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Monday, January 21, 2013

Małopolska Garden of Arts

Małopolska Garden of Arts in Kraków, Poland, by Ingarden & Ewý Architects, 2012

The following text and images are courtesy of Ingarden & Ewý Architects.

The building of the Małopolska Garden of Arts (MGA) has been realized according to a competition-winning design by Ingarden & Ewy Architects. The program and the initiative of establishing this new cultural institution in Kraków was proposed in the year 2004 by Krzysztof Orzechowski, director of the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre and Janusz Sepioł, at the time the Marshal of the Małopolska Voivodeship. It is no coincidence that the building was built in the vicinity of ul. Karmelicka – a street popular with students and locals alike – opposite the building of the public library, with the aim of ensuring its smooth inclusion into the “bloodstream” of the city. The building of MGA introduced a new spatial order to the old backyards and ruined buildings in Rajska and Szujskiego streets in Kraków. The starting point was a multifunctional hall, which was entered into the outline of the old, 19th-century horse-riding arena, used in the last years of its history as workshop and storage space for the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków.

The Małopolska Garden of Arts is a cross between two institutions: the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre and the Malopolska Voivodeship Library. The wing on Szujskiego Street holds a modern art and media library, with multimedia books and music, while the section standing on ul. Rajska has been developed by the theater, and is equipped with a multifunctional events hall. The new hall – operating as a studio theater, conference room, concert hall, and venue for banquets and exhibitions – holds retractable stages for 300 people. State-of-the-art stage technology is present overhead: fixed on hoists and cranes to the steel ceiling girders. This allows dramas and concerts to be performed, and exhibitions, film screenings, symposiums, conferences, art auctions, fashion shows, and many more events to be held. Altogether, the space of about 4,300 s.m. (46,285 s.f.) houses a theater together with a cozy cinema with 98 seats, a café, and premises for the organization of educational, art-related activities.

Honing the form, the architects focused on interaction with the future recipients, which is why the entire spatial form of the symbolic, openwork roofing over the garden – though not functioning as an actual roof – is there to transport the gateway from the stage out onto the street. In this way, the building delicately nudges passersby with the skillful manipulation of the form, already at first glance giving the onlooker the impression of going beyond the borders of a garden, where culture is grown in evenly planted rows. Further proof of the sophisticated play with the space is the garden itself. Imitating flower beds, the equal bands with low greens are a metaphor of a garden; as much as the architects could afford here.

Architect Krzysztof Ingarden (collaborating with Jacek Ewý), claims that the form of the building is a contextual game between “mimesis and the abstraction.” The building is by no means a simulacrum of the context, but rather draws inspiration from the code of contextual forms by making references to the geometry of the roofs and tissue of the neighboring structures, applied to the abstract geometries of the façades. The building perfectly fits the scale of its environment by maintaining the lines of the roof and divisions of the façades of the neighboring buildings. The final impact is the result of the designers’ sensitivity to signals coming from the environment. For example, the opening in the perforated roof of the garden was formed especially for the maple tree that grows there. In this place, the cultural life of Kraków’s young artistic set will blossom under a shared roof. Modern ballet, contemporary theater, aural and visual arts, concerts, and any other artistic pursuit will find their home here.

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