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1-2(13-14)/2003, p. 119

Krystyna Kirschke, Paweł Kirschke
Revalorization of the Feniks department store (the former Warenhaus Gebrüder Barasch)

    The Feniks department store has been uninterruptedly active for almost a hundred years, and it is still one of the most interesting examples of a huge commercial building created in the Art Nouveau style.
    It was built in 1904, according to the design of Georg Schneider, as Warenhaus Gebrüder Barasch it dazzled contemporaries by the richness of form, artistic details and the latest structural and technical achievements. The formation of the building and, connected with it, destruction of tenement houses in the Town Square, also four succeeding versions of the project made by Schneider, all compose the beginning of the exiting history of Barasch. In 1929, on the basis of a project by Simon & Halfpaap (a partnership of architects), a modern reconstruction planned on a wide scale was carried out. After the Second World War the department store was nationalized, and from the year 1946 began its activity as a co-operative named Feniks.
    During the whole period of its existence the object constituted an area of experiments leading, in the conception of succeeding owners and designers, to improvement of its form and function. The authors of the revalorization project of the building, which began at the end of the 20th century, the architects Krystyna and Paweł Kirschke, based their work on former experiences, trying to avoid mistakes made by predecessors. The architectural project was preceded by historical and according to the programme analyses which permitted the making of best decisions for the preservation of the building. The increasing of attractiveness and competitiveness was looked for in the exposition and the recovery of its monumental architectonic value – beginning with the unique composition of the body of the building and ending with the rich detail, and also in the most favourable structure and disposition of the sales departments, taking into consideration the tradition and possibilities connected with the size and localization of the building. The revalorization of Feniks has, to a great extent, been carried out, and already positive exploitation as well as technical and marketing effects of the decisions made, are visible.