Makers’ Maze is a winning entry for Europan 15 competition for Vierhavensblok in Rotterdam. The choice of this site was motivated by my ongoing fascination with post-industrial locations and informal urban spaces. This Rotterdam harbour became an opportunity for the continuation of my prior research and another attempt to design authentic party of the city, rooted in its context and its history. [ show more ]

In Makers’ Maze architecture is reconnected with the economic, social and political realities of the contemporary city by offering a flexible method rather than a rigid design. The goal is to create new conditions for creativity, circularity, interaction and sharing while preserving the existing character.

The charm of the Vierhavensblok is its informal character where one finds the unexpected around each corner and where chance encounters breed new collaborations. Inspired by these qualities I proposed a series of interlocking building clusters organized around a network of passages, streets and squares, creating a unified, resilient, and intriguing urban scheme. The ambition was to build on the present sense of community and self-initiative by leaving enough room for organic growth and adaptation. [ show less ]

Date: 2019

Erica Chladová
Maciej Wieczorkowski
Andrea Bit
Robert van der Pol

Network of alleys and squares

In Vierhavensblok affordable, flexible warehouses are ready to use while outdoor spaces support the buildings’ functions by providing enough room for storage and delivery, so needed for the makers. Striking emptiness on the site is juxtaposed with few existing buildings. It takes a while to discover all the narrow passages, workyards, and alleys hidden behind or nestled in between long facades, sheds and fences. While not yet easily accessible, these features have great potential to become an intriguing piece of the city. [ show more ]

These existing urban qualities are explored and aggregated, creating a base for new developments. By cutting through warehouses, the scale is changed from industrial to urban, allowing new connections and entrances and promoting a walkable human scale. The outdoor areas are well defined and create an interconnected network: the Makers’ Maze. Courtyards, streets and rooftops are hidden from the outside as they organize the new public interior – a space that encourages creativity, productivity and focus. [ show less ]

Space defining clusters

The streets and squares of the masterplan are defined by the surrounding architectural volumes, both new and existing. Learning from the buildings on the site the proposed architecture doesn’t consist of autonomous buildings but interconnected clusters of diverse volumes and functions. Surrounding and defining public spaces, they consist of blocks of different shapes and heights. [ show more ]

Existing workshops are no longer temporary, but rather they become an integral part of the foundation of the plan. New volumes are attached to them or are cantilevered above them. Each cluster has a color / materiality that makes it identifiable within the plan and that is based off the existing building that anchors the cluster. New structures provide access to rooftops with communal gardens and shared functions.

The proposal addresses the urban and architectural scales to reimagine the neighborhood as a resilient machine that accommodates working, living, playing and resting. The programmatic mix is easy to achieve and adjust, because the clusters are developed not in tandem, but one by one, allowing for small adjustments based on market pressures. [ show less ]

Collage & Continuity

In 2015 I explored Zabłocie: a post-industrial site in my home city Kraków, Poland. There I proposed a Craft and Design School that would enhance the private and intimate nature of craft, building on the specific qualities of the location. The project focuses on the relation of buildings and outdoor spaces. Exciting balance between the coherent character of the spaces (their continuity) and the individual nature of the objects creating them (collage of scales, materials and colours) is the foundation of the project. [ show more ]

The site of the project is mostly hidden, revealing itself only in few places, providing not exposed to the public, introverted environment. This characteristics contribute to truly unique character of the location, making it almost secret and secluded world, perfect to host crafsmen and makers. They, already present on the site, shape it according to their needs. Organic growth and informal qualities become proof of the district' creative potential. [ show less ]

Date: 2016

Sequence of spaces

The project fits in between existing structures and consists of various buildings and series of outdoor spaces that together create school of Craft and Design. The buildings and squares between them serve diverse functions (workshops, sports hall, classrooms etc.) and together form a platform for interaction for different groups of users. Spaces are interconnected and create a route through the campus. [ show more ]

The result is a series of zones with different identities and purposes, surrounded by buildings and structures that belong and interact with them. Outdoor squares are collections of elements and their characters are established by defining relations between all parts. These juxtapositions create a patchwork of scales, forms, materials and colours, or a homogeneous whole. [ show less ]


Analysing the existing structures and spaces it becomes apparent that, often in a self-made way, architecture adjust its shape, color and scale to the outdoor squares. Spaces in between the buildings are something perceived as a whole, contrary to objects (buildings), therefore architecture follows them, not the other way around. In the project proposal facades of the new buildings respond to their surrounding changing their shape and materiality. [ show more ]

The interiors of the workshop buildings resemble exterior of the project: the divison between fixed elements (outdoor spaces, structure) and the flexible parts (partitions, cladding) is clearly stated. Interiors' richness of the materials contribute to the idea of the collage, where the individual character of the elements is displayed. Structure cannot be changed unlike partition walls and therefore it is visible and emphasized. [ show less ]


Izabela Slodka studied in Cracow, Poland and a Delft University of Technology, where she received her master's degree in 2016. Her project “Collage and Continuity” was nominated for Young Talent Architecture Award – part of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award, organised by the Fundació Mies van der Rohe. After winning Europan 15 competition in 2019 with her proposal Makers’ Maze, she founded her own studio.

Both “Collage and Continuity” and “Makers’ Maze” illustrate Iza’s fascination with post-industrial sites. They are part of ongoing research focusing on unique spatial and material qualities of these, often forgotten, parts of the cities. She is looking for existing conditions that attract makers, designers, creating vibrant and creative atmosphere.

Informal and organic character of these sites encourage freedom and unexpected to happen, enhancing the idea of untamed and exciting urban environment. This city ecology is built over time and consist of different elements and layers, allowing various participants and functions to coexist.

Recurring interest is a collage of elements and their relation to each other: in terms of building and outdoor space, structure and cladding, materiality and color. Architecture is treated as an envelope of a public space rather than an independent structures, unless emphasized otherwise. Urban space, landscape and buildings are always designed together as an integral parts of the same concept.

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