The new home of the Polish Baltic Philharmonic in Gdansk since 1997 has been a collection of buildings formerly an electric powerstation at the end of the 19th century and the building of the former school, comprise the Gdansk Music and Congress Centre. Work began on the building in 1997 and was completed in November 2007. The new philharmonic located on the Ołowianka island with direct access to the old town is currently a fantastic cultural and congress centre of national and international class. The concept of changing an industrial building into a cultural one was unheard of in the 1990s. The idea came about while the director of the philmarmonic Prof. Roman Perucki was on a trip to Sweden.
- After a month long trip I was about to return home when some friends invited me to a place called Norrkoping, about 150 km from Stockholm. On the island, in a building which used to be a power station there was a philmarmonic with a waterfall inside the foyer. Apart from that, a museum, bank, restaurants, pubs - in other words a real cultural centre. Then I thought of the Ołowianka island and the old power station which was about to be disused. Why not build something similar in Gdansk? Right after I got back, right after I got off the ferry, I went to Ołowianka. I had a look and said to myself - this is where we'll be building the new philharmonic, recalls the director.
The power station complex on Ołowianka was built between 1897-98 by the Berlin company Siemens & Halske, and further work lasted until 1913. The brick building sported a decorational neogothic facade embellished with rosettes, flanks, turrets, and even two towers. During the final months of the second world war, the building sustained considerable damage. Up and running again in 1945, the power station was in use until its closure in 1996.
The author of the project to adapt the old building for the new philharmonic is a Gdansk inhabitant - the architect Marcin Kozikowski. In 1997 the first open air concert was held in the amphiteatre on the Motława, and one year later the royal granary was restored and renovated and was initially used as rehearsal and office space for the orchestra, however currently functionling as the three star Hotel Królewski.
The heart of the Polish Baltic Philharmonic is the Concert Hall with 937 seats around a central stage in the shape of a Greek amphiteatre. The architectural concept combined the style of the earlier hall of the Berlin Philharmonic with the later concert hall in Manchester. The hall was equipped with the largest symphonic organ in Poland. The instrument was brought in from the Cathedral of Lozanne - a 95 voicer made by the Swiss company Kuhn in 1955. It was improved and enriched with the addition of an electronic system.
The concert hall of the Polish Baltic Philmarmonic is also a congress hall with a capacity of 1200 people. It is equipped with the latest light, sound and film projection technology. Specially designed moveable ceiling panels and side screens enable complete acoustic flexiblity. The hall is also equipped for TV and radio broadcasts. The building is fully accessibly for disabled people.
2007 sees the opening of a professional recording studio with world-class equipment on a par with the Witold Lutosławski Studio in Warsaw.
With the latest technology, exclusive halls of different character, competent and experienced staff as well as access to a wide range of accomodation, the Centre is able to meet all kinds of different requirements.
Ołowianka Island is an attractive place for Gdansk inhabitants to go for a walk and relax. Those who come for the philmarmoic will be welcomed by a musical fountain and a collection of bronze figures featuring in Gdansk's Star Festival.
In order to improve communication with the town centre, new streets, entrances and exits will be put in with additional car parks, and around Ołowianka there will be a pedestrian walkway with a panoramic view of old Gdansk In the summer of 2008 the following long awaited addition was completed: a walkway over the Motława river.
Rooms and areas within the Gdansk Music and Congress Centre: