A new building on the site of Solpol more ‘Wrocław-like’? Here is a proposal from one of the portals

Solpol, a distinctive department store building in Wrocław designed by Wojciech Jarząbek, dominated the landscape of Świdnicka Street for almost three decades. From the moment it was built in 1993, its post-modern aesthetic aroused extreme emotions – for some it was a symbol of modernity and architectural courage, for others a blatant dissonance in the historic city centre. Despite numerous petitions and protests, the Wrocław department store was demolished in 2022, paving the way for a new development. The Architektura Klasyczna Wrocław portal presented its own concept for the appearance of the new building, which is more in keeping with the local, historical context.

The post-Solpol plot, currently in the hands of developer Noho Investment, will soon be developed. The results of a closed competition for a new development concept for the site were announced in 2023, which was won by Sopot-based Roark Studio. The winning design envisages a residential and commercial development to densely fill the entire quarter.

The Lower Silesian Provincial Conservator of Monuments, Daniel Gibski, made significant changes to Roark Studio’s original design. One of the main points of criticism was the monumental, two-storey arcades that were to frame the entrances to the arcades and shop windows. The conservator decided that such a solution had no analogy in the historical buildings of Wrocław, and therefore ordered a change in the design. The new concept envisages that the shop windows in the ground floor will be entirely made of glass. The conservator, Daniel Gibski, explains his decision by the need to maintain the compatibility of the new development with the historical character of the area.

In the context of the design changes, the Architektoniczna Rewolta Wrocław portal created experimental visualisations using an AI tool to ‘de-modernise’ the original concept. Their aim was to show how, through minimal typological changes, a design can be achieved that is more in keeping with the local, historical context. This experiment showed that modern buildings often deviate from traditional forms by lacking finials, cornices, horizontal accents and flat roofs.

“The internet has already circulated news that the Wrocław conservation officer has demanded changes to the design of the building to be built on the site of the former Solpol. The main objection is said to be the ungainly Wrocław arcades. So we come up with the question – why only the arcades? Why shouldn’t the whole building be more ‘Wrocław-like’? We propose a simple experiment – how to change this design into a more historical one in three easy steps” – write the portal’s creators on their social media.

Solpolu Solpolu

As the creators of the new concept point out, the graphics shown are just a play around with graphics programs – not a design. They do not take into account many factors that should normally be considered when designing a building.

The new development on Solpol’s site is causing a lot of emotion and controversy, just like its predecessor. While many regret the loss of a colourful icon of postmodernism, Roark Studio’s new project, adapted to conservation guidelines, has the potential to better fit in with Wrocław’s historic landscape while offering modern residential and commercial spaces. The developer, Noho Investment, plans to start construction after the summer of 2024, once all clean-up and archaeological work has been completed.

And you, what do you think of the proposal from the Architektura Klasyczna Wrocław website?

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Source: press materials, Roark Studio(https://roarkstudio.pl), Architektura Klasyczna Wrocław, architekturaibiznes.pl

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