Once a power plant, today a modern cultural and educational center. However, not everyone realizes how much the history of this place, reflects the history of the entire city, how it collapsed along with the Lodz industry, and then a second life was breathed into it…. And like all of Lodz, it is currently undergoing a major transformation.
Today we are once again writing for you about Lodz, but about a completely new Lodz, revitalized, full of culture, modern architecture and open to entrepreneurs. Lodz is building, developing and changing, and this will be noticed especially by people who haven’t looked in Lodz for the last several or so years. So, if it’s been a long time since your foot has stepped on Lodz soil, here are some reasons why you absolutely must take a look at this city in the center of Poland :)
Lodz has been a city under construction for the past few years, but that construction is not over at all. The New Center of Lodz is being built before our eyes. The center, whose heart beats in EC1, the renovated buildings of the old thermal power plant. It is these buildings along with the Lodz Fabryczna station, office buildings and renovated tenement houses that give a foretaste of what awaits us in a few years.Please define valid width and height attributes for remote images. This will also optimize the loading time of the remote panorama.
And there’s a lot to look forward to, as plans are in the works to build a so-called “new” building. Kobro Square, more office buildings, apartment blocks, the City Gate and several new streets (be sure to see the visuals!). The plans are ambitious, the visualizations are pleasing to the eye, and we are already looking forward to the end of the works, especially the aforementioned Kobro Market, which is expected to be open to residents in 2022.
Places and streets that used to be avoided by a wide arc out of fear and apprehension of dangers lurking in dark corners and gates, or simply out of shame, are taking on new shapes, shining with newness and becoming a new landmark of the city.
One of those places that is becoming just such a new landmark of the city is the former EC1 thermal power plant building. EC1 has been waking up to its new life in stages and all the time has not yet unveiled all its cards. Initially, although the buildings were already finished from the outside it was the inside that was being worked on and not all attractions were immediately available. Slowly, gradually, the various parts began to open, open them to visitors, launch exhibitions, invite investors and create a place that is the cultural and artistic center of Lodz. You can read about what exactly is here now and further plans a few paragraphs below, because what we want to tell you about first is the amazing history of this place.
Although the history of our native city is not foreign to us, delving into the history of the former Lodz Power Plant was something new for us. Surprisingly, we found many points in common between the history of the city and the history of EC1, because, willy-nilly, their fates were on the same tracks….
Table of contents
History of the power plant
The history of the power plant dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, and it should be mentioned here right away that the name EC1 did not appear until the 1960s. The first building operated under the name Lodz Power Plant, and electricity began to be produced in September 1907. It was then that the first commercial power plant in Lodz was launched. It was a time when Lodz was already a large-industrial city, full of factory buildings, the proverbial Promised Land. Anyway, it is worth mentioning that initially, as much as 90% of the energy generated was used to power industrial plants, and only 10% went to housing and street lighting.
By 1913, further upgrades were underway, increasing the power of machinery, and by the 1920s more industrial buildings began to be adapted due to the growing demand for electricity. In July 1930, the Brown Boveri company’s turbine generator was put into operation in what is now known as the “Brown Boveri turbine. New Headquarters. Subsequent expansions involved modernization and preparation for district heating (the plant had been producing process steam since 1953). In the aforementioned 1960, the oldest power plant (EC2 was already in operation by then) was named EC1.
Architecturally, the first power plant buildings represented the Art Nouveau style that prevailed at the time, while later buildings were modernist (1920s, including the New Headquarters). Nowadays, it’s easy to distinguish between the two parts – the Art Nouveau one is the contrasting one: brick with bright elements and arches, while the modernist one has blue elements that punctuate the brick walls. Also noteworthy is the construction of the second stage itself, which assumed the construction of a steel skeleton that was filled with bricks, which had a practical aspect: in case of an accident, the skeleton was to hold the main structure, even without bricks.
The CHP plant grew in strength, gave employment to Lodz residents and one can even speak of a work ethos. People were proud to serve at the power plant, they lived the job, and their colleagues became family to them. Employees worked together and helped each other. They spent much of their lives here and even celebrated Christmas together. This is underscored by the many photos of employees that have been preserved, in which they proudly pose against the backdrop of the power plant.
But unfortunately, the good fortune came to an end at the end of the 20th century, when the textile industry, a major branch of Lodz’s economy, also collapsed. EC1, like the rest of the city, was becoming an increasingly neglected place, because with the decline of light industry in the early 1990s, the demand for energy derived from the CHP plant was also declining.
The power plant was finally closed at the end of 1999, and in 2005. Its owner became the city of Lodz….
Power plant today – EC1 Łódź – City of Culture
EC1 Łódź – City of Culture, as this is the full name of the revitalized complex, is a place where intelligent leisure and cultural experiences are prioritized. The goal of the revitalization was to restore the architectural appearance of 1907-1929 and adapt the available spaces to completely new functions. After the city took over EC1, work began in 2008.
An example of the renovated interiors and their adaptation for new purposes is the impressive Hall of Machines, with its historic staircase and platform – now the venue hosts numerous cultural and educational events as well as meetings, exhibitions and fairs, such as the Transatlantyk Festival, the Leonardo da Vinci – Energy of the Mind exhibition and SeeBloggers blogger meetings.
It used to be the place where the heart of the power plant beat, as the turbine sets that generated electricity were located here. Today, there is no trace of them here, but one of them can be seen in the Science and Technology Center (although it should be mentioned that the turbine set that is in CNiT was never in the Hall of Machines, but in the new part, built in 1929).
So what is located on the site of today’s EC1?
EC1 Science and Technology Center
One of EC1’s biggest attractions is the EC1 Science and Technology Center, an interactive and educational exhibition. On the one hand, it shows and teaches how energy was created here, using the preserved interiors of the former thermal power plant and original exhibits.
Here you can see how coal was transported, how the giant boilers worked, and even get a feel for one of them by walking right through the middle of them (rest assured, it’s safe!).
And that’s the most beautiful thing about EC1 and the Science and Technology Center, that we are not in a new purpose-built building, but in the building of the actual power plant, where we see the original elements, and where the exhibits and displays are integrated into them. There are structures, racks, and eventually furnaces complemented by interesting animations and interactive games that allow you to actively engage in learning about the energy generation process in an attractive way.
In addition to discovering where the electricity comes from, we also learn what daily work was like here, we can enter the control room, control the various components of the system or manage the city’s electricity supply.
On the other hand, there are thematic exhibitions on various physical phenomena, chemical reactions, the workings of nature, sound, light and even the cosmos!
There is, of course, also an exhibition on nuclear power and renewable energy sources. Special mini-guides are available for visitors to encourage them to visit the exhibition with a specific theme: energy harvesting, ecology, water, chemistry (including various elements) or space (such tours last from 1.5 to 3 hours).
During a tour of CNiT, the silver sphere located in the same hall as the Brown Boveri company’s turboset particularly catches the eye. This sphere is a spherical cinema where you can watch short, 20-25 minute 2D or 3D movies for an additional fee.
A journey through CNiT is a huge dose of knowledge, conveyed in an interesting and interactive way in the beautiful, renovated interiors of the former thermal power plant. On the one hand, we walk along metal structures, on ceramic tiles, some of which have been preserved, and on the other hand there are modern developments, touch screens, games involving multiple people. It is this whole environment that makes it a special place.
What is the purpose of all these exposures? First of all, education, but mainly in terms of energy generation. We assure you that after an active visit to the Center, you will never again answer the question “Where does electricity come from?” with “From the socket!” ;-)
If you want to get the most out of the place, we especially recommend you to talk to CNiT employees, who you will find at each exhibit. This is a unique opportunity to gain comprehensive knowledge, with interesting facts, a historical outline and an explanation of how to use the various simulations and games. Don’t be afraid, come up and ask. The staff is well trained and prepared, they are knowledgeable and helpful, and on top of that they are very friendly :)
We were hugely impressed by the knowledge and competence of those working at the Science and Technology Center. It is not often that employees themselves approach, explain, encourage interaction, and here it is standard! And they are not simply people serving the various expositions and keeping an eye on order – these are people with passion and enormous knowledge, which they want to share with visitors, so it is a sin not to take advantage :)
Planetarium at EC1
Another place in EC1 that deserves attention is the planetarium, which opened in January 2016. It is the most modern planetarium in Poland and took first place in the poll of 7 New Wonders of Poland 2016 organized by National Geographic Traveler.
There used to be a Cauldron Hall here, of which only fragments of the walls remain. Today, upon entering this part of EC1, one is immediately struck by the large dome that houses the Planetarium.
The giant spherical screen with a diameter of 14 meters and 8K resolution presents shows for both children and adults. Also interesting are special “live” shows, during which the constellations, nebulae, galaxies visible on a given day are discussed – all narrated by enthusiasts who enrich the message with interesting facts and various legends.
The EC1 is also home to film-related institutions: The National Film Culture Center and the Łódź Film Commission.
The National Center for Film Culture at EC1 is ultimately to be a cultural and educational venue, with several cinema halls and exhibitions on cinematography. Three permanent exhibitions are planned: Mechanical Eye (showing the history and techniques involved in filmmaking), Materia Kina (an interactive exhibition showing complex filmmaking) and Kino Polonia (the history of Polish cinema). The planned completion date is the end of 2019, and we are again already crossing our legs, looking forward to making the exhibition available to visitors.
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The Lodz Film Commission is tasked with comprehensively supporting filmmakers and even being a co-producer. You can get both help with choosing sets, organizational issues, such as getting approvals or even obtaining additional funding from the Lodz Film Fund.
In a separate building that used to be a workshop at the power plant, the Comics and Interactive Narrative Center will open in 2019. There will be exhibitions related to comics and computer games, including games, allowing a sentimental journey to the 1980s. You can already get a sneak peek at the work in the building from the windows of EC1.
We also recommend to you the newly opened children’s section: the Street of Elements.
EC1 Cultural Center is one of the elements of the New Center of Lodz, but it perfectly reflects the condition and soul of the entire city. We are witnessing a transformation, a dynamic development of the city, along with the new center of Lodz, which is its beating heart.
We look forward to the completion of more developments and hope to see plans to develop all this space. For the time being, the area around EC1 and the Factory Station is still a construction site, but soon it will be an unrecognizable place.
In other words: if you haven’t been here yet, you absolutely must take a look here! :)Please define valid width and height attributes for remote images. This will also optimize the loading time of the remote panorama.
We also invite you to visit our gallery, where you will find more than 100 photos:
Zobacz galerię wszystkich zdjęć z Nowego Centrum Łodzi EC1 >>>
The material was created as a result of a campaign organized by the Polish Tourist Organization with the partnership of the Regional Tourist Organization of the Lodz Voivodeship.
Are you looking for other travel inspiration for the Lodz region? We also recommend our other entries:
- Ideas for day trips in central Poland – Lodz area,
attractions for children in lodz voivodship
- …and attractions for families with children in Lodz!
Lodz Zoo and Orientarium
– the best is yet to come
- Uniejów Thermal Baths and other attractions in the area
– Rest and fun in apple orchards
- Attractions for children in Lodz
- Nieborów – palace and park complex
– The place on earth where you turn on airplane mode
– What did the dinosaurs chew on? :)
– on the trail of historical monuments
Collegiate Church in Tuma
and the legend associated with the devil Boruta
- Idea for the weekend: macro insects in Microcosmos
- Lodz – our TOP 10 attractions in Lodz