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Restoring the memory of the Cistercian Abbey in Lubiaz. Results of the OSSA Spatium competition

Dobrawa Bies
02 of December '20

This year's OSSA, held under the banner of Spatium, took a hybrid form. The starting point of this edition was not a city, but an unusual place. Lower Silesia hides an unusual architectural object - the post-Cistercian monastery complex in Lubiaz. It was it that was the subject of the design competition - the creation of an installation that would be part of the exhibition at the Cistercian Abbey.

The announced competition symbolically connected the virtual space, where the workshops took place, with the physical space, where the winning work will be made. The task facing participants in the second stage of the OSSA Spatium competition was to design an installation in the amphitheater rooms of the Cistercian Abbey in Lubiaz. The topic of the work was free, but the scope of the study was to include one idea board, a technical board and an abstract describing the idea of the project.

After reading numerous introductions, 44 groups were accepted to the second stage of the competition, and they had one month to send in their competition works. An important element was the consultation with tutors - Dominika Janicka (curator of the exhibition , "Fair Building" at the Polish Pavilion in 2016 during the 15th Architecture Biennale), the CENTRALA group and the PROLOG+1 collective consisting of: Mirabela Jurczenko, Bartosz Kowal, Wojciech Mazan, Bartłomiej Poteralski, Rafał Śliwa, Robert Witczak. Subsequently, the appointed Competition Commission deliberated in November in the spaces of the new Concordia Design building in Wroclaw.

The jury consisted of:

  • Witold Krochmal - president of the Lubiaz Foundation,
  • Michal Duda - deputy program director of the Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw,
  • Zbigniew Macieków - founder of Macieków Pracownia Projektowa,
  • Oskar Zięta - founder of Zięta Studio Prozessdesign.

Among the submitted projects, the jury decided to award prizes to three proposals.

Zwycięski projekt

First place - "Absence", installation within the walls of the abbey

© Mikołaj Cichocki, Marianna Moskal, Bartosz Teodorczyk

As we read in the justification:

The competition committee ruled unanimously that in the OSSA Spatium 2020 competition for the development of an installation in the post-Cistercian monastery in Lubiaz , the winner is the work of Marianna Moskal, Mikołaj Cichocki and Bartosz Teodorczyk. We appreciate the accurate recognition of the current situation of the abbey and proposing a project that corresponds with its turbulent history and prompts us to delve deeper into the subject. The winning concept realizes a multifaceted installation. Firstly, it relates to the subject matter of the OSSA workshop, creating an interesting spatial game, thus prompting an insight into the content layer. Secondly, the chosen theme - the fate of the looted works of art from Lubiaz - was creatively used to build the elements of the exhibition. The issue is interesting due to the fact that most of painter Willmann's works left the abbey walls. With this, the installation encourages the search for locally lost heritage throughout Poland. It touches on the difficult subject of the loss of cultural property [...]. It should be emphasized, however, that the exhibition does not try to negate history, but accepts the existing state of affairs and takes advantage of the present, captivating emptiness of the monastery.

First place - "Absence"

The student team consisting of: Mikołaj Cichocki, Marianna Moskal and Bartosz Teodorczyk from the Warsaw University of Technology decided to take up the subject of the fate of looted works of art. In the first-place-winning project, it is emptiness that becomes the medium for building a new spatial narrative. It is symbolized by a picture frame devoid of canvas. The bare, wooden structure, in a perverse way, becomes the main subject of the likes of the interior and redefines its image.

Projekt instalacji
Nieobecność Instalacja z pustych ram

The void becomes a medium for building a new spatial narrative

© Mikołaj Cichocki, Marianna Moskal, Bartosz Teodorczyk

As the authors explain in the abstract:

A programmatic horror vacui, or fear of emptiness, is part of the specificity of Baroque art and architecture. In its heyday, the abbey in Lubiaz was an undoubted testament to this approach - the interiors of the monastery were filled almost entirely with elaborate stuccowork, paintings, frescoes and sculptures. The exaggeration of ornaments, impressive scale and unimaginable richness of colors, forms and materials made this place unique in Europe.

Rama po skradzionym

Photo: Mikołaj Cichocki, Marianna Moskal, Bartosz Teodorczyk

The turbulent fate of the Lubyanka abbey meant that most of the interior decorations and works of art were stolen, destroyed or taken to other cities. In turn, the building itself gradually fell into disrepair. Today, the empty interiors of the monastery are a sad testimony to the gradual degradation of the entire architectural establishment and the rich collection of works of art. During the competition deliberations, we pondered the spatium of the Lubyanka abbey. We came to the conclusion that its temporal defining feature is that poignant emptiness that the Baroque artists were so keen to avoid. All that remains of the supposed opulence and splendor of the monastery's former interiors are the hooks left by the braziers removed from the walls. Empty frames, the austere geometry of the walls and vaults devoid of the former fancy stucco....

Construction of the winning installation will begin in spring 2021.

Second place - "Half-life"

Joanna Hutna, Maciej Toszek and Dorota Żak from the Warsaw University of Technology received second place for their project titled. "Half-life." The students addressed the theme of the emptiness left behind by the paintings, the fragility and passage of time, which created numerous "scars" in the architecture of the building. They likened these damages to the Japanese art of kintsugi, or repairing broken vessels by filling with gold. The scars refine the object, adding value. This philosophical concept relates to different spheres of life, celebrating authenticity and recognizing beauty in imperfections - that which is fragile, ephemeral, worn out or tarnished by the teeth of time.

Puste przestrzenie opactwa

The concept covers three rooms of the abbey, each treated in a different way

©Joanna Hutna, Maciej Toszek, Dorota Żak

The proposed exhibition makes use of the existing fabric of the monastery. The concept covers three rooms of the abbey wing. The first room has been renovated in its entirety. The walls and vaults have been given reconstructed qualities. The next room has been renovated in half - it is here, that the contrast between old and new is expressed. The juxtaposition of the restored and authentic fabric is meant to draw attention to the damaged part and point out the scars, which we believe are of great value in this space. The last room was left intact. We hope that the addressee of the exhibition will observe how the state of preservation of the architectural substance is changing, and at the same time the display of cultural and sacred significance. He will thus be prompted to reflect and ask himself - Do we see the value in the scars? - explain the winners of the second place.

Third place - "Echoes"

The third place winners are Paulina Górecka and Natalia Tobiarczyk from Wroclaw University of Technology. Their project is a look at space in a broader sense - a space that is formed not only by the layers visible to the eye, but also by those that are felt through the sense of hearing. Sound propagates through the room, giving a sense of space, material, distance.

III miejsce, praca

The authors focused on sound and the space it creates

© Paulina Górecka, Natalia Tobiarczyk

As the authors explain:

The perception of space and time is relative and is achieved through the components that describe them - movement (speed), image and sound. The Cistercian Abbey in Lubiaz defines the diversity of phenomena and events occurring at this place over the years. Overlapping stages of transformation over time create "layers". Preserved in space, the observable layers are divided into - social, organic and meaningful. Layers of sound and time, on the other hand, are the only ones that are not phenomena visible to the eye. The goal of our installation is to direct the visitor as close as possible to the wall and to bring out the preserved "voices of time." The building, as a silent witness to events, has absorbed the words spoken in it. The history of this place wants to be heard, and the installation titled. "Echoes" allows it to speak. The scattered sounds emanating from the walls are focused with the help of curved surfaces standing opposite. In this way, a reverberation - a layering of sound- is created. The form of the installation results directly from the application of the laws of acoustics. The curved surface creates two spaces - soundproofing and focusing sound. The exhibition space is divided into a zone of silence and speech - sacrum and profanum. After passing the "echo" zone, the visitor reaches the sacrum zone hidden inside - a muffled source of sound. In it, he has the opportunity to leave another visitor a story, recorded with his own voice, which will circulate between the walls in the future.

You can see more of the submitted competition entries on the OSSA Spatium website. If you are curious about this year's entries, they are all also available on the organizers' website.


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