Release of the Holiness of Place

“Releasing the Sacredness of the Place” presentation appeared in February issue of ŚLĄSK monthly. Marek Skwara writes about Publishing House of the Augsburg-Evangelical Church realised on so called Bielsko Zion, based on the ATELIER PS project acting within Living Architecture Workshop, its functioning in historical context, in cultural junction and its current perception.

Designing sacred buildings is one of the most difficult tasks for an architect. It is easy to fall into the trap of dazzling the recipient with one's ego - building a temple not for God's glory, but to satisfy one's own ambitions, for one's own satisfaction. The architects associated with Pracownia Architektury Żywej tried to eliminate such an attitude in their activities, basing on spatial, cultural, social and biological processes taking place around the project of creating a new facility. This was also the case with the Publishing Center of the Evangelical-Augsburg Church in Bielsko-Biała, designed in 1985-86 as part of this Studio by a team of authors: Atelier PS Mirosław Polak, Marek Skwara in cooperation with Karol Gaś.

The building of the Augustana Center, as it was named, was designed on the site of two residential buildings to be demolished due to their very poor technical condition. In order to maintain the spatial balance, its new layout was incorporated into the outlines and dimensions of the existing buildings. New elements of the implementation, especially the "tower" crowning the horseshoe of the projection, were intended to organize the viewing axes and orient the new object in the hierarchy of the urban complex.

The Evangelical-Augsburg parish in Bielsko-Biała plays a significant role in the history of the Protestant community in Poland, as the Bielsko and Cieszyn region groups more than half of the followers of this religion. The elements of "otherness" brought by this culture to the Polish tradition and the experience of coexistence found their expression in the form of an object. Restraint and asceticism resulted in moderation in the use of ornamentation. The layout of the whole is clear, orderly with separate public and private zones, open and closed.

The formal word of the object, by some people referred to as postmodern, is the result of placing the realization in the full sense of the word "between", "at the meeting point" - between people (investor, contractor, designers), between existing buildings, trees, at the meeting point of cultures, ideas, religion, in the historical spatial context created over the centuries. It is significant that the project was carried out for Protestants, in close cooperation with the members of the community, and some members of the Living Architecture Studio were Buddhists, some Catholics who believed that the architect-creator is neither a specialist in a narrow industry, nor a total creator, but should be a wise mediator of countless processes going on around and in the spatial organism. This understanding of architecture resulted in a lively, evolving shape of the architectural concept.

Marek Skwara

Authors: Atelier PS Mirosław Polak and Marek Skwara received for design and implementation of the Publishing Center of the Evangelical-Augsburg Church in Bielsko Biała Distinction of the Award of the Year 1991 awarded annually by the Association of Polish Architects for the best architectural projects in Poland

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