The main task was to continue Dernburg’s design using a contemporary language of symbols and the characteristic dynamics of the era to balance the scale of the building. The coherence of the old and new parts was achieved through the right proportions, mass reduction, horizontal divisions and the properties of the materials. The dynamism of the unambiguously horizontal façade of the new part was intensified by the fan-like deflection of the cornices. The background, made up of glass and fibre cement panels, corresponds to the ceramics of the historic edifice. The two parts of the building are connected through an entrance atrium.
Over the past decades Siechnice had struggled with a lack of a centre, undefined public spaces and two points of gravity with functions randomly scattered between them. The 1997 flood triggered revitalisation mechanisms, giving rise to a redefinition of the urban layout in an attempt to knit the two parts of the town together. We based the main idea of the project on the interaction between the church and the middle school. This established a new centre of gravity, which, together with its historical axis, created its own geometry that culminated and materialised in the town hall building.
The design of the Faculty of Law and Administration was an attempt to fit into the historical context while respecting the size of the surrounding development, dominated by the University edifice. We refrained from the banal imitation of historical forms following our conviction that architecture, even when treated as a background to urban activities, should be built using forms characteristic of the time when it is created. In shaping the body, interiors and details of the building, we referred to the rich tradition of Wrocław’s modernism. A compromise was reached between the representational character of a public building and the simplicity and functionality of an educational institution.
The building fills in the quarter bounded by Drobnera and Śrutowa Streets, directly adjacent to a 19th century tenement house with rich eclectic decor. This part of the city centre is heavily invested, has a clear urban structure with defined quarters of streets and squares. Centreville complements the historical frontage of Drobnera Street, crucial for the Nadodrze district. As in the case of the neighboring building, the corner of Drobnera and Śrutowa Streets is accented with a flanking accent. Two last storeys have been withdrawn and free space has been assigned for residents’ view terraces.
On the most exposed elevations, solid brick was used, a material with both functional (resistance to urban conditions and passage of time) and decorative qualities, characteristic for this part of the city. The elevation glitters with several shades of browns and grays. The composition is complemented by large wooden windows and aluminum bands around them. It is important for contemporary buildings to fit into the urban tissue without ostentation and pretension to dominate.
We made this small project with intention to organize and revitalize the space of a typical courtyard between 19th century townhouses. We also wanted, perhaps manifesting a bit, to decontaminate a piece of the city. Summer in the city without greenery is gradually more and more difficult to endure. Hence the idea to create a comfortable space, giving shelter from the sun, being both an extension of our office and a meeting place for residents of the tenement. The form of the terrace was designed for easy accessibility for all users – a low platform, equipped with fixed furniture, arranges the space using simple forms.
This is one of our smallest projects ever done. To realize it we removed from soil 30m2 of concrete. First of all we arrangeded an arboristic care for magnificent glandular aylanthus (aka ‘Mietek’), which was placed in the central part of our terrace. Among others, sanitary and care cuts of the crown as well as loosening and aeration of the soil structure were carried out. The existing tree provides natural protection from the sun on hot summer days.
The terrace is made of narrow 5.5 cm x 2.65 cm boards, spaced at 1 cm intervals, which creates an openwork structure that does not block the natural absorption of rainwater by the soil. To make a terrace, we used certified softwood, which came from forests where sustainable forest management is carried out. We consciously decided not to use chemical wood preservatives – thanks to that we did not introduce about 10 liters of oils, which are based on solvent, into the environment. The wood species we have chosen (Siberian larch) has natural resistance to weather conditions and even without any chemical maintenance it will serve us for at least 10-15 years. Over time, its natural color will be covered with a gray patina.
After freeing another 40m2, we designed a garden. Filling this small area with numerous shrubs and perennials will ensure lush, dense, understory greenery in the future. We also planted two beech trees, which will create a natural protection from the sun for the southern, strongly sunny elevation of the building. The entire 70m2 has become a biologically active area and helps us to better manage rainwater within the courtyard.
We invited all residents of the tenement house to the first phase of the project (cleaning the courtyard). We did something like a neighbourhood co-op, bought tools, plants and ordered transport. The terrace itself was made by a professional company. After all of this we had a barbecue, which lasted until the early morning hours.
It is a special project because it does what we care most about – it builds the city. It’s not just about housing, it can be done by everyone. Angel River also delivers added value for the city through the revitalisation impuls, which we hope will have a positive impact on the surroundings. Angel River is a continuation of the development carried out in the first phase under the trade name Angel Wings, and it’s just another part of a larger whole. It forms a compact block of development that opens up with semi-private interiors to the Oława river, while on the other side it co-creates high quality public space, creating an enclosure for the downtown square. The remaining walls of this space will be built in subsequent stages of the investment, already creating one of the first contemporary downtown spaces in Wrocław. Additionally, the tower building is a height accent which marks the presence of the new residential complex within the dense urban fabric of Przedmieście Oławskie. It is worth emphasising here that the buildings of the Angel River complex “spill over” in a positive way into the immediate surroundings, creating public and semi-public spaces also outside the area which directly belong to the investor, and in this way they bring new quality into the city.