Although Wrocław’s social activists fought for several years to have Solpol – a characteristic, colorful building located in the center of Wrocław – under conservation protection, their applications were lost several times. Now the authorities of the capital of Lower Silesia have complied with the building owner’s request and agreed to demolish it. Some residents object to such a decision. A petition was created on the Internet, the authors of which want the proceedings to be suspended, and a happening in defense of Solpol took place.
The dispute over Solpol has been going on for a long time. Many consider the building a stain on the city map, others a permanent symbol of Polish architecture during the transformation period. However, it was not possible, despite the efforts of many local activists and social activists, to enter the building into the register of monuments. If that happened, Solpol would be one of the youngest monuments in Poland. Marek Karabon from the Society for Beautifying the City of Wrocław told us why he should become one: – Solpol it the last department store designed according to traditional 19th-century patterns, built at ul. Świdnicka. It continued the trend of department stores as representative buildings, the importance of which was emphasized by a rich architectural form.
They wanted an entry in the register of monuments, but there was no consent
In May 2020 the Lower Silesian conservator of monuments decided that Solpol would not stay one of the youngest legally protected buildings in Poland. The Society of Beautifying the City of Wrocław did not agree to such a decision. Therefore, the community activists appealed against the decision of the conservator to the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sports. This, however, in November 2020, confirmed the conservator’s decision. Such a decision almost sealed the fate of the building. An entry in the register of monuments would mean that the building could not be demolished or rebuilt. And this was feared, among others, by the representatives of TUMW, who fought for several years to make Solpol a historic monument.
The city agreed to the demolition
In April 2021, the owner of Solpol applied to the authorities of Wrocław for permission to demolish the building at Świdnicka Street.
Now the city has issued a positive decision on this matter. Krzysztof Szłapka from the Wrocław municipality explains that the application meets all the conditions set out in the regulations, and it was accompanied by the documentation of the demolition and the decision of the Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport. It is not yet known when the demolition of the department store will begin or what will happen in its place. Back in 2015, attorney Józef Birka, a representative of the owner of the building, told us: – We want to make something decent from the plot, because this place deserves something like that.
Young people in defense of the “monument to transformation”
The authors of the Internet petition cannot accept this turn of events. They demand that the proceedings be suspended and that the building be protected. Over two thousand people signed the petition. “Today, Solpol stands in the center of a dynamically developing European city, which we were striving for in the 1990s. There was a reason why it was referred to by foreign architectural magazines as + Europe on Świdnicka +” – its authors write. In social media, new profiles are created that bring together young people around photos and illustrations related to the Solpol building. And on Friday, on Świdnicka Street, a happening of the defenders of the facility took place. Dressed in colorful – in colors referring to the colors on the facade of the building threatened with demolition – they wanted to show that they were not indifferent to the fate of Solpol. – It is a monument to transformation, it has become a part of the city and getting rid of something that is a symbol is very bad for us. It is a monument to fantasy and extreme imagining and thinking about architecture, one of the protesters told Gazeta Wrocławska.
He aroused controversy from the very beginning
Solpol was established in the early 1990s. It was supposed to reflect the spirit of change, break patterns and be modern. The architects worked only a few days on the concept of the building. The guidelines were clear: it was supposed to be distinctive and simple. The creators of the project were limited by the size of the plot and the surrounding historic buildings. The headquarters of the department store divided the inhabitants of the city from the very beginning. For some, it was a freak and “a scandal”, for the parish priest from the parish neighboring Solpol, it was “a bunker painted in indulgence colors”, and for others a “colorful peacock”.
tvn24.pl, Gazeta Wrocławska
Main photo source: Lukasz Stefanski / Shutterstock.com