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The Gropius Granary Project
As a result of a public auction organized by a small municipality of Drawsko Pomorskie in North-western Poland in May 2021, artists connected with Arden2 and Warsaw Bauhaus Foundation in Poland acquired the first architectural project of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. The Granary was built in 1906 in Jankowo, a village of less than 500 inhabitants located in the Drawsko Pomorskie County, and remained vacant for many years. The Granary is the first architectural design project of a young Walter Gropius, the future founder of Bauhaus School in 1919, who after fleeing the Nazi Germanyin 1933, later became a Chair of the Department of Architecture of The Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Although the Granary has featured in the register of architectural heritage as a landmark since 1977, lacking any renovations it was decommissioned after a time and fell into disrepair.
Since mid 1990-s together with a group of friends we had worked on an on-going series of multidisciplinary ephemeral projects called Arden2-Utopia and GramAmerica. These were small, independent workshops, exhibitions, and performances both in urban and suburban settings where we had an opportunity to engage and facilitate a dialogue between local art communities and isolated, often marginalized groups. We were inspired by diverse experiments such as Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, Rural Studio and the Woman’s Building. When in 2021, after over twenty years of independent practice, we learned about Gropius Granary sale and its endangered heritage status, we thought about trying to form, once again, a diverse coalition. Together with Warsaw Bauhaus Foundation we hope to create a self-sustaining cultural ecosystem in rural landscape outside overly competitive and overly gentrified cultural scene of the city. These are our plans:
THE BUILDING, THE VILLAGE, THE REVITALISATION
LONG TERM GOALS
Now, this historically significant site and its surroundings need to be revitalized by bringing together international cultural workers, scholars, artists as well as local activists and residents of the region. Our long term goal is to form a diverse coalition of partners to help in the cooperative process of cultural, educational and social revitalization programming and focusing on injecting fresh energy to the village. This process is very important and will be parallel to the long term architectural revitalization of Gropius Granary. We will work to create there a multidisciplinary center, which would act as a meeting place for diverse participation, offering a wide variety of cultural and social projects conducted with the help of visiting scholars, artists, and professionals (representing disciplines such as visual and performing arts, architecture, biological and health sciences, agriculture, ecology, historical preservation, museology etc.
The Gropius Granary Project could become a case study that can help inform a trend that will soon grow as climate changes, overcrowding of urban areas and the exccessive gentrification process will have made rural environments an attractive alternative for city dwellers.
URGENT SHORT TERM GOALS
Time is running out for Walter Gropius’ Granary, and this may be its last chance to be saved from destruction. The current condition of the building is catastrophic and requires immediate intervention to prevent parts of the building from collapsing.
Since May 2021, the following actions have been undertaken by the new owners to secure the building:
- Numerous visits and inspections by conservation professionals to assess the condition of the building and develop a conservation plan.
- A structural inspection by a structural engineer/architect resulting in a list of treatments necessary to restore the structural integrity of the building.
- 30 tons of chemical fertilizer were removed from the granary basement.
- A number of compromised/unsafe wooden beams in the basement were replaced to secure the structure of the basement ceiling.
- A number of community integration events were organized by Warsaw Bauhaus at the Granary site to engage the local community in support of the project . See Warsaw Bauhaus website: http//www.warsawbauhaus.org/
- Implementing critical structural work to prevent further degradation and building collapse. This includes:
Comprehensive renovation of the structure of the perimeter walls, and internal brick walls and columns.
Comprehensive renovation of the ceiling structure above the basement
As well as
Comprehensive renovation of ceilings in the wooden structure
Comprehensive renovation of the roof truss.
Estimated cost $1M