The new Mieczysław Karłowicz Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin, Poland represents urban repair and creates a new urban fabric at one and the same time. On the site of the destroyed concert hall, a structure has been built whose shape alternates between the cool abstraction of the translucent white shell and poetic reminders of the fragmented rows of gables of a Gothic town. This alienation gives the building a wonderful lightness. Together with the National Museum’s »Przełomy« (upheavals) dialogue centre opened in 2015 (architect: Robert Konieczny – KWK Promes) the Philharmonic Hall is the city’s new cultural centre.
The new Mieczysław Karłowicz Philharmonic Hall in the seaport Szczecin is located right next to the neo-Gothic police headquarters on the northern periphery of the Old Town. Built in 1884, the concert hall that previously stood on this site was so badly damaged in World War II that it was demolished in 1962. The site was subsequently used as a parking lot.
In the meantime, the philharmonic orchestra named after Polish composer Mieczysław Karłowicz used premises in Szczecin City Hall. In 2004 a citizens’ initiative was founded which campaigned for the construction of a new philharmonic hall. In 2007 an international architecture competition was held, which the firm of architects Barozzi Veiga in Barcelona won. Together with the Szczecin architect Jacek Lenart from Studio A4, they realized the minimalistic but expressive building that was officially opened in September 2014.
The façade of the Philharmonic Hal comprises a double-skin steel-and-glass construction. By day the translucent glass panels are a monochrome white; at night they are illuminated indirectly from inside by integrated LED spotlights. The white material used for both the façade and the roof, which has many steep gables and saddleback roofs in several rows, earned the building the nickname »iceberg.« That said, the structure is also reminiscent of narrow gable-fronted rows of houses with a uniform ridge height.
All the functional rooms are located along the building’s outer façade, leaving the entire interior for the concert halls and the spacious foyer. The latter is accessed via a relatively small entrance in the south and is conceived as a bright white hall, in which the concert-goers meet. Also known as the Moon Hall, the chamber music hall with 192 seats takes the form of a detached box in the foyer. The lights in the ceiling of the dark, anthracite-coloured hall are reminiscent of a starry sky. An artisanal gold-leaf coating lends the interior of the Symphony Hall (953 Seats), the Sun Hall, a golden shimmer. Like the venue on which it is modelled, the Musikverein in Vienna, both halls are rectangular with straight rows of seats. The upper foyer level can also be used as an exhibition space.