The clean form of the new front facade, the elegant interiors with elements of blood-red and gold, the rebuilt stage, auditorium and foyer. The Wybrzeże Theater in Gdańsk looks great after a major renovation. All the more striking now are its surroundings: the huge parking lot at the Coal Market and the untidy area next to the LOT building.
The modernist Large Stage building of the Wybrzeże Theater dates from 1967, standing in place of the Municipal Theater, dating from 1801 and rebuilt in the 1930s, which was erased from the city space by the war. Lech Kadłubowski, an architect of merit for Gdańsk, was responsible for the design. The modern, simple body with its characteristic huge areas of glazing has even lived up to the term „aquarium,” and a nod to the past is the closed dome referring to its classicist predecessor.
Despite the fact that the theater is an important point on the map of the city and is located in a representative location: right next to the Great Armory and in the vicinity of the Royal Road, it has not received a thorough modernization since its construction.
This has finally changed, as October saw the completion of the last and largest stage of the long-standing modernization of the Big Stage building. The scope of work included the reconstruction of, among other things, the auditorium, foyer and stage mechanical equipment. Budimex was responsible for the work, which lasted from July 2020. The design was carried out by Krzysztof Kozłowski and Michał Andrzejewski of the Studio Warsztat Architektury Pracownia Autorska. The new stage will be inaugurated on October 14 with a performance of "Liberation" by Stanisław Wyspiański, directed by Jan Klata.
- The main idea was to juxtapose two worlds," says Krzysztof Kozlowski, architect, in an interview with AiB. — The bright, friendly world of the foyer: with vivid colors, open to the outside space, with the inner world: the hall which is done in noble grays and is meant to focus the viewer's attention on the stage. The interiors feature red and gold, colors that go well together. In addition, the facade has been changed, so that the foyer with people waiting for the performance provides a stage, so to speak, for those who pass through the Coal Market.
The glazed front facade
photo: Nate Cook www.natecookphotography.com
Wybrzeże Theater. What has changed?
The attention of passersby is drawn to the renovated front facade. The facility has also gained modern electro-acoustics, stage lighting and stage manager systems, as well as theater seats and other equipment. Among other things, the layout of the auditorium was rebuilt — due to inadequate acoustics and poor visibility, balconies were abandoned in favor of an auditorium with a cinema layout with significant heights — this provides excellent visibility and acoustics from all 341 seats.
The entrance and lobby area, with checkroom and toilets, and the ticket office area have a new look. The entire first floor area has been dedicated to the needs of spectators, dispensing with renting some of the space to outside entities.
The interior intertwines red and gold
Photo: Nate Cook www.natecookphotography.com
The works of the final stage consumed a total of about PLN 60 million. The investment is financed by funds from the local government of the Pomeranian Voivodeship (PLN 30.5 million), the Municipality of the City of Gdańsk (PLN 10 million), as well as the City Loan.
theater beautified, surroundings still limp
Although the theater in its new guise looks very good, its untidy surroundings sting even more after the big renovation. The need for changes at the Coal Market, which today serves as a large parking lot, has been discussed in Gdańsk for years. The problem of cars clogging up valuable space was supposed to be solved by an underground parking lot: cars would go underground, and pedestrians would reclaim the square's area. But nothing has come of these plans.
The terrace of the Wybrzeże Theater
Photo: Nate Cook www.natecookphotography.com
Also still uncertain is the future of the new development to be built on the site of the iconic LOT building. Changes are necessary, and today unsightly street trading flourishes next to the LOT. And although it's now six years since the competition for the new building was decided, work will not begin soon. Changes in the competition design were demanded by Igor Strzok, Pomeranian conservator of monuments, but despite the amendments made by the architects, so far the investor has not managed to get the green light for the investment. It is worth recalling that the Pomeranian conservator of monuments, surprising the architectural community, suggested rebuilding the luxurious Danziger Hof hotel located there before the war.
Unfortunately, there is no indication that the space in the vicinity of the Coal Market will change anytime soon. Meanwhile, without proper development of the surroundings, the theater, which was rebuilt after the war and has now taken on a new luster after renovation — will not have a proper setting.