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Tourist trail along the Mazurian Canal. Alicja Maculewicz's project nominated for Archiprix International!

23 of November '20

Alicja Maculewicz 's thesis from the University of Arts in Poznań has been nominated for the 11th edition of the Archiprix International Addis Ababa 2021 competition. The nominated graduate restores the memory of the Mazurian Canal by designing an Engaging Tourism Route.

Pawilon przy śluzie

The pavilion at the Piaski water lock

© Alicja Maculewicz

Archiprix International is a biennial competition, and each edition showcases a new generation of the world's best architects, urban planners and landscape architects with their graduation projects. The formula for the competition is simple - diploma projects completed over the past two years are accepted. The projects are submitted by an invited university, which chooses its single best work. The University of Arts in Poznan decided to select Alicja Maculewicz 's work for the competition, entitled. "Design of an Engaging Tourism Route along the Mazurian Canal," made under the direction of Dr. Elżbieta Raszei. The results of the competition will be announced on May 7, 2021.

Widok na maszt
nawigacyjny, początek szlaku

The trail begins at the navigation mast

© Alicja Maculewicz

Masurian Canal and its history

The MasurianCanal, located in former East Prussia and now cut by the Polish border with the Kaliningrad Oblast, was designed to even out the economic differences between the rich north, centered around Königsberg, and the poor south. Due to numerous wars, it was not completed and was subjected to a natural succession. After 1945 and the redrawing of new borders, few people remembered it anymore - the local population gave way to new residents, arriving mainly from the Eastern Borderlands. The canal was part of a larger, pan-European movement to create a water network, and today, traversing its fifty-kilometer route, one can come across forgotten huge locks with drops of up to thirty meters and many other technical infrastructure facilities located in the forests of the borderland.

Aksonometria układu
szlaku turystycznego Przebieg szlaku tursytycznego

The author has designed the Trail of Engaging Tourism along the Mazurian Canal

© Alicja Maculewicz

In the words of Alicja Maculewicz:

In my project I dealt with the Polish part of the Mazursky Canal, because a detailed study would not have been possible on the Russian side. A sizable chunk of the watercourse is located in a guarded border zone, and on the Russian side the Canal runs through private land. Traveling along the Canal and studying its communication links, perceptual potentials, and simply sketching, mapping, photographing, or reading about it has strengthened my attachment to the region from which I come. Like many others, I am part of the third generation of migrants to the Recovered Territories and have no ties to my place of origin. Through researching the Canal and exploration, I was able to build my regional identity and recreate it for other members of the third generation. It's important to see the history of the Mazurian Canal, not just as the history of the German people, which the Recovered Territories wanted to erase at all costs in favor of mythologizing these regions as eternally Polish. History is a palimpsest, and treating our activities as just another layer of it contributes to sensitive solutions for preserving the region's heritage.

Wiata turystyczna
i kładka pod śluzą Bajory Małe

Tourist shelter and footbridge under the Bajory Małe lock

© Alicja Maculewicz

Engaging Tourism Route

The Engaging Tourism Trail along the Mazurian Canal, consisting of narrative architecture elements, is intended to be the answer to the issues presented. Visitors are engaged through various points along the route, which become increasingly difficult to access as the trail progresses. The closer they get to the country's border, the fewer people are able to continue the journey, but they are constantly guided by narrative forms divided into groups corresponding to different aspects of the Canal.

Katalog elementów
architektury narracyjnej

The author has created narrative architecture of various forms

© Alicja Maculewicz

Vertical forms symbolize the beginning and end of the Canal's course, or its continuation in places where it is not visible - such as when it runs through a lake. Horizontal forms located across the Canal indicate the interruption of the course or its absence. Flats mark the presence of the foundation in places where it is not visible - for example, where it has been channelized. These groups are divided according to their purpose - communicative, symbolic or functional (in the case of observation towers or pavilions).
The form of the designed objects follows directly from the architectural forms of the Canal's infrastructure - it is strange, sometimes overscaled and unfinished. However, it locks in traditional forms and materials, intermingling with contemporary materials - mash-up corrugated sheet metal forming organic shapes in wooden structures.

Zastosowanie różnych
technik projektowych

traditional materials and forms were used in the project

© Alicja Maculewicz

macro, meso and micro design

As the author says about the design work:

My original idea for the fate of the Mazurian Canal was its reclamation, but as a result of research, analysis and local inspections, what seemed to be its main shortcoming, i.e. a high degree of natural succession, became its main potential. I would like everyone to find in these strange ruins hidden in the forest what I found in it, because this is what the Mazurian Canal needs - interest and care. The structures I designed are not eternal and can be removed, and if reclamation never happens (this is likely given Polish-Russian relations), this architecture will also succumb to natural succession.

Pawilon edukacyjny na

The author tried to show the history of the Mazurian Canal by building a narrative

© Alicja Maculewicz

The project was solved in three scales - macro, meso and micro. The macro scale is the development of the entire Mazury Canal, dividing it into different zones of accessibility and designating key places for the entire route. The meso scale is the development of the individual eleven sites selected in the macro scale, and the designation of the trail, how to visit the locks, or how to get there. The micro scale is the narrative architecture forms themselves, shaped on the basis of studies of border architecture and modeled in sketches, mock-ups and collages.

Due to the pandemic situation, the work was defended online with an interactive presentation. You can learn more about the author's research methods, which were used in shaping the concept of the Engaging Tourism Trail, at the Memory of Water website.

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