Railway Station Reborn as Striking Cultural Centre Wins Top Design Award
Like a phoenix from the ashes, the railway station in Rumia, until recently one of the most dilapidated and neglected stations in the Pomorskie region, was reborn as a pioneering hybrid of railway station and modern cultural centre. The small Pomeranian town became looked upon with appreciation and even jealousy by all of Poland, and now in 2016, it has received global recognition from the Library Interior Design Awards.
The Library Interior Design Awards are organised by ALA (the American Library Association) and IIDA (the International Interior Design Association). These two organisations hold the awards every two years for the most interesting developments in library buildings, rewarding those designs which combine functionality with creativity. In its 2016 edition, Stacja Kultura (Station Culture) was proclaimed the best library in the world in the Single Space Design category.
The Stacja Kultura facility officially opened in September 2014. Apart from serving as a railway station for mostly suburban trains, it now also performs the functions of a modern and elegant cultural centre. Stacja Kultura began organising many cultural events such as exhibitions and theatre and film workshops, as well as meetings with authors. Its premises contain a library and reading room, conference rooms, workshops for painting, sculpture and photography, NGO offices, and last but not least, a place for kids.
One could ask how all of this fits in the same space as a small-town station. The answer is simple: it became possible mainly by building a mezzanine floor, which effectively increased the usable surface area of the building, as well as adding other structural elements like additional staircases. The space for the railway station itself was also diminished to just 20 percent of the whole. However, this is still enough to hold all the facilities necessary for the station to operate, such as ticket offices, refreshment stalls and a news-stand. Thus, all the rest of the building’s space may be easily devoted to the needs of a higher order.
The architectural design by Jan Sikora constitutes a harmonious synthesis of modernity and cosiness by combining the frugality and functionality of the design with the use of warm colours and a wooden finish. The interior's unique character is also contributed to by various decorative accents referring to railway traditions, such as an old railway clock, a megaphone, and the shapes and proportions of the bookshelves, which clearly but not overtly resemble railway tracks. The walls, in turn, are adorned with wallpapers depicting historical views of Rumia and its old railway station. All of the décor is matched to the modernist character of the 1958 building.
The new face of the station is an example of the contemporary worldwide trend for linking public facilities that have different purposes into one new social space. The advantages that a railway station delivers – a convenient location, the constant presence of many people and the adaptive abilities of the interior – no doubt have helped the cultural centre flourish. In turn, the station itself has significantly increased in attractiveness. This is a truly symbiotic relationship which has proved itself in practice, much like a similar railway station/library in the Dutch town of Haarlem that opened in 2011. Clearly, the Rumia railway station’s metamorphosis has been a similarly successful investment and is part of a modest nationwide process to alter the face of public space in Poland.
Sources: Gazeta Wyborcza, own materials, ed. szm, 16.09.2014. iida.org; Updated by AZ on 22 Apr 2016.