The project explores the possibilities suggested by the Klein Bottle, a mathematical concept of a four dimensional surface. The investigations into the analogue representation of this double-sided surface lead to physical representations of the spaces at different scales, ranging from 1:1 to scaled models of the entire building. Its location relates directly to the UNESCO World Heritage Wieliczka Salt Mine and conceptually reponds to the structure of the mine and its chambers.
By using a survey 3D scan of the visitor part of the salt mine, I was able to manipulate the surfaces and investigate their typology and resemblance to the Klein Bottle. The methodical process of disecting volumes of the chambers of the salt mine produced a framework of research into new spatial typologies. Physical models use paper as the main structural material and combine it using thread. This process evolved through multiple prototypes, which established a pattern making method producing the optimum volumes, which were then translated into envelopes, spaces, circulation.
The proposal for the building expressing the complexity of the Salt Mine and that of the Klein Bottle surface is an intervention in the landscape and relates to the geology of the South of Poland. The programme suggests an Earth Sciences Conference building which also holds gallery space, linked to the Krakow University and dedicated to research projects at the educational institutions interested in exploring the archeology, geology and history of the area. The aim of the building is to attract innovation and open the scientific community to the international scene.
The main part of the building is enclosed by intesecting series of envelopes which filter natural light into the building and form three light wells bringing more light into the lower levels of the structure. The circulation of the conference centre is organised around two cores, both adjacent to the large light wells providing abundant natural light. Two main staircases connect the ground floor spaces of foyer and a gallery with first floor large gallery space and basement auditorium space.
A ramp weaving around the outside of the building brings the visitors from the entrance of the building to a landscaped stepped auditorium outside the building sloping down towards the building. The envelope of the building is constructed using strips of plywood preserved in salt. The light well openings are clad in dichroic glass, providing unexpected light qualities throughout the day.