The aim of the competition for the Freedom Square And Zdunski Market Place was to select the best urban and architectural design in Kutno, Poland. Such features as spatial development, functionality and practicability were taken into consideration. In the second prize winning proposal by Mado Architekci, they combine the current appearance with the original to create a hybrid square. The hybrid would combine the features of a pro-community, commonly accessible square without any motor traffic, with a square that would satisfy the needs of a modern city. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The said area is located in the center of Kutno and together with The Marshal Józef Piłsudski Square it forms a part of the Royal Route, which has survived until the present times and is subject to preservation maintenance. The current appearance of the Freedom Square is the effect of the reconstruction done by the Nazi Germany during the World War II. The original square was on a slope, so the Nazi ordered to flatten it to make it more functional. Indeed, the change resulted in better functionality, but it deprived the place from its pro-community character. When we compare two photographs: one portraying the square before rebuilding and the other after it, we can see two totally different worlds. On the older photograph we can see people, a living space, whereas on the other one there are machines. The alteration done by the Nazi dehumanized the square.
Taking the above into consideration, the aim of the contest was to combine this two ideas of squares into one by creating a “hybrid” square. Thanks to the fact that it is flat, it is possible to organize various sport, national, or church events. This aim has been achieved by raising the designed square by 2.5 m in comparison to the existing one and by joining it with the surrounding area, which is a natural slope, by means of wide stairs. The square and the land meet approximately in the middle.
Taking advantage of the brand of the city “Kutno – The City of Roses”
The client expected that the catch-phrase “Kutno – The City of Roses” would be used in a creative way. In the territory of the city there are rose plantations famous all over the country. Starting from 1975, there is an annual Kutno Rose Festival. This is an exhibition of roses planted by rose farmers from Kutno. 4 out of 20 Polish species of roses come from Kutno, which is significant. Therefore it is very important to emphasize this potential, which makes the city unique in the country. In order to meet the expectations of the client, the whole urban concept was based on a coherent message, common for the whole project, which is connected with the floral tradition.
Some common elements have been noticed in the irregular and inconsistent layout of the subject matter of this project: there are four squares in the city. They are supposed to correspond to the four species of roses invented in Kutno. So, the Freedom Square corresponds to “Kutno Rose”, the Square in front of the Church corresponds to “Leszek Rose”, the square at Miła street corresponds to “Marylka Rose” and the square in front of the “Dom Dochodowy” corresponds to “Copernicus Rose”. Each of the roses conveys and intensifies the character of the place.
The ribbon of life / The ribbon of history
The allusion to roses has been achieved by shaping the squares in the form soft, spiral line resembling the spiral setting of rose petals. The line goes continually from the beginning to the end, through all the squares. Sometimes it goes on the surface of the square, and sometimes it goes up little and creates the elements of landscape architecture such as benches, slides or swings for children. In some places the line goes above the square giving shelter from the sun in hot summer days.
The ribbon goes spirally and continuously along all the squares and becomes a symbolic image of the path of live of the inhabitants and the course of history of the town. It has been suggested that the dictums connected with the important events from the town’s history can be imprinted on the surface of the ribbon, which is to be made from integrally colored precast concrete units. The ribbon would thus become an element creating the unique identity of the city.
Communication issues and Commercial use of ground floors
The main concept of the design was to remove motor traffic from the Freedom Square and to restore the square’s original social function. Another important target was to create pedestrian connection with the Stove-Fitters’ Market Square. It was also important to build an appropriate, representative square in front of the Fire Station (Dom Dochodowy Straży Ogniowej) to commemorate doctor Antoni Troczewski. Thanks to designing an underground garage and eliminating motor traffic from the square it was possible to commercialize the ground floors of the building. The idea has resulted in the possibility to use the pavement by restaurants to put tables outside. Besides, the front elevation of the building has been made more attractive due to introducing external shop windows.
Organizing advertisements in the public space
The aim of the design was to organize the advertisements on the facades of the buildings. It is typical that in many Polish cities there are no local legal regulations in order to ban ugly advertisements. Not controlled expansion of such advertisements can lead to ridicule. Our aim was to present a coherent concept in order to solve the problem of advertisements on the facades. We suggested that a strip of sheet steel might be used along elevations, which would stylistically refer to the main idea of creating particular squares of the town in the form of a ribbon.
Architects: Mado Architekci Location: Kutno, Poland Authors: Marcin Marchewka, Damian Poklewski-Koziell Team: Marcin Marchewka, Damian Poklewski-Koziell, Jakub Ludjan, Marcin Gierbienis Client: Town Council, Kutno Plot Size: 22,390 sqm Underground Garage Size: 4,560 sqm Status: Architectural competition, 2nd prize