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Dialogue with the past. Adaptation project of the former Brus Tram Depot in Lodz.

Dobrawa Bies
18 of January '22

The project for the adaptation of the former Brus Tram Depot in Lodz is part of a doctoral thesis by Aleksandra Antoszczyk. The concept of the doctoral student of the University of Arts in Poznan takes up the issue of revitalization processes, especially concerning post-industrial areas with consideration of their function in the public space of the city, and in this, objects related to transportation services.

Aleksandra Antoszczyk's doctoral thesis entitled. "Revitalization of post-industrial areas and their role in the public space of the city on the example of objects related to communication services" was carried out at the Faculty of Architecture and Design of the Magdalena Abakanowicz University of Arts in Poznań, under the supervision of Dr. Piotr Szwiec and Dr. Patrycja Mikołajczak.

ala tramwajowa
adaptowana na funkcję wystawienniczą

tramway hall adapted for exhibition function

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

dialogue between past and present

The conceptual part of the work concerns a historical object listed in the register of monuments - the Brus streetcar depot, which operated from 1910-2012.

 Mapa projektowanego
obszaru wraz z budynkami

The streetcar depot site occupies 1.36 hectares

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

This project is a response to the contemporary need to create spaces that commemorate the historical continuity of a place, which is an undeniable value of the site. In the project I respect and preserve the significance and identity of the place, emphasizing the historical values and genius loci. By interpreting the existing form, integrating it with modern aesthetics and adding a new function adapted to the needs of the city and residents - I build a dialogue between the past and the present," explains Aleksandra Antoszczyk.

Hala tramwajowa

The tramway hall has been turned into a museum

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

streetcar hall museum

The area of the Brus Tram Depot selected for development by Aleksandra occupies 1.36 hectares on Konstantynowska Street in Lodz. The streetcar hall - the main and largest building in terms of volume, the author decided to turn it into a museum. Inside, visitors will be able to see antique streetcar rolling stock owned by the Old Tram Enthusiasts Club, including cars with delicate and weather-sensitive wooden construction.

Wnętrze hali
tramwajowej

Inside the hall, the streetcar track channels are glazed

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

The back of the building, where the streetcar track channels end, the architect partitioned the building with a brick wall with two wide open passageways, separating the exhibition zone, where small exhibition elements will be placed in display cases and on stands and boards: pantographs, ticket punchers, passenger information boards, electric meters, traffic lights, models of streetcars and buses, mock-ups, and much more. It will be possible to present thematic or temporary exhibitions here. The right part of the building will retain its original function as a workshop.

Rzut hali tramwajowej

projection of the streetcar hall

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

Aleksandra's design does not disturb the existing architectural fabric - the author preserves proportions and exposes old architectural details. The doctoral student planned to restore, clean and supplement the brick facade of the building. She decided to replace the entrance gates with a glazed muntin, steel factory-type structure with fine square divisions, referring to the style of the building's windows. The glazing will illuminate the interior, inviting people to enter.

Widok na gabloty
w hali tramwajowej

The walls have been cleaned and show the brickwork

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

Inside the hall, the streetcar track channels are glazed, creating a safe surface for visitors, who will be able to move freely between the cars lined up on the tracks. The interior walls are also cleaned - showing authentic brick, creating an industrial, atmospheric backdrop for the exhibits on display. On the wall separating the main part of the building with the tracks from the workshop part, the designer proposed modular Plexiglas panels with printed large-format graphics depicting the history of the Łódź tramway.

Kawiarnia
w budynku administracyjnym

The former administrative building houses a café

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

cafe in the administration building

A café is located on the high first floor of the former administration building. Its interiors are dominated by red, authentic brick, combined with wooden parquet floors and furniture.

The austerity of the brick and plastered walls is "warmed" by galleries: photos of streetcars and former Lodz, the author adds.

Wnętrze kawiarni

interior of the cafe

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

The wooden surface of the parquet floor is combined with raw screed, and between the two, a glazed section with elements of former streetcar rails runs along the room. This section of the floor imitates the old streetcar tracks and emphasizes the industrial character of the room. The main element in the café is a bar in the form of a simple monolithic block finished with white raw plaster standing out against the brick walls.

 Rzut dawnego budynku
administracyjnego, parter

plan of the café, first floor

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

The buffet is finished with a light-colored stone top, while the undercut legs are clad with a metallic element made of aluminum. Industrial chrome lamps hang from the ceiling, similar wall sconces were hung on the walls. Old-style incandescent light bulbs with visible filaments have been selected, referring in appearance to the traditional ones. On the first floor there will be rooms of an office character, and in the basement there will be storage rooms and toilets for guests.

Na ścianach znajdują
się wielkoformatowe panele

There are large-format panels on the walls

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

The walls feature large-format panels with graphics based on historical photographs documenting the fate of the streetcar depot and Lodz streetcars. This graphic motif, which introduces visitors to the atmosphere of the old days, appears in each of the buildings, as well as in the open space of the depot area.

new life of old buildings

Aleksandra Antoszczyk planned that the former social building will serve administrative functions, and in it she placed an office, lecture halls with the possibility of renting them for educational and cultural purposes, an archive and auxiliary rooms.

 Widok całego projektowanego
obszaru

almost every building has a new function

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

The transformer station with the high-voltage switchgear complex, after restoration, would be partially opened to the public. The water tower would become a viewpoint.

Thehydroelectric plant and the black smith shop - two adjacent small buildings close to the main tramway hall - would become open to the public after restoration, where workshops would be conducted. The forge houses a refurbished, working furnace, the use of which, the author suggests, can be used for hands-on demonstration classes to familiarize visitors with restoration work on metal components used in old streetcars and in the depot itself.

space for all

The area of the former Brus Tram Depot is to become a space generally accessible and open to visitors. The designer has decided that the surface in front of the depot will be replaced and covered with cobblestones in shades of gray. The tracks surrounding the hall and just in front of it will be actively used - they will remain preserved in their entirety. The surrounding vegetation will be preserved and supplemented with new plantings, additionally illuminated by low light fixtures specially designed for parks and gardens.

Widok paneli
z częścią rekreacyjno-wypoczynkową

The panels show the grand opening of the Brus Depot

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

The attractiveness of the place is added by a striking form, which from afar communicates to passersby and bystanders about the existence of a place worth visiting. Set "overlapping" huge glass panels located on the west side of the main tramway hall building attract attention. The panels have been printed with a scaled and fragmented photograph depicting the grand opening of the Brus Depot, which took place on December 17, 1910. The galleried positioning of the panels makes them form a whole when viewed from an angle, the designer says.

lots of greenery

On the west side of the tramway hall just behind the galling panels, the designer separated a separate zone with plantings of vegetation and elements of small architecture: lighting, benches, trash garbage cans, bicycle racks, railings and posts. The designed seats are symmetrically arranged fields delineated by brick walls and supplemented with wooden elements for comfort.

Obszar rekreacyjny

rest area

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

Also on the west side of the building, in the open part of the spacious green space, there is an exhibition of exhibits, filling the recreation area. The exhibits, most of them large in size, such as: former streetcar chassis, structural elements, as well as various types of machinery found at the depot, are set up in rectangular fields lined with light-colored paving stones and highlighted with a dark "frame." The light-colored fields stand out against the green pavement with planted vegetation and complement it at the same time.

A friendly, permanent and publicly accessible display will be created, referring to the identity of the site. All revitalization activities have been planned with respect for the environment. The space is dominated by greenery and vegetation wherever possible. This is a deliberate effort and an attempt to escape from the surrounding "concreteness", which city dwellers are tired of and prefer to rest among greenery," Alexandra argues.

Hala tramwajowa
widziana od strony ulicy

The author hopes that her project can bring life back to this urban area

© Aleksandra Antoszczyk

restoring the depot to residents

I wanted to recreate the vibrant atmosphere that prevailed in the years of the depot's thriving operation and bring visitors into the atmosphere of the bustling industrial city. I deliberately did not use electronic media in the project in the form of touch screens located at each of the exhibits, or electronic games, which are multimedia entertainment. I want to induce the viewer to break away from the virtual reality locked on the screens of tablets and smartphones. Instead, I offerthe opportunity to become more involved, by taking a ride on an old streetcar or participating in a workshop, that is, to touch, feel and experience. I express my conviction that the revitalized Brus Depot will become a friendly and attractive place, a place where visitors will want to return. It will encourage cultural, educational and recreational activities for residents and visitors. It will be a space conducive to holding cultural and educational events in an aesthetically consistent, harmonious environment. The positive effect of this measure will be the restoration of the designated urban area and the inclusion of residents in the activity," concludes Aleksandra Antoszczyk.

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