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Play of Light. The "Intermission" project in the interior of a Gdansk tenement house

14 of April '23

A {tag:studenci} from the Interior Design Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk decided to use natural light to transform the interior of one of Gdansk's historic townhouses, located on Swietojanska Street. To this end, she designed special rotating modules to filter and reflect light, used a system of heliostats and introduced mezzanines on pole structures. Get to know "Intermission."

Animation of the "Intermission" project

© Adela Moss

Intermission, or intermission or mezzanine, is a conceptual semester project prepared by Adela Moss during the winter semester (2022 - 2023) in the Urban Interiors Design Studio led by Prof. Jacek Dominiczak at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk. The subject of the assignment was Danzig's Old Town townhouses, with specific proportions and terraced layout. The main goal of the project was to introduce natural light into the lowest floors of the tenement placed in the middle of the set row.

As a quote, the student chose as inspiration for her project a statement by American architect Richard Meier, which reads - Architecture which enters into a symbiosis with light does not merely create form in light, by day and at night, but allow light to become form.

Projekt Adeli Moss wprowadza światło do wnętrza kamienicy Diagram padania światła

Light streaming in front of the roof brightens the interior

© Adela Moss

townhouses bathed in shadow

As Adela explains, according to the historical development plans of the Old Town and the code of Danzig tenements, the length of a tenement had to be equal to the length of the quarter and be about 50 meters, and its width did not exceed 5.6 meters. Meanwhile, the height of the cornice of the last floor had to measure 12 meters. Such a layout means that the only planes through which daylight can enter the buildings' interiors are the roof and the front and rear facades. However, an analysis conducted in class of the shading of the selected tenement by neighboring buildings showed that the lower parts of the front and rear facades are also bathed in shadow for most of the year, making the roof the only source of light.

Przekrój projektowanego wnętrza kamienicy

cross-section of the designed interior of the townhouse

© Adela Moss

happy places

The project began with a conversation about "happy places" that we undertook at the Urban Interiors Design Studio. I wondered which of the places I remembered were closest to me. It turned out to be a place associated with my second passion - horseback riding, or more precisely - a stable. In my memories, light seemed particularly important in this space, how it delicately penetrates through the cracks of the architectural boards and creates drawings on the walls, revealing dust particles floating slowly , creates an atmosphere of calmness and lightness, allows you to stop (intermission). Where no light reaches, there is twilight. I wanted to achieve a similar effect in the tenement, making sure that the main source of light is a narrow gap ," says the student.

Odbite światło rozjaśnia wnętrze Wnętrze oświetlonego salonu

The author was inspired by the mezzanine structure of one of the stables

© Adela Moss

inspiring memories

Not only the light, but also the architecture of the stables themselves inspired Adela Moss to new design solutions.

The interior of one English stable looked like this - a long, wide corridor ran through the center, and individual stalls were placed on either side of it. The special thing, however, was a mezzanine suspended above the corridor on a pole structure, on which hay was stored. The longest edges of the mezzanine and the actual walls of the stable were separated by a gap through which hay was pushed into each of the stalls, the author recalls.

Rzut parteru kamienicy

first floor plan of the building

© Adela Moss

pole construction

So the designer moved the stable mezzanine into the interior of the inflicted tenement on a columnar structure, suspending the ceilings of each floor at different levels. This procedure was intended to enhance the feeling of the unusual proportions of the space and its open character. The columnar structures of the floors were rotated from the main axis of symmetry of the building by several degrees, introducing characteristic geometries into the building's interior. The gap created by separating the fire walls and floors' ceilings allows daylight into the interiors.

A characteristic feature of the architecture of the stables is also its irregularity, curves, different geometries negotiating with each other in one building. I decided, therefore, to introduce deformation into the interior of the tenement as well," adds the student.

Wnętrze korytarza Obrotowe ścianki

Rotating modules of mechanical openwork walls make it possible to adjust the light

© Adela Moss

the path of light

Light begins its path through the building from a slit located in the roof. Later it is reflected by systems of heliostats (mirrors that measure the sun's position) placed on the building's fire walls to reach the interiors of the individual floors. Before it gets there, however, it is filtered through rotating modules of mechanical openwork walls. These special walls were placed on the edges of the mezzanine floors, between the structural columns.

The rotating modules make it possible to regulate the light entering the interior, they can restrict it completely, or by varying the degree of rotation, direct a certain amount of reflected light to the desired place. It is possible to rotate the entire wall module around its axis and let the reflected light in, which is similar to opening the slope of a window.

The penetration of light through the mechanical walls makes the interior reflect an atmosphere of softness, calmness and apprehension, my "happy place." - concludes Adela Moss.

Wnętrze sypialni

The light builds a moody, peaceful atmosphere

© Adela Moss

The project additionally envisioned that the townhouse would serve several functions. The building was to house a selected service establishment, an architectural studio and a residential area for the owner-architect. The tenement house designed by Adela Moss can be divided into a service part, located on the side of Swietojanska Street, and a private part, located on the side of Straganiarska Street. In the service part, on the first floor, there is a printing house, and the first and second floors are occupied by an architectural studio.

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