Known for being the birthplace of Copernicus, its medieval architectural landscape and its gingerbread, Toruń, a city in northern Poland, is well acquainted with its 13th century origins; UNESCO inscribed it onto its World Heritage List in 1997. For Monka Apartments – a new apart-hotel in the city with nine private spaces and a restaurant – architect Paweł Tatara and studio Znamy Się reconciled past with present to achieve impressive, contemporary ends.

Much of Toruń’s urban layout has been left intact over the past eight centuries, with residents and local developers safekeeping Toruń’s heritage. The Monka Apartments are situated in a historic baroque granary close to the Vistula River. From the outside, the brick building’s previous life is identifiable from its white window mouldings, cleverly shaped as grain sacks. Tatara and Znamy Się used the surrounding architectural context as inspiration for their project, respectfully ‘confronting’ the historical features of the building with new materials and interior design elements.

Spanning three floors, each of the nine apartments – which can accommodate between three and six people – uniquely bring the city in. For example, apartment number two has references to the tripartite vault of Toruń Cathedral; apartment number four brings the gothic trefoil in. In contrast to the historic details are modern furnishings and coloured steel cubes in each, which serve as bathrooms and an anchor for the centre of the apartments. In them, guests are spoiled by large stained-glass windows that shine brilliantly-hued light into the showers. The general spaces are generously-lit, too, thanks to those grain-sack-shaped windows.

In a city like Toruń, Monka Apartments is a hospitality endeavour sure to succeed: it gives visitors the historic authenticity they come for and the familiar comfort of present-day design.