Browary Warszawskie named “best urban regeneration project” in the WORLD
Already regarded as one of the most important mixed-use developments in recent Polish history, Browary Warszawskie has now been named the “best urban regeneration project” in the world at the MAPIC real estate awards.
Developed by Echo Investment, work on the 4.4-hectare plot began in 2016 and was completed only last year. In the short time since, however, it’s already been recognised as the capital’s “best public space” in the annual architectural prize overseen by Warsaw City Hall, whilst also making it onto the final shortlist of MIPIM’s “best mixed-use development” category.
Furthermore, its wayfinding system was also singled out earlier this year at the prestigious Red Dot awards.
The latest accolade, though, is arguably the biggest of the lot.
Nicklas Lindberg, CEO of Echo Investment, said: “We are proud that Browary Warszawskie has been recognized on the international scene. It’s proof that our idea of creating “destinations” – large, city-forming projects that are in line with the needs of a city – is in perfect agreement with the world’s urban and social trends.
“Browary Warszawskie is a great example of Echo Investment’s approach to building wisely and responsibly designed fragments of the city. This award is proof for us that Browary has become a new landmark of the capital,” he continued.
Seen as Echo Investment’s flagship project, the architectural responsibility was handed to JEMS Architecki who created a concept that merged pre-existing historical structures with modern buildings whilst simultaneously striking a balance between public and private space.
Applying the latest ecological solutions and technological innovations, the project has been key to making Warsaw’s surrounding CBD liveable.
Though featuring no shortage of office space, Browary Warszawskie has helped bring the area to life by introducing over 1,000 apartments to the local housing stock as well as over two dozen food and drink concepts.
Of these, highlights have included an award-winning brewpub, a premium food hall, exclusive live entertainment venues and a sports bar owned by football legend Robert Lewandowski.
Seeing off competition from Spanish and French investments, Browary’s success has also been attributed to pioneering details such as the addition of Warsaw’s first ‘stair mural’ and the debut of the city’s first woonerf.
Seamlessly slotting into the urban fabric of the city, credit too has been given for the value awarded to greenery and public spaces, as well as the care extended to the renovation of heritage structures such as the former Malthouse, the Brewmaster’s Villa and the storage cellars.
MAPIC’s award, however, is just the latest footnote in Browary’s extraordinary history.
Opening in 1846, for years the site was the home of the Haberbusch & Schiele brewery – one of approximately 40 breweries operating in the city.
Specialising in ales and porters, the brewery’s adoption of steam power in the 1880s and 1890s saw its output rocket and by 1907 it was producing eight million bottles per year – not only had it grown into Warsaw’s biggest brewery, but also the largest in the Kingdom of Poland.
Brewing right up to the eve of the of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, it played a hero role in the doomed insurgency – not only were its labyrinthine passageways used for storing weapons, its vast supply of barley reputedly helped feed the city once the situation became desperate.
Set aflame during the Uprising, in the decade that followed the burned breweries and bombed-out surrounding streets found themselves nicknamed ‘The Wild West’, a moniker used even by the author Leopold Tyrmand – amid these tumbling ruins, gangland scores were settled at night.
Finally resuming operations in 1955, the brewery again found itself in the news in 1972 when Poland’s first bottles of Coca-Cola were produced here under an American license. Good times were followed by bad, and Poland’s political transformation brought with it privatisation, cutbacks and eventual closure in 2005.
Left to disintegrate behind locked, rusting gates, the entire complex again fell into ruin. Ambitious and miraculous in equal measure, its modern-day revival has seen this giant complex returned from oblivion – a point not lost by MAPIC’s adjudication panel.