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Komenda Wojewódzka Policji. Źródło: Fred Romero from Paris, France, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Provincial Police Headquarters in Wrocław – a masterpiece of German Expressionism

The Provincial Police Headquarters building in Wrocław is one of the most representative buildings in Lower Silesia and an architectural pearl of the inter-war period, built in the style of German Expressionism. The building has a long and interesting history, and many legends have grown up around it.

In the second decade of the 20th century, a decision was made to build a new police station in Breslau to house all the employees, who had hitherto been dispersed over various buildings in the city. Accordingly, the authorities purchased a site on Podwale Street. The location was very convenient, but the site posed a serious challenge to architects and builders: the area contained former park ponds and remnants of the old Wrocław fortifications, and the load-bearing soil was 11 metres deep.

The Command Building – photo of the main facade. Photographer: mamik/, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0

The area for the construction of the Police Presidium building required the hardening and founding of 2,550 piles with a total length of 19,730 metres. The longest piles reached up to 12 metres. Implementation of the project finally began in May 1927, according to a design by the Wrocław architect Rudolf Fernholz. The opening of the new premises took place on 11 January 1929. The design of the new headquarters was made according to strict guidelines relating to this type of building and its functions. The building has five floors and five internal courtyards, and each of the building’s four facades has a slightly different character. The façade on the Podwale side is the most monumental and representative. The main entrance is highlighted by a portico with four gigantic pillars over thirteen metres high. They are decorated with six supernaturally large sculptures of human figures resembling Roman warriors. Their author is Felix Kupsch.

The building of the Provincial Police Headquarters in the inter-war period and today. View from the junction of Podwale and Muzealna streets. Source: Bildarchiv Foto Marburg and Fred Romero from Paris, France, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The presidium before the war and today. View from Podwale Street. Source: Neo[EZN]/, Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0 and Basik07 – Barbara Wrzesińska, CC BY-SA 3.0 EN, via Wikimedia Commons

The building of the Provincial Police Headquarters can be stylistically classified as North German Expressionism. Its cladding is made of blue and purple clinker bricks. The building’s interiors are designed as very representative rooms in the art déco style. The main hall, finished in malachite glazed ceramics, is particularly impressive. The building was equipped with central heating, two telephone networks (one for communication with police stations throughout the city, the other for general communication), fire detectors and passenger lifts for business and for internal communication. In the main courtyard there was a large clock with a three-metre diameter numerical dial.

The building was not damaged during the war effort in 1945. It still serves the same function today as it did before the Second World War.


Read also: Architecture in Poland | Monument | History | Wrocław | Brick

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