Urban Design and Landscape

Essentiality. Vernacularism. Memory.

Bartosz Słomka
Silesian University of Technology

Project idea

The project concerns the search for the architect's attitude in the face of a response to the cultural landscape, which is associated with difficult heritage and migration changes. The idea of the project was derived from philosophical and historical issues within ethnography, architecture and events affecting the period of World War II. Starting from Heidegger's analysis of the concept of Dasein and confronting it with the reference to the "sense of being" according to E. Stein and the concept of man according to W.R. Ingardnen, autonomy of being according to N. Hartmann and the achievements of Cardinal J. Ratzinger or H. Arendt, attention was paid to the values and situation of the requirement of in-depth insight into the Truth about place (side specific planning). Through the current state of knowledge about the consequences of traumatic experiences and as a result of the situation of current armed conflicts, the project is an attempt to find the right architectural interference showing civilizational values that bring hope and show the way to dignified conduct. With numerous points of preservation of the memory of traumatic events that took place during World War II, there are far fewer places that show the attitudes of people saving those in need in distress. "Essentiality. Vernacularism. Memory" are the main components interacting with each other in the process of finding the identity of a place, taking into account both nature, human activity in it and the issue of memory of people carrying both joys, skills and traumas. The design assumption therefore includes the transformation of the significance of the Schlesier Ehrenmal monument, which is a difficult legacy of the Nazi authorities' position, into a monument to people who help their neighbour in the war and everyday life. By preserving the object and its architectural impact, a space with a different, gentle structure was organized in it, which becomes a fortress of gentleness and noble attitudes despite being surrounded by difficult and totalitarian cruelty. This action radiates to the whole area in global, regional and local terms, so that humanity can take a step forward from the trauma of post-memory and build appropriate attitudes full of virtue despite difficult experiences and seemingly stronger totalitarianism. The impact on the landscape focuses on the development of Mount Niedźwiadki with a division into landscape determinants enabling you to find a place more and be able to experience the monumental feeling of being here and now, both individually and in a community.

Project description

The project covers 157 ha of the area of Mount Niedźwiadki in Wabrzych (Poland), which in the immediate vicinity with elements of the historic downtown of the city of Wałbrzych and the surrounding network of tourist routes is a unique asset for tourism. Determining the architectural attitude in the process, the method of haptic organization of space and layered landscape determinants using a 1:1000 scale model was adopted. Landscape determinants are divided into 3 layers:
Landscape platforms – separating the zones of influence of the Schlesier Ehrenmal cenotaph and the recreation area, become a platform visible from a bird's eye view as a sign of global impact. From the human point of view, however, it is a light, openwork element, harmonizing with the surroundings and forest landscape of the mountain.
Tourist and Museum Complex – the spatial layout of the complex has a monument of Schlesier Ehrenmal, which is now a point of decision and a capsule of gratitude for all the help given by the neighbor; The assumption is aimed at leading the user through the process of healing from trauma and leaving alienation to social life in accordance with the values resulting from the heritage of heroic help for people in need during armed conflicts and other more everyday situations.
A set of recreational elements - concerns smaller interventions in the form of detailing the peaks of Mount Niedźwiadki, setting landscape platforms showing the surrounding cultural landscape, taking into account unique architectural and natural points. All elements have their references to monumental archetypes and archetypes related to the memory of people who were residents of Wałbrzych before, during and after the war. References become a pretext to find the essence and meaning of journeymanship, avoiding eclectic duplication of forms and signs.

Technical information

The technologies of construction of the elements of the complex result from the phenomenological analysis of the area and the region. By specifying materials such as wood, stone, porcelain, steel and linen, the appropriate proportions and significance for the possibility of using them to create individual elements of objects were established.
The object of the Centre for Dialogue and Memory consists of three layers derived from the analysis of feelings in the area of development. Level 0 is built on the basis of a reinforced concrete grate covered with a reinforced concrete slab. The whole is set on one side above, and on the other on the existing hill of the area and a boulder transported from the area. The central part of the platform is filled with translucent concrete and glass, which illuminates the interior of the created grotto. Above this peculiar grotto hiding a memory capsule, there is a zone referring to the surface of the area. The concrete floor with protruding concrete display walls with elements of stones refers to the ground, and the elements of wooden pillars refer to tree trunks in the forest. The third level is a banquet platform, made of wooden floor surrounded by wood. Located directly and close to the wooden massive roof, it gives the feeling of being among the crowns of trees. This object in its structure establishes relations of construction, finish and medium perceived as light, wind, sound.
The cenotaph Schlesier Ehrenmal was powered by an installation made of stainless steel holding the linen curtains above the surface of the water introduced into the courtyard. All cavities were supplemented with glass bricks on the steel structure, allowing you to feel the change and transformation of the material, leaving an insight into the cavity, which is a sign of the ruin of Nazi assumptions. Defects in the floor were supplemented with CLT boards in the construction of the resonance box. On this type of floor come the sounds of footsteps of a person approaching the center of the facility. The change in the content of the monument was made of white porcelain made with the participation of production knowledge from a nearby factory in Wałbrzych.
Landscape platform – the skeleton arrangement of a wooden structure with elements of steel tie rods assumes the participation of the local and interested community in the construction of the structure. Thanks to its specificity and process, it becomes an inseparable element of the landscape both formally and in the memory of the community.
Recreational elements – made in a timber frame structure, CLT solid wood elements, with concrete elements and using local stone, platform elements and small architecture are possible to set up without the use of heavy equipment.

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