Solpol: a glimpse into Polish 90s soul

  • Maria with Zenit

Solpol was built in 1993 in the postmodern architecture style to serve the citizens of Wrocław as a Department store. It was supposed to be THE place for shopping, right in the heart of the city. Crowds flocked to Solpol for the official opening – more than a thousand people are said to have gathered on Świdnicka street alone. Everyone wanted to see inside this brave and daringly designed new building. The fact that Solpol had escalators on every floor and was air-conditioned inside made it revolutionary at the time: just a few years after Poland was freed from the communistic rule and country borders were opened again. Ever since its opening, the building has divided people. Some applaud it for its brave form, bringing a fresh and unusual architecture style to the city center and an emulation of the surrounding building styles (the glass tower entrance is supposed to represent a church apse). Others decry it for its pastel coloring, irregular façade and its juxtaposition with the character of old town and the adjacent gothic style church of St. Dorothy’s. Regardless of the opinions on its looks, Solpol could not compete with the incoming shopping center boom that started in the early 2000’s. Slowly but surely, tenants vacated the building and floor after floor was emptied. Now the building looks set to be demolished after conservators rejected calls to have the outdated shopping centre promoted to listed building status. Personally I find Solpol a very rare example of something that could be called "the spirit of time". It captures perfectly the vibe of Poland in early nineties: daring, hopeful, (massively!) kitsch. I took the chance to photograph the now-closed building in Polish 90s style together with a great team: Model: IG @kajol.hoo MUA: IG @makeup_mammy Photo: me, with Zenit 11 on 35mm