The idea of Malgorzata Gula, an architecture graduate from the Wroclaw University of Technology, looks into the future—she proposes using part of the reclaimed areas of the Belchatow Lignite Mine and giving them back to nature and tourists. The concept presented is also a futuristic, ecological hotel that could be built in about a hundred years.
The presented project is a master's thesis done under the supervision of Dr. Elżbieta Grodzka. Małgorzata Gula's concept was shortlisted for PWr's competition for the Best Graduate and Undergraduate in 2022.
Architecture is a tool for social dialogue, it submits the architect's vision to the users. This dialogue extends more broadly and encompasses the relationship between the building and the environment, thus placing it in a specific context. It can be considered that the context defines architecture and in some way organizes and creates spatial order. One can distinguish between historical, spatial, functional or environmental context. In the case presented here, the context of time is of the greatest importance.Re-development of the post-mining area will be possible no sooner than in a hundred years, so I took a futuristic direction in presenting the concept," explains the author.
The project introduces greenery into the post-mining area
© Małgorzata Guła
the future of post-mining areas
The student chose the post-mining area of the Belchatow Lignite Mine, located in the Kleszczow municipality area, as the area of the study. This location is mainly associated with industrial production, which does not attract tourists. In the future, after the end of mining activities, the land is to be returned to man and nature. As Malgorzata Guła says—the largest open pit in Poland will be flooded, the dumps will be forested, and where tippers used to run, sports enthusiasts will appear. In summer—water sports, and in winter—skiers. This long-term process creates conditions for considering visions of the architecture of the future.
The hotel consists of three levels
© Malgorzata Gula
Vincent Callebaut, Stefano Boeri and Gaudi were inspirations during my work on the project. Their work manifests the desire to design buildings that are self-sufficient in terms of energy, through the use of solutions related to cooling the building, obtaining electricity and managing rainwater and gray water. The use of greenery, both aesthetically and ecologically, also plays an important role, the author says.
Małgorzata Gula's basic assumption was the concept of sustainable development of the land after lignite mining, which will allow further development of the entire region. The author also took into account the creation of an attractive place for tourists of supra-regional range.
The author included greenhouse pavilions, recreational gazebos and a brine graduation tower
© Małgorzata Guła
Currently, the area resembles a desolate, cosmic landscape, which should be transformed and adapted to the needs of future users. The project is not only a vision of a futuristic space for vacationers, it also includes greenhouses, sensory gardens, orchards—in other words, places conducive to the return of animals. My concept envisions the use of renewable energy sources (photovoltaic trees on the roof of the building and wind turbines throughout the designed area) and environmentally friendly building materials. It also provides for places to collect rainwater so that it can be reused to irrigate the vegetation, the designer explains.
All these solutions are intended to compensate for the environmental damage caused by the mine's activities.
The author has placed photovoltaic trees on the roof
© Małgorzata Guła
Quite a design challenge for the author, was to design a solid that refers to both the history of the site and future activities related to changing the site's function. As Małgorzata Guła says, her object has an unusual form, which she tried to fit into the surroundings. She wanted the building's facade to refer to the movement of waves rising on the water, shapes reminiscent of power plant chimneys and tree trunks. The lump of the hotel may bring to mind a space base—the rounded lines of the panels frame the undulating balconies and columns.
The lump of the hotel may bring to mind a space base
© Malgorzata Guła
With its form, the building directs the viewer's gaze to three important axes—the power plant, the lake and the high green areas. Around it, rainwater-collecting greenhouse pavilions, recreational gazebos and a brine graduation tower have been distributed. Looking ahead, the designer introduced an airstrip and parking for personal drones. The complex also offers traditional contact with nature—there is a fire pit, retention ponds with aquatic greenery, sensory gardens and a fruit orchard.
small architecture around the hotel
© Malgorzata Guła
In the concept presented here, I tried to propose ways to compensate for environmental losses while meeting the needs of future users of the facility. It is my proposal to create a building that will be a place of temporary stay for tourists and a garden that will become a home for animals. During the design process, I paid attention to technological progress and adapted to current technical requirements," concludes Malgorzata Gula.