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A way to revitalize port areas in Gdansk. Kurofune hotel project

Dobrawa Bies
30 of November '20

Gdansk waterfronts, in line with the Good Business Practices (CSR) policy of the Port of Gdansk authorities, are slowly opening up to residents and tourists. Following this practice, Damian Maj, a graduate of the Cracow University of Technology, decided to revitalize the space around the Wladyslaw IV Basin, proposing a hotel establishment there with multiple attractive functions.

Damian Maj's project is a master's thesis carried out under the supervision of Dr. Krystyna Paprzyca, prof. of PK, and Dr. Gabriela Rembarz of the Gdansk University of Technology. The author decided to transform the inaccessible, post-industrial space around the Wladyslaw IV Basin, located within the boundaries of the Free Customs Area, into a friendly and attractive place for tourists.

Widok na założenie

The project is a proposal of architectural solutions for the area of the Wladyslaw IV Basin

© Damian Maj

In the words of the Krakow University of Technology graduate:

My project is a proposal of architectural solutions for the Wladyslaw IV Basin area, with the assumption that the whole zone will start to change its character. The inaccessible industrial area will turn into a mixed-function zone, which will eventually become aresidential and commercial district, an extension of the New Port. The idea is linked to the nearby Central Port, which could take over the function of the WOC in the future and return the current area to the city. The area, located at the end of a long stretch of beaches and walking paths, has great potential for tourism. With proper development, it could serve as a starting point for people setting off by water streetcar from the center of Gdansk and starting their journey on the Baltic beaches here.

Założenie hotelowe
w Gdańsku

With proper development, the area can be a starting point for people setting off by water streetcar from the center of Gdansk

© Damian Maj

japanese references

The name of the hotel, Kurofune, proposed by the author, is derived from the Japanese language. It is a term for European sailing ships arriving in the 16th century and later to then-isolated Japan. The term kurofune can be translated as black ships. After traveling such a long route, the sailing ships often turned black from the weather, causing the Japanese to identify the color with the newcomers. The ships became a symbol of the changes that were to take place in Japan over the next centuries. In the same way, the name of the hotel suggests that it is a foreign element at this point, but one that foreshadows the changes to come - wider access to harbor wharves, the transformation of brownfields.

Czarne budynki hotelu

The name Kurofune is derived from Japanese and means black ships

© Damian Maj

a bit of nautical history

The form of the building refers to nautical motifs, fitting in with the coastal landscape.

European vessels making the route to Asia were primarily karaks, a type of ship that was suitable for ocean voyages because of its strength. Karaks were also used in the Baltic Sea, supplementing the merchant fleets of Hanseatic League cities, including Danzig. It was Danzig that had the largest ship sailing in the Baltic Sea in the Middle Ages - the karaka Peter von Danzig. A distinctive feature of these ships and some other types of medieval vessels was the kashlets, or structures located at the bow and stern of the ship. Initially, they served a military purpose and functioned as archer stations. Over time, as boatbuilding developed and ship armaments changed, they began to be used as living areas for the ship's command and thus took on representative functions. - Damian Maj explains.

Założenie hotelowe,
widok od strony lądu

The blocks of the hotel are shaped in the likeness of ship castellas

© Damian Maj

hotel in gdansk harbor

In the design of the hotel, the above-ground parts containing living quarters are shaped in the likeness of ship castellas. To allude to the sloping sides of medieval carracks, parts of the building have the form of a truncated pyramid with an offset apex. The accumulation of several such forms, twisted in relation to each other and having different heights, is meant to evoke the view of a crowded medieval port full of ships.

Elewacja założenia

The accumulation of forms evokes the view of a crowded port

© Damian Maj

From the front, the almost entirely glazed facades of the "castellations" open up to the panorama of the surroundings. The author has achieved the spatiality of the building's facades through the use of horizontal and vertical divisions made of fire-fired wooden planks. These divisions delineate window openings and correspond to floors. This use also alludes to structural elements used on hulls in medieval ships.

"Cassels" are connected to each other at the first floor level by sections containing all other hotel functions. They include a restaurant, conference room, bar, store or fitness area with a small swimming pool.

Rzut parteru
założenia hotelowego

On the first floor level, individual buildings are connected by parts containing numerous functions

© Damian Maj

The underground level contains a parking lot, a technical zone and a passage between parts of the hotel, which can serve as a gallery and a temporary exhibition zone. The aim of the project is to create an attractive place within Gdansk's Free Customs Area, capable of functioning independently at first, and over time complementing the developing urban fabric.


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