Krakow University Exceptional campus
In Krakow, one of the most important Polish academic centers, there are 11 universities. The youngest of them, the Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Krakow University, stands out with its modern campus situated by the Vistula River.
The history of the building dates back to the beginnings of the new millennium, when the Krakow authorities asked the A.P.A. EKSPO office to prepare a design that would improve the space development and communication in the part of the post-industrial district of Zabłocie. The purpose of revitalizing this previously not very attractive, though nicely located area, was to change the character of the whole district. One of the most important elements of this undertaking was the creation of a new academic complex. The authors of the concept were Krakow architects: Krzysztof Kiendra (chief designer), Adam Raczek, Marta Lipska, Marek Kaczor and Hubert Kolarczyk.
Three stages of construction, three zones
The impressive complex of buildings with a total area of over 18,500 m² was built in three stages. They were completed in 2003, 2005 and 2008 respectively. The first phase of the investment covered the main didactic part, with lecture and computer rooms and a library. The second one – mainly an elliptical auditorium and dean's office. Finally, the building at the bank of the Vistula river was erected, the shape of which resembled a wave, and which accommodated another library, a dormitory, university administration rooms and a canteen. From this building, a direct passage to the Vistula boulevard was provided. We can distinguish three zones in the already completed complex: a communication zone with a parking lot and a green area, located closest to a busy street, a centrally located studying zone with didactic pavilions and a rest zone separated by a strip of trees from the boulevard on the banks of the Vistula river.
Modernity in the spirit of tradition
A modern complex was created in this way, which changed the face of the Kotlarski bridge surroundings. The harmonious combination of contemporary trends with architectural tradition attracts attention. The didactic pavilions are composed of alternately arranged clinker and glass surfaces. The elliptical amphitheaters that house the largest lecture halls create an interesting contrast with these cuboidal buildings. Clinker has been provided for the façades in the entire complex from the very beginning; a smooth-shaded Röben brick was chosen. It is used not only on façades and rows of columns – the walls in the lecture halls are also partly finished with clinker. It is also worth to pay attention to the clinker details in the façade, e.g. decorative reliefs.
The power of simplicity
The complex of buildings belonging to the Krakow university was designed on a grand scale, but at the same time, it is defined by its functional purpose and educational function. The effect of balanced simplicity was achieved as a result of the savings in form and detail, which is reflected for instance by the fact that only four construction materials were used on the façades – clinker, glazing, aluminum elements next to the windows and the roof, and sandstone in the pedestal part. The designers were inspired by the nineteenth-century Collegium Novum of the Jagiellonian University, one of the most famous academic facilities. The campus of the Krakow University refers to the architecture of Collegium Novum primarily through the shape of the main entrance and the use of bricks on the façade. The shaded clinker brick of the Röben brand chosen by the architect Krzysztof Kiendra, with its irregular coloring, reflects the character of the academy, and today it is the hallmark of the campus.
Thanks to the used materials and solutions, the campus of the Krakow University not only refers to the best traditions of Krakow architecture, but also decorates the district of Zabłocie along the Vistula river. The complex, which on one hand touches the green boulevards of the Vistula, and on the other, the industrial architecture of the transport hub and the expressway, increased the aesthetic value of the place. A good idea for the space development has been appreciated: The Krakow University received the prestigious title Building of the Year in 2004, and in 2005 the award of Best Realization of the Year in Krakow.