Blast Furnace in Pokój Steelwork in Ruda Śląska
INVESTMENT TYPE OF DEVELOPMENT: PUBLIC FACILITY
INVESTOR: CITY OF RUDA ŚLĄSKA
LOCATION: RUDA ŚLĄSKA, POLAND
WXCA TEAM: PAWEŁ GRODZICKI, BARBARA PŁONCZYŃSKA, MICHAŁ SOKOŁOWSKI, JAN DĄBROWSKI, MICHAŁ STARZYŃSKI
AWARDS: HONOURABLE MENTION IN THE COMPETITION FOR THE URBAN PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURAL CONCEPT DESIGN FOR THE RENEWAL AND ADAPTATION OF THE BLAST FURNACE IN POKÓJ STEELWORK IN RUDA ŚLĄSKA FOR THE TOURIST AND CULTURAL PURPOSES
The steelwork functioned as the centre of community life for many generations. It set the rhythm, built the identity, pride, ethos of work, of family and community. Upon stopping the production, this bond between the place and its inhabitants was broken. Underlying the renewal of the Blast Furnace is the aim to restore these values to the local community, but this time in a different dimension. The Furnace is surrounded by a new public space – a garden and at the same time a place for meetings and collective events. Familok style family benches scattered among the greenery in the shade of metallurgical installations are an invitation for the generations to meet: former employees, their children and grandchildren. The public square – a garden roofed with the constructions of the technological line of the steelworks – will become the living room of the city, bearing marks of city’s historical identity but simultaneously accommodating the future.
Cultural and Tourist Value of the Blast Furnace Area
We want to convey the values of the Silesian industrial heritage not only in the form of knowledge but also of personal experience. A direct contact with technological installations will allow the visitors to feel the power of the industrial process, and realize the ethos and the reality of a heavy labour of a steelworker, the risk and responsibility involved in it. Those previously employed in the steelwork for that matter will be able to cultivate the pride and dignity related to their profession.
The educational goal of the project is to engage the viewers so that they can make their individual experience of the Blast Furnace and this by following the route of the blast furnace process, getting into contact with original technological elements and being able to scrutinize them as well as by setting foots inside the installation. It is also important to put a new life into the original construction elements of the furnace unit and this by the use of various material and multimedia solutions. The narrative conveying the enormity of industrial processes and the value of human work, will be delivered in authentic interiors: in the control centre and in the Blast Furnace itself.
An opening located at a height of the belly, will make it possible to enter into the furnace at its widest part. The temperature inside will be raised and the walls will serve as screens for the multimedia show. Light and projection can help visualize the stratification of temperatures or animate the process of filling the furnace with ore, coke and limestone. The water vapour filling the interior and its illumination will imitate high temperatures and pressure conditions of the heaters. Visual elements will be complemented by the experience of touch and smell when coming into contact with dirty walls and their real odour. The entire complex of Pokój Steelwork, its enormous body and interiors can tell the history of the industrial development but more importantly, of the people for whom the steelwork was a workplace and a whole life even.
Symbol of Transformation
When renewed, the Blast Furnace will become a testimony to the contemporary transformation of the entire region: a symbol of the transition from the era of heavy industry, „coal and steel”, to the future – an era of sustainable development, of greater harmony with nature. The Blast Furnace has been extinguished for ecological reasons, which is why this place is a perfect one for building new awareness.
To reflect the ongoing climate change around the world, we would like to green not only the land around the Blast Furnace but also the elements of it as such. Among and around the facilities of the former steelwork, a garden would be created taking the form of islands of low greenery, which would organically overgrow the metallurgical installations on the ground floor. Through a gradual change in the height of the grasses, the greenery would smoothly pass into paths and the square. This would highlight the transformation of the industrial area into a space for residents.