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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Warsaw. Office buildings from the 90s to be demolished

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They are on the same street. Both were built in the 1990s. One is being demolished, the inevitable demolition of the other has been postponed for the time being. New, much taller blocks will be built in their place. Why do two relatively young buildings have to disappear from the city landscape?

A dozen or so years ago, they were considered modern and effective, towering over the area. Today, they are only a modest and unfashionable neighbor of the skyscrapers that have sprung up in Śródmieście and Wola. Although not so old, built in the 1990s, the six-story Atrium International and the much taller, 22-story Ilmet, have been earmarked for demolition. Investors have planned to replace them with taller, more functional office buildings that meet the current needs.

Upper One will replace Atrium International

In the case of Atrium International, built in 1995 at Aleja Jana Pawła II, demolition has been going on for several months. In 2019, it was purchased by Strabag Real Estate. Two years later, he received a demolition permit. We asked the investor what stage the works are at.

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– We have completed soft demolition, dismantling and recycling all possible finishing and construction elements. According to our assumptions, 70 percent of the materials will be recycled or reused. For example, thanks to the cooperation with the BRDA Foundation, we sent 200 windows removed from Atrium International to Ukraine, which will be used to rebuild war damage – said Łukasz Ciesielski, managing director of STRABAG Real Estate.

– Currently, using heavy equipment, we are dismantling the structure of the building. Our schedule assumes that by the middle of the year we will demolish the above ground and start multi-stage works in the underground and preparations for excavation support. In May, the winter garden, which is a link with the Atrium Tower, will also begin to disappear – adds Ciesielski.

The director of STRABAG Real Estate informed that the demolition works will be completed in the second half of this year. The construction of a new facility will begin immediately after demolition.

– In place of Atrium International, the Upper One complex will be built: a 34-storey office building and a 17-storey hotel – explained Ciesielski. And he pointed out that it will be the first skyscraper in Poland equipped with a geothermal system. Nearly 36,000 sqm will be built inside. sq m of office space and approx. 11,000 sq m. sq m of hotel space. The building is to be completed by 2026.

Refugees have settled in Ilmet, but its fate is sealed

Over 80 meters high, built in 1995-1997, the Ilmet building is located right next to the Rondo ONZ metro station. For many years, the skyscraper’s hallmark was the rotating Mercedes-Benz logo on its roof. Ilmet’s fate has been sealed for many years. The first information that the building will be demolished appeared in 2011. But the final demolition decision was made in 2021. The liquidation of the facility was to be carried out over the next several months.

However, last year, work on the demolition schedule was put on hold. After the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February 2022, the investor, in consultation with the capital city hall, prepared a temporary shelter for refugees in an abandoned office building. Two- or three-person rooms, as well as play corners for children, kitchens and toilets were created. Seats were initially planned for 500 people. After minor perturbations more than 200 were accommodated.

A little over a year has passed since then. Are there still refugees in the building?

– There are still about 300 people in the building. Their stay is coordinated by the capital city of Warsaw, Piotr Srokosz, project director at the Skanska office company in Central and Eastern Europe, told tvnwarszawa.pl. – Soon we will start the main demolition phase of Ilmet. Some elements – without affecting the people staying in the building – had already been dismantled earlier – he explained.

The capital city hall does not know how long the refugees will stay here. – There are currently 228 refugees from Ukraine in the Ilmet building at Aleja Jana Pawła II 15. At the moment, there is no defined time limit for the stay of people accommodated in the building – informed Marcelina Bogdanowicz from the press department of the city hall.

When will the announced demolition start? There is no specific date yet.

Why do they undress them? Arguments you can’t see

Why are only 30-year-old buildings being demolished? It’s hard to believe that they’re so outdated that they’re unusable.

– Buildings age differently. This aging has two aspects: technical or material and functional. For these two specific buildings, the functional aspect was of great importance. In the 1990s, buildings were designed differently than today, in terms of floor depth, i.e. its lighting and surface flexibility. Currently, the most important thing in design is flexibility. After the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid work became popular, which meant that office spaces often had to be rearranged. And for such changes, an appropriate structure and a properly designed installation are necessary – explains Agnieszka Jachowicz from the Polish Chamber of Commercial Real Estate in an interview with tvnwarszawa.pl.

The expert points out that no one wanted to rent offices in these buildings. Precisely because of the lighting and installations, the modification of which could simply be too expensive.

– If a passer-by passes a demolished building, which according to him had a very nice facade and was in his opinion a new building, he can judge it as a waste. The issue of profitability is very important. The investor must consider whether there are business reasons to adapt the building to current requirements, including ESG, i.e. criteria related to zero emission and energy saving. It must also consider whether it is profitable to adapt such a facility to make it friendly to people and properly functional. It often turns out that such an adaptation is ineffective from a business point of view and it is better to erect a new building – points out Jachowicz. He also emphasizes that the sense of waste can be deceptive for another reason as well. – Currently, most development companies are introducing a circular economy. This means that we do not waste everything, but try to recover materials as much as possible. Many elements of the dismantled structure can be successfully used in other buildings – said the representative of PINK.

An example of such reuse are the previously mentioned Atrium International windows that have just been demolished.

Main photo source: Mateusz Szmelter/tvnwarszawa.pl

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