Paulina Kapczyńska

Paulina Kapczyńska


Cultural building on the Grodzka Island in Szczecin, Poland

Although Grodzka Island is located in the heart of the city, many citizens of Szczecin have forgotten this piece of land. The island is surrounded by a very strong historical context of the popular cultural centre and an upcoming new hotspot in the city: the post-industrial harbour. Today, the city of Szczecin is Polish, but it has had multiple cultural personalities throughout history, such as Danish, Swedish, Prussian and German. Cultural independence, ownership of culture and active participation therein, as well as buildings especially designated for culture, have been neglected issues for many years.

Grodzka Contemporary offers a design strategy for the whole island. The main goals were to introduce more permanent public access to the island from the popular left bank of the river, to encourage more permanent occupation on the island, as well as to create space for new activities along the main public path. One of the main design interventions was positioning an art gallery on the south end of the island. The building houses a broad cultural programme in the plinth, as well as a collection of individual gallery rooms on the floors above. Each gallery has its specific characteristics and expression and opens up towards the city's cultural heritage; physical relics left behind by the countries that once were in possession of the city of Szczecin.

As part of the concept of individual galleries, two artists in residency sheds are located within the allotment gardens, allowing the artist's creative process to be displayed to public. The sheds are located along the modulated and subtle pathway through the landscape of exciting tiny private garden sheds leading to the main gallery building.

This project is my personal search for a building offering a new kind of democracy within the contemporary cultural context in Poland — an island that is not used, for various historical and political reasons. The aim is to give people the opportunity to express themselves publicly or provide alternative views on culture. It is an important issue at this moment, as the world is growing more conservative, both culturally and politically.

Graduation committee: Jo Barnett (mentor), Maurizio Scarciglia and Hiroki Matsuura. Additional members for the exam: Lada Hrsak and Micha de Haas.

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