KWK promes plans residential project "aura" with a sweeping green facade

Designboom_ Polish architect Robert Konieczny, founder of KWK Promes, is embarking on the realization of Aura, a landmark new residential project in Poznań, Poland. Fresh after its converted slaughterhouse PLATO being named one of the five best buildings of Europe by the Mies van der Rohe Awards 2024, the architecture studio is defining this new building by a facade almost entirely covered in greenery, wrapped in a staggering 140,000 plants.

Konieczny’s primary goal was to minimize disruption to the existing ecosystem and, ideally, enhance it. This philosophy manifests in the building’s form, which emerges organically from the existing terrain, resembling an extension of the surrounding green hillside. The facade’s vegetation will seamlessly blend with the surrounding greenery, with plant life even gracing the rooftop.

KWK Promes‘ design for Aura follows years of global research which have culminated in advanced technologies that enable the safe and effective integration of diverse plant varieties into building facades. This offers residents not just the aesthetic joy of nature, but tangible benefits like cooler summers, warmer winters, and easy access to fresh herbs and flowers.

By providing ample and accessible greenery, as with Aura, we have the potential to reshape our cities,’ says Konieczny. ‘Instead of urban heat islands, we can create buildings that regulate humidity and temperature, both internally and in their surroundings. This type of architecture not only enhances a neighborhood’s aesthetics but significantly improves living conditions through a favorable microclimate.’

Aura’s 140,000 plants will grow along a structure specially designed by KWK Promes which will essentially form a vertical garden on the facade. An air gap will exist between the structure and the building’s wall, functioning as a natural insulator, primarily protecting the building from excessive heat during hot weather. An automated irrigation system utilizing 90% rainwater collected on-site will ensure the plants’ health, minimizing the need for manual maintenance.

This project represents a first of its kind in Poland. The groundbreaking nature of the design necessitated close collaboration with scientists from Poznań University of Technology and the University of Life Sciences. Konieczny’s vision for the site emerged victorious in an architectural competition, with the investor particularly drawn to the concept of introducing even more greenery to the location.

For the building’s interior design, investor Piotr Voelkel, a renowned art collector and patron, enlisted the talents of young artist Alicja Biała. Biała’s artistic touch graces the lobby space with a unique, sculptural plant lamp and a nature-inspired relief.

The inspiration for these forms came from the local flora, many of which face threats due to habitat loss and climate change,’ explains Biała. ‘In my work, I’ve scaled these plants up, imbuing them with a sense of pride and visibility, while retaining a message of hope.’

The artist’s commitment extends to the creation of custom glazes for the sculptures, utilizing soil sourced from various locations in Wielkopolska, including the Aura construction site itself. The unique mineral composition of the soil will determine the final glaze colors.