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Monday, February 13, 2012

A, B, C Lecture Halls

A, B, C Lecture Halls at Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland by Zalewski Architecture Group, 2011

In undergraduate architecture school I recall hearing a professor say, during a crit for a proposed addition to the art school on campus, that about the only spaces that can be given any sort of architectural flair are circulation. Aimed at the educational program of our project, the professor asserted that classrooms, offices, and support spaces are driven by concerns (function, acoustics, wear) that necessitate fairly straightforward designs. In this regard, another space that is more aligned with circulation than classrooms would be auditoriums, aka lecture halls.

Lecture halls can be considered over-sized classrooms, but their size, sectional tiering, and acoustical/technological requirements make them both more complex functionally and more ripe for architectural exploration. These three lecture halls for Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland by Zalewski Architecture Group are good examples of how these types of spaces can be imbued with design elements that respond to these three factors -- size, section, acoustics/technology -- all the while creating a strong identity for the educational institution.
The service rooms, in contrast to the lecture halls, are designed in white color which intensifies the effect of "immersion" of the user in "the space of color" after entering the auditoriums. -Zalewski Architecture Group

As the quote above attests, color is used to differentiate the three lecture halls, and the effect starts in the circulation spaces. The photo at top shows the corridor that gives access to the top of each lecture hall; A, B, and C are written in light-gray graphics on the white and dark-gray walls to be legible from the photos vantage point. The corridor adjacent to the bottom of the auditoriums is rendered differently: seats with astroturf bottoms are tucked beneath the wall, hinting at the space beyond. It's clear that the architects have a good sense of humor and likewise don't expect all education to be dry and serious.

Lecture halls A, B, and C are respectively colored green, orange, and blue. A is the largest and the most exceptional in the way the green walls and ceiling are wrapped in a wood liner that is carved to admit lighting and some interesting effects. Where needed for acoustics, the wood panels are perforated. Green seats and carpeting further accentuate the space's color coding. The other rooms are pared-down versions of the same: colored floors and wall are lined with simpler wood surfaces with integral lighting; wood seats mean A is the most saturated in terms of color. These pleasing and well-crafted spaces may even make students want to go to class.

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