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Emptiness and chaos in place of heralded skyscrapers

27 of January '22

They are pompously announced and presented, drawn into the skyline of Warsaw in countless visualizations and discussed in the trade press. The suspended construction of skyscrapers in Warsaw is contributing to the deepening spatial chaos. Some of them may never be built.

The lack of planning tools such as the cadastral tax or other charges related to speculation and vacancy do not allow to mobilize investors to launch investments in hot spots in the capital. This is the case with the plot of land after the demolished icon of modernism, the Emilia Pavilion, or the construction of the Spark complex in Wola, which has been halted at the first two stages. Ilmet at the UN traffic circle also shines with emptiness. For more than 10 years, the specter of demolition has hung over the postmodern skyscraper. The design of the building that was to replace it has grown old, and the existing office building itself is haunted by dark windows of office vacancies.

Warsaw One

Warsaw One

Photo: SHL

warsaw one

Demolition of the Ilmet building had been planned for several years. The office building was vacated in 2016. In June 2021, the distinctive Mercedes logo, which raised the skyscraper to over 100 meters high, disappeared from the roof. A pharmacy and the last offices moved out of the first floor, and the underground parking garage was closed. Demolitions inside the building began in July 2021. Work on the schedule for further demolitions, including the exterior, is underway. The building will disappear from the ground gradually.



photo by Cezary P / Wikimedia

Visualizations of a new office building on the site of the demolished Ilmet werepresented in 2011. Copenhagen-based architectural firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen is responsible for the Warsaw One project. The building is to be 188 meters high and meet modern requirements for office comfort and ecology. However, it can be assumed that the design from ten years ago will undergo significant modifications, and the visualizations already presented may differ from the target shape of the office building.

Warsaw One Warsaw One

Warsaw One

Photo: SHL


The construction of the skyscraper, which is the last part of the unfinished Spark complex, remains in constant limbo . Skanski's investment project was designed by Kurylowicz & Associates. Located at a busy intersection (the "Kercelak" traffic circle), it was intended to bring order to a rather chaotic neighborhood shaped by the pre-war remains of tenement houses, blocks of flats and post-modern office buildings from the 1990s. Construction of the first two phases of Spark began in 2016. Buildings B and C were completed in 2018. Since then, the construction site of stage A has remained fenced off, but no work has been carried out, despite a building permit having been issued.

At the same time, information has emerged about the investor's ongoing talks to buy back the plot of land on the opposite side of the complex to the skyscraper - on Karolkowa Street. The zoning plan allows its development, noting only that the so-called Tchorka plaque standing on this plot, commemorating the victims of the Nazis, must be preserved. The new building would cover up the temporary mural by Tytus Brzozowski and crown the development of the so-called Wolski Cheese.


Photo: Skanska

In Warsaw, office company Skanska is focusing on two new projects - P180 at Metro Wilanowska and Studio B at Lucka Street. The company will announce the work schedules for the planned investments, including Spark and Warsaw One, when business decisions are made, which largely depend on the market situation. This includes plans to purchase plots of land.




Emilia pavilion in the process of demolition

photo: Adrian Grycuk / Wikimedia Commons

Another project whose start is uncertain is a skyscraper on the site of the demolished Emilia Pavilion. The authors of Spark, the Kurylowicz & Associates studio, are responsible for its concept, by the way. An icon of Warsaw modernism, the Emilia Furniture Pavilion was erected in 1966-1969, designed by Marian Kuźniar, Czesław Wegner and Hanna Lewicka. For several years before its demolition, it functioned as an exhibition space for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Warsaw. Already in the midst of demolition work, in December 2016, the dismantled building was entered in the register of historical monuments. In February 2017, this decision was overturned by the general conservator of monuments. The building is to be rebuilt in neighboring Swietokrzyski Park as an orangery, using the original structural elements.

Emilia Emilia Emilia

Subsequent versions of the project

photo: press materials

The skyscraper on the site of the demolished pavilion will, by the way, be another project to the credit of Kurylowicz & Associates, built on the ruins of an outstanding post-war architecture. Previously, the studio's architects designed, among others, the Vitkac department store, which aroused controversy and opposition from neighbors, in place of the Chemistry Pavilion, and the Plac Unii shopping center with office building, which replaced the legendary Supersam, a masterpiece of Polish modernism, while destroying the viewing axis to the Belvedere from Warsaw's Lazienki Park.


photo by Arne Müseler / Wikimedia Commons

Similar to the InterContinental Hotel standing next door, the projected skyscraper is to have a slit resulting from the solar conditions of the residential blocks, which will be overwhelmed by the huge structure. The block itself, apart from the slit, will tightly fill the plot, forming a row of clumsy cabinets with the surrounding skyscrapers. The question is whether the development will come to fruition. The developer responsible for the construction, Griffin Real Estate Invest, got into financial trouble in 2020 by failing to repay an 84 million zloty bond, despite postponing the deadline three times. This is because Pandemic delayed the process of selling the property at Emilia Platter, which in turn indicates that the investor wants to get rid of the development to finance its debt. The company changed its name to Emilia Invest Sp. z o.o. in the same year, and in February 2021 its sole board member resigned. It seems, therefore, that the investor's complicated financial situation, will block the start of construction for a long time to come.

Kacper Kępiński

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