Protecting facades with Sikagard R-778

The building emerges totally from its urban context, influenced by the steeply pitched roofs and the verticality of the city’s residential buildings, by the monumentality of the upright ornaments of its neo-Gothic churches and the heavy volumes of its classicistic buildings, and by the towers that dot its entire skyline and the cranes of its port.

Opening a cultural agenda with this 1,000-seat symphony hall

Housing a 1,000-seat symphony hall and a 200-capacity chamber hall, the four-storey 12,000 m2 Szczecin Philharmonic Hall in Poland is the first major public building commissioned in the city for 30 years. The project signaled the desire of a city, once famous for shipbuilding, to redefine itself, post-industrial decline, by widening its cultural agenda for tourists, as well as the many Germans living nearby across the border, who already come to shop for cheaper goods and services. It is a redefinition that seems to be being echoed now in a more ad hoc way across the city, with nascent hipster-esque coffee bars starting to pop up, like the first buds of gentrification.

The facades - reminiscent of an iceberg

The award-winning Philharmonic Hall is located in a modern building completed in 2014 and designed by the Barcelona architectural studio Estudio Barozzi Veiga. The facades, reminiscent of an iceberg, are made of white-lacquered sheet metal. In the evening and at night, thanks to the thousands of LEDs mounted inside the facade, the building turns into a white lantern during artistic events, and appears white and red on national holidays. During municipal festivals, the outside shines green, blue and navy blue to represent a city of floating gardens, capturing the meaning of the Polish name Szczecin.

Whites predominates the Hall

The interior of the Philharmonic Hall is imbued with a sensation of calm. Whites predominate, from the plaster and plastic of the internal walls, furnishings and bar to the strips of anodized aluminum that raise the height of the two external walls concealing additional offices, services and fire escapes. A wide staircase leads up to the symphony hall stalls, then narrows to provide access to its balcony. Clear daylight filters down from skylights on the sides of the pitched roofs above.

How to secure buildings against vandalism?

But unfortunately, even such architectural pearls are not spared the colossal damage caused by vandalism. Unsolicited graffiti poses a serious aesthetic and financial problem for owners and municipal service departments in terms of the maintenance of buildings and facilities. The Philharmonic Hall’s impressive manifestation clearly depends on the aesthetic appearance of its immaculate white facade, which needed to be preserved. The white-painted, profiled sheet metal is now protected by Sikagard R-781 S, a one-component, colorless, thin-layer silicone-based material containing nitrogen compounds.

Excellent adhesion of the anti-graffiti coating

The excellent adhesion of the coating to smooth surfaces in accordance with the design requirements provide protection against ink and spray graffiti for at least 5 years, allowing multiple surfaces to be cleaned without re-coating. Its excellent hydrophobic properties emulate the effect of pearls in spray and markers. An added advantage is the ease with which graffiti and dirt can be removed from the protected surfaces with warm water under pressure. It is also resistant to most paints.

The anti-graffiti coating keeps the facade white

The facades around the technical rooms consisted of granite panels secured with Sikagard R-778, a one-component, colorless microfiber material suitable for protecting the surfaces of most smooth and porous materials. When the material is dry, a matt effect is created. Sikagard R-778 protects the graffiti-proof substrate from spray paints, water-resistant markers, ink, contaminated air, acid rain and moisture for at least 7 years. Unsolicited graffiti is removed together with the coating using hot water under pressure. The anti-graffiti coating must then be re-applied to protect the surface.

A new cultural and architectural treasure

This will ensure that Szczecin’s new cultural and architectural treasure is conserved. The city was the capital of the Duchy of Pomerania over long periods, a prominent member of the wealthy Hanseatic League and, later, a Swedish military outpost. Acquired by Prussia in 1720, it experienced a period of stagnation before expanding tenfold at the end of the 19th century to become the largest German port on the Baltic – and, briefly, the third largest city in Germany.

A building to look ahead into the future

In 1945, it was handed over to Poland and the existing population departed almost in its entirety, to be replaced by a new one from the east, resulting in a city without memory. The Philharmonic Hall is just the latest, and largest, in a series of labored but conscientious efforts by post-Soviet city governments to move beyond Szczecin’s various pasts and look ahead to a new future.

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