Stargard Bookshop in the historic Rohleder House. The renovation is impressive

The Stargard Bookshop has undergone a refurbishment. The institution consists of two parts, a historic gothic building and a modern wing from the 1970s. The renovation project was nominated for an award from the Royal Irish Institute of Architects (RIAI).

The headquarters of the Stargard Bookshop consists of two parts – a 16th-century Gothic townhouse and a pavilion built in the 1970s. The two contrasting blocks are connected by a vertical connector, which includes the entrance hall. This is a bold combination, which shows the differences between the various architectural styles at a glance, but is at the same time coherent.

Old architecture reinvented

The Rohleder House burned down during the hostilities in 1945. Fortunately, it was rebuilt 28 years later. What’s more, it was complemented by a modernist two-storey pavilion. The building served successive generations of Stargarders. However, it required modernisation, which was carried out in the second decade of the 21st century. A comprehensive renovation of the interiors was combined with the creation of a new arrangement, so that the Stargard Bookshop could best meet the needs of today’s users. This was quite a challenge, given the historic nature of the building and the need to cooperate with the conservation officer. However, a consortium of Szczecin-based architectural studios – BiASTUDIO and Kokon Studio – excelled in this task, creating a modern and functional space, while not forgetting to highlight the historical features of the building.

The designers of the new interiors of Książnica Stargardzka opted for an open space. Therefore, it is not only bright and well-lit, but also easily accessible to users, who can use it without difficulty. This also applies to the elimination of spatial barriers that make it difficult for people with disabilities to move around. The list of such facilities is long. For example, a ground-level access platform has been installed for people with reduced mobility, portable induction loops have been installed for the hearing-impaired and, in response to the needs of the visually impaired, the colours of not only the floors, walls and stairs, but also the facilities and utensils in the toilets, have been contrasted.

The Rohleder House in Stargard BEFORE renovation:

photo Kapitel, public domain

After the renovation, the library became more functional. It now has space for a spacious lending library, a cosy reading room and a mediatheque. Young people and children have their own separate sections. The designers even thought of an acoustic box, which is great for noisy work, as well as a studio for educational and cultural activities. In the main foyer, on the other hand, space has been planned for themed exhibitions.

The magic of history

In the interiors, the author team opted for simple, minimalist forms with a strong expression. Fragments of old brick walls, austere reinforced concrete columns and exposed installations have been juxtaposed with artistic furniture details and the ever-present greenery. Particularly noteworthy is the restored stylish neon sign from a Stargard bookshop belonging to the now defunct ‘House of Books’ chain. This has created an intriguing contrast between the industrial character of the interiors and the delicate, carefully tailored accents.

photo Kapitel, wikimedia.org, licence: CC BY-SA 4.0

Importantly, the designers placed great emphasis on using local and low-emission materials. They also took great care with the acoustics and lighting of the interior. With extensive experience in designing public interiors, they knew how important these issues were to the comfort of the building.

The comfort of the readers visiting the library was also taken into account by the designers when selecting the individual elements of the interior. This includes the “Uni” armchairs by Nobonobo, designed by Stas Litvinov. They are extremely versatile and multi-purpose seats, which are comfortable to sit on and which one leaves… with great regret.

Stargard Bookstore project nominated

The Stargard Bookstore refurbishment project has been recognised by the Royal Irish Institute of Architects (RIAI), which awards outstanding achievements in architecture each year. Renowned studios from around the world compete, and the judges look out for innovative solutions and architectural craftsmanship. In 2023, the Stargard Bookstore project by BiASTUDIO and Kokon Studio was just shortlisted for the award. It is worth noting that they were the only representatives of Poland in this competition, which is regarded by the international architectural community as one of the most prestigious events.

Perversely, I have to say that in our studio we anticipated this nomination. Talking about this project, we have repeatedly joked that it is somewhat …. irish. Working with Dominika in Ireland [Dominika Biedunkiewicz – Gawl’s partner and wife], we had the opportunity to have a close look at certain architectural solutions that are only now slipping into Poland. And it has to be said that recently architects from Ireland have joined the elite of world design. As you can see, this experience has resulted in a great project,” says Gaweł Biedunkiewicz of the BiASTUDIO studio.

A Gothic tenement house, a pavilion with a modernist design and an intriguingly integrated connector between them made up the development that houses the city library. Thanks to the designers’ ingenuity, the various architectural forms melded into a unified and harmonious whole, which successfully serves the residents of Stargard

source: press materials

Read also: Library | Interior | Eclecticism | Renovation | Metamorphosis | Monument | whiteMAD on Instagram

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