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There is an approval for the demolition of Solpol

04 of August '21

There are no longer any formal obstacles to the demolition of Wroclaw's Solpol. The City Council has just issued a positive decision on permission to demolish the post-modern department store. The building at the time did not live to see additional legal protection and monument status.

long fight


photo: Wikimedia Commons

The application was submitted by the building's owner, Polsat Nieruchomości, in April of this year. Since then, the discussion about the value of the icon of 1990s Wroclaw and the need to protect it as an outstanding example of postmodernism in Polish architecture has resurfaced. Preparations to demolish the iconic department store on Świdnicka Street have been underway for years. The building was supposed to disappear as early as 2012, but the matter did not come to fruition. In 2015, the Society for the Beautification of the City of Wroclaw and the Transformator Foundation applied to the Lower Silesian Regional Monument Conservator to place the building under protection.

hands tied

The Provincial Conservator of Monuments made a negative decision on the matter. Numerous expert opinions did not help. Piotr Fokczynski, director of the Architecture and Construction Department of the Wroclaw City Hall, who is against the demolition of the building, also did not prevent the issuance of a demolition permit. He admits, however, that his hands are tied, but has sent a letter to the building's owner.

icon demolition championship

The matter was commented on Facebook by Kuba Snopek, an architecture researcher and one of the co-founders of TUMW. He noted that for several years there has been a clear fascination with postmodernism in the world - in fashion, culture or interiors, and more publications are appearing on the subject. Unfortunately, these trends do not seem to have reached Poland. This is, by the way, a recurring pattern. When the world was enraptured by Socialist Modernism in the early 2000s, the most outstanding examples of this architecture - Supersam, the train station in Katowice, Warsaw pavilions - were demolished in Poland. The less successful examples were saved. Now the story is repeating itself with postmodernism. Its most interesting examples are disappearing from the landscape, and what can be saved will be a rather haphazard collection of mediocre buildings.

They will demolish Solpol, put in its place an apartment building designed by a decent contemporary Polish office. After the scaffolding is removed, it will turn out that this new sad gray box dominates the street, obscures the Gothic church, and overwhelms in scale. Suddenly someone will discover that Solpol's architects moved it away from the street on purpose, using computer simulations, the first in Poland to do so. Someone else will say that the new Solpol is another in a series of a dozen identical Wroclaw buildings: correct, but completely without character.
[...] the protection of monuments in our country works as if it were backwards: what is most unique is not protected. What is experimental and daring is different and incomprehensible - it must disappear. And then somehow number two or number three will end up on the list of monuments, as a consolation. And we will continue to live in cities that are bland.

Kuba Snopek



photo by Wojciech Jarząbek

Solpol is the work of a team of architects including Wojciech Jarząbek, Paweł Jaszczuk, Jan Matkowski and Jacek Sroczynski, with Paweł Spychała and Leopold Chyczewski also working on the tender concept. The building opened in 1993 and became an icon of transformational pop culture. Developed together with the architect, the visual representation of the investor and his intentions materialized as a bold, even flamboyant block in the historic fabric of the city. The building was an expression of its time both functionally and aesthetically. Its forms simultaneously corresponded with the neighboring church and the most fashionable trends of the time. This is an example of an extremely consistent realization of the author's architectural idea, the creation of which was only possible at that particular moment in history.

Kacper Kępiński

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