Rhythm, melody and harmony.

WIZJA architectural office as facade designer

Usually, shopping galleries are large structures, in the majority of cases located in urban and central urban areas. These are typically introvertive concepts, where shops are located along interior promenades. Such functional solutions cause the massive facades of these structures to be “dead” in general, they do not provide a field for interacting with the public space, which is so important for the human dimension of the urban space.

The design of the SERENADA gallery, which is located in the area of Olsza, at Dobrego Pasterza Street, is an attempt to surmount the statically neutral façade by employing means of artistic expression stemming from contextual cultural and meaning-related grounds in relation to the structure’s own name.

There are many structures in Krakow with features similar to shopping galleries. These are Austrian fortifications. These massive structures have grown into the city landscape and are, in a way, marks of identity that the city inhabitants identify with. Their characteristic property are brick walls, which, by utilising a noble building material of a warm colour, liven the surroundings and, with the accompanying greenery, are an attractive – despite their large scale – city landscape speaking of its history as well.

The authors intended to introduce this archetype in the designed structure, particularly by using ceramic prefabricated elements in two forms: four cross-shaped components forming a characteristic “window” that they fill in with a cubic component, projected slightly from the façade’s face. The diagonally-constructed façade structure gains dynamism and, thanks to being distanced from the exterior load-bearing wall – generates a shadow on sunny days and the structure’s depth on sunless days. It turned out that despite the implementation of ceramic prototypes the cost of making about half a kilometer of elevation, which height is about 12m-18m was too expensive. Therefore, the ceramic product was replaced with a pre-cast concrete, dyed in bulk into a color similar to traditional brick.

Another important factor of the composition of this kind of structural “jacket” for the exterior wall are references to the structure’s name, which is clearly associated with music. SERENADA, meaning “serenade”, is a kind of music, and music is rhythm and melody. The structure’s facades are vertically divided into zones with different ceramic mass concentration, creating a rhythm thanks to the flexible formula of filling in the openings in the load-bearing structure, constituting the matrix (like the staff in the recording of the score) and the varying number of cubic components (cubes) in the individual zones. Such an ornament is associated with melodies, especially for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers with their passengers, moving around the structure. The façade generates a phenomenon of the exterior structure components moving on the background of the plastered rear façade with reflective aggregate.

The façade structure, thanks to being distanced from the exterior “material” layer, allows for utilising LED lighting, hidden behind a characteristic “sieve” of the ceramic façade. In the evening and at night, the empty areas of this structure will glow and form a negative the “daytime” façade. But this is not the only effect of the lighting. On cloudy and rainy days, as well as in Winter, lights with changing hues and warm colours will be activated in order to improve the mood of the area and for the positive impact of colour on the psyche of people visiting this urban space. The flow of changing colours provides significant freedom in generating apparent “movement”, it simulates melodic effects similar to those present in music.

It may very well be that such a manner of humanising structures – by their nature not very friendly to their surroundings – will turn out to be the path to creating the human dimension of the urban space.

Project Credits
Red Plum Culture and Creative Park
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Red Plum Culture and Creative Park

Cultural Centres
Shenyang, Liaoning, China - Build completed in 2020
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