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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » October 28, 2009
The Real Estate Voice
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Revamp for Katowice Rail Station
October 28, 2009   
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Neinver, a Spanish company operating on the European real estate market for 40 years, will convert the railway station in Katowice and develop Wilhelma Szewczyka Square which lies in front of it.

Katowice will gain a modern complex combining the functions of a railway station, bus terminal, shopping/service mall and business center. This concept is compatible with the latest global trends in the development of large cities.

"We want to create a unique project in Katowice that will serve the residents well for a great many years," says Barbara Topolska, general manager of Neinver Polska. "We are also convinced that in commercial terms this is the only such project in Poland. The location and potential of the site where the retail and office facility is being built make this an excellent opportunity for prospective tenants with an eye to developing their business. This is probably why the complex is attracting such interest, even at the early stage of commercialization."

A five-story building will stand in front of the station and will be used as retail and service space. It will be complemented by an office part in the western wing and in a separate office building on the eastern side of Szewczyka Square. The shopping center will offer a total of over 52,000 sq m of retail space, while the office space in the whole complex will total 24,00 sq m.

The retail part of the project will open outwards from the complex so as to operate in constant interaction with its surroundings. The new Szewczyka Square will be home to numerous coffee shops and restaurants. The square will be arranged as leisure and entertainment space, with many benches, statues and small architectural features.

The design invokes the prewar layout of central Katowice: three avenues in a triangular arrangement around which the retail and office center will be positioned.

Replacing the current terrace leading on to the pedestrian overpass above Szewczyka Square will be Fashion Avenue-a spectacular space connecting the new railway station building with the retail/office facility. This glazed structure will be a source of daylight illuminating the wide curved shell roof structure demarcating the shape of the shop windows that will be an unusual nine meters high.

The facade of the retail/office center, made of perforated steel, is designed as a contemporary interpretation of the spirit of brutalism. During the day the steel will reflect sunlight, allowing the building to blend in with the existing urban fabric. After dusk, light filtering out from the building will turn it into a spectacular visual feature in the city center.

In consultation with Katowice City Hall, Neinver will also work on the conversion of the system of streets around Szewczyka Square. An additional element of the complex will be a freestanding building with offices and boutiques. It will be built next to the station, from the Młyńska Street side.

The entire plan for the station and adjacent terrain will be carried out in three stages. Stage one will be the new station building, which will be completed in May 2012. This will be followed by the buildings of the multi-purpose center.

"The new railway station will make use of the reconstructed curved shell roof structure," says Antoni Pomorski, design coordinator for Neinver Polska. "This is a unique example of brutalism-a late-modernist trend in architecture focusing on space, raw materials and building structure. The reinforced-concrete curved shells will be displayed to their full height for the first time. This will be a spectacular feature closing the wholly pedestrian section of Stawowa Street and the new Szewczyka Square. Between the two curved shells there will be a true 'city gate'-a monumental entrance to the railway station."

This spacious, single-story building will house ticket offices, information stalls, waiting rooms for passengers and retail stores. Thanks to its large open space, the station will be better organized and more convenient to use. Importantly, especially for the elderly and disabled, the main hall will be connected with the platforms by a system of fixed and moving ramps. Parking spaces and new city bus stops will be built in the underground part of the complex.

Neinver was chosen for the project after a tender that attracted 17 major companies. The winning architectural concept was prepared in close cooperation with SUD Architects studio, well known for projects such as ŁódĽ's Manufaktura. The name of the complex, due to its importance for Katowice, will be chosen by residents in a competition.

Beata Gołębiewska-Chęciak
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