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"Open Door". Students of the Wrocław University of Technology designed a dormitory

26 of April '23

Wiktoria Gocałek and Marta Szczygłowska, architecture students at the Wroclaw University of Technology, have designed an „Open Door” night shel ter for people in crisis of homelessness, which could be built in Wroclaw's Osobowice district. Their concept is designed to give hope and a sense of security, and includes a program that helps with vocational activation.

The presented project was created as part of the Complex Housing Structures class in the winter semester 2022/2023 under the supervision of Dr. Jerzy Lątka and PhD student Marcelina Terelak. It was a model collaboration between Wroclaw University of Technology and the Wroclaw City Hall, which asked the PWr Department of Architecture to present a concept that may become the basis for launching a development on Kumko Street in Wroclaw Osobowice in the immediate vicinity of the Osobowice Cemetery.

Projekt noclegowni we Wrocławiu przy ulicy Kumko

Project of a night shelter in Wroclaw on Kumko Street

© Wiktoria Gocałek, Marta Szczygłowska

empathetic architecture

In our project we focused on noticing and understanding the users—people in crisis of homelessness, we wanted our architecture to be empathetic, to give hope and a sense of security, and at the same time to be a transitional place, not a home. We also focused on a complete program that would provide vocational activation and become the first step on the road to independence," the authors explain.

Projekt noclegowni, plan zagospodarowania terenu

design of the dormitory, site plan

© Wiktoria Gocałek, Marta Szczygłowska

To make this idea possible, the students designed a multifunctional room, which can become a carpentry workshop, sewing room or computer lab for improving professional skills. In addition, they planned four training apartments in line with the idea of the „Road to Home” program, which operates in Wroclaw. Residents would also be involved in growing organic gardens or selling candles in a store located next to the Osobowicki cemetery itself.

W obiekcie znajdują się również zielone przestrzenie

The facility also includes green spaces

© Wiktoria Gocałek, Marta Szczygłowska

modular development

The main idea that guided the authors was to design a lightweight modular development, easy to modify, transform, expand, relocate and repurpose. They also wanted to keep construction costs as low as possible and the solutions economical to maintain. Due to the Wroclaw Różanka train station located near the plot, the students were also looking for a technology that would provide good sound insulation.

Projekt noclegowni, podział na moduły

design of the dormitory, division into modules

© Wiktoria Gocałek, Marta Szczygłowska

In the end, we decided to use a reinforced SIP panel—HBlock, which was patented by the Polish company Solcraft. It is an insulating structural panel made of polyurethane foam enclosed in a box structure and permanently bonded to OSB wood cladding. Such a solution provides high insulation, energy efficiency and load-bearing capacity at the same time as lightweight construction and small thickness of partitions. Due to prefabrication, the panels ensure airtightness and very fast and flawless installation, the students explain.

Projekt noclegowni, przekrój i detal

dormitory design, cross-section and detail

© Wiktoria Gocałek, Marta Szczygłowska

The designers also chose modular solutions—they divided the building projection into three modules of two different heights. This procedure will make it possible to change the location of the building and ensure the possibility of expansion if necessary—for example, in emergency situations, in case more people need shelter.

Wnętrze jednego z pokoi z modułowymi łóżkami

The interior of one of the rooms with modular beds

© Wiktoria Gocałek, Marta Szczygłowska

heating room, bathhouse, dormitory

The functional layout of the building is a direct result of the needs that were presented to us during a meeting at the St. Brother Albert's Night Shelter on Malachowskiego Street in Wroclaw. We divided our center into four partstwo residential wings (separate for men and women), the heart of the building, where we placed a multifunctional room, a common room and a TV area, as well as the entrance area, which includes a heating room, a doctor's office, an isolation room, a depository and social rooms," list Wiktoria and Marta.

Projekt noclegowni, modele łóżek

Modular beds in the rooms

© Wiktoria Gocałek, Marta Szczygłowska

There are two separate entrances to the building—for newcomers who want to use the heating or bathing facilities, and for those who have been using the dormitory for a longer period (contractual month). The facility has been fully adapted to the needs of people with disabilities, for whom two double rooms have also been designated. The remaining rooms are designed for six people and have been equipped with modular double beds, which provide a substitute for privacy and intimacy during a stay at the facility.

Projekt noclegowni, rzut

premise allows for expansion

© Wiktoria Gocałek, Marta Szczygłowska

The entire facility was designed to accommodate eighty-two people, but wide corridors and modular, sliding walls in the center of the building allow the space to be arranged and adjusted to accommodate more users. In order not to waste the space allocated for the dormitory outside the winter season, the students designed a therapeutic room in its place, where residents can enjoy a variety of workshops, socialize, and improve their soft skills.

Projekt noclegowni, elewacja wschodnia

design of the dormitory, east elevation

© Wiktoria Gocałek, Marta Szczygłowska

sustainable development

In line with the idea of sustainable development, the authors proposed a number of environmentally friendly solutions—they placed photovoltaic panels on the green roofs and planned the use of rainwater, introducing retention and storage tanks. In addition, each shower tray was equipped with a recuperator to recover heat from used water after a bath, for example. The students also proposed a dual installation that will reuse gray water for flushing toilets. Meanwhile, the organic growing gardens, which will be tended by residents of the dormitory, are a form of therapy and activation.

Also read about the Community Center at Fort St. James in Toruń by Marta Bobinska and the project for a center for youth in crisis of homelessness—The Front Porch House, whose author Kaja Lewandowska received the grand prize in the Step Forward competition.

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