Web Exclusive: Art and Business: The Stary Browar Shopping Mall

Life Meets Art at the Poznan, Poland, Complex.
by John Gale

The character of the original buildings and external spaces has been kept, giving visitors interesting spaces to experience.

The character of the original buildings and external spaces has been kept, giving visitors interesting spaces to experience.

The Stary Browar shopping mall is a project that has a tremendously rich heritage. An icehouse originally stood on the site in 1876, but by 1890, it had been developed into the Hugger Brewery, the characteristic chimneys of which become a notable landmark in Poznan, Poland. By 1918, the production of beer reached an impressive 72,000 gall. per year.

The name “Browar,” derived from the shareholder-grouping name of Browar Zwiazkowy Zwiazku Restauratorow, came to the fore in the 1930s. During World War II, the brewery continued to produce beer, even though the site was heavily developed and included deep bunkers and fortifications. By the end of the war, the complex had been badly damaged, and over the years, the business began to decline to the point that it was only producing soda water by 1980.

The turn of the century marked a change in fortune for the red-brick buildings and structures when Fortis, a company owned by Grazyna Kulczyk, acquired the site and initiated the redevelopment. Studio ADS adapted the buildings with interiors styled by stage designer Ryszard Kaja.

The lifts and escalators are Otis machines and feature many glazed panels that allow the mechanical elements to be viewed. Indeed, the panoramic external lift in the courtyard projects an image on the red-brick wall at certain times on a sunny day.

The first part of the shopping mall was completed in 2005. It was awarded as the best shopping development in Europe and received an international award later that year. Following that success, a further development was undertaken and completed in 2008, which gained more recognition from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The Stary Browar development is marketed under the banner of “Where Life Meets Art,” summing up this complex very well. As affirmed in its mission statement, “This is a place where business develops art and art develops business.”

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Flat-screen monitors promote a partnership and synergy between business and art.

The Polish artist Leon Tarasewicz produced a contemporary work for the 750th anniversary of the city of Poznan, painting green and yellow stripes on a number of notable objects, including the façade columns on the opera house. This artwork has been installed in Stary Browar on the columns by the main escalator group, which adds life to the internal space. Flat-screen information monitors have been included as part of the installation, giving a practical and commercial dimension to the space and making the escalators a core feature of the complex. Passenger flow on and around the escalators was also considered and dealt with through a detailed floor design that encourages riders to move away from the entrances and exits of the escalators.

The bold use of the red-brick detailing throughout the Stary Browar redevelopment creates a warm, interesting space that reflects its industrial heritage. Just as with the escalator group, the floor pattern in the lift lobby is designed to reinforce passenger flow toward the car entrances. This demarcation of the floor illustrates the importance of routes and paths that can be clearly seen by all. Contrast is a very important element in the design of our living environment, aiding people with reduced sight to navigate the built environment and enjoy the facilities and opportunities that developments like Stary Browar have to offer.

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