Banialuka - wyniki konkursu


The winners have been announced of a combined City of Bielsko-Biała / Bielsko-Biała branch of the Association of Polish Architects competition for an urban and architectural project design for the new Jerzy Zitzman Banialuka Puppet Theatre, conjoined with a branch of the Beskid Library for children and young persons and a ‘green’ library in Bielsko-Biała. Thirty-three entries were submitted in the competition.

The design was also to incorporate the construction of an underground carpark for approximately one hundred cars and development of the area around the facilities in such a way as to maintain its current market place function. The city-owned site, agreed upon at an earlier date, is to be found by ​​PCK and Władysława Broniewskiego Streets, close to Bielsko-Biała Lipnik railway station.

The expected completion date is 2029. The construction of Banialuka is included in Bielsko-Biała’s competition bid for the title of European Capital of Culture 2029.

The results of the competition for the project design were announced on 27 May and were broadcast on the SARP Bielsko-Biała YouTube channel. A post-competition exhibition is scheduled for 24 June.

The competition jury adjudicating over the architectural and urban design for the new Banialuka Puppet Theatre, Beskid Library, underground carpark and the current street market did not face an easy task.


Some of the thirty-three submitted design entries did not meet regulatory requirements. Following two days of scrutiny and discussions, one submission was unanimously selected which, at first glance, may not be regarded as either spectacular or postcard pretty, but is nevertheless a safe, timeless and criticism-resistant piece of architecture, whose hidden and most important quality is its clarity of systemic connections and internal functionality adapted to the specific character of the institutions that will utilise the space, namely the Banialuka Puppet Theatre and the Beskid Library. In keeping with Biała’s name (literally ‘white’ in Polish), the building will be white in colour.


The interior envisioned for the theatre, however, may become a landmark in its own right and at night will throw out light from the inside. The openwork design of the facade facing materials, in conjunction with the internal lighting, will create a theatrical play of shadows. Supplementary electrical illumination will not be needed for these buildings.

First prize was awarded to submission no. 017, which the jury found to best meet the requirements of the Procurer, as specified in competition regulations, predicated on the criteria contained in section 2.12.

Considered to be of particular merit:

  • the professional approach of the design team,
  • appropriate functional and spatial decisions made in an urban setting in accordance with the given plan, existing conditions and the context of surroundings,
  • shaping of the public space, namely the square, connecting it in a practical manner with the railway stop, while leaving the possibility of maintaining existing street market functionality in the current location; convenient and easy access and connection between the underground carpark and the main hall, appropriate service solutions and communication links,
  • timeless architectural solutions, those of composition, shaping of geometric bodies and facades, and a clear hierarchy of entrances,
  • proper division of the theatre and library into two buildings that meets the expectations of the Procurer, ensuring their organisational independence and distinct cultural institution identity,
  • proper solution of functions, in particular ensuring the proper functioning of theatre technology and a clear internal flow and circulation system in both the backstage area and the area intended for the audience, including a multifunctional foyer, which gives an opportunity to create a space with a unique and discernible character.

First prize was awarded to submission no. 012 for:

  • appropriate and harmonious shaping of the entire layout,
  • appropriate theatre and library technology, testament to the designer's skills,
  • very good compositional solutions in terms of shaping the structures and facades, presenting high quality architecture, with an interesting, clear reference to the stylistic qualities of the theatre curtain.

The jury had reservations about the siting of the market, along with the summer stage, in the common space between the buildings next to the carpark, considered to be an inappropriate decision that might bring about unwelcome conflict. The siting and exposure of an external car park in front of the building, along Broniewskiego Street, was also deemed to be an inappropriate functional and spatial decision.

First prize was awarded to submission no. 022 for:

  • appropriate, balanced definition of the scale of the facility and coherently arranged common spaces,
  • architectural design of the theatre and library focusing on the integration of functionality, comfort of use and aesthetics, as well as a worthwhile attempt to create a venue that will inspire and educate,
  • siting of the summer stage between the theatre and the library and the functionally appropriate siting of the street market.

The jury had reservations about the proposed architecture of the buildings - systemic and minimalist, though schematic, which would make it impossible to individualise and identify the important cultural facilities - the theatre and library - as important cultural institutions within the city.

Equal honorary distinctions were also awarded to:

  • submission no. 023 - for a very well-designed library in terms of functionality and its location in a park designed as an accessible green public space for all visitors located in front of the theatre.
  • submission no. 003 - for an interesting, original attempt at sculptural shaping of the form of buildings and the pursuit of individualised modern aesthetics.
  • submission no. 009 - for unconventional solutions in respect of façade aesthetics referencing the city's textile tradition.
  • submission no. 016 - for the search of an expressive, distinct and futuristic form.
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