How to give the existing university interiors a new life? Silesian University of Technology opted for reasonable and meaningful modernization and so announced an architectural competition for redesign of interiors of Faculty of Automatic Control, Electronics and IT. The competition was won by Zalewski Architecture Group who proposed in their project bold colors and imaginative solutions, including artificial grass growing on the seats.
Campus of Silesian University of Technology is a team of mainly post-war buildings built in difficult years of PRL – they are drab and gray and made of concrete blocks. However, the university is now gradually renovating the buildings and also investing in building new ones. An interesting example of such a modernization of the interiors is the team of lecture halls at the Faculty of Automatic Control, Electronics and IT which has undergone a total facelift performed according to the project of Zalewski Architecture Group.
The university instead of announcing a tender for a designer, which is a universal practice, decided to organize an architectural competition. Thanks to this university authorities had a significantly wider choice and eventually could choose the best project best in terms of assumed budget and corresponding to the new image of the department. Modernity of the project was the most important aspect. ZAG architects won the competition thanks to among others things bold and energetic colours implied in the project. Architects created a colour code - each of the three auditoriums subjected to modernization was given an individual expression by applying a dominant color. And so the biggest A hall for 220 people was arranged in a refreshing green - in this color there are seat covers, floor covering and some fragments of ceiling and walls. On the other hand, two smaller halls B and C, each for 160 people, are in orange and blue.
During modernization the existing interior was completely rearranged, all elements of fittings and finishing were removed and changed. The invisible was also important - essential for the functionality of halls were new installations or assembly of advanced multimedia systems, including the system for simultaneous interpretation.
Each of the auditorium is like a little box in a box - in the existing interior inserted wooden acoustic panels on the walls and ceilings, which were detached from the shell of the room. Their autonomy is emphasized by edge lamps – thus the panels create a kind of a box kept out of the right wall.
Large stretches of walls and ceilings in each of the auditoriums are additionally enriched with sculptural cuts, a kind of geometric hollows. In each hall a different system of hollows was applied – in one there are rectangles and in different - round holes, in the largest A auditorium – there are geometric hollows scattered in a seeming disarray. In other way, the large surfaces of walls and ceilings could overwhelm the monotony. Here they are varied and constitute something more than decoration or an attempt to individualize repetitive design – in each hollow or cut were hidden additional lights.
Three halls are fastened at the top and bottom by the foyer which in contrast to the interiors of auditoriums is cool and monochromatic. The foyer is dominated by white and graphite gray. Huge windows provide plenty of natural light and make the lounge flooded by the sun. There is one sculptural theme in this space - one of the walls has cavities which provide a place for comfortable seating. As a result, in this public lobby there are intimate bays where you can sit quietly with a book.
There is another intriguing theme in this lobby interior design - rescaled and pixellated letters A, B, C naming the auditoriums, which were painted on the walls. Thanks to optical illusion the letters are legible only when walking down the lobby toward the auditoriums, form another point they are seen just as an abstract composition of rectangles.
Architects introduced also a funny accent diversifying the interior in the lower lobby. Due to limited space they used a retractable seats in the wall such as the ones in the corridors of railway wagons. Here, however, the seats are covered with artificial grass - its lush green colour contrasts with white walls.
Crossing from the white lobby into lecture halls reinforces even more the impression of being immersed in a world of strong colors.
The designers of Zalewski Architecture Group managed to create in an existing expressionless building and within a limited budget - expressive and functional interiors with its own character. At the same time they avoided repetitive and common design or solutions transferred directly from the catalogue. System ceilings and walls were overcome by copyright incisions and in the foyer instead of banal finished furniture appeared individually designed seats.
If a university is a factory of knowledge, then the new interior of the Silesian University of Technology can be a good lesson for students - nicely renovated lecture halls educate and communicate a knowledge of good design.
A, B, C Lecture Halls at Faculty of Automatic Control, Electronics and IT of Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice
Architects: ZALEWSKI ARCHITECTURE GROUP, ul. Kościuszki 30/9, 44-100 www.zalewskiag.com
team: Krzysztof Zalewski, Adam Gil, Paweł Zalewski, Zbigniew Banaszkiewicz
Location: Politechnika Śląska, Wydział Automatyki, Elektroniki i Informatyki, ul. Akademicka 16, 44-100 Gliwice
Investor: Silesian University of Technology