Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra Katowice
“I would like a building to have its own history, spatial narration deriving from the culture of such a region as Silesia”. This said Tomasz Konior, the famous architect, in 2008 entrusted with designing a new home for the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR), before the start of construction works. Some critics believe that his work is too intertwined with Katowice tradition.
The object, at Wojciech Kilar Square near the renowned Spodek arena, is in their view far too barren. They criticize the façade of red brick fired in a 19th century furnace and reflecting a character of the nearby working class neighborhood of Nikiszowiec.
Fitting in Katowice
The building fits well into Katowice's context but it's difficult to love it as it does not astonish everyone who sees it. But critics forget that even the most advanced technology will age with time. And brick, which is timeless, will always look good, especially here.
A conservative facade hides one of the most modern interiors in the world. A large concert hall for 1,800 people, the heart of the space covered from the outside with concrete form-works. When touching their structure you feel prints left by wooden beams. But the interior stuns the viewer with its modernity and leading solutions, thanks to which you can see the musicians from behind. This is because the seats are also placed on the other side of the stage.
A building in 3 zones
Konior divided the building into three zones. The first one is a ring for NOSPR musicians and employees, with a music hall for 300 people. It also has a library, rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, offices, and technical facilities.
The second zone comprises an atrium for guests with cloak-rooms, ticket offices, a bistro and restaurant. The concert hall forms the third and the most important zone. It's made of black, wavy concrete reflecting sounds like wooden elements and denoting the coloring of the Stradivarius violin. The parquet is from light oak, the ceiling and plafond of birch, the balcony railings of birch plywood.
But what's the most ravishing in the concert hall is its great acoustics. The director of Nagata Acoustics attuned the hall. Not without significance was Krystian Zimerman's recommendation, the winner of the 1975 Chopin Competition. Zimerman, who visited Katowice in the autumn to rehearse before the opening concert didn't hide his admiration for the work of Toyota. The architects make sure that the hall’s excellent acoustics will be even better after several months when the wood inlaid in the hall starts working.
The new hall must to attract the youngest. NOSPR hopes that technological solutions will promote classical music among the generation that is now entering adulthood. This generation often, contrary to their parents, didn't have mandatory music lessons at primary school. The need to teach young Poles about classical music was also observed by the Institute of Music and Dance, which in 2014 in three Polish cities – Lublin, Rzeszow and Bialystok – implemented a programme for high school graduates. Under the program, high school students received free tickets for 20 concerts that presented them with the arcana of the conductor’s work and specific nature of the philharmonic orchestra.
Silesian Museum Katowice
In January 1929, when the Silesian Congress approved of the Silesian Museum, no one expected the turbulent fate which awaited the seat of this institution. After the plebiscite of 1921 which resulted in a part of Silesia becoming part of Poland, the building of a museum in the capital of the region became a political issue.
It was necessary to create an institution that would handle the collecting of memorabilia and spiritual culture which made in Silesia, presenting of these memorabilia and popularizing Silesia's history. Preparations for the building of the edifice of the new institution went on for a long time.
The first competition was in 1929 and was never resolved. In 1934, Karol Schayer, an important Silesian architect in those times, was finally entrusted with the designing of the edifice of the museum, which was to symbolize the region's independence.
Construction of a new museum
Right next to the monumental form of the Silesian Congress, construction of a huge museum complex started in 1936. This museum complex had the shape of a letter H. Once this super-modern edifice equipped with elevators, escalators and photo-cells was one of the perfect examples of interwar modernism. In the summer of 1939 construction work was over and the place would open soon. That of course didn’t happen. In 1941 the Germans deconstructed the building. Today in its place a Socialist-Modernistic edifice stands. It's from the 50's, designed by Aleksander Franta and Henryk Buszko.
For the next 40 years, the Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom played the role of the Silesian museum. The institution named Silesian Museum returned as late as after 1984. The authorities assigned a 19th century hotel in Korfanty Avenue as seat of this museum. Though on a convenient location, the building was too small for the needs of the institution. So in 1986 the city announced a competition for a new building.
Back then a vision proposed by Jan Fiszer won. But the rights to the plot on which the museum should arise hadn't been secured and the project vanished. The makeshift Silesian Museum’s operations in a historical hotel lasted until 2014, when construction of the institution’s new building finished.
New building for the Silesian Museum
Announcement of the international competition for the architectural concept of the new edifice of the Silesian Museum came in 2006. The competition concerned not only the design of the museum’s building but also the design of the area surrounding it. The museum was to be built on the site of the Coal Mine “Katowice”, shut down in 1999. The competition ended in June 2007. The 18 submitted designs were evaluated. The first award went to a proposal of the Riegler Riewe Architekten bureau from Graz.
The Austrians proposed to hide the exhibition spaces as far as 14 meters below the ground to expose the monuments that once were part of a mine and to create a public space surrounding the museum. Apart from new objects containing exhibition spaces, the designers also had to include historical objects in the design of the new complex. The machine room, the winding tower of the shaft “Warsaw” and the former clothing warehouse.
The winding tower became an observation tower, the warehouse adapted for the needs of the Center for Polish Scenography. A restaurant opened in the machine house.
Museum's main building
The main building of the museum has 7 floors. Four of them are above ground (offices are there). Apart from this structure no new large objects appeared on the premises of the museum. Above ground one may only see glass boxes, through which the exhibition rooms are lit. These boxes are milky, semi-translucent. They resemble minimalistic lanterns sprouting from the post-industrial landscape. The silhouette of the mining shaft's tower dominates the whole architectural setting. It's a symbol most characteristic of Silesian landscapes.
"The heart” of the museum, the exhibitions, are below ground level. This has a symbolic meaning. After all, for centuries what was most precious in Silesia came from below the ground. In the underground part of the complex one may find exhibition spaces lit from above, conference rooms and educational rooms, a library, museum workshops, technical, storage and auxiliary rooms as well as the main hall which is large enough to accommodate a concert or spectacle. The complex opened in 2015.
University of Economics in Katowice
The University of Economics in Katowice, founded in 1937, is the biggest and oldest business school in the region, and one of the top universities in Poland. Each year over 11,000 Polish and international students follow a degree programme at Bachelor, Master, Doctoral and Post-diploma levels at 5 faculties:
- Finance and Administration
- Economics, Finance and Insurance
- Informatics and Communication
The students and graduates mature in a thriving metropolis and engage in developing the region in the course of their professional lives: managing companies, organizing socio-economic life, taking part in a range of business activities.
The educational offer and lifelong learning programmes attract students from all over the world and from every generation. Due to the balance between academic strength and soft skills in the courses as well as professional career services the employability of the graduates is very high. The university cherishes relations with there local and international alumni engaging them in many activities on campus and in social media.