The Congress Centre project makes use of the form and site, while answering functional needs. The specific character of the Congress Centre is due to the proximity of the main junction. The Congress Centre is not a free standing object, but a structure which surrounds people, defending them from the city's rush.
The Congress Centre, similar to a landscape, can be completed from a variety of different materials; however, the best choice seems to include natural materials such as bricks, stone, and plasterboard. For hundreds of years, Cracow has been building with natural materials, without realising the importance of these actions. This project would like to come under the same category.
First impressions of the building are formed at the Atrium as it guides people into the Congress Foyer and closes off, separating from the circular communication movement. The atrium, the gallery, and the courtyard are all traditional architectural elements, which are still needed for protection and isolation.
The second element to which congress attendants have access is the top floor terrace. The views from there include Wawel, Cracow city centre, Old Square with the town hall, and Mariacki Church. The terrace is protected by the walls with small greenery from the South side. Its openness towards the interior creates a meeting point, particularly when it becomes an extension for the restaurant.
The amphitheatre rooms are connected to the Foyer. Seats are distributed classically, allowing for good visibility. The amphitheatre can be accessed from any level of the Foyer. The emergency staircases are placed next to the exits. The project also includes ecological requirements; the roofs are partially covered in greenery continuing into the Atrium. Biologically active areas exceed the brief requirements.
The main entrance leads to the spacious, glazed, three-levelled Foyer, from which all of the Congress rooms can be accessed. The ground floor contains public cloakrooms, reception, toilets, shops, and restaurants. The upper levels can be accessed either through the main staircase cutting through the Foyer or the lifts, arranged in a way to achieve optimal communication between the rooms. In case of any danger, the staircases next to the lifts act as emergency exits, providing efficient escape routes.
The backroom and the warehouse
From a functional perspective, the backroom is the most important part of the Congress Centre. It is designed so that all the parts of the Congress Centre are well serviced by it. This allows everything to function while providing independence for some individual parts. The workplace is connected to the warehouse, containing a canopy over at least four vans and three repair services.
The backrooms of the Auditorium and the Big Hall have separate entrances and vertical circulation (lifts and staircases). The Video-room's backroom can be accessed from Foyer level.
The warehouse of the Auditorium and the Big Hall is situated at stage level. The warehouse system allows easy access to the loading ramps without obstructing other rooms (even during performances).
Municipality of Cracow
ca. 17.500 m²
ca. 11.400 m²
Ing. Florian Forster, Büro Happold, Berlin
prof. Zbigniew Trzeciakiewicz
"Fabryka Ciszy", Poznan, Poland
Prof. Marian Fikus