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In harmony with nature. Polish architects recognized in Europan 17 competition

02 of February '24
w skrócie
  1. Ada Jaskowiec, Michal Stupinski, Kinga Murawska and Zuzanna Sekuła won an honorable mention in the Europan 17 competition for their Way to Care project, focusing on the organic development of the Østmarka area in Norway. The team focused on understanding the history and relationship between nature and culture of Østmarka, rather than imposing their vision.
  2. The project involves enriching the natural environment by planting native species, reforesting using the Miyawaki method, and creating habitats for various animals.
  3. The architects introduced clusters as the basic unit, creating a flexible spatial structure integrated with nature, including a retirement home, housing and other social functions.
  4. The project involves a phased development, taking into account adaptation to the changing needs of society, integrating architecture with the surrounding environment, offering a sustainable future for the community and the environment.
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Young architects from Poland—Ada Jaśkowiec, Michal Strupiński, Kinga Murawska and Zuzanna Sekuła also won an honorable mention in the Europan 17 international competition. Their project Way to Care is a proposal for the organic and phased development of the Østmarka area in Norway. The authors paid special attention to nature, ecosystem enhancement and participatory processes.

Recognized as a special laboratory of spatial ideas, the Europan competition is a design challenge for architects under the age of 40. The ideas presented in the subsequent editions become an inspiration for the search for innovation in urban planning and architecture. Those participating in the challenge can choose from several themes and multiple locations in different European cities. The latest, 17th edition of the competition under the theme Living cities: CARE, offered 51 tasks located in 12 European countries.

Projekt Way to Care, aksonometria Projekt Way to Care, plan założenia

The study area is located in the municipality of Trondheim, Norway

© Ada Jaśkowiec, Michal Strupiński, Kinga Murawska, Zuzanna Sekuła

In the Norway part of the competition, participants could choose from five locations in the municipalities of Karmøy, Larvik, Arendal and Trondheim as the area for project activities. In the municipality of Trondheim, the challenge was to develop a solution for an area located on the Lade peninsula—the Østmarka area. We wrote about this area and the composition of the jury as part of the article Green settlement in Norway. Poles awarded in the Europan 17 competition! concerning the awarded project Østmarka Re-enacted by the team consisting of: Guðni Asgeirsson, Marta Lata, Mateusz Pietryga, Sarita Poptani. The second honorable mention in this competition went to the Way to Care project by Ada Jaśkowiec (urban planner), Michal Strupiński (architect), Kinga Murawska (urban planner) and Zuzanna Sekuła (landscape architect).

Projekt Way to Care, ścieżka leśna

Way to Care project, forest path

© Ada Jaśkowiec, Michal Strupiński, Kinga Murawska, Zuzanna Sekuła

The task was to design a retirement home and 80 housing units on a complicated plot of land that has been disputed by residents and local authorities for years. The challenge for the participants was therefore not only the spatial design, but also to propose a realistic implementation process.

The Polish team's project was recognized by the jury for its sensitivity in its approach to building in harmony with nature, and for its strategically accurate proposal for an implementation process that takes into account all stakeholders—from people to animals and plants.

Propozycja zagęszczenia istniejących obszarów mieszkaniowych

proposal to densify existing residential areas

© Ada Jaśkowiec, Michal Strupiński, Kinga Murawska, Zuzanna Sekuła

tabula non-rasa

One of the themes of this year's Europan 17 competition was the philosophy of tabula non-rasa, understood as the opposite of the principle of a clean slate, consisting in respecting found elements and incorporating them into a vision of the future. In order to understand the environment surrounding the competition task site, we began with an in-depth understanding of the factors shaping Østmark's reality, uncovering stories related to the landscape and the relationship between nature and culture. Instead of imposing our vision on the environment, we proposed solutions that worked with nature. We strategically introduced new elements so that they work well with the existing ecosystem, understood as a habitat for both humans and flora and fauna," explain the authors of the awarded project.

Strengthening the Østmark ecosystem

Østmarka's potential lies in being a link between areas, especially the natural coast and the man-made city. The Polish team's proposal is to rebuild Østmarka by strengthening ecological corridors, by enriching the natural environment, filling in gaps in green areas or incorporating isolated green areas into a common ecosystem.

The change does not involve radical steps, but rather slow improvements to the existing landscape. Planting native species of trees, fruit trees, shrubs, perennials and herbaceous plants aims to attract new species of animals, birds and insects. The ambition is not only to support existing species, but also to create habitat for new varieties. Our proposal involves enriching the soil and increasing organic carbon through reforestation using the Miyawaki method, that is,restoring the existing forest and planting new forest areas. Such an intervention would restore natural connectivity and a diverse landscape, generating open and enclosed areas, sunny and shady zones, attractive to both nature and people. The entire local community could be involved in implementing this process. This would be an opportunity to integrate and educate the younger generation, the elderly, local communities and patients of nearby health institutions by planting tree seedlings together. Forests planted according to the Miyawaki method grow at an impressive rate, so all involved would be able to follow the process of forest development, instead of waiting years for the results, the architects argue.

Biofilny układ urbanistyczny, aksonometria

Biophilic urban layout, axonometry

© Ada Jaśkowiec, Michal Strupiński, Kinga Murawska, Zuzanna Sekuła

biophilic urban layout

The project site, adjacent to the hospital complex, plays an important role in the socio-cultural environment. The design of the Polish architects is rooted in the concept of biophilic urbanism, i.e. imitating nature. The authors, observing the natural tendencies of plants and animals to gather in groups, decided to adopt clusters as the basic spatial unit. These are groups of buildings clustered around a common courtyard, which is assigned a specific function. Thus—a central cluster brings together a retirement home complemented by pro-social functions, such as a school, a cultural center, or a point for nature education. Each function inside the central cluster is paired with the public space function of an adjacent cluster, which are, respectively, a playground, a community garden and an art courtyard.

This approach blurs the boundaries between the different functions, thereby strengthening the relationship between nature and society, the designers add.

Projekt Way to Care, przekrój

Way to Care project, cross-section

© Ada Jaśkowiec, Michal Strupiński, Kinga Murawska, Zuzanna Sekuła

in harmony with nature

The new buildings introduced into the site are carefully positioned so as not to disturb the existing trees and to minimize any interference with the delicate ecosystem and soil. The lightweight, modular design, raised floors and lack of basements do not disturb the soil. The use of heavy equipment is greatly reduced, and the volume of concrete poured on the ground is negligible. The design incorporates an integrated architectural solution—bird houses in the tiles, an insect hotel, bat houses and places for hedgehogs. In addition, the authors used two types of ecological roofs: green roofs with sedums and moss, and stone roofs that will create nesting opportunities for birds.

Przykładowa, nowa zabudowa mieszkaniowa, autorzy zastosowali zielone dachy

An example of a new residential development, the authors used, among other things, green roofs

© Ada Jaśkowiec, Michal Strupiński, Kinga Murawska, Zuzanna Sekuła

adaptability and organic development

Wanting to meet the challenges of a complex planning process, adaptability and enabling organic development are important in the project.

The nature path and clusters create a flexible spatial structure to adapt to changes during the participatory design process. Hence, we made the decision to apply the same modular structure to both the renovation and expansion of existing buildings and the construction of new ones, the authors explain.

Typowa jednostka opieki przylegająca do jednego z istniejących obiektów

A typical care unit adjacent to one of the existing facilities

© Ada Jaśkowiec, Michal Strupiński, Kinga Murawska, Zuzanna Sekuła

The modular structure for care and housing units increases flexibility, taking into account the changing needs of society. Each residential unit has been designed with the changing needs of society in mind, especially as the number of elderly people increases. The possibility of providing more space for the nursing home in the future has been taken into account. The use of exterior corridors in the same system makes it easy to convert residential floors into care units.

Etapy projketu

project stages

© Ada Jaśkowiec, Michal Stupinski, Kinga Murawska, Zuzanna Sekuła

organic growth and staging

The phasing of the project reflects the principles of organic growth and sustainability. Each step would be designed as a complete whole, and would be discussed and agreed upon with residents through participatory processes. The authors will divide the project into the following stages:

  1. Existing situation—Østmarka's green structure is fragmented, and the buildings are not integrated into the natural landscape.
  2. Sowing—the first phase involves strengthening the green corridors to create a continuous ecosystem. Individual clusters begin to take shape, and central public spaces are redeveloped to locate facilities specific to each cluster.
  3. Growth—The landscape is maturing. Clusters are further densified and gain definition as new buildings appear. There is a process of seamless integration of architecture with the natural environment.
  4. Thrive—the final phase is the culmination of the full implementation of the project. The green spaces blossom and reach their final shape and size, while the clusters with the addition of the last buildings reach maximum density.

Projekt Way to Care, widok na osiedle

Way to Care project, view of the estate

© Ada Jaśkowiec, Michal Strupiński, Kinga Murawska, Zuzanna Sekuła

Østmark's path from nature's domain to a thriving network of biophilic clusters demonstrates the power of integrating architecture with the surrounding environment. By ensuring the adaptability of the plan and supporting organic development, the project strengthens the interplay between nature and architecture and offers a sustainable and harmonious future for the community and the environment, Ada, Michal, Kinga and Zuzanna conclude.

elaborated:Dobrawa Bies

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