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PR02 Residential complex

HS99

PR02 Residential complex
By Michael Webb -

Piotr Smierzewski co-founded HS99 with Dariusz Herman in Koszalin in 1999, after practicing for four years in Karlsruhe. The city was wantonly demolished by the Red Army after the German forces and most of the population had fled, leaving little of its Hanseatic legacy, and it was drably rebuilt after the war. That has given HS99 the opportunity to raise the bar and insert their own understated buildings into an urban fabric that badly needs enhancement. These include an underground sacristy in the cathedral, and a crisply detailed office for the local newspaper. The ZW109 apartments in the city center won an award for their elegant dark brick construction, set off by recessed white balconies on the west side. Ground-floor retail is also recessed to shelter the storefronts from rain, and the four-story block is cut away on the street side to incorporate an entry arch, salvaged from one of the few surviving prewar buildings. A large stand-alone house, named H13, is evidence of the prosperity and growing sophistication that have transformed Poland in the past decade. It is raised above a gentle slope in the rural outskirts of the city, shielded from public view by a wall of gabions, and all its rooms open up to the view of a lake to the west. The form is restrained, but HS99 has broken out of the box with PR02, a cluster of row houses on the edge of the city. Typically, such terraces are repetitive and confining, but here the architects have rotated the roofs 45 degrees to achieve a dynamic, zig-zag rhythm, and cut away the floors to vary ceiling heights and make the interiors feel larger. Each house has a front and rear yard, and the rows are short to give the project the character of a village. The materials are distinctive: walls of red clinker brick with wood trim, and green sheet metal roofs. The most ambitious HS99 project to date is CINiBA, an academic library for the Silesian University in Katowice, a former mining center to the south. The campus was...

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