Wroclaw’s Concrete Controversy

A project to restore one of the Polish city’s 20th-century monuments has turned into a cultural battleground, writes Roger Moorhouse.

A modernist architectural icon is causing a stir in Poland, nearly a century after it was built. The Hala Stulecia (or Centennial Hall) was constructed in 1913 in the German city of Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland) by the architect Max Berg. Though Berg produced little else of note, his Centennial Hall was an early landmark in the use of reinforced concrete. Indeed, such is its significance that it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2006.

A circular domed hall, able to accommodate an audience of around 10,000, it was the centrepiece of an elaborate exhibition complex, complete with pergolas, gardens and covered walkways. Though it survived the Second World War almost unscathed, it would endure decades of neglect in the postwar years before being subject to a partial restoration in the 1990s. 

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