A temporary pavilion located in the midst of the city can play a role of a gadget of sorts, a structure bearing a neutral, if not even agressive relation with the place of its erection. However, this kind of approach seems to be rather pointless here remembering that, firstly, Warsaw is the place of numerous temporary and chaotic interferences in its urban structure (all negative connotations of permanent – temporary architecture), secondly – the pavilion is designed to remain in its place for at least half a year.
A splendid example of a temporary interference in the city space, a construction with a form and a function perfectly embedded within Warsaw context, seems to be so called 'UFO Pavilion' erected in Plac na Rozdrożu in 2011. The Pavilion succeeded in meeting the needs of local communities, mainly Warsaw dwellers of younger generations, for whom it became an attractive, popular meeting place, a venue where workshops, lectures, exhibitions, fairs, festivals and all sorts of other events were organized. The place of spontanous meeting or a well chosen, premeditated Saturday night hangout.
The Mercedes Pavilion, emerging in the centre of Warsaw, should present an offer of a new quality in the city public space. This can be achieved due to its highly recognizable but also contextual architecture and due to its developed functions tailored to the chosen location. Ideally, it should be a positive example of animating, stimulating a specific place, may be even indicating its future function. It could become a significant contribution to to the discussion on the quality of life in the metropolis, following the examples given by the UFO Pavilion, the Emilia Pavilion or the Square of City Sports projects. It obviously should contribute to the essential growth of brand recognition and a creation of a new brand image among the members of our target group – young, energetic professionals, socially and culturally active, deeply involved in everything their city has to offer.
Where do cars live?
A car exhibited in a car salon always looks a bit 'out of place'. A natural place for a car is the street, a parking lot, a garage, a parking drive. Designing a pavilion of an attractive architectural form is a challege – but placing a car inside it without making it look slightly out of place – seems to be even a bigger challenge. So, where do cars live?
The consideration of both the characteristics of the place where a Mercedes will be exhibited and the special features of urban public space led us to the main idea of the project. It is based on the reference to something so well known, something enrooted in the landscape of Polish streets and courtyards, Polish housing estates – that is, omnipresent outbuildings of different forms and materials – detached garages. This extremely area-consuming, uneconomical tradition of providing the dwellers of multi-family houses with individual garages became a disgrace to urban development, especially in city centres, many a time being an obstacle to creating building frontage in attractive locations. On the other hand, these ugly detached garages are also the symbol of Polish transformation, of the entrepreneurial spirit of those who parked their precious cars in the streets and the garage spaces were dedicated to all sorts of retail and wholesale businesses , workshops, cafes, and a full range of different service functions.
Taking inspiration from easily recognizable form the project exploits garage connotations, at the same time setting the exhibition model of a Mercedes in a context which is perfectly natural for it – a car can be presented with an open bonnet or even while being submitted to activities of 'Pimp My Ride' provenience/origin, which in fact have always been popular among traditional garage users.
The chosen location is an allottment which until last year was taken by a cluster of housing estate garages (they have been demolished). It is in Powiśle district, at the crossroads of Kruczkowskiego and 3 Maja streets, less than 100 metres from Powiśle station and an extremely popular club Warszawa Powiśle located under it. A direct neigbourhood of Powiśle viaduct - part of Poniatowski bridge – allows, on the one hand, for a view of Pavilion from above, for making use of its 'fifth elevation', on the other hand a big area, sheltered from the elements is naturally created where at present a temporary weekend vegetable market is held.
The allottment borders on bicycle path and walking track which constitute a part of a bigger urban development project – the Park of Culture going all the way along the base of Warsaw enscarpment. This green area stretches starting at the Warsaw Citadel, then goes through to the Fountain Park, Mariensztat and Kazimierzowski Park, Rozbrat Park, Agrykola and finally Łazienki Park create a walking- sports route more and more popular among the city dwellers. A growing number of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops make these places even more attractive to constantly increasing number of visitors moving along the track marked out by them (eg. SAM – Lody na Patyku – Warszawa Powiśle – 1500m2 – Solec- Na Lato- Plac Zabaw etc.)
The Pavilion will be placed at the edge of an attractive park area ( which in 2011 hosted a cafe-club project Dolina Muminków (Moomin valley) and closed to the Arkady Centre – a favourite shopping venue of Powiśle inhabitants.
The picture of a dynamically changing district, the heart of the city centre both during daytime and at nights is gradually being completed by an increasing number of luxurious residential buildings which results in permanent changes of the social structure of one of the oldest parts of Warsaw (buildings with salons offering luxurious cars eg. Bentley)
Form, structure, materials
The pavilion form arises from the reference to housing estate detached garages with their characteristic form consisting of repeatable modules with doorways. In its groundfloor part the pavilion reproduces this geometry, its upper part constitutes a dynamic, sculptural form.
The particular modules have been designed as light, wooden structures reinforced and insulated with perforated sheet metal and multi-chamber polycarbonate panels. The usage of semi-transparent materials will allow to illuminate the building after dusk. The terraces surrounding the pavilion are envisaged as wooden, friendly surfaces inviting the visitors to take a rest.
The doors to garage entrances have been designed in the form of mobile screens differently shaped, finished with reclaimed sheet metal produced from pressed fragments of car bodies. Each surface will have a unique, unrepeatable character and artistic colouring thanks to remains of different car paints.
Only reclaimed or reclaimable materials will be used in the pavilion construction.
The functions proposed in the project are to be regarded as suggestions for the potential use of the pavilion. Its modular character allows for a free rearrangement of functions designated to particular 'garages'. However, a well-balanced mix of brand promotion elements with services for local community and some cultural and social activity seems to be highly desirable.
The project proposes:
⁃ exhibition module for a chosen Mercedes model, 4 metre net high, fully glazed, with staff facilities ⁃ cafe module,with a bar, tables, adjacent terrace ⁃ back-up module (rented portable toilets, storeroom) ⁃ art gallery-workshop module (white box) ⁃ multimedia module (projectors+ walls as screens, proposed content: projection from car cameras, „live' connection with Mercedes. ⁃ service module: bicycle repair shop servicing users of adjacent bicycle path, renting of deckchairs (the pavilion borders on beautiful green areas). ⁃ two modules with communication to higher level, the stairs designed as a movable stand with an option moving it outside in case of a bigger concert, a lecture, etc). ⁃ terrace on +1 level
The pavilion activity programme will be worked out and coordinated by an experienced team of Bęc Zmiana Foundation, which has been operating since 2002 and became one of the best recognizable, most popular and effective organisation functioning in the sphere of art, design and urban space. Bogna Świątkowska, a founder and a chairwoman of Bęc Zmiana Foundation is an experienced curator and producer of cultural projects, previously an editor-in-chief of the first pop-culture monthly „Machina” (1998-2001), a deputy editor-in-chief of „Przekrój” weekly (2003), the author of numerous articles, interviews, radio and TV programmes dedicated to contemporary art and popular culture
Outline of pavilion activity programme
Different urban functions will be assigned to particular zones of the pavilion which will help to embed it in a social and cultural life of Powiśle district – one of the most popular parts of Warsaw, especially in warmer seasons when it is visited by crowds of the city inhabitants and tourists. East part of the pavilion will be dedicated to city sports. Here, it will be possible to get advice and information referring to the city's offer in this respect as well as to avail of services of bicycle workshops. The next module will comprise the recreational zone – a place with some tables, chairs and seats of different sorts where one can relax, read some newspapers and books, use the free Internet connection – namely, the extension of an extremely popular nearby cafe PKP Powiśle. The next module will contain the exhibition space where a model of a Mercedes will be presented. Due to transparent walls and proper lighting it will be visible from the outside both during the pavilion working hours and at nights. This zone will also host the Mercedes staff who could be offering information and advice, arranging for test drives and meetings with the car dealers in traditional Mercedes salons. In the direct neighbourhood a visitor will encounter a gallery where during the whole period of the pavilion's functioning young, original artists, fashion and graphic designers and other creative people will be presenting their works.
It will also be the venue of meetings, discussions, lectures and presentations of books relating to the contemporary culture in its wide sense. The gallery will undertake some of the Foundation activities connected with projects envisaged for the year 2013, eg. the fifth edition of Synchronicity – projects for cities of the future concerned with the social issues connected with architecture and urban development (one of the biggest projects of the Foundation). In a warmer season the area in front of the pavilion can be dedicated to some open-air games and relaxation in deck-chairs.
The representatives of local cultural initiatives, the city artists and activists will be invited to get involved in creation of particular zones of the pavilion and it will help in making it an inherent part of Powiśle social landscape, in motivating and stimulating its visitors. People and institutions invited to participate in the project include, among others, PKP Powiśle cafe (catering, events and concerts), Asfalt Bike (city sports zone), Solec 44 cafe ( recreational summer activities), Powiśle Art Festival - Festiwal sztuki Powiślenia – (presentation of art projects, organization of cultural activities).
The uniqueness of the pavilion lies not only in its division into particular zones, in the planning which enables the visitor to spend their time in all sorts of ways and get closer to the brand of Mercedes at the same time. The proposed structure of the building should make it an attractive place for people visiting it at different times of the day, for the visitors of different types ( city's young people, people doing city sports, people interested in contemporary art and culture, people looking for a bit of relaxation away from the city noise, accidental passers-by). Due to this way of arranging its space the pavilion has a chance to become a popular place by answering the real needs of its users – it can be observed that in Warsaw there is still shortage of such places, the places where a very wide range of activities are being offered in a very condensed way. What is more, this arrangement allows for maintaining a bigger flexibility of the pavilion programme – the particular zones can be freely extended or temporarily removed – for using the pavilion space for renting for one-time events, promotional meetings and other commercial undertakings. The usage of the state-of-the-art technology in presenting all materials will obviously make the offer especially interesting to younger generations of visitors.