fot. Fotomohito

With respect for nature. Forest Botanical Garden in Gdynia

The project by the Gierbienis Poklewski studio, the educational building of the Marszewo Forest Botanical Garden in Gdynia, is unique in many respects. The architects reached for modern solutions that have never been seen before in public facilities. The equipment of the building, including the toilet facilities, for which Geberit, among others, was responsible, had to meet the investor’s high expectations.

The building was erected in unusual scenery – in a clearing hidden in the forests of the Tri-City Landscape Park. The Marszewo Forest Botanical Garden located here is visited by more than 30,000 people a year. A need therefore arose to increase its facilities. Thanks to an architectural makeover, in addition to its garden function, it now serves as an educational centre for the Gdańsk Forestry Commission. In practice, it is used by foresters, as well as by organised groups of children and young people who want to learn the secrets of forest flora and fauna. The garden is also open to individual visitors.

A barn that delights

The building, which refers to the archetypal concept of barns, is surrounded by a fence, creating two intimate courtyards. As a result, it is deceptively reminiscent of an ancient settlement with a contemporary interpretation of a wooden rampart.

The design of the building involves flexible use of space. At its centre is an exhibition hall, designed to host events and exhibitions. In the attic, on the other hand, an employee zone has been created – a tall open office space with a wall-separated social area and a meeting room in a glass room.

The open character of the interior broadens the possibilities for reaching different audiences – not only children and young people coming here for educational activities or visitors to the garden. Interestingly, the building itself – through its construction and the materials used – has become an element of educational activities, demonstrating the potential and diversity of the use of wood in architecture.

Cross-laminated timber technology (CLT)

The building was constructed using large-scale prefabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT). This is the first time this type of technology has been used in its entirety in a public building in Poland. Products and construction solutions using wood are environmentally friendly, while CLT technology itself guarantees excellent durability and excellent acoustic and energy-saving properties.

The interiors have been given an industrial style. Structural elements and wooden panels are exposed, with no additional finishing. The furnishings and equipment are also made of wood. The multiplicity of wood elements used creates an impression of naturalness and emphasises the eco-friendly character of the building, creating a feeling of comfort and safety. The sight, texture and smell of wood have a positive impact on the perception of the interior and affect the senses of the building’s users.

The natural warmth of the wood used inside the building contrasts with the black cladding of the façade. The surface of the boards has been deliberately charred using the ancient Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban. This unusual finishing method harks back to the tradition of the region, when farmers protected the wood from weathering, UV rays and pests in this original yet natural way, counteracting its degradation. As with the use of CLT technology, this is the first realisation of a public building with such a façade in Poland.

Attention to the comfort of employees and visitors

The design of the educational building at the Marszewo Forest Botanical Garden takes into account the comfort and safety of its use on many levels. This applies to both the needs of employees and visitors to the centre. This is why public toilets, including a toilet for people with reduced mobility, a men’s toilet and a women’s toilet, are located on the ground floor. The architects opted for proven Geberit products. These included washbasins and bowls from the Selnova series, as well as urinals from the Selnova Felix series and washbasins and bowls from the Selnova Comfort series. All the products used are specifically dedicated to public facilities. In addition, a changing table is provided, as well as appropriate grab rails and a tilt mirror. On the first floor, on the other hand, there is a staff toilet – with a washbasin, bowl and shower cubicle.

photo Fotomohito

Already at the stage of preparing the design concept, the investor drew attention to the need for greater access to sanitary facilities, taking into account the needs also of those visitors to the botanic garden who will not use the main building, or that will be closed. Therefore, a small public facility was specially created to serve as outdoor toilets. In terms of form and aesthetics, it harmonises with the architecture of the main building. Inside, there are three toilets – for people with reduced mobility, men’s and women’s – with a selection of analogous Geberit ceramic products as in the main building, but with a different finish. Both the fixtures and flush toilets allow for water savings, which fits in perfectly with the building’s environmental and educational character.

The design of the educational building at the Marszewo Forest Botanical Garden is in line with the current trend towards biophilia, which aims to strengthen the relationship between nature and man. At the same time, it is familiar with the principles of sustainable development, which is expressed in drawing on local heritage – both in terms of cultural and natural values. Here, localness is emphasised not only by the location of the project, but also by reference to the tradition of timber architecture and its typical forms.

source: Geberit press materials(

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