Architect wins prestigious German Design Award for Wrocław’s stunning shiny NAWA ‘tunnel’

Located on Daliowa Island, the smallest of the islands in Wrocław’s Old Town, the construction consists of 35 bionic steel arches. Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

A Polish architect has won the German Design Award 2020 for his innovative metal sculpture in Wrocław, south-western Poland, which looks like a shiny tunnel.

The German Design Award, which recognises projects that “truly represent pioneering contributions to the German and international design landscape”, were impressed with Oskar Zięta’s NAWA project which took first place for Excellent Architecture Urban Space and Infrastructure.

According to the architect’s website, “its mirror-polished surface reflects the surroundings and gives the effect of a naturally growing sculpture that changes throughout the day and seasons,”Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

Located on Daliowa Island, the smallest of the islands in Wrocław’s Old Town, the construction consists of 35 bionic steel arches.

The arches reference surrounding forms: the shape of Daliowa Island and nearby architecture on Cathedral Island.

Since it was unveiled in June 2017, the sculpture has caught the attention of design fans around the world. Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

The arches were created using innovative technology invented by Zięta, which involved inflating metal forms.

“The arches together create an ultralight, durable construction, its mirror-polished surface reflects the surroundings and gives the effect of a naturally growing sculpture that changes throughout the day and seasons,” according to a description on Zięta’s website.

The arches were created using innovative technology invented by Zięta, which involved inflating metal forms.Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

Since it was unveiled in June 2017, the sculpture, which was created as part of the European Capital of Culture 2016 celebrations in Wrocław, has caught the attention of design fans around the world.  

“The walk-in sculpture, with its organic design idiom and mirror-polished surface, readily attracts attention and arouses curiosity and interest. It’s fascinating how the surrounding landscape is reflected and distorted in the metal,” says the jury’s statement on the German Design Award website.

Oskar Zięta’s work has been recognised in Poland and abroad, winning numerous awards including the international Red Dot Award and the Must Have at the Łódź Design Festival.Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

The sculpture is part of the revitalization programme for Daliowa Island, which aims to turn this previously neglected spot into a place full of greenery that can serve as a meeting place in central Wrocław.

Born in 1975, Zięta studied at the Swiss Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich.

Judges were impressed by “how the surrounding landscape is reflected and distorted in the metal.”Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

His work has been recognised in Poland and abroad, winning numerous awards including the international Red Dot Award and the Must Have at the Łódź Design Festival.

The arches reference surrounding forms: the shape of Daliowa Island and nearby architecture on Cathedral Island.Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

These days, he has two design studios, one in Wrocław and one in Zurich.

Their name, Prozessdesign, refers to his attitude to design.