Warsaw-based architectural studio ran by Andrzej Bulanda and Włodzimierz Mucha.
The architects have frequently worked on adapting already existing buildings, for example, Hotel Bulwar in Toruń (construction finished in 2008), which is an expansion of Koszary Racławickie, or Stara Papiernia in Konstancin (construction finished in 2003). The latter building, originally constructed in 1836, was in state of complete devastation – it was bereft of both ceilings and roofs. The objective of the project was to create a commercial and cultural centre while maintaining the historical building. Instead of engaging in a meticulous reconstruction, the architects decided to preserve the remnants of the edifice and supplement them with materials widely used nowadays, such as steel and glass. An old storehouse, the best preserved part of the complex, was complemented with a new segment. Both edifices were joined with a passage covered with a glass roof. It was also in Konstancin that the architects’ design of a sports hall was constructed in 2006. The sparse, modernist building has walls of concrete and wood. Its form excellently corresponds with the greenery around and the socialist realist edifice of the adjacent school.
The edifice of Corporate Profiles (1994) and the competition entry for the outward extention and modernisation of the Warsaw Public Library (2005), both located in Warsaw, are among other significant constructions designed by the studio.
The edifice of BRE Bank in Bydgoszcz is probably the best-known design of the duo. During a contemporary art exhibition at Ujazdowski Castle Centre in 2006 it was considered one of the icons of Polish architecture. The characteristic structure of the building is a reference to the form of a granary and serves as a visual representation of the metaphor of a bank as a contemporary money granary. The building was erected by the port waterside of the city and was one of the first to be constructed as part of the modernisation of Bydgoszcz’s centre.
The portfolio of the duo of Bulanda and Mucha also features several designs for revitalisations, serving to give new life to squalid areas. Their proposal for Wyspa Spichrzów (Granary Island) in Gdańsk was based on the principle of opening and integrating this area with the centre of the city. While remaining conscious of the tradition of the place and its characteristic architecture, the architects decided to base their concept on contrast – the usage of modern materials and technologies was conjoined with subtle references to shapes typical of Gdańsk’s architecture. In the architects’ interpretation, Wyspa Spichrzów is supposed to be easily accessible from all sides thanks to a system of bridges and walkways.
Bulanda and Mucha also prepared projects of revitalising two objects in the district of Praga in Warsaw, namely the ‘Koneser’ Warsaw Vodka Factory and Praga Cultural Centre. The former required finding balance between the old and the new and arranging an aesthetic dialogue between the two parts. Having explored the surroundings of ‘Koneser’, consisting mostly of new and old tenement houses, the architects created a concept of a complex of residential buildings which are to encircle the post-industrial constructions of the factory. This design exhibits their sensitivity to genius loci, attempting to capture the characteristic elements of the streets of Praga and add a new element to their unobvious beauty.
The architects have also designed buildings located in the most prestigious parts of Warsaw. One of their most successful projects is the reconstruction of the Warsaw Public Library on Koszykowa Street. The architects connected several constructions, each built at a different time, into a modern reading room, joining the parts with roof-covered patios and a system of glass walkways.
In 2015 the construction of the Education-Museum Centre in Warka was finished. Two pavilions – a brick one and one covered with white plaster – were built next to the historic manor housing the Casimir Pulaski Museum. Their simple, clear forms are a contemporary interpretation of the 19th-century utility buildings.
The designs of housing estates created by Bulanda and Mucha are also characterised by their particular sensitivity to the surroundings. The project of the apartment building in the district of Saska Kępa in Warsaw, constructed in 2006, is an intriguing game with the modernist tradition which shaped the atmosphere of the neighbourhood. The building on Piękna Street in Warsaw is another example of this approach – it is a new interpretation of a traditional European model of an elegant tenement house located in the very heart of the city.
In 2015 the duo was distinguished with the SARP Honorary Award, a prize awarded by the Association of Polish Architects. As the jury wrote:
Bulanda and Mucha’s architecture is real, touchable, uses materials skillfully and exhibits great sensitivity to the context of the place.
The designs of the team Bulanda-Mucha are modern and consequently immune to periodic fashions.
Bulanda and Mucha also share a passion for sports. They both ski; Bulanda also canoes and treks. Mucha is interested in cinema and motors.
Updated by AM, Dec 2016, translated by NS, June 2017.
Selected exhibitions and awards:
- 2015 – SARP Honorary Award
- 2012 – 1st prize in the competition for a mezuzah for Polin – Museum of the History of Polish Jews
- 2006 – Polska. Ikony architektury [Poland. Icons of architecture], Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland