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Interview with Ingarden & Ewý Architects Ltd

Home > Designer Interviews > Ingarden & Ewý Architects Ltd

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Ingarden & Ewý Architects Ltd (IL) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Ingarden & Ewý Architects Ltd by clicking here.

Interview with Ingarden & Ewý Architects Ltd at Monday 28th of April 2014

FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
IL: It was so long ago… My interests were, generally speaking, artistic. I liked drawing, painting, photographing. At high school I thought that I would study at the Academy of Fine Arts – perhaps painting, graphic arts or film. Interestingly enough, I did not see any connection between what is read and what is seen in reality of a construction site – it was a great cognitive dissonance. For me Art created an abstract world of ideas, decisively more accessible and attractive than the real one. The fact that I opted for architecture resulted from the young person’s lack of understanding that one has to fight for architectural ideas through building in the real world. What a youthful idealism!

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
IL: The architectural office, which we have been running with Jacek Ewy already for 25 years in Kraków, is working on cultural public projects as well on housing and commercial ones. Our aim is to provide individual “custom tailored” design solutions to each of them. Recently we focus on buildings for culture – in the last years we have completed Małopolska Garden of Arts, which is a combination of performing arts centre and a mediatheque, “The Garden of Experience” – an experimental educational park in Krakow and “The Wyspianski Pavilion”, which functions as a small exhibition space and the information centre for the City of Krakow. Two other are under construction – Krakow Concert and Congress Centre “ICE” (to be completed this year) and a new gallery for Manggha Museum in Kraków (to be completed next year).

FS: What is "design" for you?
IL: Each architect works out his own methods of design and pursues one’s own ideas and goals. Design needs to take into account all problems concerning function, place, a wide context, health, environmental issues, the local community, technologies etc. Well-tested procedures and programmes and experience are helpful, as together they combine to create the architect’s skills which sometimes may be mistaken with his design idea. This professional skill is a necessary basis for work and accident cannot rule here as a method, as an architectural project is a system of ordered knowledge from various disciplines. I would say that deign - is an attempt of ordering the world at a small scale, purposeful accumulation of energy, where one can stop time for a moment but not for long, as sooner or later every building will lose its usefulness, functionality, will gradually disappear, will fall into a kind of ruins. But, first of all architecture belongs to the world of culture, so a world of information, signs, symbols, metaphor; one can say that architecture has a language of its own. This language is an open system, offering a space for creation – creating new forms - words, new metaphors and meanings. Thus the proper design “idea” or an “individual method” lies, in a way in the command of this particular language. But the language itself is never enough for an architect or designer, neither is it for writers or musicians. It is fundamental to have something to say and express in that language. It makes design meaningful.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
IL: One of such projects was the Polish Pavilion for EXPO 2005 in Nagoya, Japan. We were the first architects to use wicker as building material for creating the pavilion’s elevation. Our goal was to create a poetic metaphor of Mazovian open landscape marked with willow trees, the place Frideric Chopin was born. Wicker (which is a type of willow) became a fantastic material to refer to this place and to express the character of Chopin’s music. The next is the project of Małopolska Garden of Arts in Kraków, Poland. In this project , located in historical city context, we intended to explore the limits of critical contextual design approach. The form of the building became a game between, what I like to call, “mimesis and the abstraction”. In practice, this means that the building is by no means a simulacrum of historical forms, but draws inspiration from the code of local buildings by making references to the geometry and materials of the neighboring structures, however the new form itself is an abstract and open composition, expressing freedom and joy. Another challenging aspect was to create a friendly and inspiring venue for various artistic activities to blossom under a shared roof: modern ballet, contemporary theatre forms, audio and video arts, concerts, and all and any other artistic pursuits. From urban strategy’s point of view, it was important to create free access public spaces, a kind of small pocket parks between the townhouses – we call them “art gardens” , in front of both entrances to the building. These spaces define the special character of the new artistic venue.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
IL: In the year 1989 a few friends, some of them still students, and I - made a team and took part in a competition for a five-stars hotel at Rondo Grunwaldzkie in Krakow. To our surprise we won the competition! It gave us an opportunity to establish an office. We just took the plunge without earlier contact with regards the implementation of such a big project! During the design process – in the result of a change of client, hotel operator and programme requirements (two-stars hotel), only a distant echo of the original design has remained. We had to learn how to talk with investors, contractors and lawyers. It was a very good and quick school how to organize ourselves and run an office, even though the architectural result was far below our expectations. But it gave us necessary experience, and the next project was a very successful Manggha Museum in Kraków, which we have worked on in the years 1989 -2004 together with Arata Isozaki , my previous boss and master from Tokyo.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
IL: It always differs, and depends on the project. But generally, I think that we have many chances to feel satisfaction of our works realized. I believe we can call ourselves a more fortunate generation than that of our parents. We belong to the generation that began its career just after 1989 and we came to practice the architect’s profession at our own offices, using the same instruments, technologies and techniques as in other European countries. It is an important difference compared to what was the case earlier. I do remember quite well, as does Jacek Ewy who studied with me in the same year, the difficult times, in which our much older friends had to work. I would say we are lucky to be able to work in our own offices, to decide about the path our professional career, to struggle for the quality of architecture, even if the market situation and the legal framework of our profession are still far from perfect. Personally I am very happy that I eventually decided to become an architect. The work on a project often brings a lot of satisfaction. This satisfaction is achieved in phases as I feel happy when I see a good design being developed well with friends in the office. Of course, only a small percentage of projects actually arrive at the construction phase. Some projects, to my regret, have never been completed. Anyway, designing and building at our office gives us enough satisfaction to say that it is worth the effort.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
IL: I live and work in Kraków, Poland. Architecture in Poland is on its fast track last years, not only because of increasing number of important public buildings which construction has been stimulated by European Funds. Polish architects gradually discover the joy of free and imaginative creation - one that tries to understand the role of public spaces, historical typologies and contexts, but which intelligently deals with them and tries to be innovative and fresh.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
IL: The concept design process is the essential part of the project. It is the time the specific design idea is being generated and converted into physical forms. In the office we always work with physical models, besides computer generated models. Physical models can easily provide you a precise image of the whole composition of the form. It is a fast tool to make design decisions. I personally prefer doing white study models made of various types of paperboards, supplemented with other materials.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
IL: The Concert and Congress Centre ICE in Krakow. It is the project, which resulted from our winning entry in an international competition in the year 2007. The construction will be completed in Autumn this year. The building will incorporate three halls: the largest, for nearly 2000 people, will be devoted to big conferences and symphonic concerts. The medium-sized hall (600 seats) will also have a congressional function, but it will be a more multi-functional space, including theatre and chamber music, but also banquets and business fairs, because the floor is adjustable - we can create one big flat floor there. I think this type of space is very important for the city. And then the third hall is for 300 people, also a multi-functional space, very good for small theatrical productions, also for small concerts. It's located near to the conference rooms, so together with the Conference Centre, when we open all the movable walls, it can create about 1100 square metres of exhibition space From urban strategy’s point of view, it was important to create a new strong complex of cultural functions located in a walking distance from the Old City, and sign of our times in historical town of Krakow, a place which can be recognized for its modernity but being in cultural dialogue with the historical architecture. Its role is not only limited to the functional performance however, it shall also stimulate the neighbourhood in terms of creation of new public spaces and activate the Vistula river boulevards on the opposite side to the Wawel Royal Castle.

FS: How can people contact you?
IL: You may contact us by email: architekci@iea.com.pl or call :+48-6328010 Visit our web site: www.iea.com.pl Facebook : Ingarden & Ewy


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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