The original building, designed in 1929 by celebrated German modernist architect Hermann Dernburg, and was one of Poland’s first and largest, truly international retail stores. It comprises a six-storey steel structure with a predominantly ceramic tile façade, and is now a protected historic building.

After years of neglect, the building required extensive renovation. It reopened in April 2009 with a new wing emerging from its eastern end into the central Czysty Square.

This complex and striking extension was designed by Maćków Pracownia Projecktowa in collaboration with international engineering consultancy Arup, which contributed project management, structural, mechanical and engineering services.

The newly redeveloped store, with a total area of 85,000m², is described as linking the traditional and contemporary sections of the city.  

Given its architectural significance, architectural historians from the Technical University of Wroclaw, strongly recommended “the application of strategies preserving most of the original structure of the building”.

The main objective of the new design, according to architect Zbigniew Maćków, was to continue the style and form of the existing architecture and create a building that references the “elegance and high design standards” of the old department store: “The consistency of the old and new parts was achieved by correct proportions, inscribing the new building into the historical urban structure, horizontal divisions of the façades, and the character and colours of the materials used.”

The spatial concept of the original building, with its striking horizontal layering and distinctive curved corners, was based upon the modernist ideal in which the commercial function of the building was reflected by its structure and shape. As well as these elements of commercial modernism, however, the 1930s building also featured those those typifying the concept of the “new thingness” (neue sachlichkeit), namely rich textures, colours and artistic ornament provided by sculptors and ceramists.

The ground floor, separated by a cornice of clinker and brass from the floors above, is dominated by shop windows in frames of gold-plated brass.

The dynamic nature of the horizontal façade of the new extension has been intensified, Maćków explains, “by a fan-shaped deflection of cornices, which create a very strongly emphasised façade foreground, with gold-tinted aluminium [custom-coloured, 6mm-thick Alucore material from 3A Composites] our material of choice”. 

This sits within a background of large windows and walls finished with dark-brown fibre-concrete cladding panels, “corresponding to the ceramic facing of the antique edifice”.

The new building is connected to the original by an entrance atrium which, according to Maćków, “serves as a connecting element or buffer between the two parts”.

This project has received many awards in Poland, and was also nominated as Building of the Year 2010 at the World Architectural Festival in Barcelona.

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