTERSEROH Packaging Recovery Organization group, approached us already with a specific name and an idea to create Okrąglak, a sustainable store operating in virtual space. Initially we knew only the function and the name of the facility. The design task was to create the whole concept, i.e. a recognizable solid that evokes associations with ecology in the broadest sense. The main idea, was to design an object that is not created exclusively for the Metaverse space, but that it could be physically built in various locations in Poland. For this reason, we did not work only on the conceptual phase of the project, but also considered technical aspects so that it would be possible to execute and replicate the building in the future. The result was the expressive body of Okrąglak, which at the same time evokes light associations with the form of a spreading tree. The use of natural materials and pro-environmental solutions further emphasizes the idea of a closed-loop economy, which the store aims to spread.

Fasada jest w całości przeszklona od strony południowej

The facade is fully glazed on the south side

© A8 Architecture

Dobrawa: Indeed, the shape of the building is definitely recognizable and influences its use. Was the circular form quite a challenge? How did you arrange the functions and adapt them to the structure?

Dominika Dolębska and Tomasz Smol: The circular form is certainly a design challenge compared to a typical building structure. Okrąglak's structure consists of radially spaced wooden trusses. We are very pleased that we were able to achieve architectural expression through the visible elements of the building structure. Although the structure is unusual, the functional layout on the circular plan is simple and clear. Elements of the structure separate ten zones with different product categories. As a result, one moves around the facility in a circle, around the centrally placed vegetation, putting the products of interest into the shopping cart. The direction of visiting the store is further accentuated by the color of the floor. When moving around the virtual Okrąglak, we can already get a feel for the well-functioning space, with a central store area and a backroom and restroom on the north side. In a situation where a physical store is created, it would also serve its function well.

Elementy konstrukcji wydzielają dziesięć stref z różnymi kategoriami produktów

Elements of the design separate ten zones with different product categories

© A8 Architecture

Dobrawa: Okrąglak is a commercial space, but with a strong emphasis on the social and educational aspect. Was this form of combination new to you?

Dominika Dolębska and Tomasz Smol: When creating Okrąglak, we thought of it as a neighborhood store that we visit every day. As a result, it naturally created a public space where neighborhood meetings take place. An important aspect that we consider in every project is accessibility for everyone. For this reason, we have proposed inclusive solutions, both from the outside and inside the Roundhouse. We would like Okrąglak, in addition to its commercial function, to be able to shape appropriate social attitudes towards the environment in line with the ideas of a closed-loop economy. That's why Okrąglak features a composting area, waste segregation bins, refill stations, a bottle machine or a DIY zone.

Na fasadzie zaproponowano bluszcz pnący, filtrujący powietrze ze szkodliwych zanieczyszczeń

Climbing ivy is proposed on the facade, filtering the air of harmful pollutants

© A8 Architecture

Dobrawa: What is its future fate of the project? Does it have a chance to come out of the virtual space? If so, where could it be built? Do you think that such a project can contribute to the awareness of investors in the aspect of sustainable architecture?

Dominika Dolębska and Tomasz Smol: Currently, Okrąglak is functioning in the Metaverse space. We sincerely hope that the building will be built in many places in Poland. Its distinctive form was designed to stand out from the landscape, and at the same time, through the choice of natural materials, to fit harmoniously into the urban fabric. Okrąglak could stand in a city park or square, creating a worthwhile spot on the city map. Okrąglak is not just a store, it is also a place to exchange experiences, a meeting space, so of course, we would like it to increase investor awareness of sustainable architecture.

Dobrawa: Thank you for the interview.

interviewed: Dobrawa Bies

If you are interested in the topic of design in virtual reality, NFT and Bitcoins, please read the conversation with Jedrzej Lewandowski (Le 2 Workshop).

Sustainable architecture was also on the minds of the participants of the NEW SPACE 2022 workshop, redesigning the New Square and Krakow's Okrąglak.

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