Located in Daliowa River Island, the smallest of over a dozen in downtown Wrocław in western Poland, NAWA is a futuristic architectural sculpture. Designed by Polish architect Oskar Zięta, the sculpture reflects historic surroundings both literally and figuratively. The project aimed to turn a neglected and forgotten space into an area open to meetings, concerts, and artistic events, therefore encouraging local inhabitants to reclaim the city.
Zięta’s visionary sculpture sits on the spectrum of art, design, and science. Organic in form with a mirror-polished finish, the lightweight sculpture references the island’s shape while reflecting the lush natural landscape formed by the Oder River. The sculpture consists of 35 bionic steel arches referring in form to the island’s shape and most of all to the construction of the nearby historic architecture of Ostrów Tumski, originally established in the eleventh century.
Invented by Zięta himself during his PhD studies, free inner pressure forming (FiDU) is an innovative technology that basically “inflates” sheet metal shapes that have been welded together along the edges by pumping compressed air. The arches together create an ultralight, durable construction. Its mirror-polished surface reflects the surroundings and gives the effect of a naturally growing sculpture that changes throughout the day and seasons and offers viewers a different feeling every time.
In the NAWA sculpture, arches serve both as the elements of construction and artistic ways of expression. The organic arches are the result of parametric design. This innovative domain operating in architecture, engineering, and city planning rely on software that allows the generation of blocks based on combined input of parameters. The NAWA design required advanced calculations and modelling in Grasshopper software, which allowed to generate 60 blocks. Their shape was accommodated to the terrain and surroundings.
Despite its artistic character, the sculpture will also fulfil its social functions in the public space. In the designing process, researching the potential social impact of the sculpture and aesthetics were equally important. It has been contemplated how NAWA forms part of its surroundings and how it will affect its audience—both the passers-by and those who walk under it.
NAWA has caught the eye of many visitors, even the youngest ones. As the first city sculpture made in innovative FiDU technology, NAWA is the highlight of the renewed island.