Poland Ready for Its Close-Up
Urban revitalization is emerging in Poland in tandem with world-class design, drawing the likes of architect Robert Krier and filmmaker David Lynch to the scene for movie-related building projects. In Lodz, a town outside of Warsaw where Lynch shot scenes for Inland Empire in 2006, the pair is in development talks for an urban renewal project whose cornerstone will be a film studio and arts center. In conjunction with locals Marek Zydowicz, director of the Camerimage Film Festival, and Andrzej Walczak, a businessman and architect, Lynch established The Arts of the World Foundation to lead the project. It plans to convert a 108,000-square-foot power station, built in 1906, into an art gallery, a postproduction editing studio, and a large hall for symphony recording sessions.
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The foundation invited Krier to propose designs. The Luxembourg-based architect is also currently developing plans nearby for a 220-acre area surrounding the Lódz Fabryczna railway station, which has been designated a new city center. “The main focus will be put on cultural facilities,” says Kazimierz Suwala, who chairs the foundation’s board. “The intention is to create a new urban quarter in the center of Lodz that will become the city core, which was lacking until now.”
The preliminary scheme calls for relocating railroad tracks underground and converting the historic train station for a new use. Hotels, residential buildings, and shops are also planned, as well as a 1,000-seat theater for the Polish Film Festival. Future phases could include a museum and technology park. Construction is set to begin in 2008.
Film is inspiring development elsewhere in Poland, too. In Krakow, the Schindler Factory, a World War II–vintage structure where Steven Spielberg filmed Schindler’s List, will soon house Poland’s Museum of the Righteous Among the Nations. This institution pays tribute to those who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Krakow created a $1.2 million grant for the factory’s adaptive reuse, designed by Aleksander Janicki, and the museum is slated to open in 2008.
A similar project is under way in Warsaw, also due to open next year. Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamaeki, of the Helsinki firm Lahdelma and Mahlamaeki Architects, is working on the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. (See sidebar below.) It is just one outgrowth of the mayor of Warsaw’s Urban and Architectonic Council, created in 2003 to oversee downtown rejuvenation over a 10-year period. The initiative has also produced the new Warsaw Museum of Modern Art. Designed by Swiss architect Christian Kerez, the $91 million museum will open in 2010.
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