Odrzanska Residence - Wrocław (Poland)

Eternal present

In an interplay of memory and innovation, an old building is given a new lease of life through a sensitive design project and an iconic hi-tech envelope created from ultra-thin ceramic panels
Alfredo Zappa
Michał Zgorzyński, Marek Skorupski (greenGO)
Year of completion

As Jorge Luis Borges wrote, it is memory that sets up time. But in architecture the opposite is also true: that which is erected over time creates memory.
The city of Wroclaw, the historic capital of Silesia, flourished in mediaeval times as a Bohemian stronghold and is now a city of about 640,000 inhabitants standing on the Oder River and its tributaries, forming an unusual urban landscape made up of islands, bridges and canals.
Although badly damaged during the Second World War, the city has a powerful identity defined by the vestiges of the past. The splendid thirteenth century constructions, the Gothic churches, the palatial buildings in the Market Square and the residential fabric of the old town together create something that goes beyond their individuality, a link that transforms the past into an eternal present.
In this context, the architects from the practice greenGO took an intelligent approach to the renovation and extension of an urban building dating back to the 1950s. The nondescript construction entirely lacked the quality of the adjoining historic facades. But rather than choosing the solution of post-modern camouflage, greenGo opted for figurative analogy, reconstructing the memory of the past through the rhythmic cadence of roofs and building profiles, while at the same time expressing the compositional values of contemporaneity through a highly iconic envelope informed by the themes of sustainability and energy efficiency.
As the greenGO team leader Michał Zgorzyński explains: “We are strongly oriented towards green design. Rather than merely meeting the requirements imposed by certifications, we aim above all to design buildings that fulfil human needs as well as being coherent in terms of construction expertise and innovation and sensitive to natural processes, innovative technologies and the use of ecological and renewable materials.”
In keeping with these principles, the façade design of the Odrzanska Residence is punctuated vertically by a dense grid of screen-printed glass lamellas that serve as sunshades and regulate the visibility from the street through a play of overlapping perspectives.
Behind this sunscreen grid lies the real facade cladding, a hi-tech porcelain skin (an accurate definition given the mere 3.5 mm thickness of the ceramic material) consisting of Over Kerlite 3plus 100×300 cm panels produced by Cotto d’Este. These panels combine a large size with an exceptionally low thickness, low weight and extraordinary strength due to the fibreglass rear reinforcement.
In terms of finish and aesthetics, the architects opted for the dark, intense Road colour, which further enhances the pattern of the solar screens. The elegant textured surface transcends the traditional concept of exterior cladding, lending substance and material appeal to the entire building structure.

Cotto d'Este, Over Kerlite 3plus
porcelain stoneware
100x300 cm (spessore/thickness 3.5 mm)
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 0,05 %
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): ULA-UHA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): 145 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): compliant
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): compliant
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant
Certifications and awards
ISO 14001
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