The Gubin Parish Church as a cultural centre. The bold vision of a student

St. Lawrence Church, or the Parish Church in Gubin, is a Gothic church that was destroyed during the Second World War. The brick walls still bear witness to the past. The new life of this building is seen by Martyna Jaworska, who prepared the concept for the changes with respect for history.

Martyna Jaworska prepared her project during her classes at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. The concept was prepared under the guidance of Radosław Skalski, PhD, and Zuzanna Trzcińska, MA. The aim of the prepared study is to show the process of adapting the austere space of the historic and ruined parish church into a local cultural centre. The concept includes the creation of a place that responds to the functional needs of the local community and the Foundation Gubinska Fara – Polish-German Meeting Place, as well as being a tribute to Gothic architecture and the phenomenon of ruin.

The Gubin Parish Church has a rich history that dates back to the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, when the original three-nave Romanesque-style church was converted (probably after a fire) into a new Gothic-style building. At the end of the 14th century, the church was rebuilt to accommodate the growing population of the town. By this time, the building had three equally sized large naves and two smaller towers, which were converted in 1520 into the single monumental structure that exists today. The cathedral, with a volume of 38,000 cubic metres, was modelled on the architecture of the Heinrich Brunsberg school (influenced by these solutions for churches in Pomerania). Its interior was altered over the years: 1594 to 1844. Since then, its appearance remained unchanged until 1945, when it was severely damaged by Soviet artillery fire or explosives planted by retreating German soldiers. Between 1950 and 1981, restoration work was carried out to rebuild parts of the damaged building. In 2005, a foundation was set up to support the reconstruction of the Fara, with the aim of restoring and revitalising the church while using it for cultural and social purposes, serving Polish-German cooperation.

My project was to create a non-standard cultural centre in the unusual form of the Gothic cathedral. The guiding principle of my concept is dialogue, the relationship between past and future and between architecture and the nature that dominates it. Another assumption was the multifunctionality of the space, so that the project could function harmoniously and unpretentiously on many levels,” explains Martyna Jaworska.

The young designer proposes that the brick ‘enclosure’ could house a library, reading room, office space, seminar rooms or cafés. Additionally, the building would function as a venue for exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events. The main idea is to create a usable and functional ‘ruin’ of the Gothic cathedral by introducing non-dominant elements of small architecture, the roof and the necessary installation and finishing elements.

I was inspired by photographs showing the history of the Fara from its heyday, as well as from the period when its walls and floor were overgrown with dense vegetation and sunlight penetrated freely between the arches and columns, let in through the torn vaulting of the building. Guided by this thought, I decided to partly preserve this state of interference of nature in the architecture and to give the interior the additional function of a winter garden,” adds the designer.

Changes would also be made to the square in front of the church. The so-called Cathedral Square surrounds the building. At present, it is most often seen here with parked cars. The concept includes the development and revitalisation of the southern square, which borders Westerplatte and Prusa Streets, and the northern zone, which borders Ratuszowa Street. The main idea behind the project is to create a multifunctional, versatile outdoor space responding to the needs of the local community and the city council. In addition, an important aspect is the conscious linking of the interior of the Fara with the surrounding square, which will become an extension of the function of the proposed Cultural Centre.

A shallow ‘mirror lake’ is proposed in the centre of the square to reflect the neighbouring architecture. In addition, it is planned to install floor lighting and water spraying nozzles, which will contribute to improving the microclimate conditions of the square on hot days. In the northern part of the designed space there are small, partly enclosed ‘contemplative gardens’. They are surrounded by the brick walls of the cathedral and irregularly shaped concrete pots.

In the western ‘garden’, which leads directly to the library, there was a multifunctional table to encourage meetings or workshops, as well as chess tables and lounge benches. In the eastern zone, leading mainly to the café, a lounging expansive wooden bench and a small fountain were placed with a floor in relief depicting the layout of the streets and buildings surrounding the church over a century ago. Within the development area, the existing floor (cobblestones) was partially retained and supplemented with large-format concrete slabs.

Project prepared in the Interior Design Studio I under the direction of Radosław Skalski, PhD, and Zuzanna Trzcińska, MA

Collaboration: mgr inż. arch. Dariusz Śmiechowski

Appendix prepared in the Landscape Architecture Studio under the direction of Dr. Elżbieta Myjak-Sokołowska and Jakub Botwina M.Sc

design: Martyna Jaworska

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