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Kunszt Wodny (Pump Station), Gdansk, Poland

Tomasz Rochna

Kunszt Wodny (Pump Station) is a part of the Forum Gdansk complex – a modern urban space, open for inhabitants and tourists, responding to their needs.


Key assumptions that sparked the search for the Pump Station form, were already made in the architectural competition phase:

  • spatial subordination with respect to the Main City,
  • maximize the Main City exposure from the project area,
  • respect the main functional axis of the Royal Route,
  • restore the local community awareness of Radunia Canal and reaffirm its importance,
  • respect the existing green greenery by making the Radunia Canal route a public path connecting Polish Scouts Square (Skwer Harcerzy Polskich) via New Hay Market (Targ Sienny) with Forum Gdansk,
  • unambiguity and diversity of architectural forms.

A leading idea of our concept was to orientate the project towards the square and the Royal Route and also towards the Canal, as a friendly component shaping the interior, so to speak bringing water into the building. The Pump Station and Forum Gdansk constitute frontages of the newly created square, concluding the Royal Route axis. Opening towards New Town makes the square an exceptional place. We are happy to see it is teeming with life, and our building is closing one of its frontages.

The design programme – extensive in terms of the plot planned for the Pump Station and its links, both external and internal – forced us to build a partial vertical extension over Radunia Canal, while respecting to the greatest extent the Canal and its eastern bank and taking into consideration the local area development plan provisions, allowing that type of building. As a result of these activities there was created an attractive space overhanging the Canal, from where the historical development of Radunia Canal can be fully enjoyed.

At the entrance side, the building façades are equipped with extensive glazing, opening the building to the square and the Royal Rote axis and creating an impression of transparency.

Cladding the building with copper sheet is an attempt to establish a dialogue with the Main City built-up area. Looking from the square in front of the main entrance at the panorama of Gdansk, it can be noticed that the building's copper sheet colour almost matches the St. Mary's Church tower brown hue. Pre-oxidized copper sheet used for cladding does not change its brown colour to greenish patina in the natural weathering process.


The Pump Station building will be housing the City Culture Institute. The building function is based on a two-storey high hall, situated at the south façade, giving access to most functions and to the foyer, situated along the Canal, leading to the theatre-concert hall. This arrangement almost reproduces in one-to-one scale the external structure, i.e. crossing of the Royal Route and Radunia Canal axes.

Given minimum heights of spaces, or their complexes, required at the competition phase, the building was divided into a different number of storeys what translated into optimal utilisation of the object's internal volume.

It is anticipated that the most frequent users will be tourists who will be interested in tourist information, using the Internet and viewing a model. These functions were therefore located in the nearest vicinity of the entrance. The theatre-concert hall intended for both: visitors and inhabitants is situated in the farther part of the building.

From the main hall are accessed: a cafe with facilities, workshop/co-working room with a storeroom and a shop/bookstore. From the first floor hall is accessed the model room and multimedia rooms used for presentations, conferences and trainings.

In the farther part of the lot, on the west side of the Canal, are situated three-storey office spaces. A separate part of ground level was allotted to public toilets, accessible from outside.

Internal walls are finished in architectural concrete, since it is of major significance for shaping the object's overall image. This image is based on mutual relations between two materials differing in colour and texture: delicate, shimmering copper sheet cladding and the building's strong, concrete structure with reference the site's industrial context.


The Pump Station, being a component of architectural composition, was proposed as a frame running from the building volume, supported by pylons set on a footbridge over the Radunia Canal, symbolizing the ancient pump station mechanism. The frame is provided with a glass roof over which water flows down towards Polish Scouts Square and then, over a vertical glass cascade, to a wading pool on the footbridge over the Canal. Under the frame, at the first floor level, is suspended a steel gangway over which the vertical water flow can be accessed, viewing also panorama of Gdańsk, the Canal and Polish Scouts Square.

Because of quite an unusual solution, the final effect was a source of our concern. Only now I can admit that it surpassed our expectations. Watching haw a surprising component in space is our interpretation of the Pump Station for passing people, is the grates reward for an architect. 



Forum Gdańsk Sp. z o.o.
Completion date: 
Zip code: 
Targ Sienny 4


Type of building: 
Copper used: 


Name, office: 
Studio Architektoniczne KWADRAT
Address & description: 
Autorzy: Jacek Droszcz, Bazyli Domsta Współpraca autorska: Tomasz Rochna Adres: ul. Balladyny 4, 81-524 Gdynia

Copper contractors

Address & description: 
aleja „Solidarności” 173, 00-877 Warszawa

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