3. Voice of public

After such scandal announced in the newspaper, young architects, students and whole generation, that feel responsible for national heritage of Warsaw, started publicly disagree with the new plans of what Koszykowa Hall might be turned into. They wanted to play part in the decisions which were taken, but no one from Warsaw administration or developers wanted to take their will into consideration.

First they started with a public debate. On 28th February 2007 Warsaw Association of Care about Monuments organized meeting in Historical Museum in Warsaw. Participants were mainly architects and conservators. What was surprising, no one from Quinlan Private Golub company came on that meeting, what automatically was read as a lack of a chance for compromise. As a conclusion participants formulated statement, that there is no sense to discuss about the case, until Warsaw Conservator will give them his absolute opinion – it was their chance to be heard by City Council. Warsaw Conservator informed, that City Council is still continuing the negotiations with the developer about other, less extreme, steps then those which they were planning to take. Instead of the representative of the company, participants heard the final statement from Bartłomiej Konarski, who had been making research about humidity and moulting on the walls. No one expected this. He pointed, that in spite of the lack of termic and water isolation, condition of the walls was said to be very good. Mould was seen from time to time, but they were not endanger at all. Not only brick construction – but also steel structure of the roof and truss was not in such bad state that would predestine them to be demolished. Also fire resistance, in that specific case, was not supposed to be so problematic and confusing. It was seemed that there is a way to find good solution also for that issue.

It turned out that for citizens it was not enough. They wanted to underline their expectations and overrule the decisions stated in the paper number 2359/ 99 - an agree for the changes of the Hall. Activists made a proposition of organizing the picket in the defense of the Hall. They also wrote a letter to Warsaw President, which people could sign in via internet.


Dear colleges,

Nowadays more often we get the information about following valuable, Warsaw buildings, that will be demolished. Lately we could observe strong quarrel about Supersam which unfortunately could not been rescued.

Now is time for historic Koszykowa Hall. American-Irish developer, QUINLAN PRIVATE GOLUB company, want to built near by Hall eight-level apartment building, and demolished the main part of the Hall because of its very poor roof condition, which can not be repaired. Then they are going to raise it again with two-level underground parking, using reinforced concrete construction.

The value of historic building is its authenticity and this is the reason why we can not agree for such a treatment of cultural heritage by developers company, which in a name of commercial benefit give the Warsaw citizens falsification instead of original.

As a group of young architects and a generation responsible for Warsaw cultural heritage we do not agree for devastation and sale of monuments of our city. We are organizing the protest in a name of saving the Koszykowa Hall, day 04.02.2007, 13.00 hour. We invite everyone, who supports our opinion and want to join us .

Szymon Kalata, Mikołaj Kołacz, Mikołaj Mundzik, Marta Żurek, Hubert Tramer, Maria Ryczer, Otylia Pastwa, Olgierd Jankowski, Piotr Sołowiej, Bartłomiej Citko, Maciej Lewandowski, Kasia Sadowy, Martyna Tajwan, Ola Wrzosek.

The picket took place on 4th March, 2007. How was it organized? Information about it was published on the websites of many, popular polish newspapers. Promoters used also contemporary way of informing wider public – via public portal www.grono.net. A lot of people started discussing this issue on forums on the internet. It was not such a hot theme for a long time. All of involved media played its role very well– people came with symbolic baskets (Koszyk) on the picket organized next to the Hall. They made big posters and voted against demolishing such wonderful, historical building. Young architects and activists came from whole Poland – the case of the Koszyki was important not only for the inhabitants of Warsaw but for everybody for whom valuable architecture from the beginning of XX century plays important role. On the place of the picket there was also possibility to sign the official letter to president of Warsaw. People wanted to pointed their attention in that place and in that time. They also wanted to give a clear statement that public participation is about getting legitimacy for public decisions. They thought that people should consider situation where no one assures that the people will is done. Regrettably government takes side of more strong, powerful developers, from whom can benefit a profit. Media helped a lot in that ‘fight for rights’ demonstration – they showed photos and movies from 4th March in television, newspaper and internet. Vision of history fighters, presented as an activists ready to support their city in a need, had been clearly marked.

How the situation looks at this moment? Some decisions were changed from very radical to less radical. Developer agreed to renovate each element of the hall – even the smallest, and he promised that everything will be back on its place with some „small additions” of the construction elements. Probably it is some compromise between the argument of the public will and the ‘need’ of constant city changes, even in its historical parts. The fight was not win totally, but people are still trying to participate actively. It is also about fairness and justice. On 14th November 2010 they were protesting again in the same place, close to the Hall. This time, that place played mainly the symbolic role of something which city and all its citizens are loosing, because of some decisions made by people as Mrs. Ewa Nekanda – Trepki. Habitants made even a black list of the worst decisions of the Conservator (http://blog.zw.com.pl/zabytki/ ). Enormously sad conclusion marks its existence after the lecture of this case. Why bureaucrats, legislative officials and sometimes even planners are seem to be from different camp then those who keep in their harts the beauty of the historical, precious city and who are free from strange political agreements? Nevertheless, active public participation process is the way of underlining citizens opinion of their city and their way of expressing their thoughts from which they should never resigned.

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2. Design of modifications step by step

In 2003, Provincial Conservator, Ryszard Głowacz, with his deputy Jacek Laskowski accepted design of Rafał Szczepański that consisted the plan of demolishing Hall and building on its place ‘great’ glass...high rise building. After several protest main architect of Warsaw, Michał Borowski, stopped the investment. Four years later, the owner of the hall, sold it to the Quinlan Private Golub company – developer well known in the capital from Warsaw Financial Center on Emilii Plater.

At the beginning, new owner was a keen on making a complex revitalization of the Hall. It was supposed to look the same as it used to in its best years. In the design, on the ground level was planned gallery with some shops and in underground supermarket. Next to the whole complex, on the spare ground, there were drawn multi–family houses in the character similar to neighborhood. Few weeks later, company changed their decision. Developer said that revitalization is impossible. He used the argument that polish norms are very specific in case of public buildings which are used as galleries and construction of the hall is not fulfilling it. There was supposed to be a problem with the strength of the structure on its resistance on fire. What is more, actual Provincial Conservator, Ewa Nekanda-Trepki agreed with that opinion. No one asked another, more aligned to this case, conservator, constructor or architect, who could give additional opinion.

And decision was made. Hall was planned to be partly deconstructed. Its elements were planned to be copy in better materials, and then connected, with new, concrete construction. Historical structure was not valuable enough to compete with the modernity and was slowly becoming a history. In future might be considered only addition to odd parts. But why does Koszykowa Hall story have to end in this way? What was the reason of such solutions, when at the beginning agreeable with social expectations ideas decisions had been taken? It might seem that all this affair has a second bottom. In a newspaper “Stołeczna”, from 24.01.2007, there is a clear statement of Jakub Lewicki, vice–chairman of Polish Section of International Association of Documentation and Conservation of Modern Architecture:

Hall on Koszyki is the most valuable monument from Commercial Architecture in Warsaw. It still consists original construction and interior. I am in opposition to its deconstruction. These days we have new, modern technologies which strengthen resistance on fire of such buildings. There are also possibilities of adding to old construction, modern reinforce elements. (...)”

After this, from new plans which had been published, the real intentions of the developer become known to all Warsaw citizens. Next to the hall, number of planned apartments increased from 2 to 3 multi–family houses with a quantity of office space, which additionally caused the problem with regulations of number of needed parking space. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the plans of underground supermarket changed into double level parking for an amount of 450 cars. Regrettably such difficult constructional modification made impossible for the building company to leave the hall untouched during the works. Taking into consideration possibilities of world constructional solutions, there might be several different ideas how to ‘save’ Koszykowa Hall, which unfortunately do not find a place in developer’s budget, because of their expensive character. Coincidence? Or maybe planned mystification?

What is more, because of ‘modern’ – in developer understanding, architectural trends, and need of fitting the style of potential buyer in a space in new buildings, also the character of added objects changed completely. From historical elements they became cubic glass. In addition, on the courtyard of the Hall there was planned ‘beautiful’, big fountain. When Warsaw citizens thought that nothing more can surprise them, “kramy lindleyowskie” appeared on the plans. Małgorzata Omilanowska, from Institute of Polish Academy of Art and Science clearly stated that those objects had nothing in common with the Hall. In the origin there were designed by Juliusz Dzierżanowski – author of the Hall.


1. Koszykowa Hall - introduction

Ewa Stankiewicz

Agata Łucja Wierzbicka

Koszykowa Hall was built in 1906 till 1909. In 2006 it still used to be one of sparse Art Nouveau buildings in Warsaw. Its construction was made from steal with addition of rivet truss. After almost 100 years, there still might be seen beautiful decorations from wrought iron, that brings atmosphere of Old Warsaw. Unfortunately this object and what it brings with itself is in danger... Optimistically there are people who fight for it and by this active public participation some decisions might be changed!

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