New Wyspianski building unwinding
The award-winning Krakow architect Krzysztof Ingarden designed the structure. The concept includes a facade consisting of steel strings with ceramic plates attached.
The plates, 50 centimeters high and 5 centimeters thick, can be used like blinds to let light hit the building or shade it for a better view of the stained-glass windows that the famed 20th Century artist Stanislaw Wyspianski designed.
Every day a municipal security guard has to discourage fascinated visitors from touching the fragile plates. That?s because they may break and fall if the strings are pulled when someone is turning them.
For now, the city?s solution to the problem is round-the-clock security. But long-term it plans to put steel reinforcement inside the plates so they can?t be turned by hand.
?Last week we received information that one of the lower plates was damaged,? said security guard Monika Jarosz.
In addition, visitors had turned some plates to awkward angles, putting them out of alignment and creating a danger of their falling.
?That?s why we were asked to protect the building,? Jarosz said.
?People heard the facade moves, so they want to touch it? to see, she explained while watching visitors.
She interrupted her conversation to ask visitors who were getting too close to the facade to back away.
?It?s necessary to guard the building because at any given moment somebody is coming,? she said. If a guard fails to see someone trying to touch a ceramic plate, or ?we are a few minutes late, the plates are being turned,? she said.
The architect, Ingarden, said he has been surprised at the visitors? meddling. And he assesses their behavior harshly, labeling it vandalism. ?You can?t call it by any other name,? he said.
?People pull or even kick the ceramic plates to see if they revolve,? he said. ?In Japan, where we built a building with a bamboo facade, about 10,000 people came to see it. They touched it, but used no force. And it lasted, even though it was less resistant than ceramic.?
Ingarden blames the media for the visitors? unusual interest in the facade. Journalists wrote that the building will ?live.?
That stoked people?s emotions, he said.
He regrets that people treat the building as a big toy. And he suggested that it was too bad that visitors were allowed to touch the plates when the building opened.
?People are indignant that first they were encouraged and now they are forbidden to touch the plates,? he said.
Tourist guides haven?t helped, he said. When they point out the revolving facade to groups, he said, ?50 people want to touch it.?
But the plates are set to reach only a certain angle. Once that angle is reached, they can no longer revolve in that direction. ?They can?t be turned any way someone wants without the risk of damage,? he said.
The facade is back to its original condition again after workers replaced the damaged plate and shifted the turned-over plates to their original positions.
The city?s Festival Bureau plans to keep guards at the facade. But it will hire private security staff to replace the current crop of municipal guards.
The city council has already appropriated an estimated sum of 6,000 zloty a month for the private guards, who will begin working by the end of July.
?We can?t rebuild or change? the building, said Janusz Machowski of the Mayor?s Office. ?The project has been accepted and completed.?
The facade ?has both a decorative and a functional purpose, managing the lighting inside the building,? he pointed out. ?The only thing we can do for now is strengthen the security and hope that the interest (in meddling with the plates) will weaken.?
The architect, Ingarden, said he plans ?to strengthen the ceramic plates from the inside? with steel. ?They won?t be movable by hand,? he said.
?All in all,? he said, he guesses ?the interest in the facade is not the worst thing. The building was designed to encourage people to visit what?s inside, to evoke interest among people.? It?s certainly done that, he said.
The Wyspianski Pavilion is one of the biggest cultural investments ever made in the center of Krakow. Academy Award-winning Polish film director Andrzej Wajda came up with the idea for it. He wanted to complete Wyspianski?s unfinished art-nouveau stained-glass windows, and the pavilion was intended to be the place to show them to the public. The building cost 10 mln zloty. It took nine years to complete because of lack of funds. The pavilion covers 620 square meters. It includes an information center, an exhibition area and conference rooms.