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Modernism icon finally closer to redevelopment?

08 of February '23

Maybe this time it will be successful. A new tender has been launched for the reconstruction of the Arena sports and entertainment hall in Poznan, according to a design by CDF Architects. From the outside, the facility will be almost the same. A profound change will take place in the interior enlarged by an additional level. Finale of the works: in three years at the earliest.

The Arena is one of the most interesting architectural realizations of post-war Poznan. Built in 1974 by a team led by Jerzy Turzeniecki, it is a characteristic dominant feature of Kasprowicz Park. Its form is a direct reference to the Roman Palazzetto dello Sport of 1958, whose authors were Pier Luigi Nervi and Annibale Vitelozzi. Due to its technical condition, however, it has stood empty for several years. Previously, it had been operating at a half-whistle, as its capacity and technical condition did not allow the organization of major events. In the last decade, a maximum of about 3,000 spectators were allowed into the hall. Ad hoc renovations did not help; there was even a collapse of a section of the suspended ceiling.

delay by replacement

In 2018, the city of Poznań handed over management of the facility to the MTP Group (Poznań International Fair). A decision was made to thoroughly modernize the facility, which silenced the unfortunate voices that kept appearing about the need to demolish the Arena and replace it with an entirely new hall. The first design was ready as early as 2019, a building permit was issued, reconstruction was to start a year later, even tenders were held (later cancelled).

Hala widowiskowo-sportowa Arena po przebudowie, wizualizacja, proj. CDF Architekci

Arena sports and entertainment hall after reconstruction, view of the new recessed forum from Wyspiańskiego Street, visualization, design by CDF Architects

© CDF Architekci

The final design for the modernization and expansion by CDF Architects was shown a year ago (we wrote about it extensively here). However, the start of the work was still postponed, because the MTP Group decided to expand the scope of the work, which was originally intended to cover only the reconstruction of the hall. The green light was given to the investor in the fall. On its website, it reports that

in October 2022, the MTP Group received a positive decision on determining the location for a public purpose investment for the ARENA replacement project. Unlike the original document, it also includes a decision on the construction of an underground parking lot, which will prevent wild parking during sports and cultural events and the tearing up of Kasprzak Park [mistake in the original; it's Kasprowicz Park—ed. note]. The scope of the project has also been expanded to include an administration and restaurant building, with a year-round operating restaurant, and infrastructure surrounding the ARENA, which will provide green spaces, biodiversity protection and water retention that can be used to irrigate the park.

At the end of January, the amended building permit became final and the MTP Group issued a new tender. However, it does not officially give an estimated amount for the investment, because it is counting on a drop in prices associated with the construction industry. Last year, the media reported that the cost of expansion and modernization would be, not as originally planned, 100 million zlotys, but at least three times as much.

level down

So let's remind ourselves what will change for these sizable sums. From the outside, the Arena will be rejuvenated, retaining its form and regaining its original appearance (including gold tiles on the roof) while upgrading the quality of the finish. Inside, there will be a revolution. First of all, there will be an increase in the capacity of the hall, which has been enlarged by the existing underground. As a result, the stands will now accommodate more spectators: from about 6,000 (matches) and sports events to 9,500 (concerts). The interior space will be shaped flexibly with telescopically extendable stands—steeper and positioned parallel to the edge of the pitch. A steel independent structure will also be inserted into the hall space, to which speakers, spotlights and screens will be suspended.

Hala widowiskowo-sportowa Arena po przebudowie, wizualizacja, proj. CDF Architekci

Arena arena after reconstruction, on the left visible new office building, visualization, design by CDF Architects

© CDF Architects

Technical facilities will be moved from the first floor to the underground. There will also be preparation rooms for athletes and conference rooms with a flexible floor plan. A new main entrance with ticket offices and locker rooms will also be located on level -1. The Arena's forecourt from Wyspiańskiego Street (the so-called Olympic Square) will also change. It will now be a sunken forum on an ellipse plan with an amphitheater-like arrangement of stairs and seats.

Closer to the street, one of two underground parking lots (330 spectator stalls) will also be built. A second, smaller technical one is planned on the opposite south side from Reymonta Street. The redevelopment will also include the construction of a small office building with a restaurant connected to the Arena via an underground corridor. The immediate green surroundings of the Arena will also be transformed, the shape of which was worked out after rather stormy arrangements with the public. If a contractor for the work can be selected in the coming months, the redevelopment will start in the middle of the year, and the transformed Arena will be ready in 2026.

 

Jakub Głaz

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