Nächstes Projekt 12/20  

Mai / Juni 2024

Technische Universität Berlin

The Rural Heart

The Phenomenon of Fire Stations in Podlasie Province, Poland

von Katarzyna Maliszewska


Technische Universität Berlin






DE/CO - Entwerfen und Baukonstruktion, Prof. Jan Kampshoff + Wojciech Mazan


QGiS, Rhino, Enscape, Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop

The work explores the phenomenon of volunteer fire brigades and their fire stations in the Polish countryside. Today, there are 16,000 units, accounting for 96% of fire national protection. The origins of most brigades date back to the 1920s and 1940s, whereas firefighting traditions are passed down from generation to generation. Despite facing many challenges, they remain vital pillars of rural life.

The evolution of fire stations in Poland reflects their resilience and adaptability in meeting the changing needs of society. Originally built as shelters for firefighting equipment, they have evolved into multi-purpose buildings. These buildings, while fascinating in their simplicity, often blend into their surroundings. Were it not for the large paved driveways or the bright red garage doors, many could be mistaken for houses or farm buildings. At the same time, their strategic, central location offers great potential for their development as community spaces.

Another integral feature associated with fire stations, although not in eastern Poland, is the hose-drying tower. The use of perishable materials and the shift away from vertical drying of firefighting hoses contributed to their decline, rendering the towers obsolete. Interestingly, for practical reasons, there?s a resurgence in the use of such techniques. Towers are particularly beneficial in winter when residual water in hoses can freeze, causing damage. Consequently, in the absence of dedicated drying facilities, fire units opt to construct towers or masts.

The project reinterprets the tower, not just treating it as a function-oriented piece, but also as a community-oriented landmark. The concept considers technical, formal, and landscape aspects, as well as the social dimension of the new structures, all on an equal footing. The work does not propose a solution, but rather a base and a three-phase strategy.

The base is a rectangular block in two size variants, referencing old firefighters? towers. The structure is nearly 14 meters tall, providing visibility of the surroundings without competing with sacred objects. Its height provides optimal conditions for the drying of hoses, while leaving room for additional uses. In the first phase, the base is adapted to local conditions and needs to facilitate the new element?s integration into the surroundings. Upon completing the design stage, construction commences, utilizing an economical approach. By involving communities in the process, these interventions can foster collaboration and a sense of belonging. Additional elements like birdhouses, galleries or notice boards, ideally crafted by the local community, can be attached and replaced, reflecting the towers? inherent multifunctionality and flexibility.

To demonstrate the potential impacts, four simulations were conducted using specific locations within the analysed province. They represent repeatable scenarios offering insight into what could occur on a regional scale.

Text von Katarzyna Maliszewska.