Contemporary Architecture Is Actually

a Scientific Field Today

This is what the architect who has won prestigious world awards, Robert Konieczny from the Polish

architectural studio in Katowice KWK Promes, a pioneer in the architectural branch of moving

architecture, says. Many Ostrava residents already recognize his work because it was his design

that the historic building of the city slaughterhouse was transformed into a remarkable city gallery.

You received many awards for your work, including

the Grand Prix title for the world’s best structure

at the World Architecture Festival 2016 in Berlin,

and the world’s best house at the Wallpaper Design

Awards Competition. Which award means the most

to you personally?

First and foremost, architecture was not developed

under the pretense of receiving awards. It is calling

to change the places around you into more habitable

places that take into account all of the, often

contradictory, demands of the people. Of course, when

our work does get noticed by a professional panel of

judges, it is always a good feeling and it motivates us to

do even better. Each and every award is important in its

own context, though, globally speaking, the ones you

mentioned are among the most prestigious.

The experience proved the age

old saying that life means constant

change and so it pays to be ready

and expect anything.

The historical slaughterhouse complex in the center

of Ostrava recently underwent a reconstruction that

you designed. How did this project inspire you?

Modern architecture is a science of its own and when

it comes to project documentation, it is very strict. For

example, the dimensions of buildings and individual

architectural pieces has to be specified to the millimeter,

similar to how it has to be done in engineering.

Furthermore, nowadays it is almost unimaginable for

projects not to be compiled in some electronic form

- this is how the processes of designing and realizing

the project is directed. Since I like to include moving

architecture in my work, this level of precision is

that much more important for me. Reconstructing

the slaughterhouse complex into a gallery presented

us with a challenge, as it was a structure where nothing

was perfectly straight or tightly lined up. Simply stated,

everything there had a curve and sort of waved around

it. Back when the slaughter house was originally built,

towards the end of the twentieth century, there were

different standards for buildings such as houses and

palaces, and more utilitarian and maybe even more

temporary structures, such as a slaughterhouse. When

we began the planning, the building was part of a larger

complex, where several buildings were connected to

each other, and so when we faced the situation where

one of those connected buildings was demolished,

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suddenly a part of our project that we had already

thought we completed, was now accessible from all

sides. This meant that we had to adjust the design.

In addition, the company realized the project was

picked not for its experience and the quality of their

work, but through a tender, by simply offering to

complete the project for the lowest price. This meant

that until the project was handed over to its owner, we

had to be extra vigilant and solve issues that usually do

not appear at other construction projects. This is only

a fragment of what we had to face, and the experience

proved the age old saying that life means constant

change and so it pays to be ready and expect anything.

Was it complicated for you to find a balance

between bringing life to the old structure and

modernizing it?

Surprisingly, this was not that much of an issue. We

realized that even aspects that seemed to disturb

the building - mainly inelegantly constructed vehicle

entrances in the walls - were an inseparable part of

the century old history of the slaughterhouse, meaning

there was no purpose in trying to restore them to their

former look. This led us to the theme of constructing

any “new additions” to the structure in a modern gray

material, mostly concrete, while anything that survived

and can still serve its purpose was kept in its original red

brick form with all its patina. I believe that any visitor will

be able to perceive this design decision and understand

how to navigate the structure within the first five minutes

they spend there. Another design feature was keeping

the aforementioned vehicles entrances, but repurposing

them into shortcuts between the building and the outside.

In the end, we also had the idea of adding the capability

of turning the inside exhibition space to face the outside

as well. This gives artists and gallery curators expanded

possibilities, giving them the option of “letting the art exit

to the outside” into the space in front of the building.

What sort of feedback do you receive on your

projects? If you do not get direct feedback, do you

then seek it out in order to further develop your work?

Feedback is extremely important for an architect, as

it helps direct your future work. After spending many

years in the field, we have been met with positive as well

as negative reactions. However, that is only natural, as

each person judges a work from their own perspective,

experience and knowledge of the field. Unfortunately,

this knowledge is often not as deep as the architect’s,

who is not only responsible for aesthetics, but also