Between spa and entertainment park. The Architecture of the recently established Spa Resort in Uniejów as the space of the „experience economy”.

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Between 2007-2012 a small city of Uniejów, located in the very heart of the country along Warta river in Łódzkie Voivodeship, became the most recent-established holiday and Spa resort in Poland. Thanks to the warm springs of thermal waters, discovered in 1978, and according to the multipurpose business-plan of local municipal authorities, the city was granted a multimillion allocation from the EU funds in order to create a package product of modern tourism, based on spa and entertainment. The first part of the project (2007-2008) included the new thermal baths, restaurant pavilion and the so called “castle” – a hotel modeled after “medieval” European architecture, build to house not only tourists, but also the local historical reenactment movement society of “medieval knights”.  During the next stage (2009-2012) the city authorities managed to build a new city stadium in the spa area, create an open-air museum of local architecture designed as a hotel, or centre for the artists and outdoor events for Academy of Arts in Łódź. Also the spectacular annex of the thermal baths – called now “Termy Uniejów” – was build between 2011-2012, making the whole complex one of the biggest thermal baths in Poland. The whole spa and tourism resort of Uniejów was founded on the left bank of the Warta river, nearby the medieval castle of Gniezno archbishopric and its 19th. park (now serving as a spa park), where some empty meadows along the Warta river had been before.  The new urban pattern of this project can be concerned according to the theme park standards, where unique complexes of modern buildings (baths, restaurants, hotels, and other attractions) are standing separately, surrounded with huge parking lots.

Using not only architecture, but official marketing services of Uniejów, I tried to link huge popularity of the new spa with the most recent (post 1989) cultural and social changes in Poland, seeing the whole project as an epitome of modern consumerism culture. “Experience economy”, brought into architectural critique and historiography by Anna Klingmann’s book “Brandscapes. Architecture in the experience economy” (MiT 2008) is one of the most important theoretical backgrounds in my approach. It paved the way to see modern architectural practices of Uniejów resort as a tools of creating the space for consumption and multiplication of experiences, based on thermal baths, history (or its “invented” version), and modern lifestyle of desire, health and cultural diversity.  

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Summary from: M. Górzyński, Między sanatorium a parkiem rozrywki. Architektura najmłodszego polskiego uzdrowiska w Uniejowie jako przestrzeń “ekonomii wrażeń”, w: B. Płonka-Syroka, A. Kaźmierczak,Kultura uzdrowiskowa na Dolnym Śląsku w konktekście europejskim, t. II, Wrocław 2013, s. 81-109.

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