Cultural center in Sopot // Alicja Willam

Key Info

Basic Information

Alicja Willam
Course of Study:
Master of Science
M.Sc. Wolfgang Zeh
Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Anne-Julchen Bernhardt
Prof. Alexander Markschies
Chair for Building Typologies


Although during the People’s Republic of Poland the culture house was fulfilling an important social function, after the fall of the previous political system the number of culture houses has drastically diminished – from 16 thousand in 1989 to 6 thousand in 1992. Derived from the socialist ideology, the former formula for a culture house ultimately failed to create a perfect socialist society. In contemporary context, they are often a source of social stigma, taken apart by the neoliberal principle of space management.

Not only the political system has changed, the society as well. All of the current stati­stics and voting results show, that the changes the country has undergone have had impact on causing the division on the society.

Let’s go back to the place that allows just being. Let’s connect not through words, but through place. Being in given point of space and time. The room. The common space.

A culture house. A home.


The new culture house does not help to fit the society into a shape invented by any idea, instead, it gives space for new creation.

The new culture house is a backwards factory, with collective creators. Social conden­ser 2.0, that changes society only by its own creation.

The new culture house forgets about the negative connotations of the future. It does not try to impose or diminish. It does not represent any school of thought, any political utopia. It exists in the present point in time, for the present people.

The new culture house is physical. It celebrates all forms of realness, touching the walls, dancing, sitting. An algorithm designed by a human does not steer this bubble, only the algorithm of randomness, of existing at given point in time and space.

The new culture house is a home. It is a space where everyone can be, as they are. It translates the home for the individual, to home for the collective. The product of the new culture house is the collective.


The plot can be read as a last stop of the urban tissue, before giving place to the sea. The plot is connected to the pavement, that is busy in the summer, making it possible to take in the density and redirect it in the direction of the plot.

The design aims to promote the plot as a place of activity. It is understood as a stack of individual privacies. Taking inspiration from the concept of social condenser, it enc­loses all its functions within one structure.

The design is a social condenser, an overscaled villa.

The physical functioning of the structure as a condenser is organized differently on every floor. The ground floor is a home. It takes a home for the individual and transla­tes it into a home for the collective. One enters the structure, getting a choice - either to go up, in the direction of the big room, to the living room or to the functional part of the ground floor.

The ground floor is divided in two parts that can function separately from another - the functional part (bike workshop, laundry room, toilets, small working space) and the home part (living room, game room, dining room, kitchen, bookcrossing, toilets).

The 1st floor realizes a postulate of the freedom of movement of the structure. It is an open structure, the only barrier there being the curtains. People visiting the building can move them as they please, creating open and closed areas. From this free floor one can access the big balcony with the sea view. Here one can work, meet, observe the beach, enjoy the day - all in company of the Baltic Sea.

The 2nd floor is consisting of big multifunctional room, that can be used for purposes resulting out of its size. The inhabitants of Sopot can gather there, dance, do yoga classes, movie nights. One can access this room either with the circular staircase - directly from the dining room, and through the multifunctional room, or through the big staircase, going to the changing room on the way. The big room is also connected with the sea, but the relation is different than of the floors below. It is connected with the loggia, that serves as a sea-and-balcony ob­servation point.

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