Urban areas
The Foundation for Polish Science Headquarters Foto: FAAB Architektura

The Foundation for Polish Science Headquarters

The third place in the Adapterra Awards 2020

Vertical garden is covering front and side elevations of the reconstructed building, which was partially destroyed during World War II.

The reconstruction aimed to preserve precious historical elements while integrating low energy devices and green approach. The garden around the building is a place for integration and rest for building users. The FNP headquarters with its new green face blurs the boundaries between architecture & nature.

The Adaptation Journey

 
The positive impact
The project intent was to preserve the character of the 1933 dilapidated multi-family house, which had been seriously mutilated by air bombing during WWII, while converting it into an environmentally friendly and modern office space.

The building is equipped with devices having low energy consumption and with elements that manage the usage of electrical power in real time. These solutions have lowered the building’s electrical demand and its impact on the municipal network in a substantial way.

The green wall is one of the elements which creates the pro-ecological identity of the building. It helps to improve the energy balance and creates a beneficial microclimate inside the building. The plants are automatically irrigated and fertilized by the rain water collected in the underground basin. This solution helps to reduce to an absolute minimum the amount of the grey water dumped into the municipal rain network.
 
How does it work?
The building structure demanded an extensive scope of stabilization and reinforcement. An underground car park was built along with a connection leading to an office building. The underground storey of the existing building was deepened and provided with the necessary insulation. We also needed to take care of preserving the original elements (eg. staircase design).

Vertical facade garden and lighting of internal surfaces with natural light are the most important components of the eco-strategy for the building. Atrium now allows natural light to illuminate 96% of the surface of these levels. Thanks to the skylights in the roof, the designed underground car park is 100% illuminated by the sunlight.

The green area of the given site covers now 82% of the surface. The rain water collected from the roof and pavements is directed into the underground retention basin and it is then used to automatically water the green elevation and can be steered on-line.

The green external facade (260m2 of green surface) improves the energy balance of the building and the internal microclimate. It is made of 17,000 plants that are embedded in a modular substrate, a unique mat that gives the plants the appropriate support and protects the roots from the changing and harsh weather conditions. The modules are attached to a precisely executed steel substructure which makes the maintenance of the system and plant exchange a relatively easy task.

The removal of the existing fence in the building front yard helped to enlarge the public space of the street and incorporate the backyard garden with the surroundings.
 
Original state
The building is located in Wierzbno, a part of the Mokotów district which is one of Warsaw’s central neighborhoods. It stands among the dispersed residential villas nestled into the green. Originally built as low-rise housing in 1933, it suffered serious mutilation by air bombing during WWII. It lost most of the front façade and parts of the ceilings on all levels. What remained was destroyed by fire. After the war, due to its dilapidated condition, the building was initially condemned to be destroyed. However, due to the significant destruction of the city the demolition decision was revoked and the building was to be restored.

Restoration works were carried out in a poor technical manner due to the lack of availability of quality materials. The building’s original appearance was not restored.
 
Operation and maintenance
Building due to its character, became a hub for various initiatives and lectures for students. In 2019 it housed the events connected with ART+DESIGN+SCIENCE, interdisciplinary residency programme. The programme had addressed: noise pollution in the cities with its "City of sounds" theme, ecology issues, with "Climate emergency", future of technology to come with "AI for good" theme. Participants of the program, age 18-26 were creating multidisciplinary teams in order to prepare final projects.
 
Obstacles and challenges
Precious architectural and historically significant elements were safeguarded by the Warsaw Preservation Office. The restraints did not allow the enlargement of the building footprint. These same conditions also dictated the coordination of the new design solution with the existing character of the building, especially regarding to the rhythm and symmetry of the elevations.

The green wall modules had to be mounted with precision to achieve the desired holistic pattern. Each of the modules was marked with the exact position of its location on the wall. The substructure also needed to be built with special attention. Mainly, the slope of the wall needed to secure that the proper flow of the water will be sustained. Too large of a deviation could cause some plants not to receive any water at all while others could get an overabundance.

The vertical garden, taking into account its geographic location, is treated as experimental. During the course of its exploitation, the bio-diversity of the wall may change due to the seeds brought by birds or wind.
 
How much did it cost?
Total cost: Not disclosed by Investor.
Financed by investor's own funds.

Administrative buildings Mestská zeleň Water purification and recycling Use of rainwater Zelená střecha Biodiverzita Úspory energie 

Locality:
Warsaw
Timeframe:
2009 – 2014
Author:
FAAB Architektura
Contractor:
Doraco Construction Corporation
Investor:
Fundacja na rzecz Nauki Polskiej
Contact:
Maria Messina
presshaha.@faab.pl

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