I wanted the project to be another example of a well-done renovation of the unique post-industrial areas of Łódź. An old factory became an office, conference, cultural and exhibition centre. The adaptation and extension of the 19th-century Grohman factory buildings encompassed the renovation of the existing buildings, the upward extension by one floor of two of its sections, and a new building design referencing the alteration which began in 1939 and was interrupted by the war.
In 2010, most of the buildings were not in use and were in a very poor technical condition – no ceiling survived to the present day in the multi-storey water tower!
The starting point, and what served as the inspiration for the design, was to make the silhouettes of the post-industrial complex more prominent, taking into account their unique location at a body of water.
The old water tower measures 5 storeys, with every level being very small (36 m2), and is a great addition to the complex’s panorama. My idea was to use the entire area available in its interior. Therefore, reaching the higher floors had to be possible without using “internal” stairs, but stairs attached to the side of the tower in order to avoid “wasting” space on a staircase. This gave me the idea to design a system of bridges between the tower and the glass pavilion on the roof which I also designed.
In a specially arranged “crevice” between the buildings, I placed a panoramic elevator: going up between the brick walls of the tower, visitors can appreciate the view of the entire old Grohman factory complex and the picturesque pond.
I decided to leave the original brick walls and fragments of old plasterwork, wooden ceilings, as well as steel and cast iron elements. Large-sized versions of old photographs serve to remind visitors of the times when the factory was in its prime. Modernity manifests in the skilfully inserted glass panes and the ubiquitous whiteness of the walls, railings, furniture and lamps, which serves as a contrast to the brick sections.
Various exhibitions, festivals and events can take place in the “Action Square” designed in front of the building. The sett pattern of the “Action Square” is a large-sized reference to the cast iron bars of the old factory halls.
One of the secrets of the building we discovered during construction was that a branch of the river Jasień still flows underneath it – it was used by the Grohmans for the water tower built exactly over it.
I am certain that this rendition of the historical area, one which offers a vintage atmosphere combined with modern design, will become a pride and symbol of its users.