The planned $150 million festival center, which will form the crown jewel of the EnergaCamerimage cinematography gala in Torun, Poland, is heading into the concept phase, says the project’s main organizer, with high hopes for international talent coming on board with design ideas in the coming year.
Kazik Suwala, director of the European Film Center project, says: “We are right now in the process of building the documentation,” after which Camerimage plans to announce the competition for the architectural concept. “We hope to do it by the end of the year, but I don’t think it’s possible,” he says, “so I think it’s safe to say we’re planning to announce the competition in January.”
The global call for submissions will go out “for all architectural studios,” Suwala says, with the competition working in stages, the first being to verify the qualifications of architecture firms, then the soliciting of concept ideas. Finally, he says, “we hope to have a couple of studios to work with.”
A jury whose composition is still being decided – but which will surely have respected Polish architects on board – will adjudicate the concepts for the building, but Camerimage knows now that the fest center will go up on 4.4 acres of land they have obtained from the city of Torun that stands adjacent to the Jordanki complex, a funky Modernist auditorium with textured, angular walls currently serving in that role.
Although Camerimage has been careful not to impose any specific style restrictions, the org does know the new building should feature a main screening room with a capacity of 1,600-1,800 seats with “a huge foyer” envisioned at some 4,000 square meters or 43,055 square feet.
“And we also want to have a space for market exhibitions – another 2,000 square meters,” Suwala says. “That’s the aim. And we hope we will be finished with choosing the concept in the middle of the year.”
In addition, he says, “We want to have at least three more screening rooms, around 200-300 seats each, a couple of rooms for education and we also want to have a small soundstage – something that could work for educational workshops or for shooting smaller movies.”
And it goes without saying at one of the world’s premier cinematography events that technical specs should be of the highest order. “Of course we want the building to be clean and open for technology,” Suwala says, “to have it designed in a way to feature the latest technology but also have the ability to introduce new technologies when they will appear in the future.”
Besides high-speed bandwidth for streaming events – a process Camerimage was forced to adopt this year on a massive scale thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, which ruled out the option of live events at the last minute – the fest remains committed to its trademark exhibitions of the latest camera, lighting and production technology plus workshops led by top artists and technology experts.
And these will be increasingly streamed, fest organizers say, to capitalize on the systems they were forced to adopt quickly in November and to reach wider audiences than ever.
While the formal bidding process has yet to be launched, Suwala says, the project has already caught the attention of international architects. ‘There is interest to take part in it,” he says. “We especially invite international architects to follow us and to see.”
With completion expected by end of 2025 and designs beginning to take shape by mid-2021, Suwala says, the new European Film Center will be fully booked with events the day its doors open.
“In the meantime, of course, we will be working on programming. We want the building to start operating.”