In the recent few years the building was falling in the state of dilapidation; there used to be some underwear trade and kebab shops here. Two years ago a company Immobel from Belgium, with over a hundred years tradition in renovating urban buildings, began renovation works for the previous department store Okrąglak. The cost of the project is 22 million euro.
For Immobel, this first project in Poland is going to be the flagship of their business. Among other things, this is the reason for the high quality of materials and painstaking implementation. There are 7 thousand metres office spaces class A on nine floors of Okrąglak. On the ground floor and below it, where the basement has been created for the first time, there is a restaurant and commercial space for boutiques. The entire space has been equipped with BMS (Building Monitoring System), which controls the building’s facilities and monitors ventilation, cooling devices ("chillers"), heat substations, fan coil units, lighting as well as the condition of protective equipment in electrical substations and the condition of pumps in containers. Moreover, BMS automatically calculates energy and water use on individual floors.
Modernity of the building
In spite of air-conditioning, Okrąglak is nothing like a closed can - it has been equipped with tilt windows, which aren’t common in this type of buildings. Very big surface of windows and compact rooms mean that the entire space is very well-lit. Also, zone control of lighting for each floor and an emergency power system have been installed in the building. There are three entrances to the building and three lifts which are available for customers when they pass the general reception desk. The lifts are modern, which is a disappointment for some inhabitants of Poznań - they miss the slow plush padded boxes and the company of gloomy lift operators in their navy blue staff outfits. Also the tenants identification system is modern. Identification takes place via LCD screens repeatedly at the entrance, in the reception area and on every floor. Not only the porter at the reception, but also a magnetic card system make it possible to control the access to particular floors.
The view from the roof
The roof, that is the 9th floor, which was built in 70s, enjoys the most interesting view: a panorama of whole Poznań. Only the tenant will be able to admire it, as the patio fringed with antique concrete openwork will be closed to people from outside. However, the investor ensures that this space is not the most expensive in the building.
There were some problems with adapting the former display surface to suit the office purpose but thanks to modular dividing walls and raised floors, the tenants can enjoy 200 metres segments, separated according to their needs. It is also possible to rent the whole floor, as one of the banks already did - an institution which focuses on a large inflow of customers and which will profit from the central position in the downtown. The bank will have its own, internal lift at its disposal. Parking spaces are scarce, but it is not the most important argument in the discussions about lease. The cost of the space is 14-16 euro per square metre, which situates Okrąglak at the medium Poznań price level. The eco standards that Okrąglak is applying for (BREEAM certificate) guarantee several dozen of places for bikes, although there won't be a dressing room and a shower for cyclists. Rain water recovery system has been employed in the building, so that this water can be used to flush the toilets.
Standard of the building
What draws our attention is the high standard of workmanship: architectural details, ceilings, beams and elevation, which have been made or reconstructed according to the instructions of the urban conservator of monuments. Also the frescos above the entrance have been restored. Earlier they were barely visible under the layer of dirt.
Okrąglak appeared on the list of protected buildings in 2003, 49 years since it was built in 1954. In 2005 it was declared the best building of the half-century. Designed by professor Marek Leykam, Okrąglak was the first modernist edifice in Poznań and a symbol of successful and original reference to global architectural patterns and the slogans of modernism - functionality and simplicity.
Internal glass walls, which have been preserved in the modernisation project, made the space in the building seem smoother and distributed the light inside. In 1980s, the building got ugly side staircase. Later, a disco bar was created inside and banners were hung outside.
Traces of the former regime?
To restore the historic interior of the staircase and its hall, which were originally covered with ceramic tiles, a lot of new tiles would need to be made and hand-sanded. The walls of the staircase had been tiled and then often covered with oil paint. This is why the investor, having consulted the conservator, has removed all of it and replaced it with 40 thousand glass tiles. The concrete staircase covered with terrazzo, "the marble of PRL" (PRL: The Polish abbreviation for the People's Republic of Poland), has been restored, just as the very-well preserved wrought-iron railing with a wooden handrail.
A characteristic element from the old times was the suicide's net. This, however, has not been restored. A thick steel net was stretched on the level of the first floor after a few desperate citizens of "PRL" took their own life in a spectacular way. The elevation of Okrąglak has been restored by the investor in its original shape and colour. Additionally, a lighting system was installed, which in the evening will illuminate the characteristic block of this modernist cylinder. Its tenants, who by now have taken about 50 per cent of the offered space, surely won't have to explain the way to their to customers - at day or night.