As mentioned in my previous post, about our model workshop, I promised to do a post on the actual winning proposal on the real site as soon as it was published. I expected it to appear a few weeks after my previous post, but to my surprise, it came only a few days after.

The winning project is designed by Copenhagen-based Entasis architects, who have designed the projected in collaboration with WITRAZ architects, who have especially been involved in the design of the landscape(s) created on the site. The buildings and landscape on the site are expected to stand complete by the year 2018.
Just by looking at the bird's eye picture above, the approach to the site is quite clear. The architects have followed the block structure of the neighbouring buildings and continued it onwards. At the the last plot of the site, the architects have chosen to leave the area empty for a public park instead of completely filling the site with the institutional buildings. The kindergarden is the white building placed closest to the lake at the bottom of the site.

As for the architectural language of the project, the new buildings have almost strict, contextual facades that strongly relate to their surroundings. As a whole, the architects themselves describe their project as a direct continuation of the local urban-structure (also architecturally), rather than being a more radical or different architectural site in relation to the surroundings. The picture above shows how the new buildings follow the structures surrounding it, acting as a natural continuation of the street scene.

There are many elements of this winning proposal that can be discussed. First of all, the direct continuation of the block structure is very questionable. Guru and I (our group from the Model Workshop) had a similar approach as a part of our concept process. It seemed natural to continue working on the site in a contextual sense, but we rather quickly learned that the scale would be to large and this development would seriously limit the possibilities for views from the different rooms. As a matter of fact, Entasis' and WITRAZ's approach has created such a density on the site, that it not only leaves the vast majority of rooms without views towards the lakes, but also introduces a height that would allow very, very limited sunlight in the courtyards created, thus making them uncomfortable, perhaps even claustrophobic. It is like all the buildings are squeazed into one part of the site, in order to open up for a park. In our group, we believed that it seems more harmonious to evenly spread out the buildings, in order to create varying outdoor spaces from private to semi-private and public. 

Also, the location of the kindergarden is questionable, since I believe it would be more suitable for it to be located facing the newly created park, rather than steal the view of the lakes from the elderlys lving there. As for the facades, I believe that the archtitects have made a right choice here. They relate contextually to the surrounding buildings in a positive way, as well as adding some more modern details, such as the roof areas and also at buildings such as the kindergarden's facade. Furthermore, I am curious to see whether or not the newly defined park area will actually function as an active recreational area. It is well defined as a space in my oppinion, but I can't see how well defined the expected activities of the park are. It seems to be a bunch of trees with some paving around them and a few benches - you would expect more from such a vital location in my oppinion.

To sum things up, I generally believe that the architects could have had a greater focus on integrating the site actively with the green pathways around the lake, rather than closing the institutional buildings up even more, in order to strictly stick to the context of the area. This is perhaps an example of the result of too strict contextual design. As always, the visualizations of the project are optimistic and light, but I am very sceptic as to the actual outcome due to the highly concentrated density, lack of a variation in public, private and semi-private exterior spaces as well as the lack of views from the rooms. It is naturally hard for me to not be critical towards this project, due to my personal relations and readings of the site as a result of our model workshop, so I am also looking forward to see how the final result works out (but there is a long time till 2018!).

Further reading:
- Entasis Architects
- WITRAZ Architects

- Andy Minchev