Łukasz Reszka, Maciej Kowaluk, Jakub Świtoń, Monika Kowaluk
Łukasz Reszka, Maciej Kowaluk, Magdalena Plichta, Agata Kalisz
WAF (World Architecture Festival) Finalist 2019
The SARP Award 2019 – office category
ARCHDAILY – Building of the Year 2020
On a spacious plot in Masuria, we were to design a large building complex – the headquarters of the pharmaceutical company Bialmed. The complex was to include an office building, a wholesale warehouse, and a high-bay warehouse. Another part of the task was landscaping the surrounding area. The investment was sited in an extraordinary area, outside the city limits, surrounded by the green landscape of Masuria among forests and meadows. The client’s wish and our goal as architects was to include the natural greenery in the architecture design.
We started by breaking the mold of the typical warehouse. We didn’t want to upset the balance of the natural ecosystem or to dominate the landscape with the architectural scale. The warehouse was to be a seamless part of the landscape. What dictated the solutions was not industry, but nature. We decided to follow its lead.
Our first decision was to keep the pine forest bordering the plot. The forest made for a natural wall shielding the building from the only busy street in the area. Then we went a step further. We introduced greenery deeper into the plot, creating the effect of landscape growing into the architecture. Decorative grasses spilled out of the pine forest, flowing in stripes into green patios. Newly planted greenery surrounded the loading area, and loosely planted trees resembling a natural forest created a border with nearby meadows. Every suitable surface in the area around the buildings became green. We even planted a tree inside.
Greenery and nature were the main motifs in this project – not only in architecture but also in systemic solutions. The building is heated by ground source heat pumps, and the electricity supply comes from photovoltaic panels. The effect of blending such a large building into the natural landscape of Masuria was enhanced by architectural solutions in the building’s shape. We cut two green patios into the building, shortening its elevation and decreasing its size. To shield the offices from the warehouse, we shifted parts of the elevation back. The indentures became a space for high and low greenery and climbing plants. By using greenery between buildings, we managed to break the long elevation into smaller parts and soften its logistic appearance. We introduced a vertical motif in the elevation in the shape of pine trees. The long, horizontal facade of the warehouse was broken with vertical divisions. Vertical blades, the vertical ratio of facade panes, the vertical arrangement of panels on the roof, and the vertical setting of layered boards in the magazine made up the face. We intentionally disrupted this symmetrical setup – another reference to nature, which is never symmetrical. The regular rhythm of brown vertical panels flickers. In the severe, grey shape of the building, it creates a decoration connecting both parts into a cohesive whole. The color, which is the color of wood, also refers to nature.
We invited the motifs of grasses, wood, and Masurian stone inside the buildings – not literally, but in a modern, subtle way. The colors of the elevation, black and mellow greys, return here, made warmer through the addition of neutral white and the light brown of wood. We used natural materials, which together create an interesting play of textures. We chose furniture characterized by mild lines and biomorphic shapes. We introduced the living greenery of plants. Green leaves hang from flower pots and climb over the walls. An olive tree grows out of the floor. Real stones are scattered here and there. The interior has become the landscape.