Teatr Wielki w Łodzi
Fot. Stregone, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Grand Theatre in Łódź – flagship of Polish socialist realism

The Grand Theatre in Łódź is the largest of all theatres in the city, and the second largest opera house in Poland. In addition to its theatrical functions, the building also serves as a venue for other types of mass events, such as New Year’s balls, fashion shows and various rallies and conventions. It is an example of classicist socialist realism – architecture from the 1950s, at the same time a dominant component of the prestigious Dąbrowskiego Square development.

A competition was held to design the headquarters of the Grand Theatre, and the design of the building was eventually entrusted to a specially appointed team. The designers were Józef and Witold Korski and Roman Szymborski. Construction began in 1949 and took 17 years. The protracted work was due to the building’s location in a marshy area, which greatly complicated the earthworks. The Grand Theatre is one of Lodz’s flagship realisations of the Socialist Realist period. It should be added, however, that the form of the building itself is a continuation of the pre-war solutions applied by J. Korski. Next to the Lodz Party House or the then Textilimport Import Centre of the Textile Industry, this is another building which strongly influenced the architectural landscape of the city.

End of the 1960s Photo: Museum of the City of Łódź

Teatr Wielki w Łodzi

The building is located in the centre of Łódź, in the northern part of Henryk Dąbrowskiego Square, where the city’s main traffic arteries intersect: Narutowicza, Sterlinga and Jaracza Streets. The theatre consists of a main building and a technical building. These buildings are connected by a connecting passageway, which is used to quickly transport decorations directly from the warehouse to the stage. The theatre was built in a skeleton-reinforced concrete construction, which is covered from the outside with a cladding of Szydłowiec sandstone.

Photo Panek, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The architecture of the building consists of cuboidal blocks intermingling with the central dominant block of the stage box. The front elevation is shaped in the form of a 50-metre-long pediment, composed of a colonnade and arcades separated by a strip of sculptural frieze designed by Professor Jerzy Bandura from Kraków. It forms a rhythm of pegasi, horses, human figures and decorations, divided by symbolic triglyphs. The building has 8 levels in the stage box section, including two levels below the ground floor, and 7 levels in the audience section, including one level below the ground floor.

Teatr Wielki w Łodzi
Photo by Paweł Schmidt, CC BY-SA 3.0 PL, via Wikimedia Commons

The layout of the interiors represents the interpenetration of the various spaces, which have been given the utmost functionality and an elegant and classical design. The auditorium with its surrounding backstage area and central foyer is the spatial dominant feature. The auditorium, which seats over a thousand spectators, is designed as an amphitheatre with a balcony. The full mechanisation of the stage offers the possibility of varying the shape of the stage floor.

Photo by Joanna Miklaszewska

The Grand Theatre in Łódź is the second largest opera house in Poland and one of the largest in Europe. Originally, the theatre’s auditorium had 1,270 seats; after renovations in 2003, this number decreased to 1,074. Between January 2012 and the first days of April 2013, thanks to funding obtained from the European Regional Development Fund, the Grand Theatre building underwent a thorough modernisation, the first in over 40 years.

Source: operalodz.com, zabytkilodzi.pl

Read also: Architecture in Poland | Łódź | Monument| Socialist Realism| Elevation

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