Poland’s first ‘open frame tenement’ set to become major Łódź attraction
Lauded as an architectural first in Poland, the city of Łódź is to see the construction of an ‘open framework’ tenement – one of the only such projects in the world.
Filling an ugly gap on the city’s famous Piotrkowska street, the steel-framed tenement will be left without any walls and opened to the public to function as an observational deck with views of the surrounding streets.
For decades, the plot was used by the Hort Café, a cult venue that was first opened on May 1st, 1976.
Frequented by celebrities such as the internationally-renowned footballer Zbigniew Boniek and the legendary radio anchorman Marek Niedźwiecki, for many natives of the city the Hort Café offered a glimpse of the better things in life on account of a menu that included such PRL delicacies as Hortex-branded ice cream served with a slice of tinned pineapple.
Recently, the café’s adjoining outdoor terrace was subjected to a renovation conducted without the relevant permit. When this was brought to the attention of the authorities work immediately stopped, but it left the city to deal with a highly visible and unsightly gap on the most-visited street in the city.
In a statement issued on City Hall’s website, Adam Pustelnik, the Vice President of Łódź, said that the city had been forced into finding a creative solution.
“This should never have occurred,” he said. “There is no Hort Café garden, known to many generations of citizens, because the owners at the time undertook to renovate it so arbitrarily. It proved impossible to find an investor to help the tenant rebuild what they had destroyed.
“Unfortunately, we had to bid farewell to them, and we will now try and cover our losses by seeking compensation. We will also take care of reconstructing the garden.”
The situation, however, has not been without a silver lining.
With the nearby Schiller’s Passage due for a spectacular, EU-funded renovation, the city has used the opportunity to coin a coherent plan that would harmoniously reflect the changes to the wider area and work in parallel with them.
In this regard the city’s chief architect, Marek Janiak, has envisioned the creation of a four-storey openwork tenement similar in its style to an unrealized project he co-authored several years back alongside Wojciech Saloni-Marczewski.
Defined by its intricate elegance, the structure is to feature a restaurant and street-level terrace as well as a multi-level ‘urban garden’, seating and viewing decks complete with carefully arranged plant-life and greenery.
Set to become a major attraction in its own right, the building’s skeletal structure will reference the size and architecture of the neighbouring tenements whilst fulfilling a secondary purpose of blocking out the ‘blind walls’ that had previously stared onto the street below.
“We want this place to change dramatically,” added Pustelnik. “We want not only to restore the area to its former glory, but also to bring a new quality to it.”
Set to begin next year around the same time that work will start on Schiller’s Passage, the project is slated to be completed in 2024.