As urban explorers, the former Eastern Bloc is a popular destination for our road trips. During the most golden autumn, we were targeting Poland as the next post-Soviet republic we had to explore. So, in a group of five, we set out on a multi-day adventure to find the extremes of urbex: The pristine and decayed. Rural and urban. Forbidden and legal. And the industrial and palatial. We traveled more than 1,000 km to film spectacular structures with haunting histories.
Let’s kick off this series with one of the many power plants we were exploring on our adventure. On a lonely island in the middle of a large Polish city, this defunct but not yet completely abandoned facility is located. We gathered intel on how to infiltrate this massive structure and learned about CCTV on the property. So, to get on the site, we needed to be creative.
It took us a moment to find a broken window which invited us to climb inside. And then, we immediately found the centerpiece of the powerhouse: This is the turbine hall with two historical generators; one from the late 1920s and the other one from the 1940s. We were delighted to see those machines in such pristine condition with barely any vandalism. The room with its very high ceiling resembles a concert hall, or maybe an industrial dance floor so to say.
We spent quite some time in the impressive turbine hall but this was only one part of the huge building complex. We only had around two hours in total. This was for sure not enough time to explore all those detailed spaces like the laboratory for example where everything was left behind.
When this power station was constructed it served as a symbol for the modern age. It was one of the most beautiful buildings in the whole town and it is said that people came only to see this structure. Well, as it seems nothing has changed. Because here we are just to see this fine colossus.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the city got its first power plant. But soon after, it became insufficient already because demand for electricity was increasing fast. So, in the 1920s it was decided to build this new, much bigger facility. It was designed to be easily extended. In 1929, energy production started here. In our drone footage, you could already see that the powerhouse was constructed on an island in the middle of the city. The surrounding river was used for cooling and the adjacent railroad line was making supply really easy.
After World War Two, the power plant was extended. Amongst other things, these offices were built. But the most comprehensive change happened in 1965 when the facility was turned into a combined heat and power station. Now, the residents of this town not only got electricity but also their hot water from this place. However, since the demand was growing a more powerful plant was needed. And because it is that close to the city center, it had to be modernized in order to match new environmental regulations. But there wasn’t any space left to expand this facility. So, as it happened before, it was decided to build a new powerhouse. In the 1990s, this place was shut down gradually. 2015 was the final year of operation. Then, the remaining offices were cleared step-by-step. Since then, the whole place is defunct.
After the site was shut down, both the company and the city wanted to sell the premises. Several project developers were interested and created redevelopment plans. Then, in the beginning of 2019, one of the biggest Polish building contractors finally purchased the ten-hectare big property. Now, a whole new city district is supposed to emerge here. Already this year, they want to start with construction works. For that, most building parts need to be knocked down. But the one that was built almost one hundred years ago will be preserved as a monument. So, before rust and nature get a chance to conquer the spacious halls, the place will become a new home for hundreds of people. What was forgotten for a while will be once again a symbol for the modern age.