The Tip of an Iceberg - The Szczecin Philharmonic
12,734 square metres, two concert halls, an auditorium with 1,143 seats, 2,500 square metres of ceiling, walls covered with leaves of metal, four floors above ground, and two underground levels - all of this in just one extraordinary Szczecin Philharmonic. Although its opening has been officially scheduled for the 5th of September, 2014, Culture.pl presents you with its amazing interiors today.
The architectural project authored by the Spanish-Italian Estudio Barozzi Veiga duo is very impressive indeed. The materials for the floor tiling in the Philharmonic are from Mallorca. The walls of the main concert hall are to be covered with imitation gold. The auditoriums are ready to seat more than a thousand listeners. And the excellent acoustics makes the sound resonate as far as the foyer. In total, the building is spread across nearly 13 thousand square metres. And all of this splendour has found itself under the auspices of two women directors.
The watchful eye of Dorota Serwa, the director of the Philharmonic, and the baton of Principal Conductor Ewa Strusińska, are bound to turn the Szczecin Philharmonic into an institution renowned across all of Europe. This aim will be attained not only thanks to the impressive architecture of the building, but also by the institution's ambitious artistic programme. Dorota Serwa and Ewa Strusińska are well aware of the eyes turned onto them, and know that the extraordinary form will not suffice. They are busily preparing the inaugural programme of events.
To this day, however, it is the actual architecture of the Philharmonic which draws the most attention. The focal point of the building is the symphonic concert hall, with acoustics permitting even the preparation of studio recordings. The 951 seats designed especially for this space also play a part in this extraordinary quality of sound transmission. The colour of the auditorium is evocative of the sun, the presence of which is ensured inside the interior thanks to the numerous skylights. The geometric shape of the ceiling is evocative of the building’s exterior form.
Acoustic tests conducted in the auditorium of the Szczecin Philharmonic have confirmed that its conditions compare to the standards of the Viennese Musikverein concert hall, considered a global benchmark of acoustic quality.
The Chamber Room seats 192 people, who are separated from the rest of the world by a door 10 centimetres thick. This small space also guarantees a concert in ideal acoustic conditions. The interior is adorned with a moon, and the mood of the space allows for a greater intimacy than that of the large concert hall.
This is the first project of such architectural and functional consistency to be raised in Poland. From the outside, the building manifests a form that, at a first glance, stands in huge contrast to the city’s architecture. It almost seems to clash with the environment rather than blend into it. The building is evocative of either a palace, or the tip of an iceberg. And, while it continues to attract controversy, it certainly does its job as it draws attention to the city of Szczecin.
This city is located in the very north-western corner of Poland on the Baltic coast, and it is its seventh-largest city. It has major significance as a port town, with boat connections to ports across Scandinavia. Its history goes back as far as the 8th century, when a Slavic Pomeranian stronghold was built at the site of today's castle.
Szczecin's architectural style is due to trends popular in the last half of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century, Academic art and Art Nouveau. The city has an abundance of green areas: parks and avenues – wide streets with trees planted in the island separating opposite traffic and roundabouts. In that manner, Szczecin's city plan resembles that of Paris, mostly because Szczecin was rebuilt in the 1880s according to a design by Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who had redesigned Paris under Napoléon III. This method of designing streets in Szczecin is still used, as many recently built (or modified) city areas include roundabouts and avenues. Social realism is prevalent in many areas built after 1945, especially in the city centre, which had been destroyed by Allied bombing.
According to the architects’ vision, the shape of the Philharmonic is evocative of the cityscape, as well as the environment of the grounds directly surrounding it. The sharp and pointed structure echoes the towers of nearby churches, as well as the shapes of municipal buildings and housing with sloping roofs. The Szczecin Philharmonic is also the very first project of the Estudio Barozzi Veiga outside of Spain.
The Philharmonic, which has been named after Mieczysław Karłowicz, was founded as a modern institution which aims at drawing inspiration from local musical roots as well as the musical traditions of all of Poland. It is raised by the intersection of the Matejki and Małopolska streets, in same place as the venue of the very first Konzerthaus performance of 130 years ago. The Konzerthaus used to be an important cultural centre of old Szczecin. It neighbours the pre-war Police Headquarters. It is also near the new building of the National Museum Department, the Centrum Dialogu Przełomy (Breakthroughs Centre for Dialogue), designed by the KWK Promes studio and Robert Konieczny. The Philharmonic building leaves none indifferent and is not easily forgotten. The directors are already extending their invitations to the week of inaugural events, scheduled between the 5th and the 12th of September.
Source: press release, own materials
Sylwia Wysłowska, 20.05.2014
translated with edits by Paulina Schlosser, 23/05/2014