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There is a proposal to demolish Solpol. This is a huge loss for Polish architecture

23 of April '21

The owner of the Solpol, a postmodern icon of Wroclaw, Polsat Real Estate Company, filed an application for a demolition permit on Wednesday . The valuable building has been fought over for years by city activists and those concerned with architectural history. Its disappearance from the city's skyline would be a crime not only against the history of Wroclaw, but the entire history of Polish architecture after 1989.

a long battle for protection

Preparations to demolish the iconic department store on Świdnicka Street have been going on for years. The building was supposed to disappear as early as 2012, but the matter did not come to a conclusion. In 2015, the Society for the Beautification of the City of Wroclaw and the Transformer Foundation submitted an application to the Lower Silesian Regional Monument Conservator. We reported on the case in an article from a year ago. In it, the activists called for the building to be entered in the register of monuments and placed under conservation protection. Barbara Nowak-Obelinda, provincial conservator of monuments, made a negative decision. From it, the initiators of the action appealed to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. On the recommendation of the General Conservator of Antiquities, the case was reconsidered. TUMW supplemented the application with numerous expert opinions. Unfortunately, the refusal was upheld. The case was referred to the provincial administrative court.


Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I sometimes read how on Internet forums I am being stirred up with mud, judging by the way I speak, mainly by young architects, fierce modernists, who probably engage in defending the classics of postwar modernism with similar passion. Some people only accept what others are doing when they are doing the same thing as themselves. A brief conversation during a community discussion on the history of the Świdnicka Street development comes to mind, when the target was an attack on the Solpol building under construction. An academic who once considered me a top student, when asked if I should be stripped of my design rights, replied without hesitation: absolutely yes.(...).
[Solpol] constantly breaks conventions, and is at odds with the perceptions of many people. This is compounded by intolerance and lack of preparation for the reception of unusual objects. I, in turn, have repeatedly tried to convince people that since there is no other building like it, it is good by its uniqueness.

Excerpt from a conversation with Wojciech Jarząbek from the book "Polish Postmodernism. Architecture and Urbanism," by Alicja Gzowska and Lidia Klein

hands tied

Also opposed to the demolition is Piotr Fokczynski, director of the Department of Architecture and Construction at the Wrocław City Hall. It was to him that the Solpol demolition application was submitted. Unfortunately, according to the law, his decision can only be positive. However, he announced in the media that he will convince the owner of the building to preserve it. However, he calls his letter to Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, owner of Polsat Nieruchomości, a last resort.

an asset of contemporary culture


photo: Wikimedia Commons

Solpol is an aesthetically controversial building. However, its historical and architectural value is indisputable, and it is these that should be protected. The building has been recognized as a modern cultural asset, but this is not enough to protect it from demolition. Among those who stood up in defense of the building were Zbigniew Maciekow, Lidia Klein and Alicja Gzowska.

icon of the najntis

The building belongs to a narrow group of outstanding and key postmodern examples in Polish architecture, and for this reason should undoubtedly be protected. (...) The canon of works of postmodern architecture in Poland is currently being formed - and there is no doubt that Solpol finds a leading place in this list.

Lidia Klein, Alicja Gzowska


photo by Wojciech Jarząbek

Solpol is the work of a team of architects including Wojciech Jarząbek, Paweł Jaszczuk, Jan Matkowski and Jacek Sroczyński, 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. It 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. As an architectural icon, of its time, an object of immense architectural and historical value, it should be preserved and given due conservation care. Its demolition would not only be an "act of violence" against the environment, in the words of this year's Pritzker laureates Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, but also an irreparable loss and a deliberate blow to Poland's material heritage. Its loss can be compared to the unlamented icons of modernism - the "Chemistry" pavilion or Warsaw's Supersam.

Kacper Kępiński

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