ngo + pasierbiński recently won the design competition for Kossak Square in Krakow, Poland. It is located in the very center of old Krakow, in the immediate vicinity of Dworek Kossakówka – the home of the family of outstanding Polish painters Kossak. The square should constitute a representative public space as an urban interior with access to the most representative axes and panoramic views of Krakow, including the Wawel Castle, Vistula Boulevards, and Retoryka street. Today, unfortunately, all this space is degraded, and the potential is completely wasted.
Kossak Square requires a redefinition of its identity and character. An identity is built on respect for history, surroundings, and tradition. The square should become an extension of the Kossakówka Mansion – just as the villa used to be a bustling meeting place for Cracovians – today, this role should be played by the square.
In Juliusz Kossak’s paintings, we find not only the history of Poland but most of all the preservation of the landscape of Polish villages, meadows, and forests. It is the background that commemorates the increasingly rare and so deeply rooted panorama in Polish national consciousness. The design of Kossak Square creates a unique opportunity to restore this romantic landscape to the inhabitants of Krakow and to honor the painter’s work.
The composition consists of two main elements. The first is a circle cut by a path – an extension of the walking avenue of Retoryka Street. On one side there is a garden part that brings back memories of rural meadows. On the other side, where the Rudawa riverbed historically ran, there is a pond.
The second element is a bench that surrounds and connects this whole. It constitutes the “City Salon” – a meeting place for the inhabitants, facing the historic buildings and the Wawel Castle towering over the city. The essence of the project is the meadows and fields of the rural landscape surrounded by the panorama of the Old Town.
The judges justified their choice as follows:
“The winning work most accurately achieves the goals of the competition. The strong, expressive composition of the circle-green enclave organizes the area of the urban interior, building a new identity based on respect for history, surroundings, and tradition. It becomes a lively meeting place like Villa Kossakówka used to be. The geometric form and its topography open the most important views and compositional axes and organize the communication and functions of the square. The composition of greenery is a poetic reference to Kossak’s painting palette, where instead of paints, elements of the Polish landscape were used – water, meadows, and trees. The authors in the study part in the area of the Retoryka street introduces in an interesting way the memory of the old course of the Rudawa River, which as reflections in the water surface become a guide to architecture. The proposed design solution in the competition work is flexible and economical, both in implementation and operation. Sensitivity to creating a new space while respecting the history of the place is an asset of this work. “
Designers: Duc Ngo, Piotr Pasierbiński
Office: ngo + pasierbiński
Location: Krakow, Poland
Competition – 1st Award
Status – to be built
Image Credits: ngo + pasierbiński