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Polish project "Theatre of Light" with Grand Prix International VELUX Award 2020!

Dobrawa Bies
28 of June '21

First a regional victory (Eastern Europe and the Middle East), and now a global one. The "Theater of Light" project by a team consisting of: Paweł Białas, Julia Giżewska and Dominik Kowalski from the Faculty of Architecture at the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, won the Grand Prix of the International VELUX Award 2020 competition in the "Natural Light Research" category! This is the first Grand Prix in the history of the competition to be won by Poles.

TheInternational VELUX Award is a biennial competition for architecture students, which aims to encourage students to pay special attention to the role of natural light in architecture as an important source of lighting, energy, well-being and comfort.

Since the first edition of the competition in 2004, more than 4,500 students from more than 80 countries have participated, and more than 5,500 projects have been submitted. The International VELUX Award 2020 competition was organized in close cooperation with the International Union of Architects (UIA) and the World Architecture Festival (WAF), and was recognized by the following educational institutions: European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE), American Institute of Architectural Students (AIAS), Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC) and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).

Teatr Światła,
plansza konkursowa

Theater of Light was awarded the Grand Prix in the "Natural Light Research" category.

© Paweł Białas, Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski

first a regional success and now a worldwide one

The9th edition of the competition received 579 projects submitted by 250 schools from 60 countries. Projects were submitted in two categories: "Natural Light in Buildings" and "Natural Light Research." The entries were judged by an international jury consisting of:

  • OdileDecq - Studio Odile Decq, France,
  • Nora Demeter - Demeter Design Studio, Hungary,
  • Sebastian Adamo - Adamo-Faiden Architects, Argentina,
  • Juri Troy - Juri Troy Architects, Austria,
  • Martin Pors Jepsen - VELUX A/S, Denmark.

In the first regional stage, the results of which were announced in September 2020, the judges selected, ten winning projects and awarded one honorable mention. Among them, in the region of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, was the Polish project "Theater of Light" by Paweł Białas, Julia Giżewska, and Dominik Kowalski from the Faculty of Architecture at the Silesian University of Technology, made under the supervision of Dr. Jerzy Wojewódka, professor at the Silesian University of Technology. You can read the statements of the authors and the supervisor about the idea of the project and the competition itself here.

Now it was time for the grand finale! On June 24 the global winners were announced. In the "Natural Light in Buildings" category, the winner was Henry Glogau from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts with his Solar Desalination Skylight project representing Denmark and the Western Europe region. In the "Natural LightResearch" category, the "Theater of Light" project was again the winner , receiving the Grand Prix!

We were impressed by this very sensitive and poetic project that took into account people, light and nature. It's a very sensitizing solution to the problem, and at the same time it shows in a very pleasant way the relationship between man and light, away from buildings, but in our place on earth," Nora Demeter, chairwoman of the jury, said of the Polish students' project.

Teatr światła
w Górach Izerskich Nocne niebo

The authors wanted to address the problem of pollution by artificial light

© Paweł Białas, Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski

Theater of light in the Jizera Mountains

The project by Polish students addresses the problem of pollution by artificial light, and its main goal is to raise awareness and the importance of this phenomenon in the modern world.

We wanted to show that darkness, is as important an element of the environment as air, soil, water and rocks," say the authors.

For the location, the authors chose the Izera Dark Sky Park - one of the few completely dark places in Europe. "Theater of Light" is an extensive land art, allowing to observe a fragment of the sky like a performance. Through a symbolic earthen circle , the young architects want to make us reflect on the changes taking place in nature and their consequences.

The project is a reference to ancient theater, which provided the viewer with the opportunity to watch different kinds of scenes and emotions, which, as it were, culminated as an expected catharsis. Analyzing the diversity of this process, we created a hollow circle, allowing viewers to observe various individually selected parts of the sky. As in art, the best way to see and feel something is to create a bond between the viewer and the artwork, which in this case is the all-encompassing sky. There is a long wooden bench leading to the theater circle, which is a kind of guide, allowing one to stop at any point along the way and admire the beautiful light scattering around. The design is just a background for the light, a tool for observing it, a quiet place to rest, the young architects say.

Teatr Światła to
krąg z ziemi 
Różne pory dnia i niebo

The project is a symbolic earth circle

© Paweł Białas, Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski

The authors used natural materials, wood and earth, to construct the circle, as well as the bench. The whole establishment lives in the landscape and, depending on the weather conditions, changes its appearance, and with the passage of time it will slowly grow and meld with its surroundings.

Thank you very much for the fact that the jury appreciated our project. It's really important to us that such a minimalist idea was chosen. For us as students and people, it's a sign that sometimes it's worthwhile to create something different, quiet but strong in message. We hope that our message will help raise awareness about natural light, darkness and artificial light. We are so happy that we lack words, it's probably from emotions," commented Pawel Bialas, Julia Gizewska and Dominik Kowalski on the verdict.

Registration for the next, already 10th edition of the International Velux Award 2022 will start in September. stay tuned! Meanwhile, if you are looking for tips on how to make the most of daylight in interiors or which roof windows to choose, please click here.

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