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Exploring the relationship between sculpture and architecture. Design of a pavilion in Skaryszewski Park

Dobrawa Bies
28 of September '20

Students at the Warsaw University of Technology, as part of classes in the Department of Architectural and Urban Design and the Department of Architectural Heritage and Art, had to face an unusual task - referring to classical orders to find relations between sculpture and architecture, creating a design for a pavilion in Skaryszewski Park in Warsaw.

The purpose of the designexercise was to familiarize students with classical orders in practice and to find the relationship between sculpture and architecture. Referring to the classical perception of art, according to which beauty is found in the natural world, students were tasked with referring to ancient orders that are a representation of the proportions of the human body. The task was to make a study based on the body of a man or woman, which they were then to place in a designed pavilion. The form of the object was to be made analogously according to the Ionic or Doric order. Interpretation of ancient orders could allow solutions of a nature that deviated from classical ornamentation. The main premise of the exercise was the creative use of the Doric or Ionic order and an attempt to understand their characteristic features related to the proportions of the human body. In the words of instructor Dr. Rafal Mazur: "The relationship between sculpture and building is very strong in this case and should be a unity."

Pawilon autorstwa
Szymona Chwazika

© Szymon Chwazik

Dobrawa Bies: How did the students approach the project? Was it difficult for them to find their way in such a "classical" task?

Rafal Mazur: The students approached the subject very seriously. I was surprised by their keen interest in the treatises of Vitruvius, Alberti or Palladio. The thoughts of the classics are often discussed in general architectural history classes, but there is not enough time to think about them in depth. In addition, history classes take place in the first semesters, and contact with the classics at the end of studies can result in completely different thoughts. I felt that these classes became a chance to catch up on reading about elementary architectural theory, which is often not well known to modern architects. I also noticed that each of the students wanted to grapple with the classical architectural legacy in their own unique way. The field for interpretation was so wide that issues of order and proportion became an excuse for good intellectual fun.

Dobrawa Bies: Does working with sculpture affect the general perception of architecture and space?

Rafal Mazur: It certainly does. In this class we focused on the essence of the Doric and Ionic order in the context of the human body. Everyone was able to answer the question whether the Doric order is really masculine and the Ionic order feminine, and whether these references make sense today. The answers varied, but arriving at them could be done just by working on a sculpture. The students worked under the guidance of sculptor Marcin Nowicki, who does not run away from traditional language in his work. The students had a lot of freedom of expression, and through sculpture they were able to reinterpret the proportions of the human body in relation to the proportions of the architectural space.

Przekrój pawilonu
Aleksander Gadomski

© Alexander Gadomski

Dobrawa Bies: What were the design difficulties, and what results were the participants most satisfied with?

Rafal Mazur: The biggest problem was switching from thinking about large functional assumptions, which are usually designed in the final years of studies. The design of the park pavilion sounds like a simple first-year assignment. That was the most interesting thing about working with them. The students had to propose something that carried intellectual value in this small form. They had to forget about function and complicated engineering assumptions. We were only interested in proportions that could not be overshadowed by issues of sociology, technology or even urban planning. These proportions had to express something, and that was the most difficult part of the task.

Dobrawa Bies: What conclusions can be drawn, what did the project participants learn?

Rafal Mazur: They certainly understood that even the smallest scale of a project requires a lot of intellectual effort on their part. I hope they remembered that creating architecture is fun. Certainly, the series of classes allowed the students to sort out their knowledge of classical proportions and look at this aspect with a more mature eye.

Read about the individual student projects on the next page.

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