“The Hat”

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“The Hat” (Kapelusz) Exhibition Centre in Chorzów has a very rich history, dating back to 1968 when an avant-garde project of a building shaped like a woman’s hat, proposed by Jerzy Gottfried and Włodzimierz Feiferek, was completed in the Silesian Park. The designers initially wanted their post-modernistic building to serve as a sports arena, but after a detailed analysis of the structure of the building, it was decided that it would be better fitted for other purposes.

The Hat Exhibition Centre is built around an ellipsis and has two entrance sections, and the main section serving as the exhibition hall. The structure design was ahead of its time. The roof of the centre is a specially designed tent supported by the so-called pedestal which itself is a load-bearing element. The height of the Hat is 15 metres, and the usable area is over 2 thousand square metres.

Changing the Hat from a sports arena into an exhibition venue was definitely the right idea. Since its completion, the Hat hosted multiple exhibitions, conferences and musical events. The Hat is probably best known for hosting flower exhibitions, including the International Flower Exhibition in 2011.

In 1982, the centre nearly burned down to the ground, with only the steel arcs surviving the fire. Reconstruction took 4 years to complete. The new building was designed by Jerzy Gottfried and its structure is nearly identical to the original one. Changes included new roofing and using eyelid windows instead of original glazing. The glazing on the side walls were also reduced in size. Lighting was also changed and a special frame for lamps and cameras was added. At the entrance, two crescent-shaped pavilions (dubbed “croissants”) which serve as back rooms and sanitary facilities.

In 2014, the building was closed due to a defect of the roof, but steps have already been taken to restore the Hat and reinstate it as the key culture centre in the area.

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