*BIEDRONKA: Before you dive into the details, it’s essential to know what BIEDRONKA is. It’s a highly popular Polish discount retail chain, a kin to the Polish equivalents of Lidl or Asda. For example: I went to Biedronka to purchase some bread.

Well, there’s a lot! But to sum it up quickly: research project and exhibition
→ Paying tribute to Poland’s architectural heritage.
→ Approx. 50% of the materials used for the exhibition design were reclaimed.

The project „Buildings That Became Biedronkas” explores how a country’s politics can shape architecture. It focuses on places like cinemas and cultural centers that were vital community hubs, funded publicly. After communism fell, many closed due to financial reasons. Sadly, a lot turned into BIEDRONKA supermarkets, leaving small towns without cultural spots. We’re gathering memories to ask: What does this transformation say about our society? The outcome comprised three editions of the exhibition held in Kielce, Gdynia, and Bydgoszcz, along with the publication of a book
research team: Dominika Janicka, Olga Grabiwoda; design team: Dominika Janicka; collaborators: Agnieszka Drączkowa, Michał Miegoń (curators Gdynia edition), Marcin Pietras (curator Bydgoszcz edition), Institute of Design Kielce, Gdynia Museum,Pomorzanin Foundation (clients),Dorota Wąsik (graphic design), Wiesław Stefaniec, Roman Chajzer (builders); date: 2019 – 2021

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

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 :)