Main image: South-East elevation of Wave One. Photo credit: © FAAB, Photographer: Maciej Lulko

Wave One is the first of five buildings that are being built in the planned ECR complex in Sopot, Poland. Wave One is located 400 metres from the Baltic Sea in what is historically known as a health resort town.

Concept of Wave One

The concept is derived from the complexity of sea waves and the local vernacular of carved ornamental detailing on facade elements. Drawing upon this, the architects created a site concept composed of five inter-related buildings, reminiscent of waves. Wave One, the first to be built after a lengthy design and construction process, encompasses specialised medical laboratories, including SARS-CoV-2 testing laboratories, a research and development centre and administration spaces.

Aerial view of the South elevation – © FAAB, Photographer: Maciej Lulko
Main entrance of the South elevation – © FAAB, Photographer: Maciej Lulko

Inspired by photos of the sea

The white perforated facade, enfolding Wave One, was partly inspired by a series of photographs by Pierre Carreau, titled AquaViva. The architects analysed the geometric complexity of the sea waves captured by the photographer. The arched 3D forms, frozen in time, were translated into an architectural language that shaped the building’s final form. With 1 362 perforated triangular panels, the facade, just like a wave, bend at its crest, the top of the building.

Symbolic references

A partial view of the South elevation – © FAAB, Photographer: Maciej Lulko

The perforated panels are a symbolic gesture referencing the local tradition of placing ornamental details carved in wood on building facades, and the flower of life, an ancient motif credited with healing powers, befitting the healthcare function of the investment.

Airiness and transient details

The perforations made it possible to elicit an airiness and dissipation of the building in space, particularly visible in the upper realm of the facade.

The east/west elevations take on 3D form, with triangular panels of sintered white ceramics skewing and reflecting sunlight onto the pavement. They create a transient detail, enlivening the immediate surroundings of the building.

Curvature and fluidity married

Equally, curvature – a reference to the concavity of a sea wave – inspired the shape of the building mass. The amply curved canopy over the south entrance was digitally 3D modelled by the architects and was then submitted to the local contractors for the preparation of one-to-one mock-ups.

Adjustments were made on site to create a seamless union with adjacent panels, and to ensure the fluidity of the perforated pattern. This was a painstaking task, given that curvature and deviation from the vertical are along both axes of the facade, not excluding the additional presence of operable shutters.


The ecological solutions selected for the project result directly from local conditions and respond to the actual demand determined by the function of the building. Due to the difficult construction conditions of Lower Sopot, including flooding, high groundwater levels and the presence of non-loadbearing soil, the site remained undeveloped for years.

Heat management

Beautiful detail of the canopy – © FAAB, Photographer: Maciej Lulko

In a facility with such a high saturation of technological equipment, it is very important to protect the rooms from overheating. Overly high temperatures inside the building cause discomfort and can trigger a sudden shutdown of laboratory equipment. This usually leads to the discontinuity of the analysis cycle, as well as the loss of precious research material.

To avoid such threats and to prevent enlarging the cooling systems, several passive solutions were used. The architects resigned from large glass surfaces, instead, the surface area of the designed windows provides optimal natural lighting conditions for the laboratory rooms.

Double layered façade

Furthermore, the building facade consists of two layers. The outer layer of the facade acts as a continuous protective barrier over the building, shielding the exterior wall from heating up and thus preventing the interior rooms from overheating. This barrier also has a positive effect on its surroundings and guards against the urban heat island phenomenon.

Rainwater management

Several solutions to rainwater management were introduced. An extensive rainwater retention system and buffer tank were installed. The water collection from the tank is used to flush the toilets, thereby limiting the use of water from the municipal network. Additionally, to avert rainwater contamination, external wooden elements were used that do not require chemical treatments.

Adaptation for future use

The main room of the laboratory – © FAAB, Photographer: Maciej Lulko

The interiors, in particular the laboratory rooms, were designed to adapt to the frequent technological advances in medical diagnostic services that will inevitably be introduced in the future. Rooms where laboratory tests are performed inside closed automated laboratory devices, have exposed ceiling installations. Partition walls in the laboratories are built in a way to ease their dismantling.

The resin floor is easy to repair and supplement in the event of a room rearrangement. The structure of the building itself allows for the implementation of new system shafts and in those already made, there is a reserve for new installations. A reserve was also left for the installation of new systems on the technical terrace. All these procedures will significantly reduce the time needed to install new laboratory equipment in the future.

Continued construction

Construction continues on three out of five buildings planned for the site. The final building (Wave Three) is in the design phase. Once completed, the ECR complex of healthcare facilities will comprise an outpatient hospital with an operating theatre, a treatment unit and an IVF laboratory (Wave Two), a specialist inpatient hospital with a gynaecology and obstetrics profile, delivery and neonatal unit (Wave Three), and a rehabilitation centre including hyperbaric and cryo chambers (Wave Four and Five). Construction is expected to be completed in 2023.

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to for the information in this editorial.
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