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Żeromski Theater vs. WXCA, or heavy cooperation in Kielce

02 of June '23

Construction of the Stefan Żeromski Theater is underway on Kielce's main pedestrian street. WXCA is responsible for the adaptation project. Disagreements over the investment are turning into a tense discussion, which the theater authorities have just taken to social media. How does the designer respond to the investor's allegations?

The design for the reconstruction and expansion of the historic Stefan Żeromski Theater building in Kielce was selected in an architectural competition in 2017. The winning concept of the Warsaw studio WXCA assumed the adaptation of the historic building, preserving as much of the original substance as possible, and filling the gap in the compact building with a new volume. Almost invisible from Sienkiewicza Street, the changes were to concern mainly the interior of the theater and the development of the courtyard and outbuildings intended for expansion. The rebuilt theater will include space for a café with an independent entrance, a spacious foyer and a green courtyard.

Wizualizacja teatru

visualization of the theater

© WXCA

CALL... on Facebook

However, the construction is not taking place without complications. On June 2, 2023, the theater authorities decided to take the problems at the construction site, which have been going on for several months, into the public domain. For this they chose a rather controversial medium—Facebook. Szczepan Wronski of {tag:pracownie}, to whom the letter is addressed, does not hide his surprise:

I do not use Facebook myself, I learned about the issue from a colleague. The architect adds—for two months I have been trying to get a date for a meeting with theater director Michał Kotański, to no avail.

As he explains, despite repeated attempts to hold talks, subsequent dates were canceled.

Undeveloped contract

In its letter, the Stefan Żeromski Theater, „out of concern for the welfare of the investment,” accuses WXCA of failing to fulfill its duties as a designer, which are supposed to stem from construction law and the ethics of the architectural profession. The institution's authorities are calling for author's supervision of the construction. This, Szczepan Wroński explains, is impossible, because WXCA has no legal basis for doing so.

We have two contracts with the theater—the first was for the construction project and obtaining a building permit. Its scope also included author's supervision. The second contract is a replacement design for the entire project expanding its scope. Despite our appeals, the supervisions were not written into the contract. Therefore, we cannot perform them.

This is because the replacement project is being implemented, not the original project.

The ordering party did not include supervisions in the scope of the contract.

Wroński adds that also in the case of the first contract, not everything went according to plan.

The theater is in arrears in paying an invoice to WXCA for obtaining a building permit.

Initially, the delay was said to be due to waiting for the decision to become final—although this has occurred, the payment has not materialized.

Kawiarnia

visualization of the cafe

© WXCA

Surveillance too little and too much

As the theater authorities note in their post on FB:

"author's supervision is the designer's primary duty under the Construction Law, and it is related to the project you have completed. A dispute over contractual responsibility does not relieve you of responsibility for the documentation and the rectification of any errors, collisions and deficiencies revealed in subsequent stages of construction.

At the same time as allegations of lack of oversight, there are those about oversight... going too far.

The actions taken by WXCA indicate that you are going beyond the area covered by the author's supervision and the designer's competence.

In the opinion of the theater authorities, WXCA's actions are not aimed at caring about the quality of the project.

Wizualizacja dziedzińca

visualization of the courtyard

© WXCA

Turning a blind eye

According to Szczepan Wrońki, the problem is the way the investment is managed—one person delegated to this task by the theater is not capable of handling such a large undertaking. At the same time, the supervisory inspectors hired by the institution treat leniently any shortcomings and deviations from the project that the contractor allows. This included the dimensions of the columns installed in the building, which ended with the intervention of the designers. There were many such situations, Wroński explains, and this is the cause of at least some of the misunderstandings. The theater's employees perceive the information regularly sent by the designers about irregularities as personal accusations and resentments.

WXCA has pointed out irregularities on the part of inspectors with good intentions. The theater's director assured until recently that the defects would be repaired; instead, accusations against the designers appeared," explains Wroński.

Wizualizacja sali teatralnej

visualization of the theater hall

© WXCA

threats

The Stefan Żeromski Theater in Kielce has given WXCA seven days to respond to the published post. If the architectural firm fails to do so, the institution is threatening to terminate the contract, motivated by a lack of oversight over the quality of the work and failure to fulfill the contract on time.


Kacper Kępiński

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