Wrocław’s stunning Concordia Design crowned ‘Building of the Year’ by leading architecture portal
Concordia Design Wrocław has been named Building of the Year in a competition organized by ArchDaily – the world’s leading architectural platform.
Winning through in the Office Building category, the project was chosen after nearly 200,000 votes were cast in a public poll organized by the prestigious portal.
ArchDaily’s Diego Hernandez, said: “As in previous years, the winners showcase a wide spectrum of different types of building, giving an insight into how diverse the [architectural] profession has become in recent decades. This award represents the values of ArchDaily’s mission, bringing inspiration, knowledge, and tools to architects around the world.”
Opened in July, 2020, at the time of its inauguration the Mayor of Wrocław, Jacek Sutryk, spoke of the building’s “global potential”.
His words proved prescient after Concordia Design Wrocław beat off competition from over 75 other international nominees. Among these were projects such as Axel Springer’s Berlin campus, Le Monde’s Paris HQ and the Summers Office Building in Buenos Aires.
Striking in its originality, Concordia Design Wrocław saw the restoration and extension of a 19th century tenement building on Słodowa Island.
Heavily battered during the 1945 Siege of Breslau, the tenement was the only building on the island to withstand the Red Army’s merciless bombardment. Since then, however, the island has become ensconced in local youth culture as a place to socialize and meet.
With these factors in mind, from the outset architects from the acclaimed Dutch studio MVRDV were keen to balance the past with the present by creating a project that would respect and retain the surviving historical elements whilst simultaneously striving to provide a contemporary focal point through the addition of an extension.
As such, the building was designed to have no “backside”, instead opening itself up in both directions.
Moreover, and in keeping with these disparate themes, the architects say that they were influenced by depictions of Janus, the Roman deity of transition, time and duality.
“The form and interior layout of the building displays a certain symmetry, with triple-height stepped voids at the entrances on each end of the building,” say MVRDV. “But within this symmetry, there are clear distinctions between the ‘formal’ end of the building, featuring the retained façade of the historic building, and the new addition.”
Merged almost seamlessly into the old, pre-existing structure, the new section was specifically designed to reflect the energy that the city’s younger generation have imbued the surrounding parkland with.
Transparent, modern and inviting, signature features include a three-storey glass wall that reveals a supersized mural studded with fantastical creatures. Authored by the Poznań-born visual artist Alicja Biała, while it is this work that naturally draws the attention, her designs appear prominently throughout via intricate lighting installations and a reception desk made from old recovered tiles.
Capped by a glass-clad terrace covering the entire upper floor, Concordia Design Wrocław has become an embodiment of the city’s own dynamism, with further areas set aside for an on-trend food hall, exhibition and event spaces as well as 4,500 sq/m of office facilities with co-working infrastructure.
“We wanted to create a democratic space that would integrate different groups of residents,” says Ewa Voelkel-Krokowicz, the CEO of Concordia Design. “We tried to understand the unique character of the place, as well as its history and potential.”
In this, they have succeeded despite the challenges of the times.
“Being ranked as among the 15 best buildings in the world – and winning the category we were in – is a considerable accomplishment and an amazing feeling,” continues Voelkel-Krokowicz.
“The pandemic has been difficult, but I think we have still already managed to create a real community of creative and entrepreneurial people both in the building itself and outside. We will look to strengthen and develop that yet further in the coming months.”