Architecture has been playing a crucial role in reshaping Poland. From the Tatra Mountains to the Baltic Sea, hundreds of new developments are currently in construction, triggered by a booming economy (with growth of almost 40 per cent over the last decade) and the ongoing flow of structural funds from the EU.
After major improvements in sports and transport infrastructure prior to the Euro 2012 football championship, public investment is now concentrated in culture and education. This does not involve just the capital of Warsaw; new academic facilities, museums, theatres and concert halls, created by both local and foreign architects’ offices, spring up in almost every big Polish city. Public works are complemented by ambitious private initiatives, including office, retail and residential projects. New designs differ in scale and form, ranging from radical experimentation to subtler, functional schemes.
Here, we highlight examples of this new wave of construction completed in Poland within the last year or so. Many more projects (by Polish designers and international architects like Peter Zumthor and MVRDV) are still underway.
Completed in September 2014 and honoured last May with the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award, the new concert hall in the northwestern city of Szczecin by the Barcelona-based duo Barozzi Veiga stands on the site of the former German Konzerthaus, a casualty of the Second World War
Aptly nicknamed ‘the iceberg’, the new white temple of music cleverly reinterprets the city’s Hanseatic architecture and boasts a stunning golden auditorium with 950 seats
Inside, the building’s walls appear sculptural, imbued with a kinetic aesthetic that adds emphasis to the already dynamic space
Officially inaugurated in October 2014, Warsaw’s Museum of the History of Polish Jews – created by Finnish studio Lahdelma & Mahlamäki, aided by local office Kuryłowicz & Associates – commemorates the ages-long presence of the Jewish community in Poland
The highlight of the five-storey building, covered in copper panels and glass, is its sculptural entrance hall, evoking both the parting of the Red Sea and the population gap brought by the German invasion and Holocaust
European Solidarity Centre, Gdańsk, by Fort Architects Opened in August 2014, the new multi-purpose complex by local studio Fort is situated on former shipyard grounds in the Baltic port city of Gdańsk
An internal shot of the theatre shows the sheer-boarded timber walls which provide a beautiful simplicity to the space
Designed by the Venice-based professor Renato Rizzi, the new building, clad in black brick, features an intriguing set of walkways and courtyards, and a multi-configurational hall for 600 spectators with an impressive opening roof
Adjacent to the iconic Spodek multi-purpose arena and neighbour to the local museum and concert hall, the new congress centre by Polish studio JEMS solidifies Katowice’s transformation into a bona fide culture hub
Completed in March 2015, the new building features impressive black double-skin elevations and an extensive and accessible green roof
Officially opened in September 2014, the Cosmopolitan Twarda tower, designed by the German-American architect Helmut Jahn, is the latest residential hotspot for aspiring inhabitants of the Polish capital. Situated in the city centre, close to the iconic Palace of Culture and Science, the elegant 44-storey slender high-rise comprises 236 fully equipped apartments offering spectacular views of the urban skyline
Completed in October 2014, the multifunctional complex designed by local studio Maćków Pracownia Projektowa faces a recently renovated main railway station in the southwestern city of Wrocław
The new development features a characteristic 55m-high twisting tower and includes retail outlets, office space, a conference centre and a hotel with 133 rooms
The riverside complex features the meticulously restored historical facilities of a former power plant and a surprising suspended addition clad in perforated Corten steel, evoking Kantor’s avant-garde art This internal shot focuses on the intricate detailing on the steel sheets. Light seeps through these repeated cut outs adding life to the space and creating playful shadows
Photography: Hufton + Crow, Jakub Certowicz