Zaspa Quarter

Gdańsk, Poland


Building on a Former Runway

With plot – a former airport runway – having proportions of 10 to 1 and restrictive city masterplan constraints this was a very challenging project to work with. Fortunately, the north-south orientation allowed us to have a great deal of flexibility in apartment planning that could easily achieve the required direct sunlight hours. The city masterplan required us to divide the plot into 3 parcels with public throughfares. This not only disconnected the phases of the development but would also break up the unified community we would be endeavoring to create. Our design process needed to address how to achieve a viable of community within all these constraints.

Urban Porosity

The site sits between a busy urban throughfare and the Jan Pawla II park. Each side of the development have completely different challenges regarding acoustics, sun exposure, views and urban fabric. Yet, a project of this large scale demands a degree of uniformity and efficiency in the building types. Porosity was the key requirement to break down the scale of the development, exploit the potential of the park views and provide visual ‘air’ between the buildings. By studying the sun path of the locality, we were able to maximize the hours of sunlight that would pass between the buildings and not create long unbroken shadows on the plot and over the adjacent park.

Driving the Public Realm

The final design is composed of 5 phases – each one having two built volumes sitting almost perpendicular to each other. The composition not only creates shared community spaces within the whole development but also within each phase. No single building sits parallel to the street or to the park and no volumes fully align so there is no apparent ‘wall’ of construction and the issues with the overlooking between balconies and loggias is avoided. The whole development sits on a series of podium structures that contain retail and parking functions. On top of these podiums are located private gardens for the residents which are connected with bridges to provide a contiguous private realm.

Contextual Response in the Architecture

There are two key façade strategies within the concept that are direct responses to the development context and views. The first is that the facades facing the street are significantly more solid in nature to address the issues of acoustics and privacy from the busy street. The west facing façade, facing the park is more glazed and has far more generous loggias. As our development is significantly taller than the neighboring context our building facades are divided into an upper and lower section. The height of the division between the sections aligns with the roof level of the existing development on the opposite side of the street.

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