While working on the concept design for a student dormitory of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, we decided to combine information available and our own experience related to the functioning of such facilities. Existing buildings of the Morasko Campus, including teaching and research facilities, provided a context for the design. Therefore, the goal was to ensure that the function of the location of the new building, which plays a strong stimulating role, is not finite at any particular time. A dormitory provides an environment for people of different background, life experience and needs. The new reality opens new opportunities and new challenges for them. For this reason, we wanted to create conditions that can compensate any possible inequalities, ensure gradual adaptation and allow people to determine their engagement with the community individually through various forms of residence.
The arrangement of the planned building follows that of existing facilities and takes the form of a concise block with an internal yard. The main, frontal façade of the dormitory continues the line of development set by neighbouring buildings. The combination of grey and brick surface cladding at the inner yard side makes a clear reference to materials and finishing typical for the Campus. The rectangular shape of the building has been cut into four separate parts and the division is highlighted with a brick cladding crawling from the interior of the building to the smooth “outer skin”. Common space and connectors are finished with a brick cladding, identical to the one used on facades, to blur the difference between interior and exterior, and to highlight the openness of the building.
The access to the dormitory and selected services has been planned from Umultowska Street to emphasise the character of the main traffic axis for the Campus. The second most important façade is located in the east and faces the extension of a road between the Faculty of Chemistry and the Wielkopolska Centre for Advanced Technology (WCAT). Southern and western facades are open towards green areas. From the west, the new facility is spatially linked with a site designated for further student dormitories to be developed in the future. The arrangement of the western façade enables to continue the axial development defined by the square in front of the WCAT. According to the functional programme, the dormitory should accommodate 400 students. A single facility will have to cater for the needs of people who are close to each other and for total strangers. To avoid a direct clash of private and common zones, the structure of the residential section is based on the vertical village model. The model supports incremental development in terms of person-to-person relations by applying several spatial solutions. Consecutive organizational levels, based on separate sections of the building, facilitate grading of particular groups in the neighbourhood in terms of their membership. The relationship with the core of the building helps to define zones of various privacy levels and social openness. This provides residents with more opportunities for contact. Such a division into particular sections supports better identification of each user in relationship to the entire building. In the urban framework, the solution refers to the development in the surrounding and helps people to avoid the sense of living in an amorphous behemoth.
The structure of traffic is based on a single primary route leading towards the residential part through the main hall. It offers opportunity to meet all users of the dormitory, as well as facilitates home-like atmosphere and the sense of security, so typical for a “student village”. The functional programme defines the residential structure consisting of single and double rooms only. However, groups of identical rooms have not been clustered. Thus, they do not form a homogenous space to ensure diversity. Neutral colours of interiors makes them susceptible to ‘personalization” by students living in them. A major factor took into account during designing was proper lighting. The design provides for an identical standard for all rooms to avoid internal divisions. Rooms for disabled people are located in the immediate vicinity of lift shafts. Additional functions and common rooms are developed at each floor. Common zones are open towards the traffic. They are connected with kitchens and terraces, and they promote the integration of residents staying in adjacent buildings and the implementation of joint projects. Various pieces of furniture and a modular partition wall system facilitate adjustment of interiors to actual needs of their users. Common space is one of the strongest stimulants of relationships, and daily routines, such as cooking and eating, are the best opportunities to meet new people and promote existing relationships.
Auxiliary functions related to the operation of the dormitory are located primarily to face Umultowska Street, so they can be easily spotted and accessed from the main traffic route in the Campus. A grocery shop is located at the north-east corner, whereas a student club in the middle part of the planned building. Right next to it, the design includes a cafeteria. Thus, both rooms can be connected and used for other purposes. The open space in front of the building is excellent for various events organized in the dormitory on the main axis of the Campus. This facilitates interaction with the external space. The arrangement provides a link with a monumental square in front of the WCAT. It helps attracting new spectators, and the club and cafeteria have gained an attractive panoramic view. While planning a kindergarten, the assumption was that the facility will be used by people from the outside rather than inhabitants of the dormitory. Moreover, specific functions necessitated the establishing of two separate zones. For this reason, the kindergarten is located in the south-east corner of the building with easy access from the planned road and space to develop a playground. The centrally-positioned square in the inner yard is located on the extension of roads which are linked with the surrounding through openings at the ground floor. The ground floor includes arcades designated for auxiliary and technical purposes, parking space for bikes, sheltered open air gym and a playground which can be used regardless the weather. An important component of the leisure space are large benches/platforms to sit on made of wood and the centrally located terrace with a light and open multi-function structure. The platform is centrally located, and it is a kind of a stage to be used for cultural and community events.