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GATE 1st Focus Group Meeting


Gdansk, Poland, March 2006

Gdansk Old Town
Gdansk Old Town

This was the first Focus Group meeting and was held in a cold and snowy Gdansk at the beginning of March. The Polish partners presented their provisional programme for the seminar to be held in May. The theme was 'Economic Issues' and Poland explained that this was an issue of particular interest to them. The specific items that they wished to cover on the conference day of the seminar were:

• Prices were not attractive enough when compared to the perceived risks of durability and fire
• Not enough competition in the timber construction housing market
• Lack of attractive price offers for mass consumers, such as young married couples


Options for the location of the Conference were discussed and there would be opportunities to view these as the day progressed. These were the Philharmonic Institute (the preferred option for Lukasz), and the 'Danmar' company.

A draft programme for the Conference and the dates were confirmed as:

• Tuesday 23rd May - travel to Poland
• Wednesday 24th May - site visits
• Thursday 25th May - main Conference
• Friday 26th May - Steering Committee am, visits to Gdansk pm
• Saturday 27th May - return to airport and travel home


Publicity for the Conference was discussed and the Polish partners will be contacting Lech Walesa with a view to him attending/opening the Conference.

The group walked through Gdansk old town to meet with an architect, Stefan Ciecholewski, at the Autorskie Studio Architektoniczne. He had a good understanding of the GATE project and was specifically interested in the lack of availability of mass produced, affordable homes for young and first time buyers. Projects that he had worked on included the erection of very basic starter homes with a minimum of rooms that can be easily extended as their owner's increase the size of their family and their financial position improved.

The group meet with architect, Stefan Ciecholewski
The group meet with architect, Stefan Ciecholewski

The group then travelled to the outskirts of Gdansk to look at a newly erected timber house at Hopowo. There we met with the building contractor responsible for this house, Maciej Wyokiński. We also spoke with the owner of the property and asked why she had chosen a timber built house over a conventional one. She said that the main reason was the speed of the build because their old flat had been sold and they had to move out. The build started on the 17th December and they were able to move in on the 20th February.

Timber frame house under construction at Chopowo
Timber frame house under construction at Chopowo

The group then visited the Danmar Company which manufactures and assembles timber houses based on individual orders of domestic and foreign clients. They have 20 designs of wooden houses each suited to different types of development. They also specialise in the construction of wood frame houses. They offer yearlong homes, summer and garden houses as well as commercial properties.

The group visit the Danmar Company
The group visit the Danmar Company

Inexpensive housing under construction at Danmar
Inexpensive housing under construction at Danmar

While at Danmar we visited a number of attractions including the longest sawn plank in the world (120 feet long, taken from a Douglas fir), a table suitable for 232 seated guests and a replica of a World War II bunker used by the Polish resistance.

232 seater table at the Danmar Company
232 seater table at the Danmar Company

We then travelled to Kaliska and met once more with Maciej to view another timber built property. This one was not yet occupied which gave us the opportunity to study the very efficient log-fuelled heating system that was employed. Interestingly, the external finish of the house was with a brick cladding which gave the appearance of the house being conventionally built.

Timber frame house in Kaliska
Timber frame house in Kaliska

From Kaliska the group headed back towards Gdansk and stopped at a timber built property built by Maciej. He explained that this was an early prototype which had thrown up a number of build quality issues, so he mainly used it for meeting and entertaining prospective clients.

A big thank you to our Polish partners for organising this event.