ICE Kraków Congress Centre, the largest recent cultural investment by the City of Kraków, inaugurated its operation on October 16th, 2014. Designed by Ingarden & Ewy Architects in cooperation with Arata Isozaki & Associates as an entry to an open international competition, the Centre embodies the key ideas of a versatile spatial typology and site responsive architecture. The resulting building is a development of free and open spaces defined by curved lines and unconventional flows, supported by thoroughly designed functional and technological planes, which fluently form the internal and external form.
Though surprising in its modernity, ICE fits precisely into the historic cityscape, forming a symbolic gate to the city which proposes to define the currents of new development while fulfilling its role as a world-class congress and concert centre. In anticipation of the extensive scope of cultural events to be held on the premises, ranging from symphony concerts, theatre performances, to major international conferences, ICE was designed in conformity with the highest functional and acoustic standards. Its main halls are not only equipped with state-of-the-art technology systems, but also accommodate the various configurations of both audience and stage necessary to achieve optimal acoustics for every purpose. F
lexibility and functional diversity have been ensured through intricate spatial organization, particularly in the case of the Auditorium Hall which adopts a semi-vineyard typology as a means to respond to the broad range of events. In a similar manner, the Theatre Hall, despite its traditional front stage, promotes versatility through a movable auditorium on the bottom level, while the Chamber Hall possesses a flexible seating arrangement permitting a division into two acoustically separate spaces. To further support the diverse requirements of the events envisioned, the building makes use of variable acoustics: acoustic banners can be unfolded along the walls to adjust reverberation times to operas, conferences, and everything in between. Such multi-functionalism pervades the additional programs, most notably the 500 m2 conference area which benefits from a system of mobile partitions allowing the free arrangement of the space. The myriad of uses is facilitated by ancillary rooms including offices, artist's dressing rooms, and a commercial area. Aside from functional and technological requirements, the need for a site responsive architecture was a primary force for aesthetic decisions. Of particular influence were the limitations and their creative interpretations. The geometry of the arcing corner plot translated directly into the Centre's sweeping forms, while the aluminum roof's cascade towards the Vistula was derived from the 20m height recommendation provided by conservation services and the allowance to exceed it in areas justified by technological necessity. The site's key asset, its prestigious location opposite Wawel castle, was afforded special consideration. The building's spectacular glass facade and multi-storey foyer utilize the panoramic views of the site to their fullest, particularly as the visitor climbs the suspended staircase serving as a spatial centerpiece. The curvatures of the individual floors reflect not only the organic forms of the structure but also conform to the natural movement of the visitors as they orbit along the arcs. Through this, ICE engages in a dialog between the interior and exterior exemplifying the performative nature of the programs contained within. To the visitor, the foyer serves as a unique fourth auditorium for the historic cityscape, yet is also itself a stage when illuminated at night. In its entirety, the facade retains such metamorphic qualities as the transparency of the eastern face gives way to curvatures lined with an irregular mosaic of glass, ceramics and aluminum which visually diminish the scale of the building. The glazed inclinations reflect an image of the surrounding environment, thus forming a dialogue with the historic district, while the abstract pattern of the remaining walls enters an interesting play with the new developments nearby. The reds, greys, and whites of the ceramic tiles are drawn directly from the interior's palette, yet possess a specific relation to the colours of the surrounding urban landscape, through them reflecting the movement and dynamics of the city. Through its scale and spectacular form, ICE provides a new architectural point of reference for ancient Kraków, a spatially dominant feature symbolizing the gate to the city and its modern strategy for development.
Curriculum studio / partecipante Ingarden & Ewý Architects – architecture atelier established in 1998 by Kraków architects Krzysztof Ingarden and Jacek Ewý collaborating for over 20 years.
The domain of Ingarden & Ewý are innovative public building and site designs, notably Małopolska Garden of Arts (2012), Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Kraków conducted in collaboration with Arata Isozaki (1994), the Polish Embassy in Tokyo (2001), the Polish Pavilion at EXPO 2005 in Aichi (2005), and plenty of sites in Kraków, including Wyspiański 2000 exhibition and information pavilion (2007), Rondo Business Park office centre (2008), and Library of the Pontifical University (2010). Being constructed currently in Kraków is the ICE Congress Centre, a prestigious investment of the Municipal Office of Kraków designed by Ingarden & Ewý.
Besides public architecture, Ingarden & Ewý Atelier developed plenty of unorthodox residential, office, commercial, and industrial designs applauded by architects, investors, and users.
Ingarden & Ewý Architects – architecture atelier established in 1998 by Kraków architects Krzysztof Ingarden and Jacek Ewý collaborating for over 20 years.