Author: Jolanta Skwaradowska     Published At: 16.07.2021

Students of the Silesian University of Technology with Grand Prix of an international architectural competition

Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski and Paweł Białas - students of the Faculty of Architecture of the Silesian University of Technology won the Grand Prix International Velux Award 2020 The students were under supervision  of dr inż. arch. Jerzy Wojewódka, prof. Their project the „Teatr światła” (transl. "Theater of Light") won in the category the „Badania nad światłem naturalnym” (transl. "Research on Natural Light”) in the Eastern Europe and Middle East region. Our students' project won the competition with almost 600 works from all over the world.

The main goal of the winning project is to raise awareness of artificial light pollution. Technology turns night into day and disrupts our circadian rhythm. People, animals and plants cannot meet the natural need to be in the dark after sunset.

- Most of us think that the light that surrounds us is essential, so we use its natural mechanisms. What I really liked about this project was that the students went a bit against the grain. They recognised that light is important, but they also concluded that it is sometimes too important. They asked what could be done to restore the natural way, the natural process of receiving light. After all, darkness is also an element of light. We had a lot of uncertainty when we sent this project, because it was against the rules that supposedly, I emphasize, this competition defined. Therefore, it was with great satisfaction and positive surprise that we received the information about the result. This only proves that the search for a new approach, new values in design and thinking about architecture has worked," says dr inż. arch. Jerzy Wojewódka, Professor at the Silesian University of Technology.

One of the few completely dark places in Europe - the Izera Dark-Sky Park in Poland - was chosen for the location of the "Theatre of Light" project. The idea was to create extensive land art, giving visitors the opportunity to observe a fragment of the sky like a spectacle of light. It has a symbolic circular shape, often used in planetariums. The site is intended to make people aware of the problem about pollution by artificial light.

- Not much is said about artificial light pollution. Yet the effect of light pollution is to disrupt the circadian rhythm of humans and other organisms. The fact that people function at one in the morning, that they wake up at 12 o'clock, or eat at three in the morning, is not normal. Such behaviour results in pathologies, and pathologies turn into diseases, not only those related to tumours or cancer, but also to the psyche (e.g. depression)," says Julia Giżewska, one of the authors of the project.

- Artificial light also causes very high pollution of the atmosphere - light scattering. When we have larger clusters of people, city and infrastructure nearby that light up the sky, then the contrast between the stars and artificial light is so small that we are not able to notice them. In the past, people could see the entire milky way, but now it is extremely difficult to spot stars in the city, even the very bright ones, '' says Dominik Kowalski, co-author of the project.

For Paweł Białas, another of the authors, the most interesting part of the project is the role of nature.  - I think that nowadays we want to return to naturalness, or primal instincts, more and more often. This project is rooted in nature, it is also a certain theatre, a spectacle that has natural things in it itself. There is morning, noon, evening, dusk and night. In all this we have naturalness, a kind of Katharsis of a man who can find himself in this place defined by light," says Paweł Białas.

The Grand Prix International Velux Award 2020 is a significant success for students of the Faculty of Architecture of the Silesian University of Technology. The project won the competition with 579 works from around the world. Projects from 250 architectural universities from 60 countries were submitted to the International VELUX Award competition.


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