Become an A&B portal user and receive giveaways!
Become an A&B portal user and receive giveaways!

Olsztyn's Urania Hall. Can the old dome be saved?

29 of March '21

One of Olsztyn's most distinctive blocks. The Urania Hall will be rebuilt to serve new functions and serve the public again in two years. The recognizable dome will be preserved.

close to demolition

The Urania Hall in Olsztyn was built between 1973 and 1978, designed by architect Wieslaw Zenon Piatkowski. From the very beginning it stood out with its massive concrete dome. For years it served athletes and spectators. However, its technical condition deteriorated, the renovation, as always, was too expensive, until it completely ceased to meet standards. At that time, the city authorities planned to demolish the hall and erect a completely new one in its place. After years of discussion, it was decided to modernize and expand. Taking its cue from the twin project of revitalizing the Okrąglak Hall in Opole, the Olsztyn hall was to be given new life.

Hala Urania Olsztyn - photo: WikiCommons

Preserving the hall's character, or modernization?

The first point for the modernization plan, was to double the grandstand space to accommodate more spectators. The second, to improve the roof structure, which did not meet safety standards, another to insulate the facade.... The amendments kept coming, and from modernization it turned into a complete reconstruction. In the end, only the shape of the Hall's roof will be preserved.

The competition announced by the city authorities and the SARP branch was aimed at selecting the most interesting vision for giving the hall a second life while preserving its characteristic shape.

The assumption was to preserve the Hall's character," explained city architect Magdalena Rafalska on the occasion of the announcement of the competition results. - Urania, the planetarium and observatory with their domes, are buildings that have already become a permanent part of the landscape of this part of Olsztyn and are associated with our city.

announcement of the results of the 2016 competition.You Tube

The Urania Hall will be rebuilt according to the design of the Urban Architect studio - it is a team composed of arch. Dorata Szymaniak-Urban, arch. Aleksandra Pabjan, Piotr Pabjan, Alina Kwaśna, Krystyna Wiktorko, Eng. Mariusz Tomczuk were selected by the jury as first prize winners.

For a very well solved function of the object, taking into account the proper functioning of all teams. The adopted solutions - both architectural and urban planning - make the object a clear symbol of the city honoring the original spatial solutions; The adopted solutions take into account the ecological aspect. Energy-saving technology has been adopted both in terms of the adopted material solutions and technological - installation solutions; Expressive and economical visual effect that guarantees proper reception without the use of unnecessary purely aesthetic treatments. - we read in the justification of the verdict on Urban Architect's vision of the concept.

Urban Architect's competition project

Modernization or reconstruction after all?

The usable area of the new building is expected to be almost 25,000 sq. m. The reigning expansion and reconstruction includes the demolition of parts of the side parts of the building, reconstruction and expansion of the main part. All the blocks will form a functional whole. In block A, the main part, there will be centrally located volleyball, handball and basketball courts, areas for tennis, table tennis, badminton, futsal,boxing, wrestling, judo or taekwondo, and an auditorium with fixed, mobile and standing seats.The investment will also include the development of the area around the facility, and above all the greenery, which is still lacking in the city, and the lighting and infrastructure necessary for the proper functioning of the facility.In addition to sports shows, the hall will also host concerts, music events, fairs, exhibitions or congresses.

Urania Hall visualization - Urban Architect

EU grant waited several years, but....

The architectural competition was held in 2016. The Marshal's Office negotiated with the European Commission 130 million zlotys for the modernization of the Urania Hall. However, this grant assumed an own contribution. In order to tender, however, the city also needed an own contribution.... It took several years and the assumptions of the investment changed. The project remained the same. Since January 2021, the search for a suitable contractor for the project has been underway. It turns out, however, that taking on the project, involves considerable risk. The architectural design assumes modernization, meanwhile the current plan goes well beyond the limits of a standard renovation. Virtually all elements are to be built from scratch, with the idea of preserving the dome structure.

The project at our disposal assumed that we would get funds for thermal upgrading and the dome would be renovated. However, we have now indicated to potential bidders that if they offer us to build the structure from scratch, then they will receive additional points in the tender. But this is not a prerequisite. Contractors can also offer us to modernize the roof," explains Marta Bartoszewicz, a spokeswoman for City Hall, in an interview with Gazeta Olsztyńska.

It is worth mentioning that the existing roof currently does not meet current snow standards, which have been tightened since the hall was built. Potentialcontractors may come in "blind" to the project, for which the design documentation did not take into account, among other things, the ground conditions. After all, the initial design called for modernization, not reconstruction of the hall. But anything is possible.

Remaining optimistic... The Urania Sports and Entertainment Hall and its dome is one of the symbols of Olsztyn, its renovation, or rather reconstruction will happen soon, and as early as 2023 it will once again serve the residents.

Marta Kowalska

The vote has already been cast