SZOMBIERKI POWER PLANT ON EUROPA NOSTRA 7 MOST EDANGERED 2020 LIST

Europa Nostra – the European Voice of civil society committed to cultural and natural heritage – and its partner organisation, the European Investment Bank Institute, have announced today the 7 Most Endangered monuments and heritage sites in Europe for 2020:

National Theatre of Albania, Tirana, ALBANIA
An outstanding example of modern Italian architecture from the 1930s, which is one of the most prominent cultural centers in the country, faces the imminent threat of demolition.

Castle Jezeří, Horní Jiřetín, CZECH REPUBLIC
A Baroque castle, which was the scene of the first private performance of Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony in 1804, is in an advanced state of deterioration.

Castle of Sammezzano, Tuscany, ITALY
A strikingly beautiful eclectic style historic building, typical of the Orientalist fashion of the late 19th century, has fallen victim to neglect and vandalism.

Y-block, Government Quarter, Oslo, NORWAY
A Modernist building from the 1960s, featuring iconic murals by Picasso, was damaged by the 2011 terrorist attack and is now set to be demolished.

Szombierki Power Plant, Bytom, POLAND
A Modernist power plant from the 1920 is threatened by the risk of demolition, in spite of several efforts to make the site a breeding ground for creative industries.

Belgrade Fortress and its Surroundings, SERBIA
The authenticity and integrity of an impressive fortress – included on the Tentative List of UNESCO as part of the biggest pan-European transnational world heritage property, the Frontiers of the Roman Empire – is threatened by a harmful cable-car project.

Plečnik Stadium, Ljubljana, SLOVENIA
One of the earliest buildings of its kind in Europe, built in 1925 to a design by the renowned architect Jože Plečnik, is at risk of being lost due to unsuitable development.

Experts representing Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute, together with nominating organisations and with other partners, will visit the listed sites and meet with key stakeholders. These multidisciplinary teams will provide expert advice, identify possible sources of funding and help mobilise wide support to save these heritage landmarks. They will formulate and widely communicate a set of recommendations for action.

The Foundation for the Protection of Silesian Industrial Heritage, which nominated the Szombierki Power Plant for the 7 Most Endangered programme 2020, supports the preservation of this important and representative element of Silesia’s industrial heritage. The Foundation’s activists have successfully engaged in various types of awareness-raising activities, including the organisation of an exhibition about the facility for local Polish museums, and the preparation of a student competition at the Faculty of Architecture of the Wroclaw University of Technology for the adaptation and re-use of the Power Plant.

The Szombierki Power Plant in Bytom was established in 1920. The “cathedral of industry”, designed by the Zillmann brothers (Georg and Emil), is still an impressive symbol of the Industrial Revolution. This Modernist power plant, with huge potential for reuse and locally registered as a monument, is threatened by the risk of demolition. Szombierki operated for almost 80 years and was one of the last hard-coal powered electric power plants in Europe. Over the past two decades, the building has been empty. Despite several attempts to redevelop it, its condition has deteriorated significantly.

The monumental block is characterised by its magnificent dark red brick facades and three slender chimneys. In terms of size and capacity, it is comparable to similar power plants in the United Kingdom, such as the Battersea Power Station and the Bankside Power Station. The latter was successfully adapted for cultural purposes and now houses the Tate Modern museum.

Leaking roofs and windows, vandalism and theft have accelerated the building’s degradation. The private owner did little maintenance, and did not carry out an EU project to adapt the facility to new purposes. If no immediate solutions are found for Szombierki, the monument will be destroyed.

 

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