Cities have been the dominating paradigm of social organisation for a large part of human history. The medieval city with its surrounding walls provided a certain level of protection against outside threats; the industrial city was a magnet for the workforce and spurred large scale urbanisation. With advancements in science and technology, the manufacturing of goods and exploitation of natural resources became a pillar of economic growth in several parts of the world and a trigger for the accumulation of wealth. Fortunes were made and wars were fought. With progress and the specialisation ok work, universities thrived and cities spearheaded the way towards the knowledge-based society in relative peace.
In the post-industrial chapter of today, creativity and ideas are perhaps the most valuable of goods and a catalyser for economic growth. Thanks to travelling, the most popular of activities in a wealthy, globalised and interconnected world, cities became destinations and ultimately products and brands. The medieval walls that once protected people from outside invaders opened up to a unique breed of foreign consumers willing to pay to see and experience a different city: the tourist. Cities and businesses had to quickly adapt to new demands, at times reinvent their stories and rebrand its heritage. Many places, cogs in the wheels of industry, that had been abandoned and neglected were repurposed and now serve as nodes of culture, art, music and lifestyle. Poland is no exception to this narrative and cities like Łódź and Katowice are good examples of the shift from industry to culture. Once dynamos in the textile and coal industry, both cities are now part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Film and City of Music, respectively, together with Kraków and Wroclaw as Cities of Literature.
Here’s a list of 9 post-industrial facilities around Poland that have been renovated and reformatted to serve art, culture, gastronomy, tourism & music.
Once the legendary Koneser Vodka Factory, this huge space was revamped and now houses the Polish Vodka Museum, bars & restaurants like Zoni, WuWu & Syreni Śpiew; hotels, apartments, office and commercial spaces.
Here since the 1920s and originally the Giesche Porcelain Factory, the modern day ‘Fabryka Porcelany‘ has been revamped to house design offices, art galleries, interior design shops a concert/event, P23, and the Prodiż Bistro & Nero Restaurant.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the salt mines have a long history with the Cracow Saltworks established to manage the Wieliczka and Bochnia mines at the end of the 13th century. One of the first companies in Europe, it brought vast wealth to the Polish crown for the next 500 years until the first partition of Poland in the 18th century. Its heyday was the 16th and 17th centuries. Due to its unique saline microclimate and innovative engineering, the mine has been well preserved and is today used for historical, medicinal and tourist purposes.
Situated just off ul. Piotrkowska (hence the name) between numbers 138-140, the complex has taken over the beautiful old cotton mill buildings of the former Ramisch factory. Today it houses bars, clubs, alternative music venues, studios, independent design companies and publishing houses amongst other businesses.
Housed in what were once production halls for German U-Boats, the modernised space now offers bars and live music venues as well as more corporate affairs such as dining and conference facilities.
A former tobacco factory this place has risen again as a veritable ‘city within the city.’ Inhabiting 15,000m2 and six buildings, Tytano’s sheer size, potential, and post-industrial allure has attracted dozens of young, alternative and original businesses with their fingers on the pulse of current cultural trends, making this artsy, offbeat complex the current place to be in Kraków.
Dubbed an art, leisure, and shopping extravaganza, its opening in 2003 marked a successful move away from out-of-town developments, and a new trend for inner-city regeneration projects.
A true hipster haven, this former brewery hosts numerous festivals, concerts, markets, exhibitions, and special events. The splendid brick complex was founded in 1894 by Robert Hein under the name Zum Alten Weinstock and functioned as a brewery until 1997.
The most prominent feature of the former Katowice Coal Mine is the mine shaft, which hoisted its last load of black diamonds in 1999 when the entire complex was closed for good after operating for 176 years. The main museum is spread out over four underground levels and has a floor area of nearly 25,000 m², of which 6,000 m² is devoted to exhibition space (both permanent and temporary) – all of which has been adapted from the former tunnels, shafts and workshops of the Katowice Coal Mine.