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Weekend of Architecture. Anticipation

How to effectively transform the urban space? How to anticipate future social needs and expectations, which should be met by architecture? Those were the issues discussed by the participants of the 10th edition of the Weekend of Architecture which was focused around the broader theme of Anticipation.

The Weekend of Architecture is an event which brings together professionals who are involved in shaping the urban development, i.a. architects and urban planners. In the course of the weekend meetings they have the opportunity to showcase their main projects as well as to discuss important issues related to modern design and planning of the urban development. The motto of this year’s Weekend of Architecture was the word “anticipation”, indicating the need for architecture to adapt to social expectations.

– With this year’s motto, we wished to draw attention to the necessity of anticipating and planning, also in the context of architecture – explains Jacek Debis, the Director of the Gdynia Development Agency [Agencja Rozwoju Gdyni], which is the event organiser. – The most recent world events, such as the pandemic or the fires in Beirut, have clearly shown us the importance of anticipating all possible scenarios. Certainly, we cannot anticipate all the risks and threats, however, we can create architecture and build cities in a manner that will assist their residents and meet their changing needs.

The participants of the panel discussions talked about the role and place of architecture in the contemporary world. How designers can prevent and forestall future threats, whether they are able to predict them and prepare the cities for any challenges still to come in the 21st century. Panellists analysed the changes which resulted from the threat of the pandemic in urban centres. The speakers agreed that the new situation has re-modelled the focus and the behaviours of urban dwellers. What has become noticeable is a tendency of turning away from the shopping malls and favouring green urban areas, which should be present in all city districts, so that they become more accessible. Iwona Markešić, the Director of the Gdynia City Planning Office, spoke about the new approach of the local government to the urban planning of the city.

The way that architecture can influence the residents’ behaviour was discussed by the architects from the LAX Studio in Wrocław, who illustrated their presentation with examples of their interactive designs. Dr Kazimierz Butelski from the Cracow University of Technology discussed the complex situation in Beirut and the prospect of reconstructing the part of the city that was devastated in the explosion. Among the many issues raised during the Weekend there were also pro-ecology initiatives, such as the reduction in the CO2 emissions, and the topic of energy savings. Dr Michał Stangel from the Silesian University of Technology presented the examples of architecture integrated with green spaces which have been put forward by contemporary designers in Poland and abroad. Gdynia is also following the trend of the green city with its “Klimatyczne Centrum” [Atmospheric Centre] project, the main outlines of which were presented by the Gdynia Deputy Mayor Marek Łucyk. The Weekend of Architecture was organised in partnership with the National Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning. The special guests invited to the festival were the Director of the Institute – dr Bolesław Stelmach, the Plenipotentiary for the Director of the Institute – Ewa Rombalska and Patrycja Jastrzębska.

Both ladies dealt in their presentations with architectural and urban planning education, which is one of the main tasks of the institute. Whereas Director Bolesław Stelmach spoke about the extension of the building of the Polish Sejm [Parliament] in the period 2000-2018.
The Agenda of the Weekend of Architecture is quite diversified, because apart from the discussions about creativity and design the organisers are offering theme-oriented ‘archi’ walkabouts. The walks provide an opportunity to explore Gdynia’s modernist architecture, the distinct features of which are being revealed by experts and architects. This year, the Gdynia architects duo from the Arch-Deco studio presented and spoke about their projects including the building of the Faculty of Oceanography and Geography at the University of Gdańsk, the Park Centralny [Central Park] project, “The Square” office block, as well as a one-family home in Prusa Street, also known as “Dom nad Bulwarem” [House on the Boulevard]. This year also marked the appearance of new routes on the Gdynia Modernism Trail – “The unknown functionalism of Kamienna Góra” [Nieznany funkcjonalizm Kamiennej Góry] and “Pre-war Lipowa” [Przedwojenna Lipowa]. The Weekend of Architecture was also accompanied by other art events, such as an exhibition of woodcuts by the Berlin Pilecki Institute, a video installation entitled “Vis-a-Vis”, as well as a preview of “Letters from Home” – a feature film by a Polish-Israeli film maker Hadas Tapouchi.