The scheme for a mixed-used development in the heart of Warsaw is for Zeitgeist Asset Management (ZAM), a developer and asset manager for private and institutional investors operating in Germany and Central Eastern Europe.
The two-stage competition is for a project to renew a city block and create a showpiece mixed-use development located very close to the landmark Palace of Culture & Science.
The competition site is a downtown block that includes the headquarters of the former Polish Telecommunications Office. This 1930s building is listed in the Polish Register of Monuments and as such needs to be sensitively refurbished.
ZAM focuses on the purchase, restoration and extension of historic real estate. It takes a long-term view of investment, with the majority of completed properties intended for rent not sale. Its co-founder and managing director Sebastian Junghänel said: “This central Warsaw project will be a key initiative for ZAM during 2021. A design competition perfectly expresses our brand values; we’re seeking a fresh and exceptional focus on design quality — ultimately, architecture that will inspire upcoming generations. We are working with MRC to find the most imaginative and dedicated team for the project.”
MRC chairman Malcolm Reading said: “We’re delighted to be working with Zeitgeist Asset Management on our first competition in Poland. In our experience, projects that balance contemporary interventions with historic fabric are nearly always exceptionally interesting and rewarding.”
Working with ZAM, MRC devised a design brief for the 95,000 square metre development that envisages a mixed-use blend of offices, hospitality, retail and residential, situated around publicly-accessible landscaped courtyards, and with the flexibility to adapt to future needs. The project includes 76,000 square metres of above-ground development, with an additional 19,000 square metres of underground area.
Competitors will be asked to develop a sustainable approach, with an openness to green innovation — the original telecoms headquarters was a radical building of its time, said MRC. Designers are also challenged to support Warsaw’s wider initiatives, which aim to protect the historical identity of the city while shaping its urban and sustainable future.
MRC has invited a limited number of practices to enter the competition. During stage two, scheduled to take place in summer 2021, a shortlist of six teams will be asked to prepare design concepts and present to the competition jury.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the competition is anticipated to be run entirely digitally, through a series of virtual briefings, seminars and a final jury meeting.