Breathing Dwelling By Justyna Krokowska & Jan Kasper


By Justyna Krokowska & Jan Kasper

Polish architecture is known for its modernistic heritage. For Plan B we chose the city of Warsaw, a city which is rapidly expanding. A lot of districts are undergoing gentrification. Some of the rougher areas are now flourishing with new life including galleries, cafés and cultural spots. Our development site is Powiśle, an area with typical uninviting Polish architecture. However its location being central and beside a river has made it become a tourist hotspot. Our proposition for Plan B is to answer this problem of prefabricated concrete structures which are making our cities grey and intimidating. We aim to do this without altering the existing city's skyline and character. The idea is to create a neutral friendly design which could potentially suit to any location within the city but also give a timeless influence. The site we chose to extend is a typical block of  Polish flats. These flats have become a controversial topic as of late. People choose to not live in them because they feel they are ugly and claustrophobic. A lot of these buildings, especially from 60s and 70s, are under threat of demolition. Looking at the design of the existing building we can see that the stairwell is the perfect point of communication for us to begin our extension. The final floor of the structure is not occupying the entire space so this creates an undercut when we place our extension on top. This undercut adds a delicate and levity character to the design which breaks the current strict solid form. This idea evolved with us extending the existing stairwell upwards, acting as a core which we can build out from. The beauty of this design is we can choose how tall we wish to extend very easily. The flats which are build around this core are made of prefabricated wooden structures. This allows us to easily construct the building to any height which we desire. The entire structure is surrounded by a wooden framing which holds everything together. The roof and attic was formed according to analysis of the sun. It was designed with a slope in order to allow for the solar panels to receive the optimal amount of sunlight throughout the day.

For the elevation we wanted to display the wooden construction of the extension while keeping with the existing buildings theme. To achieve this we choose a metallic mesh which covers sections of the building. The mesh contains a series of circular holes which allow us to see the underlying wooden structure. During the nights these holes will allow the building to let off a glow in the dark. The mesh is neutral in color which suits to the existing building and the overall character of Warsaw.

The choice of construction design attempts to incorperate the use of as much prefabrcated elements as possible. This allows for reduced building times and easier assembly.  All of the wood used throughout the construction is laminated veneer lumber. This includes the use of Kerto Q for the slabs, Kerto T for the wall struts and Kerto S for the beams and columns.

We chose the name "Breathing Dwelling" as we felt it suited to our design and our ambition. We are using wood as a main building material which in itself is the source of the oxygen which we breathe. The building is surrounded by a metallic mesh which allows for air to flow through. The building can breathe freely.  

City Above the City architecture competition

Plan B : City Above the City architecture competition 

Metsä Wood challenged architects and students around the world to push the boundaries of modern wood building design in the urban environment. Entrants from 40 countries created their Plan B to urbanisation using wood (Kerto® LVL – laminated veneer lumber) as the main material. The task was to design a wooden extension to an existing urban building. The entries were designed to 69 cities worldwide.

Explore the designs