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KOTYDŻ. Cottages for free-living cats have been erected in Poznań

23 of May '23

At the end of April, the second edition of the international KOTYDŻ workshop, for design students from Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany, ended in Poznań. Participants, under the supervision of tutors from Atelier Starzak Strebicki, social.form, KOBRA, the duo: Rolf Starke and Anatolia Kotov, and Iwo Borkowicz, designed and made fourteen houses for free-living cats in Poznań. The initiators and organizers of the workshop were SARP Poznań, the Common Point Association and the Magdalena Abakanowicz University of Arts in Poznań.

The purpose of the workshop, in addition to creating houses, was to try to engage local communities to work together for the benefit of free-living cats. The task set for the 38 participants, divided into 5 groups, was to design and independently make, within eight days, houses for cats residing within a selected location in Poznań, at which cat caretakers were active. During public consultations, they created design guidelines for the workshop participants and then approved the resulting designs.

coverage of the second edition of the KOTYDŻ workshop

© SARP Poznań

cat shelters

Free-living cats are a permanent and legally protected element of the urban ecosystem. According to the law, they are a national asset and should be provided with conditions for their development and free existence. Free-living cats are not stray animals, therefore, they must not be trapped, removed or impeded from living in a particular place. [...]. Some cooperatives equip themselves with factory-built houses—proposed by private companies—these houses, however, as alarmed by pro-animal Foundations (e.g. model purchased by the City of Poznań in 2017 and 2015) do not meet the basic requirements for safety for animals—hence the strong need for workshops, during which structures were created that became an example of how such objects can be aesthetically integrated into the surrounding landscape, while reducing the resistance of some residents, the workshop organizers explain.

Houses in allotments Jutrzenka

The first design group, consisting of Burak Bolat, Kateryna Budak, Jan Fiebig, Luka Gajić, Aleksandra Gurazda, Aida Krievinia, Maciej Majewski and Veronika Pečeňová, under the direction of Poznan architect Iwo Borkowicz, was responsible for making cottages in the Jutrzenka allotment gardens. The challenge was to create two houses—one in the green belt on the side of Grodziska Street and one structure on the private plot of Mr. Lukasz, who has been feeding Luna the cat for years.

Jeden z domków na terenie ROD Jutrzenka Domek wykonany pod kierunkiem Iwo Borkowicza

The group, under the direction of Iwo Borkowicz, made the houses in ROD Jutrzenka

Photo: Dawid Majewski

The result was two similar houses resembling in shape two truncated and folded pyramids. In the lower part of the structure, the students placed entrances for the cats, and on top of the objects they added a color accent in the form of a red-painted seat. The shelters were made of insulated plywood and were point-founded on steel anchors. The second structure refers to the allotment houses of Jutrzenka and is a hanging object. Made of plywood, the structure, suspended from a triangular frame, can be attached to the trees on the plot. In addition, the authors painted it black to enhance the impression of the object floating above the ground.

Chatie ma kilka wejść

The hut has several entrances

Photo: Dawid Majewski

Cottages by the Allotment House

Another group consisting of: Selma Grein, Piotr Ignatowicz, Amna Kharcić, Szymon Martewicz, Aleksander Ludwinski, Tabea Wendenburg were led by architects from the Atelier Starzak Strebicki studio. The resulting Chatie project is a complex of three cottages located near the modernist building of the Allotment House. The name of the project is a combination of two words—Polish chata and French chat—meaning cat. The form proposed by the male and female students stems from their observation of the needs of cats and their feeders, and refers to the principles of universal design—flexibility, simplicity and intuitive use.

Grupa na prośbę działkowców stworzyła także stół / jadalnie dla kotów

The group, at the request of the allotment holders, also created a table / dining area for cats

Photo: Dawid Majewski

The use of natural materials, windbreaks, straw filling and rounded lines is intended to help animals adapt more quickly to their new dwelling. The group, at the request of the allotment holders, also created a table / dining room for cats matching the form of the proposed houses.

Schronienie w kształcie kota powstało pod kierunkiem social.form

The cat-shaped shelter was created under the direction of social.form

Photo: Dawid Majewski

shelter in the shape of a cat

The team, under the guidance of German architects from the social.form studio, created three terrain houses next to the building of an abandoned modernist boiler house. The boiler house, built in the 1960s, was used by the Jeżyce Housing Cooperative until the 1990s. Then, in 2020, the building was purchased by architect Marcin Piatek of the CALCA studio, who is currently renovating the structure and turning it into a residential building. The young designers—Magdalena Bartkowiak, Ramona Forster, Nico Kostal, Zofia Napiontek, Aneta Sawicka, Tajra Šurković, Kamal Shukla—were inspired precisely by the boiler room and.... the shape of a cat. As a result, three shelters were created—one larger one with many openings and two smaller houses. The shelters were insulated with Styrofoam and, for ease of maintenance, have easy access for animal caretakers.

 Rysy powstały na terenie ogrodu Domu Pomocy Społecznej Ugory Rakieta ma charakterystyczny, pomarańczowy kolor

Rysy and Rocket were built in the garden of the Ugory Nursing Home

Photo: Dawid Majewski

Rocket and Rysy

Czech architects from KOBRA, together with students (Constantin Beiküfner, Hubert Cebulski, Roman Michalczak, Adela Prokopova, Dariana Ramirez, Józek Wierzbowski, Kasia Wroczek), worked on two houses on the grounds of the Ugory Nursing Home garden. The facility houses elderly people who require care and tenderness, which can be provided, among other things, by contact with animals. The facilities were placed in the large garden of the DPS to encourage seniors to take more frequent walks outdoors and to have a positive effect on their well-being.

The first of the projects-named Rocket is designed for one cat. Covered with a transparent polycarbonate roof, the wooden structure is reminiscent of a pyramid. The structure consists of a wooden frame that lifts the object above the ground to protect it from moisture, and insulated and plywood-covered walls. The designers also took into account the possibility of expanding the shelter.

Rysy mają nawiązywać do najwyższego szczytu w Polsce

Rysy is meant to refer to the highest peak in Poland

photo: Dawid Majewski

The second, larger shelter—Rysy—is a structure designed for two cats. Raised above the ground, the object resembles Poland's highest peak by its shape. The entire structure was designed from a wooden truss composed of triangular prisms. Single „meshes” were selected from the grid, which serve as cat houses, seats and auxiliary shelves.

Domki Pyradlakota i La maison de Félicette

Pyradlakota and La maison de Félicette houses

Photo: Dawid Majewski

La maison de Félicette and Pyradlakota

The last group (Aleksandra Gospodarek, Daria Kaczmarczyk, Alex Euduardo Krcho, Ruth Muller, Florencia Navarrete, Dora Petrovičová, Vladimir Vanco, Przemek Wdowiak) led by a duo consisting of: Rolf Starke and Anatolii Kotov, made two multipurpose houses. The first, named La maison de Félicette, in honor of the cat Félicette (the first and only one) sent into space, is to be a shelter for all cats from the farthest corners. Its structure is based on rhomboidal and rectangular shapes that allude to Brutalist architecture. The designers paid attention to the needs of feline users—the house has two entrances, so animals can escape or jump inside faster, and holes cut in the floor and placed in the corners, provide more space for lying down.

Pyradlakota to schronienie które można zawiesić na drzewie

Pyradlakota is a shelter that can be hung from a tree

Photo: Dawid Majewski

The second object-named Pyradlakota is organic in form, designed to be hung around a tree. The structure consists of two spaces—inner and outer—separated by two rounded edges. The shelter has two circular entrances and a small terrace.

The KOTYDŻ workshop aims to promote participatory actions, pro-animal actions, cooperation between designers and the local community, and to emphasize the role played by practical education of design students, focused on developing manual skills [...]. KOTYDŻ is a process that is a huge challenge and involves intense work. However, it leaves one with immense satisfaction from handmade projects that contribute to improving the quality of life of free-living cats in Poznan," the workshop organizers conclude.


The media partner of the workshop was Architektura & Biznes, Magda Wypusz was responsible for coordination. Partners of the project were: the International Visegrad Fund, the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, the Polish-German Youth Cooperation, the Voice of Animals Foundation, the Wielkopolska District Chamber of Architects, BTU COTTBUS, VUT Brno, the Poznań- Jeżyce Estate Council.

compiled by: Dobrawa Bies

photographs courtesy of the organizers

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