Perhaps like any 21st century country, Poland has gathered thousands of years of dust and remodeled them to fit the environment and the climate of the intercultural and interstate relations. Standing on the border of different cultures (as is the case of Silesia), Poland leaves a mark on its community. As a detachable patchwork, the puzzle of its map has been refurbished many times; places set up by war have been destroyed and rebuilt. A curious magnifying glass quickly reveals the cracks and chemical substances used for its repair. As in “kintsugi” – the Japanese art of sticking together shreds mixed with gold, platinum or silver to highlight the stages of an object, so does the Poland architecture: it displays each rise and fall that rendered to its present configuration – a leader in the absorption of European Fonds for Culture. After the change of polity in 1989, the Poles took a look at both the hunched secular buildings and the chaotic, less aesthetic heritage from the communist days. They started to make use of the utmost of resources, keeping in mind the modern courses, always swinging between symbol and innovation: “We are considering preserving the socialist buildings – some of them, such as Nowa Huta, in Krakow , or Pałac Nauki i Kultury in Warsaw are certainly great projects, that are still in use. Others, such as Hotel Forum in Krakow are now used as independent cultural youth centres. Unfortunately, a large part of socialist heritage is still waiting to be looked after, considering these are interesting architectural projects”, announced Natalia Zarzecka, manager of Cricoteka Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor in Cracow (an archive museum, gallery and research centre where works of the “total artist”, Tadeusz Kantor (1915-1990) are preserved.)
Attracting European funding has played an important role in 2004 when a construction boom arose.
In relation to this, Agnieszka Skieterska, the manager of the Polish Institute in Bucharest asserted: “the results of a good funds absorption are visible at every turn. With 1,5 billion euro we managed to build six Philharmonics, new Opera halls and many important cultural institutions. These are spectacular things that can be easily observed in large cities such as Warsaw, Krakow, Gdańsk, Szczecin. But even the smallest cities are looking better and better due to renovation of heritage buildings. As a matter of fact, the most structural funds for revitalizing have been absorbed by small cities, mostly the ones in the South-East of Poland, a region considered a provincial and inert area up until recently.”
In a short period of time, they managed to rehabilitate an impressive number of damaged buildings, creating new objectives on the map, including districts of blocks of flats. They organized competitions, calling on experts from all over the world who worked side by side with the native ones, the latter using their acquired knowledge on smaller projects. Therefore, many remarkable studios were built or developed: JEMS Studio, MoonStudio, GRID or KWK PROMES. “But the most visible effect of the investments in cultural infrastructure are seen in the improvement of life quality where these changes took place: life got better, more comfortable and prosperous – education centers, cultural institutions, stadiums – all these remain vivid places due to their multifunctionality.” Skieterska added.
Among the buildings that renewed the face of Poland are: Gate Ichot from Poznan, whose purpose is to show the role Ostrów Tumski island had in the development of Poland statehood, the Office Building Pixel 1 that owns the BREEAM quality international certificate, NOSPR – the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra – a cultural centre that received 18 awards for its architecture , and so on.
On the former ground of some coal mine, in Katowice, the New Silesian Muzeum was built – a symbol of the process of revitalizing postindustrial landscape.
Using the basement as the main exposition space, the museum found a way to emphasize local mining tradition that had a symbolic dimension for the locals, some sort of “axis mundi”.
A total of 20 projects are gathered within “Polska. Architecture” exposition which will be present in Sibiu, at FITS. The exposition encompasses photographic documentation, building blueprints and drawings, all collected in a story written by Sylwia Chunik about the “emotion of architecture”. The exposition will be available during the entire festival, at Ibis Hotel.
„Polska. Arhitectura” was produced by the Polish Ministry in collaboration with The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the monthly journal “Architektura – murator” (curator: editor-in-chief Ewa Porębska).
Inspired by the polish model of revitalizing their cultural heritage, a conference entitled “Building culture. How to change your community with european funding. Poland’s recipe for success” will be held on the 15th of June. Natalia Zarzecka and Magdalena Hajdysz, PR coordinator of Shakespeare Theatre in Gdańsk will talk about the changes they managed to produce using EU funds. The conference will be followed by a an interactive workshop held by Agata Etmanowicz, an expert in European funding for cultural infrastructure, among other experts.
“People with outstanding performance in the field will show us how a well-managed and transparent use of funds are mandatory for success. Eventually, not money, but people, with their passion and commitment, have build these successful institutions we can all be proud of. This is what we want to share”, concluded Agnieszka Skieterska.