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City above the city, Warschau

Nowadays, architects have become more aware of an inevitable densification in the cities. The problem, however, not only affects the overcrowded city centres. In 2015, The Density Dividend of Warsaw was analysed by the Urban Land Institute and compared with other cities, such as London, Stockholm and Istanbul. According to the ULI report, Warsaw is struggling with a “bad lower density rate”. The urban sprawl here has led to a solitary city centre where mono-functional investments prevail. Nonetheless, as reported by Professor Greg Clark: “Warsaw is in a promising new cycle of re-urbanisation that needs density if it is to be optimised”.

Hence, there is a real need for change. Warsaw needs to be transformed into a city for people, without this having to be accomplished by dividing social life and, so far, restricting the dominating car traffic. In fact, both should be combined to accommodate the actual needs of Modern Nomads society, where people are constantly on the move, in order to serve it best. Accordingly, the stop of urban sprawl can be achieved by investing in smart housing projects within the centre of Warsaw, creating multi-functional spaces. Thus, one of the best locations for a kick-start is Warsaw Central Railway Station, located in the heart of the city.

Post-war Warsaw has had many difficulties escaping a tradition of constructing enormous blocks of flats to deal with the housing shortage. As an opposition to this movement, the Modern Nomads housing project could be introduced as a new dwelling strategy for densification of the cities. The simple use of the Kerto LVL system can help bring this idea to life. The main construction would be placed by the local authorities, while each dwelling can be self-built by the resident, thanks to an uncomplicated design, delivered flat-packed and with instructions.

The Modern Nomads project is intended for people who commute daily to outlying locations, but can also serve the homeless as a rehabilitation programme. Each dwelling consists of a few basic functional compartments, which can be assembled according to the needs of the inhabitant and can be extended and multiplied over time. The simplest possible layout includes a dining and sleeping compartment combined as one living space, a toilet unit and an energy + water facility block, resulting in 14m2 of living space. Kerto panels in the interior serve as supporting points for textile furniture, which enable customisation of the spaces. Furthermore, combining the soft materials – Kerto wood and textiles – creates cosy spaces and relates to nomad culture.

What is important in the Modern Nomads project is an attempt to rediscover the social lifestyle and vibrant streets in Warsaw. Kerto LVL stays in contrast to Warsaw’s architecture of the postmodern era, thus initiating new ways of living where people remain in harmony with their environment. The zero carbon footprint of the design is supported by community initiatives, starting with a market located in the middle/entrance of the project and by green units that are at one with the dwellings.