Monday, April 26, 2010

Two Projects in Poland by Medusa Group

Photographs are by Milosz Jaksik and Medusa Group.

In Transformer, two projects by Medusa Group that reuse existing buildings are featured: the Bolko Loft in Bytom (2002) and the Granary House in Gliwice (2009). The latter is a large multi-family residential building in a five-story granary that was also previously used as a warehouse for a nearby military hospital. The impressive brick structure is listed as a monument, so any design changes required approval. Outside only two new stair/elevator towers dramatically alter the building's appearance; the architects opted for Cor-ten steel cladding over the concrete frame for a complementary appearance with the red brick.

These vertical pieces signal the building's reuse and also put on display the vertical movement through large expanses of channel glass. The existing openings bring abundant light to apartments that are characterized by exposed brickwork and wood beams, as well as the occasional artifact from the building's days as a granary. It is a subtle transformation that embraces the building's history without letting it completely dictate its new existence.

Medusa Group's earlier design for the Bolko Loft reuses a raised industrial structure from a mining and steelworks complex. Eight concrete pilotis and thick concrete slab support the steel box three floors in the air. Proportionally the elevated black blox is a bit unsettling, appearing top-heavy. This effect is also due to the fact it is completely open underneath; the stair access is off to the side, rendered in an industrial manner.

A new walkway rings the steel box that is painted black to give the building a slightly sinister appearance but not one that mimics gray or silver industrial buildings. Inside the loft is a mix of muted grays and bright reds; the first cover existing walls while the latter signal new ones. Interventions are minimal inside and out, but the project is notable for reusing something so atypical and unique in and of itself. The architect's ability to see the inherent qualities in something not immediately appealing helped save an industrial artifact and create a unique home for the architect and his family.