Warsaw: culture, revitalisation and skyscrapers

Prior to the panel discussion, entitled ‘Warsaw, the largest metropolis in CEE – new areas for development’, the audience – in the same theatre where films are first shown at the Cannes Film Festival – viewed the world premiere of ‘The Future of Warsaw’ film created by Poland Today with the City of Warsaw. The film focuses on upcoming projects and developments in Warsaw with 3D animations and realistic models based on actual building specifications to show viewers how the city will look in a few years time.

Kicking off the panel, which was moderated by Richard Stephens, founder & editor of Poland Today magazine, Marlena Happach, Director of the Architecture and Spatial Planning Development at the City of Warsaw, said that in order to utilise the city’s full potential, the strategy will be to revitalise existing buildings as was done with Hala Koszyki and Hala Gwardii, for example, but also to concentrate on the other side of the river in the Praga district. She said that before the Koneser and Soho Factory projects, they were forgotten spots until architects created a unique place to live. To connect the city, infrastructure investments will see will a pedestrian bridge constructed which will join the right and left side of the river. Even the untouched area surrounding the Palace of Culture and Science will see new developments –  with the upcoming Museum of Modern Art on Plac Defilad to be surrounded by accessible public space. “We should provide a healthy environment for living and working in Warsaw,” said Happach.

A highly anticipated cultural project, the Sinfonia Varsovia concert hall, will also be located in the Praga district and its creator, Thomas Pucher, founder of Atelier Thomas Pucher, said the location is surrounded by protected heritage buildings so developing around them was challenging, but they designed a unique project that creates an intimate yet public space. Marcin Mostafa, Chairman of the Board at the architectural firm WWAA, said, “The quality of architecture has an impact on the quality of life of the inhabitants in the city. It’s about the relation between the space’s function and the users of these spaces.” He added that Soho Factory is a space for creative businesses such as WWAA and contains gastronomy and residential spaces that embody the ‘Work, Live, Be’ motto. Another important part of city life are the markets and bazaars, according to Aleksandra Wasilkowska, Founder of Pracownia Architektoniczna Aleksandra Wasilkowska, and developers should perceive them as fantastic ways to attract people to their projects such as the oldest and most famous outdoor marketplace in Warsaw, Różycki Bazaar in Praga-Północ which will undergo modernisation. Multiple mixed-use facilities, world-class skyscrapers and outdoor meeting places are planned to break ground in the next few years, which supports Happach’s notion that the “city is living and changing all the time.”  

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Photos: Eric Megret

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