The demolishing of a long-unused pedestal in front of the Istropolis culture and congress centre surprised Bratislavans and architects in early April. They fear that this iconic building will suffer the same fate as some of the capital’s historical industrial buildings and the PKO cultural centre on the Danube river bank. In spite of protests by some Bratislavans and experts, these buildings were levelled down to make space for new developments.
The official explanation for the removal of the pedestal was the construction of a fan zone for the ice hockey world championship, starting in Bratislava and Kosice on May 10. It will be just a few dozen metres from Ondrej Nepela Stadium, where the tournament will take place.
Architecture historian Peter Szalay considers the demolition of the pedestal as interference with Istropolis as a complex architectural work and the public space of the city.
“The demolition was not communicated to the public, which should not have happened, given that our municipal offices declare their openness,” Szalay told The Slovak Spectator. “If it was truly demolished only to build a temporary visitor centre, then I consider this to be a very uncivilised deed.”
Under the pre-1989 totalitarian regime the pedestal held a bust of the communist trade unionist František Zupka. The major crossroad Trnavské Mýto, where Istropolis stands, also bore his name back then.
What is Istropolis?
Istropolis, the former House of Trade Unions, is a complex that encompasses a culture and congress centre, an office tower, a science centre, a theatre, some other adjacent buildings with an atrium and a fountain on a 3.7 hectare plot. It features the biggest congress hall in Slovakia with a capacity of 1,280 people, originally designed to host the congresses of the Communist Party.
The complex designed by architects Ferdinand Konček, Iľja Skoček and Ľubomír Titl is located on a lucrative place at the edge of the city centre. Trnavské Mýto is now one of the most important traffic points in the city.PKO facility to remain standing, for now Read more
After the razing of the Park Kultúry and Oddychu (PKO) cultural, social and education venue on the Danube embankment several years ago, Istropolis is one of the few places in Bratislava where large concerts, conferences and cultural events can be held.
The complex was built by trade unions, which sold it for an undisclosed sum in November 2017 to two developers, Immocap Group and YIT Slovakia.
The new owner remains silent
After Istropolis changed hands, the developers refused to specify their plans when they said that they perceive the building as an opportunity to create a modern multifunctional space, while preserving its cultural and social function.