Malcolm Reading Consultants launches competition for Zeitgeist Asset Management for showpiece mixed-used development in the heart of Warsaw

Competition site located moments away from the iconic Palace of Culture and Science

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Image courtesy of Zeitgeist Asset Management

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) has launched a two-stage invited competition for Zeitgeist Asset Management (ZAM), a renowned developer and asset manager for private and institutional investors in Germany and Central Eastern Europe.

The competition is for a project to renew a significant city block and create a showpiece mixed-use development in the very heart of Warsaw that will provide a sustainable legacy.

Located moments away from the iconic Palace of Culture and Science — Warsaw’s major landmark — the competition site is a downtown block which includes the headquarters of the former Polish Telecommunications Office. This 1930s building is listed in the Polish Register of Monuments and as such needs to be sensitively refurbished to preserve its historic beauty.

The project is being commissioned by Zeitgeist Asset Management (ZAM). Unusually, ZAM focuses on the purchase, restoration and extension of historic real estate, taking a long-term view of investment, with the majority of completed properties intended for rent not sale.

Sebastian Junghänel, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Zeitgeist Asset Management, said:

‘This central Warsaw project will be a key initiative for ZAM during 2021. A design competition perfectly expresses our brand values; we’re seeking a fresh and exceptional focus on design quality — ultimately, architecture that will inspire upcoming generations.
‘We are working with MRC to find the most imaginative and dedicated team for the project.’

Malcolm Reading, Chairman of MRC, said:

‘We’re delighted to be working with Zeitgeist Asset Management on our first competition in Poland.
‘In our experience, projects that balance contemporary interventions with historic fabric are nearly always exceptionally interesting and rewarding.’

Working with ZAM, MRC devised a design brief for the 95,000 square metre development that envisages a mixed-use blend of offices, hospitality, retail and residential, situated around publicly-accessible landscaped courtyards, and with the flexibility to adapt to future needs. The project includes 76,000 square metres of above-ground development, with an additional 19,000 square metres of underground area.

ZAM is seeking a regeneration of exceptional design quality: assured and innovative architecture that will inspire upcoming generations.

Competitors will be asked to develop a holistically sustainable approach, with an openness to green innovation — the original telecoms headquarters was a radical building of its time. Designers are also challenged to support Warsaw’s wider initiatives, which aim to protect the historical identity of the city while shaping its urban and sustainable future.

MRC has invited a limited number of carefully selected practices to enter the competition. During stage two, scheduled to take place in summer 2021, a shortlist of six teams will be asked to prepare design concepts and present to the competition jury.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the competition is anticipated to be run entirely digitally, through a series of virtual briefings, seminars and a final jury meeting.

Competitors will be challenged to illustrate their outstanding skills in masterplanning, architecture, engineering, landscape and placemaking to deliver a project that matches the ambition of the brief. Stage two competitors will receive an honorarium and the jury will award additional prizes.

The competition aligns with the guidelines of the Association of Polish Architects (SARP).

Since its establishment in 2014, ZAM has been growing dynamically with a niche portfolio that focuses on property with emblematic locations or exceptional historic value. While the company’s investments are primarily residential, they also include office, commercial and industrial projects.

Currently, ZAM is renovating 14 unique buildings in Prague, including the Danube Palace, Karolíny Světlé, Musilkova and Myslikova. In Poland, the company is running eight projects including in premium historical locations, such as the Main Post Office building in Kraków and the Dluga 44/50 building complex in Warsaw, as well as greenfield projects, including the first estate with an institutional rental offer in Gdańsk. In addition to projects in the Czech Republic and Poland, ZAM is also expanding in Hungary and Germany and is currently managing assets worth over EUR 682 million and encompassing an area of circa half a million square metres.

MRC specialises in international competitions and architect selection, recent highlights include projects for the National Gallery (UK); Houston Endowment; St Catharine’s College, Cambridge; Adelaide Contemporary and Tintagel Castle Bridge.