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Nowy Theatre

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Important events

(detail)7.4.2009 | the project by KKM Kozień Architects won the contest


(detail)KKM Kozień Architekci |architect

Architects, winners of the competition "Architectural ideas for the premises of Nowy Theatre" and new building of The Capitol Musical Theatre.

More theatres

(detail)Krzysztof Warlikowski |director
Director. Warlikowski studied history, Romance languages and philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and then on Theatre Directing Department in Kraków.More theatres

(detail)Małgorzata Szczęśniak |scenographer
From the beginning of her professional career has worked as stage designer for all dramas and operas staged by Krzysztof Warlikowski in Poland and abroad.More theatres


The competition to come up with the concept for the modernisation, the adaptation and the erection of the multifunctional cultural centre in Warsaw under the name of the Nowy Theatre (including the management of the grounds of the former headquarters of the Warsaw City Sanitation Company) was decided on 7 April 2009. The competition, opened on 16 September 2008, was international and consisted of two stages.  At the first stage, the task of the authors of the competition entries was to prepare a chart showing the concept for the management of the plot and of the former depot. The second stage required preparing six charts and a mock-up, presenting a detailed architectural conception, particularly of the theatre interior. There were 150 entries, of which ten were admitted to the second stage by a jury composed of  Bohdan Paczkowski (an architect), Jacek Lenart (an architect), Paweł Detko (an architect), Jerzy Gurawski (an architect, a set designer), Stefan Jackowski (a mathematician), Marek Kraszewski (the director of the Department of  Culture  at Warsaw City Hall), Anda Rottenberg (an art historian), Małgorzata Szczęśniak (a set designer), Hubert Trammer (a reporting judge, an architect), Krzysztof Warlikowski (a director, the artistic director of the Nowy Theatre).The competition was won by the workshop KKM Kozień Architekci from Kraków, whose project is to be completed by the end of 2013.

The Nowy Theatre, as an institution, was created as a result of the division of the former Nowy Theatre which was based in Puławska Street in Warsaw. The building in Puławska Street was returned to the owners (who converted it into a supermarket) and the Warsaw City Council accepted the former institution being divided into two entities: the Praga Theatre (acting in the Fabryka Trzciny Art Centre at 14 Otwocka Street) and the Nowy Theatre.

It was clear from the beginning that the headquarters of the Nowy Theatre would be an unusual place. Primarily because of the artistic director, Krzysztof  Warlikowski, who will impose his artistic vision on the productions of the new theatre. In his most recent projects, completed for the Rozmaitości Theatre, Warlikowski gave up using the stage in the tenement house at 8 Marszałkowska Street in order to perform Angels in America in former workshops. (A)pollonia, the first performance of the Nowy Theatre, was also played in post-industrial spaces. The return to a traditional space seems to be impossible, especially given that Warlikowski has stressed the momentum of the new enterprise in interviews. “We are completing a grand project, something on the scale of the Pompidou Centre in Paris,” he has said.

And, in fact, according to the rules, the subject of the competition was “to prepare a concept for the modernization, adaptation and erection of the multifunctional cultural centre of the Nowy Theatre, including the management of the grounds.” This revealed that it was not so much a question of a theatre as such, but rather a modern, interdisciplinary cultural centre, where, alongside a theatre room, there will be a recording studio, a projection hall, a reading room, a videoteque, as well as a garden on the roof and a park. Warlikowski’s idea was to create a place integrated with the city structure, not a separated culture zone. Hence the comparison to the Beaubourg in Paris: “The Beaubourg – said Warlikowski – seemed to me a place made for all foreigners, castaways, who were a part of this city anyway. You could read, listen, watch, warm yourself there – even if you didn’t have money you were given the feeling you could do everything."

Apart from the Beaubourg, the source of inspiration was undoubtedly the headquarters of the Radialsystem V in Berlin, where the troupe of the Nowy Theatre had been on a study visit. The former pumping station, located in Holzmarkt Street, on the bank of the Spree River, not far from the Ostbahnhof railway station is a multifunctional building housing both a dance company under the direction of Sasha Walz, and a conference and concert centre with commercial space. It was of great importance for the design of the Radialsystem V that an industrial historic building was adapted to the needs of the theatre.

On the grounds of the former headquarters of the Warsaw City Sanitation Company there is a workshop from 1927, which in 2008 was entered the register of monuments. It is to house a performance room for 450 spectators. Due to the large surface and the exceptional construction - claim the creators on the theatre’s website – it will be possible to arrange the stage and the audience according to the needs of a given performance or an artistic action. The only permanent element will be a mobile lighting lattice towering over the space, equipped with a permanent set of spotlights that can be supported by additional ones. Due to the open, flexible space and the arrangements of floor and wall units, the room will resemble a movie company rather than a theatre room in the classic meaning, limited by imposed constructional and architectural solutions.” Under such assumptions, the auditorium can be arranged in any place, the stage can have whatever surface and can be located at any height. Apart from theatre performances, the room can house performances and hold concerts, thus performing the basic function defined by Warlikowski: that of a cultural centre in the widest meaning.

The new place not only provides enormous technical opportunities, its history is of equal importance. Like in the case of other post-industrial buildings adapted to the needs of the theatre (such as the former shipyard buildings in Gdańsk ), historic places have, according to the artists, great artistic potential. Indeed, Warlikowski can see large opportunities there, “the opportunity of a room that used to be a garage and now is a monument from the 1920’s, which bears some past and is not destined for art. A place different from the National Theatre which, with its embellishments, still tries to prove it has sources in reception rooms.” Apart from this – write artists – “post-industrial buildings from the 19th century evoke the modernist ideals of massive production on which capitalism and its later varieties have been built.” Thus “the garage past” (which, after all, must be close to an artist who also uses the music of garage bands in his performances) has for Warlikowski an anti-elitist, democratising significance. And this is what the place should be like.



  1. Bardadyn B., Nowy Teatr Krzysztofa Warlikowskiego [in:] „Dziennik. Polska Europa Świat” No. 230, 01.10.2008.
  2. Bartoszewicz D., Nowy adres świata: teatr w MPO [in:] „Gazeta Wyborcza – Stołeczna” No. 83, 08.04.2009.
  3. Bartoszewicz D., Teatr zamiast śmieciarek [in:] „Gazeta Wyborcza – Stołeczna” No. 6, 08.01.2009.
  4. Bator B., Przy Madalińskiego powstanie teatr [in:] „Dziennik”, 09.07.2008
  5. Bobrowicz A., Powstają wizje wnętrz teatru Warlikowskiego [in:] „Polska” No. 269, 18.11.2008.
  6. Dębowska A.S., Bliżej siedziby teatru Warlikowskiego [in:] „Gazeta Wyborcza – Stołeczna” No. 294, 17.12.2008.
  7. Dębowska A.S., Prezydent na polu kultury [in:] „Gazeta Wyborcza-Stołeczna” No. 262, 08.11.2008.
  8. Klauziński M., Warlikowski otwiera teatr [in:] „Polska” No. 107, 08.05.2008.
  9. Kraj I., Nowy Teatr  spod pagórka [in:] „Życie Warszawy” No. 83, 08.04.2009.
  10. Kraj I., Pierwszy miejski teatr od 19 lat [in:] „Życie Warszawy” No. 262, 08.11.2008.
  11. MAJ, Teatr lewitujący [in:] „Trybuna” No. 83, 08.04.2009.
  12. Olechno P., Do teatru po zielonym dywanie [in:] „Polska. Metropolia Warszawska” No. 83, 08.04.2009.
  13. Witczyński M., Nowy będzie miał siedzibę [in:] „Dziennik. Polska Europa Świat” No. 83, 08.04.2009.
  14. Wyżyńska D., Jak reżyser Krzysztof Warlikowski otrzymał „zapewnienie”, [in:] „Gazeta Wyborcza – Stołeczna” No. 82, 06.04.2007.



Author: Piotr Morawski

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