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Modernist Rainbow cinema will undergo a metamorphosis

05 of April '24

The Rainbow Cinema in Warsaw, located in a building whose history dates back to 1929, will undergo modernization. The renovated facility will house the Andrzej Wajda Film Culture Center. Will the Żoliborz cinema retain its modernist character? The information made available raises many doubts.

The new Tęcza cinema will be a combination of tradition and modernity, combining the atmosphere of analog cinematography with the latest achievements of digital technology. Once all the works are completed, the building will serve as a cultural film center, being an open and friendly place for all cinema lovers , we read in the press release of the Andrzej Wajda Film Culture Center.

Kino Tęcza

Rainbow Cinema

photo: Panek | Wikimedia Commons © CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

The Rainbow Cinema building was erected in 1929 and initially served as a central heating boiler room for the Warsaw Housing Cooperative housing estate under construction at the time. With the modernization of the boilers, it was possible to make room in the building for a movie theater. Bruno Zborowski and Szymon Syrkus, among others, worked on projects for subsequent adaptations and expansions of the boiler house and cinema. In 1989, the building became the headquarters of the art collective Akademia Ruchu, with a film program. Later, however, it stood unused since 1997, with short breaks. The decision to use the building for the Andrzej Wajda Film Culture Center was made by the Warsaw Housing Cooperative and the Warsaw City Hall in December 2020.

Two years after this decision, a tender procedure was conducted and a contractor for the cinema redevelopment project was selected . Of the seven bids that were received, the offer from Biuro Architekt Kaczmarczyk S.C. from Sucha Beskidzka won the most points. As the City Hall emphasized, the contractor has the necessary experience - it has developed, among other things, documentation for the modernization of the cinema and theater hall at the Youth Palace in Katowice, the Bunkier Sztuki in Cracow and the Jewish Theater in Warsaw. Why wasn't a competition formula decided upon? As the investor explains, in view of the fact that, assuming no interference with the body of the building and limiting the main scope of work to the interior of the building, the design concept for the investment does not have to be selected through an architectural competition. The request to refrain from holding a competition was granted by the Office of Architecture and Spatial Planning.

Wejście do kina

Entrance to the cinema

Photo: Panek | Wikimedia Commons © CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

The planned work will not just refresh the building, but significantly remodel it. A key element of the Rainbow will become a state-of-the-art cinema hall for 145 viewers. It is to be equipped with a Dolby Atmos sound system and a widescreen. However, modern technology will not supplant tradition entirely - it will still be possible to enjoy screenings of films from a tape, as a tribute to the history of cinema. The cinema's design plans to accommodate two projection systems: a modern digital DCP and a 35mm projector to show films from light-sensitive tape.

Elewacja - projekt

Facade - design

© Biuro Architekt Kaczmarczyk SC | Andrzej Wajda Film Culture Center.

The director's booth planned next to the cinema hall, on the other hand, is to allow live broadcasting of events planned at the venue. The acoustic design of the cinema envisions the possibility of holding discussion panels and conferences, as well as organizing intimate musical performances. In addition to cinema screenings, the institution plans to organize concerts, exhibitions, author meetings and, above all, workshops and educational events. The designers and authors of the project, Andrzej Kaczmarczyk and Sylwia Bartoszewska of Architekt Kaczmarczyk SC, emphasize that their goal was to preserve the architectural heritage of the building, but also to adapt it to modern needs and accessibility standards.

The interior of the cinema is to be decorated with sgraffito. The ordering party informs that it is currently in the process of negotiating the terms of the contract for the implementation of the sgraffito project with a doctor of art - Mr. Marcin Boguslawski.The CKF's intention is to prepare the interiors in the Tęcza Cinema in accordance with the institution's brandbook and referring to the CKF headquarters in Aleje Ujazdowskie, where as an artistic element of the interior design thisjust sgrafitto by Marcin Boguslawski realized on the basis of drawings from Andrzej Wajda's famous notebooks from the Master's collection from the Manggha Museum of Art and Technology.

The architectural composition of this project is a game of solids, proportions - it is a coherent architecture, full of balance and tranquility, with glazing at the entrance, aspiring to modernity. We bring out the idea of our predecessors through the texture of the plaster, the slenderness of the profiles in the glazing. In addition to the pretty lobby, the cinema's interiors are overwhelmed by the old "think ceilings" and a cramped staircase. "We "cut" these stuffy spaces to pour air and light into the interiors through a wide skylight, and already formed the staircase in a new, more sculptural way, " says Andrzej Kaczmarczyk.

Unfortunately, the modest graphic design that was made public with the press release about the project does not allow us to assess it. We only know elevation views and one visualization, which are not very specific and say nothing about the planned materials. Nor has any material been published about the interior of the cinema, the level of architectural intervention. It is also unknown which original elements will be preserved and which will not. The future of the mosaic wall finish inside the building is unknown.

Although the investors emphasize the architectural value and history of the building, their redevelopment project communicates in a way that ignores these aspects. This is not how a discussion about the modernization of a public cultural building should go. When asked by A&B's editors about the details of the solutions for preserving the original design of the interior finishes, the developer stated only that the interiors are so dilapidated that it is difficult to talk about preserving any elements. The centerpiece of the lobby is an accordion wall, which will be recreated in a similar outline. Similar - but not the same. There is no question of preserving the original ceramics (visible in the shots in the video above), or even reusing them. Although the investor assures that the designer was in constant cooperation with the Mazovian Historic Preservation Officer regarding the designed solutions, and the current project has a positive decision from the MKZ, the implementation of the project will not be supervised by a person with conservation qualifications.

The renovation will be done with respect to the existing fabric of the building. At this stage, we do not have interior visualizations faithful enough to be published. Since the technical drawings will form the basis of the construction proceedings, we cannot make them available for press publication at this time ," the investor's representatives explain.

Wernisaż wystawy

Exhibition opening

UM Warsaw

The investment was not preceded by any public consultations. However, the CKF points out that, as part of its statutory activities, it conducts numerous activities with the neighborhood community, local NGOs, local journalists, councilmen and activists, also with cultural institutions in the neighborhood, and cooperates with the neighborhood office. Last year, the CKF also organized an inclusive, inclusive exhibition "7 Shots of the Rainbow. Cinema Architecture. People," which included more than 200 hours of recorded memories and statements from residents of Zoliborz and people associated with the Rainbow Cinema.

This exhibition is only the beginning of the presence on Suzin of a CKF institution, whose activities are designed in accordance with the expectations of the local community and in consultation with it. Thus, the role and mission of the Rainbow cinema after the renovation as an open, public place is being built, CKF representatives explain.

Elewacja - projekt

Facade - design

© Biuro Architekt Kaczmarczyk SC | Andrzej Wajda Film Culture Center.

The Rainbow Cinema is supposed to be an inclusive place, inviting both residents and artists. As the designers explain, this idea is also reflected in the architecture - the foyer and the café at the front will be a sort of extension of the street. And here, however, there is a lack of specifics - we do not know what the development of the immediate area of the cinema will look like.

We are replacing the tin gate from Suzina Street with glass gates glowing with fuzzy light, behind which we are arranging a narrow coffee bar, consciously a bit cramped and - like in Italian espresso bars - also accessible from the street, where it will always be possible to buy a cinema ticket , the designer adds.

One of the priorities during the modernization of the Rainbow cinema will be to create an accessible space for people with disabilities. The building is to be fully adapted to the needs of people with mobility impairments. In addition, induction loops have been included for people with movement and hearing dysfunctions. As the investor assures, during the development of the Rainbow Cinema modernization project, great attention was paid to issues of sustainability and ecology. Thanks to the use of modern technologies and low-environmental impact materials, the cinema building is to be more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. The project includes: thermal insulation of the building, the use of energy-efficient LED lighting, the use of modern air handling units and cooling, and covering a significant part of the roof with photovoltaic cells to reduce energy consumption.

Elewacja - projekt

Facade - design

© Biuro Architekt Kaczmarczyk SC | Andrzej Wajda Film Culture Center.

Thebuilding's state of preservation and scale did not inspire optimism. [...] From the front of the building, it has been possible to absorb the foreground of Suzina Street and continue in the form of a "Viennese cafe", where every passerby will be able to drink a quick espresso in the company of the always present there "sgraffito" figure of Andrzej Wajda and his notes. It was possible to create a spatial illusion of distant plans framed by a skylight above the flights of stairs loosely hanging in the lobby. It succeeded in exposing the beautiful proportions of modernist architecture. And all this on less than six hundred square meters of space we had at our disposal ," explains Sylwia Bartoszewska.

The new Rainbow cinema will not only be a place for film projection, but also a cultural center, which will host a variety of events such as exhibitions, concerts, author meetings and workshops. A functional foyer and courtyard in the summer will become a place of meetings and interaction for Zoliborz residents and all culture lovers. The Andrzej Wajda Film Culture Center, with detailed designs, has applied for a building permit. In the next step, it will proceed with the procedure for selecting a construction contractor and a contract engineer. The opening of the Rainbow cinema building is planned for 2027.

Kacper Kępiński

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