*BIEDRONKA: Before you dive into the details, it’s essential to know what BIEDRONKA is. It’s a highly popular Polish discount retail chain, akin to the Polish equivalents of Lidl or Asda.

For example: I went to Biedronka to purchase some bread.

Certainly, the country’s political system can influence architecture. The project „Buildings That Became Supermarkets” explores this relationship, which was especially evident in Poland and other Eastern European countries after the collapse of communism. This event had a significant impact on various aspects of life, including architecture.

The project primarily focuses on entertainment buildings like cinemas, cafes, and cultural centers. These venues were prevalent in many towns and relied on public funding. They often served as important meeting places and, in some cases, were the sole cultural hubs in smaller towns. However, after 1989, with the advent of capitalism, many of these places closed due to financial constraints.

Regrettably, a considerable number of these venues underwent transformations into supermarkets, primarily of the BIEDRONKA brand, during the 1990s and 2000s. This left many small towns devoid of cultural spaces. Through this project, we aim to gather memories and pose a thought-provoking question: What does the architectural transformation of these spaces reveal about our society?

Chapter 1: Cafe Biruta in Kielce

Our project’s adventure began at Biruta, the café building in Kielce. It was once the place to be, serving up refreshing drinks like Coca-Cola and grooving to Western tunes within its stylish modern confines. However, in 1995, it underwent a transformation into a Biedronka supermarket, retaining only the circular shape of its original roof.

Our journey took a nostalgic turn as we engaged in a series of workshops with the local community. Together, we worked to resurrect the soul of the original Biruta café, piecing together old photos, cherished memories, and even reclaiming original interior elements like tables and armchairs. The result? An exhibition titled „Café Biruta and Other Buildings That Became Biedronkas.

Using café tables as creative display cases, we showcased the history. Memories were encapsulated in comic bubbles and integrated into a cardboard model of Biruta. Yellow polycarbonate panels represented the contemporary transformation into Biedronka supermarkets.

Chapter 2: Cinema Warsaw in Gdynia, PL

The project got the media attention and we realized that there are many more buildings like Biruta Cafe in Poland. One of the buildings which shared the Biruta experience was the cinema “Warsaw ” in Gdynia.  Cinema was functioning til early 2000s and after was acquired by Biedronka corporation. The spatial scheme was similar but since we used cinema seat inspired display modules.

Chapter 3: Cinema “Pomorzanin” in Bydgoszcz

Cinema “Pomorzanin ” is a success story – it almost became Biedronka but thanks to the protests of the local community it stayed in original form and function. We showed our project as a warning and included the story of Pomorzanin. Guess in what form it was presented? The shopping cart :)


Cafe Biruta team: Dominika Janicka, Olga Grabiwoda

Cinema Warsaw and cinema Pomarzanim