The Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk has been undergoing a renovation and modernisation project by WAPA Architekci for several years. The huge investment at the Coal Market will completely transform not only the theatre itself, but also its surroundings, which will become more aesthetic, green and functional. Soon the first actors will appear on the stage of the theatre.
The Large Stage of the Wybrzeże Theatre is a modernist building dating back to 1967, which was erected on the site of the 1801 Municipal Theatre in Gdańsk. The thorough modernisation of the Big Stage building has just come to an end and the premiere of a new show will soon take place there. A major refurbishment of the Wybrzeże Theatre’s Big Stage building on Targ Węglowy began at the end of July 2020. Originally, the timetable for the investment assumed that the task would be completed within two years, but the completion date was postponed by almost a year
In order for the new auditorium structure to be built, the old one was completely demolished. A new rotating stage layout was created. Each stage element now moves up and down. They can move all at once and the stage can rotate during this time. The theatre boasts a new design for the foyer and cloakroom, which will be blood red surrounded by a gold wall. The first floor of the building houses the main foyer
The main façade of the Wybrzeże Theatre is entirely made of glass, which is a return to the original design concept from the 1960s, when the columns from the ground floor went down to the ground floor and were in the façade outside the building. In addition, as part of the investment, the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system was replaced and the stage mechanics equipment was replaced. The gross cost of the investment amounted to PLN 50.6 million. The premiere of the new production of Stanisław Wyspiański’s Wyzwolenie directed by Jan Klata will take place on 14 October 2023
Wybrzeże Theatre – history
It is no coincidence that the theatre is being built on the Coal Market. The area around this square has for centuries been a place where the people of Gdańsk met for culture and entertainment. Already in the 16th century there were buildings serving the theatre arts, and the wooden theatre erected in 1600 resembled in its functional layout well-known English theatres such as the Globe Theatre in London or the Swan-Theatre, and was located in the area of the junction of today’s Bogusławskiego Street and Podwale Przedmiejskie Street. In her memoirs, Joanna Schopenhauer wrote of the wooden theatre as an old wooden shed, more like a stable than a temple of art. Indeed, at the end of the 18th century, performances in the “wooden shed” were abandoned, turning it into a riding school, and it was decided to set about building a new, proper theatre
This task was undertaken by the town architect Samuel Held, commissioned by the established joint-stock company “for the construction and operation of a theatre”. Held produced three successively rejected designs, the first of which completely covered the façade of the Armoury, while the third envisaged the construction of a theatre on the Coal Market itself. Only the fourth, located on the site of the present theatre, was accepted by the principals. In 1799, construction began and the official opening of the Danzig theatre took place two years later, on 3 August 1801
Called the “coffee grinder” by Danzig citizens, the City Theatre (since 1933 the State Theatre – owned by the Senate of the Free City of Danzig) saw a complete reconstruction of the main building in 1935 – the stage, foyer and auditorium were then radically modernised
The last performance in the theatre designed by Held took place in July 1944. Burnt down in 1945, the building remained in ruins until the 1960s. Performances were then staged in the “barn” in Gdynia (on the site of today’s Music Theatre) and in the Grand Theatre in Wrzeszcz – today’s Baltic Opera. In 1966, a new venue, designed by Lech Kadłubowski and Daniel Olędzki, was opened. The opening ceremony took place on 7 January 1967. The modernist building with its large expanses of glass was given a new nickname: “aquarium”
Today, the Wybrzeże Theatre has as many as six stages: The Big Stage, the Old Pharmacy, the Black Room, the Malarnia Stage, the Chamber Stage in Sopot and the Summer Stage located in Pruszcz Gdański
About the studio
Warsztat Architektury Pracownia Autorska (WAPA) is a design firm headed by Dr. Eng. architect Krzysztof Kozłowski. The firm’s activities include architectural and urban design, as well as landscaping, interior design and design. The firm cooperates with leading specialist industry offices and large international consulting firms, including, investment management and cost control. The company’s work is characterised by individuality, high quality spatial and material solutions and attention to detail, which are an expression of a professional approach to contemporary design issues
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