A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, Agnieszka Białek, has created an innovative co-working space design. She designed this architectural concept to float in the water environment. The author, currently the owner of the Monolight Studio, was born in Cracow. The local landscape next to the Vistula river has accompanied her for years. The idea for the project developed in the pandemic era while observing the forming of a new reality. Walks along the river boulevards during the quarantine were a crucial stage in the creation process.
In the project, architectural structures drift near Wawel Castle, the symbol of the city. The contemporary formation differs from the centuries-old kings' habitat, currently one of the finest polish art museums. This project does not interfere with the natural environment. The elements allow arranging in many different ways by changing their location on the river. The creative process was guided by ecological values, especially the limitation of degradation of natural ecosystems, allowing the coexistence of nature and architecture. It pays attention to distance and the presence of empty spaces, which will be the ones desired in the post-Covid reality.
It is still difficult to define the changes that Covid will make in architecture in the long run. We know for sure that we are facing a new reality. Remote work has become the norm for most companies and will continue for a long time to come. Consequently, employees will be able to choose the time and form of work. To a large extent, we will notice fatigue with the home space. We will gladly move the work zone from home to another place. The concept makes working remotely possible, becomes a comfortable place for online meetings, or relaxing in the new reality of reduced touch. The design provides protection of personal space and privacy for potential users. In times of social distancing, it creates a unique comfort zone and sense of security. It is easier to focus on performing specific tasks when working in the designed space. The interiors of the enclaves, with integrated furnishings, allow one to achieve any individual positions during work.
With an hourly booking system, the co-working space is user-friendly for any individual, active during the day or at night, with no time limits. An additional limitation of accessibility for outsiders is the way of reaching the enclaves. To maintain the ecological dimension of the project, one must use a kayak.
The starting point for creating the groups of cells was the natural environment - water bubbles. River foam shapes geometric arrangements that have become the main inspiration for the architectural form. Another influence was floating water lilies and their root system. The cells' fragments forming the communication routes resemble the leaves of these plants, and the enclaves placed on the cells resemble their flowers. Modules consist of enclaves that are part of interconnected cells. An enclave is a private workspace installed on a platform that rests on floats. The whole thing forms a single floating cell. These cells are anchored to the river bed and connected, allowing them to create modular structures on the water surface.
The concept uses new technologies and methods of creation and design. The structures exist as 3D virtual models that could be 3D-printed in the future using waterproof, recyclable materials. Working with 3D printing in the architectural scale makes it possible to build organic-shaped modules in a few days.
The designer pays more attention to the quality of objects rather than their quantity. Agnieszka Białek emphasizes the essence of the need to minimize the number of elements of our environment. Oval forms evoke positive associations and create a sense of security and comfort. This project meets the needs of the times of constant noise, creating an oasis of peace. Undoubtedly, Covid will shape new trends in architecture. We have already moved from social distance to digital closeness. We know for sure that the pandemic has already changed our relationship with work, space and architecture. What changes will it bring in the future?
Author: Agnieszka Białek, BA
Redaction: Paula Fronc
Professor: prof. dr hab. Beata Gibała-Kapecka
Assistant: Kaja Czajczyk, MA