In my life, I was dreaming of studying Architectural Engineering but I came to find that in order to study it, you must be very fast in drawing and good in free hand drawing and painting. Unfortunately, I was very poor at these fields. But since I've had some interest in these topics, I've been reading some books about architecture, listening to different people discussing different topics in this fields. One of the issue many people used to discuss was about new architecture, or I can say a new type, especially high buildings in many cities now everywhere around the world, made of combinations of steel and aluminum with some panels made of different type of stones. Such type of construction is a very nice solution and, besides, is economical. Construction of this structure is very easy and fast just because steel and aluminum are ready-made materials and need only to be joined or fixed. It’s light in weight compared to reinforced concrete and this make it ideal for high or long structures. Keeping it is really easy since you don’t need to paint it, just wash glass and steel with water and soap – and a building starts to shine like new.
A big disadvantage of this building is its look. Many people say it’s just a piece of box. They look really ugly and nowadays you can easily see them in many cities around the world even in poor regions. All of them always look just like a box. No architectural beauty can found in it. Another disadvantage is when the structure quote on fire. Steel start to lose its strength and collapse like Twin Towers in New York.
When you arrive in Warsaw, you can see many buildings which look great. But when you walk around and check how many tourists take snaps of different structures in this city, I can risk to guess that many visitors always take at least one snap of this old but beautiful Palace of Culture and Science known in Polish as PKiN (Pałac Kultury i Nauki).
Even I myself, when I saw it for the first time, I was like 'Oh my God, what a nice and big building'. But as the time went on, I saw a heavy debate about this PKiN. Some officials in the debate were arguing that the structure is so ugly and is in such old, Soviet style. Poland is no more communist country and all communist symbols should be removed. Some of them ware arguing not to remove it but simply to keep it. I was happy when people stopped talking about demolition and now is a symbol of Warsaw.
Looking at PKiN, you can see any architectural beauty in it. You can see straight lines, arcs and curves. Besides, you can see also cone-like shapes and very nice other type of decorations. Until now, it’s the highest construction in Poland and used with many different purposes. First of all, I can mention TV and Telecom antennas, then it comes the big clock mounted at the highest point and can be seen around many areas while you are in Warsaw, unless there is fog around. For many foreigners or guests in Warsaw, it helps them as a point of reference to know where is the direction to the city centre.
Once I went there, just to visit the Museum of Science. When I bought a ticket I was informed that the same ticket I could use to go to the viewing terrace where you can see panorama of Warsaw. I had never been in an area where you can see the whole city except when I’m in the plane. When you stand there and look around, the view of the panorama is breathtaking. If it happen you never have been there, better rush and take a view with very nice pictures and videos if possible.
Sala Kongresowa is located on another side of the building. This hall has been used for many occasions and concerts. Miss World 2006 competition took place there. Some events concerned Euro 2012 have already been done there. Concerts of big music groups like The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles or Marlena Dietrich were also hosted by PKiN.
If you are already there, you can also find some music clubs, cafés, restaurants, theatres and also cinema-theater named Kinoteka. I still hope that one day more entertainment venues will be opened there because I've heard there are more places but they are closed for people. So why not open them and make this place to be alive day and night with people going in and out? It would bring more income and revenue for the nation.
I was once surprised to get to know that inside there was also a university named Collegium Civitas where you could find a lot of students and foreigners among them. For us, Africans living in Warsaw, we are very happy with this university management because they have been very cooperative and helped us in many cases. I haven't discovered yet, how many schools are located in this building, but I hope not only this one. And besides, this building is also offices spaces for some companies.
The only problem of PKiN is to keep it clean outside. Opposite to the new generation buildings which you can wash with water and soap, it is impossible to do it with this old-style building. You need to clean it’s surface and then paint. Those small parts used for finishing and those curves, they make it very difficult and expensive to make it look real clean. You can see it only when you are close to it. But when you are far from it, PKiN looks really great and it's something to take some pictures of to show your family and friends to proof that you have been in Warsaw.
As a new technology has been found around for cleaning this type of building, my dream is one day it will be possible to clean and paint almost any time it needs cleaning, without being worried about the cost. One of the method is to clean it by using pieces of ice pumped with a heavy pressure to the wall.
Sometimes I wonder if there has been any research of how many foreigners and visitors take pictures and videos of PKiN. If not yet, maybe the day when someone will do research and find the most photographed structure in the city centre. I won’t be surprised to find that PKiN will be this number one and everybody who live Warsaw and all Polish people will be proud of this great and expensive building in Warsaw if I’m not mistaken.
Text by: Stephano Sambali