Aarchitect, social activist, president of the Academic Association of the Faculty of Architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology. Co-founder of Otwarta Pracownia Jazdów (Jazdów 3/6), an open coworking space operating at Jazdów, recently nominated for the S3KTOR 2017 award for the best non governmental initiative of 2017. A yacht captain and an enthusiast of sailing.
Otwarta Pracownia recently celebrated its second birthday. What have you managed to do within that period?
– At the beginning there was no plan to have the house available every day. That came to us organically and for a year and a half there may have been 20 days in total when we were closed. When we entered the competition, there were 5 or 6 houses of non-governmental organizations in Jazdów, 15 were empty, 8 inhabited – completely different proportions than now.
Jazdów, although already known for outdoor events, was still in an organizational phase and was active only from one event to another. The fact that we managed to create a space that is not only for architects, but is the only place that is open every day in Jazdów and everyone can come here and join the life of the house, to me it seems important.
What do you consider the most important quality of this place?
– Projects that we do could be implemented elsewhere, but I doubt that elsewhere they would be equally alive. There is a huge rotation here, which means that at the point of contact of those who get to know each other here new ideas arise and this I consider a huge value.
Certainly, the value is also that we do events on such a scale. Lectures on the architecture of Warsaw, concerts of young bands, not in a big hall, but close, so that you can really feel the encounter with another human being.
What kind of people is attracted by Otwarta Pracownia?
– The way this space is designed doesn’t let you separate yourself from everyone else so certainly you must like people, have the patience, the curiosity. That’s those who use the coworking space. However, those who come to the events – it’s hard to say.
When I open concerts or lectures and ask whether there are people who are here for the first time sometimes it is more than half of the room. New people come here all the time. And we hear that not only students know us, but people, for example, aged 45-55. And we don’t run any promotional campaigns. We are here and just by doing so we make Otwarta Pracownia what it is.
We, is whom exactly?
– Those who come here and want to stay. In the very beginning when I wrote the Otwarta Pracownia project plan I didn’t know the specifics of Jazdów, but I tried to combine the experience of being a student at the faculty of architecture, with the value I saw in taking care of club yachts. When you charter a yacht, it is like a car or bike from a rental company – there is no relationship, you rent it, you give it back. But if you need to renovate a yacht, you do things that are yours only and meant to by used by you in particular, you meet people with whom you renovate it, that’s a whole experience. Sailing on such a yacht is a whole different thing.
Otwarta Pracownia in my head was to be such a combination – a space for self – expression and work but not in a commercial way, not as a service, but as a place that we create together, as a cooperative. Nothing new really, but not always does it work.
Poles can work together?
– Well, there is this old school thinking in Poland that if something isn’t privately owned it doesn’t belong to anyone. I had such discussions with sailors from Great Britain. There are a lot of club yachts there, because it’s better to have a yacht with 20 other people than to have a yacht just for yourself, because it takes so much work and money, and you can use it how often? A week, two?
And often I have the impression that people who come to Otwarta Pracownia can not believe that it is possible in the context of real estate. They ask how much would our house cost. Or to whom it belongs? We always say that you can not buy it because it is already yours because it belongs to us all. To some people it’s a real flip. I hope that Jazdów is building this missing social capital, that by staying here and confronting themselves with our values people will change.
Did Jazdów change You?
– Yes, very much. I have learned, for example, to make joint decisions. We have 18 non-governmental organizations and the residents here. Now how do you reach a common ground with thirty leaders so that everyone is happy? I’ve also learned a lot when it comes to sustainable development and ecology. Simply because we are confronted here with other non governmental organizations that deal with these topics.
Maybe thanks to this neighborhood, we, the architects, will learn to speak in a human voice, and not only within our own industry about the same topics over and over again? This act of juxtaposing different worlds with each other is, in my opinion, the most important thing, not only in the development of a better, more conscious society, but also in life, to it is interesting, stimulating.
What will happen at Otwarta Pracownia in the coming weeks?
– Coming up we have two concerts, April 20, Kwiat Jabłoni, premiere of their debut album, and five days later Hannah Epperson, a Canadian violin played, that should be great. At the end of April, we also have a lecture about the architecture of Warsaw, a meeting with Andrzej Bulanda, who will talk about the reconstruction of the library on Koszykowa.
What would you like to wish to Otwarta Pracownia?
– That new people keep on coming here. And that those who for some reason had to drift away find pleasure in returning. And that they all feel that it is their home.
interview: Misia Furtak
photo: Aga Bilska