Puppet Theatre in Bielsko-Biała. Project NM Architekci

The “Banialuka” puppet theatre is a place known not only to the inhabitants of Bielsko-Biała. The cult theatre is undoubtedly one of the most important points on the city map. The cultural space, which combines the function of a theatre with a library, is a place absorbed by the world of fantasy. Theatrical art is inextricably linked with literature, which is why, in the opinion of the designers, it was appropriate to organise both these fields within a single volume, a machine where the world of imagination explodes and takes the viewer into a new dimension, giving him or her a different, deeper view of the world.

In awarding the distinction, the jury appreciated the project for: unconventional solutions in terms of façade aesthetics with reference to the textile tradition of the city.

The designed building was located on a plot adjacent to the railway line to the west, PCK Street to the north and Broniewskiego Street to the east. Three significant thoroughfares of a different character surround the development site and from each of them the building is clearly visible in the landscape. It constitutes the dominant feature of the site. Its iconic form is intended to evoke a curtain that reveals the shroud of mystery through its openwork and openings at key points. Hidden behind the building’s ‘skin’ is all the technology, the operation of the building and an intimate, multidimensional green space – the lungs of Banialuka, which is a vertical garden. The vertical garden is both internal and external, because on the one hand it is inside the openwork skin surrounding the building and is connected to it, and on the other hand it is an external, unheated space.

The design of the theatre and library building, and above all the nature of its functioning, evokes the action of a living organism in both its physical and psychological aspects. The performing arts are undoubtedly such a living organism.

Internal organs – the various functions located in the building such as the large hall, small hall, chamber hall, library, office spaces, studios and all the others. Each is responsible for something different, but together they form a multifaceted working, living machine.


The building is designed as a compact volume combining the function of a theatre and a library. It is located on the site of the current surface car park. The total height of the building is 22.10 m. The architects designed a pedestrian and bicycle route along the railway line, connecting the study area with the area on the other side of POW Street, with 1 Maja Street and Zielona Street. Assuming the construction of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over POW Street in the future.

In the area of the competition study there is an entrance to the platforms. In the axis of the entrance a green area was designed, being a buffer between the above-ground car park and the representative part of the square in front of the main entrance to the building.


The designed building is a spatial dominant not only thanks to its size, but above all thanks to the uniqueness of its façade, as envisaged in the design. The openwork shell, previously referred to as the skin of the building, allows its surface to be used in a variety of ways to promote art and culture, through the possibility of displaying various illuminations on its surface or simply information about current performances and cultural events.

“The skin” is made up of interconnected steel bars, whose great advantage is that they can be shaped almost freely. Their malleable nature allows the façade to be shaped in such a way that it looks as if it is waving, delicate and airy – like a theatrical curtain. The entrances to the building are created by forming the skin in such a way that it invites you in.


The building designed by NM Architects consists of 6 storeys. One underground and 5 above ground. Level -1 is a storey divided into two levels. -3,05 m. for the underground garage section for 101 cars, including 5 parking spaces for people with disabilities. -5.95 for the storage and work area, where the requirement of min. 5 m room height. An entrance area is provided on the ground floor . Both the theatre and library sections. Despite the location of both entrances in the south-east corner, the entrance zone of the theatre section and the entrance zone of the library section have been zoned accordingly. The main lobby of the library is located on the 3rd floor, so only the entrance area with the staircase and the two lifts dedicated specifically to the library are foreseen on the ground floor.

On the ground floor, there is a large auditorium and a chamber music hall, which has been specifically designed to open up to the square and the green amphitheatre with its performances. It is an integral part of the summer stage set-up, but can operate independently of it. The diagrams and possibilities of operation of the chamber hall and the summer stage are shown below.

On the 1st floor, the small hall is located together with a dedicated foyer two storeys high. On the same floor are the operators’ booths for the large hall and the chamber hall. In the northern part of this floor, the office area of the theatre. Floor 2, features guest rooms for actors, library guest suites, the library office area, library storerooms and operators’ cabins for the small hall. A puppet museum has also been provided here as a separate room where visitors can see what puppets were used for performances in the past. This is a place where the theatre will be able to hold workshops or other cultural or special events. From this level, an exit to the vertical garden and a 3-level walkway in the greenery has been designed.

The third floor is an entirely library zone. The main lobby with an exhibition area, a family area, an adult lending area with kitchenette, a children’s lending area with kitchenette, two quiet work areas, a conference room and five rooms are envisaged here. On the fourth floor, the architects designed a café with access to a green terrace.

source: NM Architekci

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The competition was won by the concept prepared by the P2PA studio. You can read more about this building in the article by clicking HERE.

P2PA design

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