The most characteristic element of this renovated pre-war villa is a vertical garden located on its external walls, which is the first of its kind in Central Europe. It was designed by architects from the FAAB studio.
The multi-family house located in Krasickiego Street in Warsaw’s district of Mokotów was built in 1933. During the Second World War, it was heavily damaged by a bomb strike, as a result of which it lost most of its front wall and ceilings all the way down to the basement. The rest was burnt. After 1945, it was designated for demolition. Soon, however, this decision was withdrawn, as the nearly entirely demolished capital suffered from a lack of housing. The villa was reconstructed, but with cheap materials, and unfaithfully to its original, pre-war design.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the building came into the hands of the Foundation for Polish Science, which decided to turn it into its new headquarters. The modernized building functions as an office space – it consists of the underground level with a car park, technical rooms and archives, and of the four floors above it. On the ground floor, there is the reception, conference rooms, a multi-purpose space, and offices, which also take up the rest of the building.
What makes this building stand out is its lack of fencing from the street, thanks to which this plot with an open garden is the only one in the surrounding residential area to naturally blend with the cityscape.
The interior decor of the stairway references the architectural style of the 1920s and 30s. The green terrazzo steps have been supplemented with treads decorated with small ceramic tiles – the so-called 'little corsets' (gorseciki). Floors tiled in this way can also be found in historical buildings in Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, and so on. These unique patterns are complemented by a steel and glass railing, whose balusters have been decorated with brass rosettes matching the original design.
A vertical garden planted on the three external walls of the building is an exceptional solution on a Central European scale. “All along, we have been thinking of it as an experiment”, the authors confess.
The green wall holds over twenty different kinds of plants. Some of them are to act as a background, while others are to bloom in spring and summer. Then again, some of the other plants with little berries will also provide colourful accents during the winter. Since the architects had quite a big say in the designing of the green wall, they used the plants as a material to compose a geometrical pattern that will reveal itself in successive stages of the wall’s vegetation.
This vertical garden is watered by rain water stored in a container, thanks to which it doesn’t need to drain into the municipal sewage.
Green thinking is also manifested in the use of low energy equipment inside of the building. The electric installation has been enhanced with elements that efficiently reduce energy consumption.
Furthermore, the building includes an atrium with a glass skylight that provides sunlight to almost all corners of the building. The architects write:
The architecture of this building relies on a clash of textures. The lush green garden softens the edges and enters a contrast with the cladding panel surfaces and window frames. The green wall, naturally three-dimensional, adds a sense of depth to the elevation. This 3D effect changes with time. Due to the natural vegetation of plants and the annual cycles, the building’s appearance is in constant flux.
foundation for polish science
Headquarters of the Foundation for Polish Science
Architectural design: FAAB Architektura
Authors: Adam Białobrzeski, Adam Figurski, Maria Messina
Address: Krasickiego 20/22, Warsaw
Surface area: 2.180 m²
Cubic volume: 7.090 m³
Plot size: 1.592 m²
Sources: faab.pl, culture.pl, own materials, ed. Agnieszka Sural, 12.12.2014, transl. Ania Micińska 23.02.2014