The post-industrial architecture of Silesia awaits bold visions that will breathe new life into the degraded urban fabric. The sites of liquidated coal mines, such as Szombierki, Powstańców Śląskich, Rozbark and Miechowice in Bytom, are waiting to be redeveloped. The success of the Culture Zone in Katowice has shown that it is worth doing so.
Katowice prides itself on its new Culture Zone. The project covers an area of 25 thousand square metres in total and is comprised of the Silesian Museum designed by the Austrian studio Riegler Riewe Architekten, the edifice of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) designed by Konior Studio, and the International Conference Centre designed by the JEMS Architects team.
The Silesian Museum has also become famous in the global architectural arena, for it has been included in the group of projects nominated to the Mies van der Rohe 2015 Award.
Architect Tomasz Konior said that it was architecture that played an important role in the perception of Silesia as a modern region. Transformations that have taken place in Upper Silesia are as plain as day when we turn our gaze to the post-industrial sites. The transformations of old coal mines into large culture and entertainment centres have been taking place for several years in Zabrze, Katowice, Żory… and subsequent Silesian cities follow.
‘Architecture has always been the backbone of our region. Geological and historical conditions have imparted a multi-layer dimension to architecture in Silesia. In the past, the direction of its development was determined by industry, which entailed large coal mine sites and accompanying infrastructure,’ said architect Katarzyna Sąsiadek from the Katowice-based Musk Collective Design studio.
Katowice has already joined the group of leading Polish metropolises. To a considerable extent, this has been possible owing to bold investments and daringly implemented revitalisation of the city. Today, the showcase of the capital of Upper Silesia are no longer fuming chimney stacks and mineshafts – it is public utility space. Guests are greeted by a modern railway station and the city centre zone which currently undergoes redevelopment. There is a rich offer of shows and events of great stature waiting for them. Katowice is a totally different city than it was a few decades ago. What follows is that unique places motivate people to organise spectacular events. One of them will be 4 Design Days – an event that will convert Katowice and the International Conference Centre into the capital of Polish design and architecture for four days.
Young Silesians can be proud of the transformations their region is currently undergoing. And the development of the region means first and foremost revitalisation.