NXT creatives

Emilia Strzempek-Plasun

Uniwersytet Artystyczny w Poznaniu

Adaptation of the Ruins of the Church of St. Nicholas in Głogów

Adaptation of the Ruins of the Church of St. Nicholas in Głogów for a Culture Centre addresses the problem of sacred places that have lost their religious function, often falling into disrepair and disuse. The original church of St. Nicholas in Głogów, Poland was founded in the mid-thirteenth century. During World War II, the church suffered shell damage and later burned down. The current ruins of the church consist of the main shape of the Gothic structure, as well as various changes and additions made during the medieval and later periods. Through her work, Emilia Strzempek-Plasun endeavours to design a restored and adapted version of the building that will fulfil a new cultural and scientific function. Whilst aiming to preserve the original essence of the walls, columns and vaults, Strzempek-Plasun intentionally designed an interior that contrasts with the historic structure of the building. Through the incorporation of functional spaces, an open concert hall, a permanent exhibitions room, library, seminar room and multimedia facilities, Strzempek-Plasun’s design transforms the ruins of a historic building into a fully functional, inviting and contemporary environment.

Artist Statement

Throughout Europe many buildings that once held religious significance cease to do so. In Poland, churches and temples formerly belonging to religious communities can now be found under the ownership of the treasury, municipalities or private individuals. Secular ownership combined with the dilapidated state of these buildings has led to a rising need for answers regarding their fate: should sites with significant pasts be demolished, left to dilapidate further, or should they be restored and given a second life?
When the new purpose of such buildings integrates the functional practices of cultural centres, bookshops or libraries, community doubts tend to be minimised. The transformation of a former place of worship is easier to accept if it presents possibilities of a renewed and similarly wholesome sense of community. But this begs the questions: to what extent is the adaptation of a historical building acceptable? If the former context of a structure ceases to exist, why try to recreate or restore it at all?
During this project – one in which the manifold opinions of the community were of great importance – I considered at length whether the church should be reconstructed to resemble its original appearance. However, the fact remains that the church no longer fulfils a religious function and should adhere to its new purpose: a cultural centre. I believe that the revitalisation of the church building by giving it a new, secular character will not only save it, but also return it to its local community.