Post-war construction

Interview about Warsaw with the architect Marek Dunikowski

Warsaw does not have to look for its identity, because he has it – it is the identity of modernism – Marek Dunikowski believes, A Cracovian and one of the most famous contemporary architects in Poland

Architect Marek Dunikowski
He is a co-partner of the DDJM architectural studio, famous for, among others,. such expressive projects as a bank in Opole or a reinforced concrete museum building at the monument to the death camp in Bełżec.
Currently, architects from the DDJM studio are designing a large residential complex Murano Apartments in the place of a liquidated bus depot at Inflancka Street. The architecture of buildings referring to the tradition of strongly modernizing Warsaw socialist realism heralds a real aesthetic revolution and the beginning of fashion for a new style.

Jerzy S. Majewski: When I'm tired of Warsaw, I get on the express and go to Krakow, to be in a traditional city with streets, bustling market and cafes. Warsaw is widely believed to be one of the ugliest European capitals. Meanwhile, the Lord, resident of Krakow, perceives our city as a metropolis with a strongly defined architectural face.

Marek Dunikowski: So, because Warsaw has a lot of great architectural realizations. They are both works of modernism, as well as socialist realism rooted in the modernist tradition of the years 30. They still determine the character of the city, give it a metropolis dimension. I am delighted with such buildings as the building of the former Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party, designed at the end of the years 40. XX w., pre-war National Museum with disciplined stone facades, government buildings or the Constitution Square. These are realizations, which we will not find in other parts of Europe. They are a value in themselves, which must be protected. You also need to add new architecture to them, which will continue the tradition of Warsaw modernism, and not its contradiction.

Repeats the Lord, that Warsaw has a soul. How to define it?

– It is the expressive spatial structure of the city. There are many more beautiful urban layouts in Europe, but let's enjoy it, what Warsaw has, and let us be proud of it. Let us not try to change this structure, doing something across. For me, such a break with the Warsaw tradition is the bizarre Złote Tarasy or the disheveled form of a skyscraper designed by Daniel Libeskind (will stand at ul. Zloty 44). Because why should a crooked building be the symbol of Warsaw?, symbolizing the eagle's wing? Of course, it doesn't bother me, that another building will be built in the city. But Warsaw does not need an art museum like Bilbao, for the city has its own face.

Warsaw residents, however, probably have problems with recognizing the "soul" of their city.

– And it surprises me. I watched the discussion after the last competition for the Museum of Modern Art and I can see, that Warsaw is still looking for its identity. This is a mistake, because the capital has an identity! In this search, I see Varsovians' disbelief in this, that they live in a European metropolis.

What is your task that determines the value of the space of our city?

– Clear urban layout with wide streets. It is not properly used, trying to blur it. Meanwhile, it should be consistently filled with new buildings.

In connection with the competition for the Center of Modern Art, the discussion on the future of the Palace of Culture and Science has been revived.

– The palace is a hallmark of the era, in which it was created. It is huge and there is no point in fighting it, by putting up a building with a strange form next to it. As I look at some of these sculptural designs, I get the impression, that in the context of the Palace of Culture and Science, they are as pathetic as a slow-motion.

And which of the Warsaw skyscrapers suit you best.

– Intraco II i Marriott, that is, the first two towers of the Western Center of Warsaw. Designed back in years 70. withstood the test of time. Extremely disciplined, devoid of funny gadgets and therefore very Warsaw-like.

What would you like to undress in Warsaw??

– Golden Terraces. To knot!, collage of unsuccessful, curved forms. The architecture of Złote Tarasy does not define space. Another building, I can't look at, to Millennium Tower. The blue tower built by the Turks on Al. Jerozolimskie. Well, unless Warsaw has such a sense of humor, that he treats this building in the form of a shower only as a joke.


Kopulaki – Warsaw love from the People's Republic of Poland
Dariusz Bartoszewicz

Architecture at risk. Omitted in guides. Derelict and burdened with sin, because they were built during the communes. If the pavilions disappear, railway stations or domes, from those times it will stay this, what's the worst – housing estates. Young architects convince, that it is worth protecting what is original from the architecture of the People's Republic of Poland.

Kopulaki – our PRL love

None of the three “hard core’a” Central, studio of young architects, he did not see a lady from the People's Republic of Poland with a frieze piled up in a large bun. They wore cloth diapers for their companion, Edward Gierek, now praise the period buildings

Left, left. They walk forward with the slogan on their lips: “Respect for modernity!”. They agitate. They defend it, what others want to destroy. They love it, in which others cannot find anything, even a hint of beauty. And they agree with prof. Andrzej K.. Olszewski, which he warned at the Zachęta debate at the end of February: – Buildings such as the Supersam are hurt by total politicization comparable to years ago 50. Everything was attacked then, what sanation, today – everything from the Polish People's Republic. Then things were better and worse, as always.

They called themselves Centrala. – We created it. Three people. The collective expands to meet the needs of various projects and actions – architects Małgorzata Kuciewicz, Krzysztof Banaszewski and Jakub Szczęsny.

– We want to show you, how fantastic objects were built over the years 50., 60. i 70. – emphasizes Gosia.

Young architects take me for a walk around their Warsaw, to awaken love for the People's Republic of Poland, which I remember too well. That's why I don't miss you. I remember the honorary academy, junior women on legs, fartuszki non-iron, dark kitchens even in model blocks. I lived in terrible crowds at ul. Brunette. Right next to my apartment building, there was a twin house, considered to be the best house in Warsaw 1964 r., awarded with the title of the Mister of Warsaw.

Chemistry Pavilion and a lady with a bun

A trip around “pearls of the Polish People's Republic” we start at the intersection of Bracka and Nowogrodzka Streets. The neon sign in the pavilion standing there is no longer valid “Chemistry” covered with an informative sheet, that used clothes are now traded there. The object is gnawed by the tooth of time, and the location – fantastic. Therefore, his fate is almost doomed. A department store is to be built here – big world and luxury like from glossy catalogs. – Again, quite thoughtless commercial architecture will win – comments Centrala.

They open the door to Chemistry. We go in to feel the atmosphere.

– See, what a fantastic construction. Because in architecture, as Rem Koolhaas repeats [Dutch artist awarded with the architectural Nobel Prize, that is, the Pritzker Prize], it is extremely important, what he describes as “heroic bracket”. And here we have fantastic brackets consisting of four elements like a double sign “V” – says Kuba Szczęsny.

Victoria konstruktora. Victoria architect. Victoria Jan Bogusławski and Bohdan Gniewiewski. Lots of wins in one place. Their great success, because in the year 1961, when this trade pavilion was built, Gomułkowszczyzna reigned, gray and provincial. And suddenly a phenomenal pavilion!

Kuba suggests, to imagine a saleswoman with an extreme bun on her head. None of the three “hard core’a” He did not see the headquarters of such a lady from the People's Republic of Poland with a crowded frieze over her eyes. They are too young for that. They then wore cloth diapers, because they were all born in years 70., for companion Edward Gierek, who exhorted, to build a second Poland.

We admire the floor. Drobniutka, black and white cube. Now such tiles are the most expensive and very fashionable, and their laying – tedious. We photograph. The clothesline supervisor drops out. – Who are you? What are they doing? – accuses us of a barrage of questions.

We explain ourselves, that “we are innocent”, that we are architects and journalists. We admire the forms, “the language of industrial construction” (that's what they say at Headquarters) used in the building with “a heroic construction”, thanks to which there is so much light inside, “and the roof seems to float”. And be warned: – A great investor is already lurking.

– Nothing is decided regarding this pavilion – however, you believe (he will not give his name).

– We once did such a provocation project. We showed, that it is the perfect place for an infobox for Warsaw. Tourists in this well-located facility could learn everything about the city and what is going on in it. This is missing – reminds Krzysiek Banaszewski.

A hug 'pancake” to the heart

Another stop – Powiśle train station already under the escarpment, from the beginning of the years 60. Above the tiny kiosk there is an impressive shell of reinforced concrete without any supports. Illuminated from below, it could be associated with a flying saucer.

– Record expression in reinforced concrete – Centrala cmoka collective with admiration.

– The thinnest sections possible, the largest possible distances and spans. And yet there were no computers, everything counted on foot. A real engineering job – Cuba points out.

We go up the stairs to the platform. There is no hall above the tracks, only reinforced concrete and steel structures. They take up little space near the ground, at the top – a lot, they seem to be distracted from it, to accompany speeding trains. Comparisons, that come to mind: origami, range, faworki, harmony. Suddenly, the Rapid Urban Railway enters. Shock. The architecture from half a century ago creates absolute harmony with the streamlined shapes of the SKM. This impression is so extraordinary, that we're starting to laugh, because even the colors on the carriages and “faworkach” steel structures supporting electric traction look like this, as if they were specially designed.

We climb up the stairs. We stand in a glass pavilion, from which you can see the metropolitan Warsaw – perspective of Aleje Jerozolimskie with the palm stump, skyscrapers, Palace of Culture. The architecture of the station is as light as drawing with a pen.

– This is the work of Mr. Arseniusz Romanowicz and Piotr Szymaniak (construction W. Brzozowski and M.. Pigeon). They experimented with forms of hyperbolic paraboloid, were up to date with it, what the best designers in the world did – resembles Cuba.

We pass the car by “pancake”, the roof of the WKD station at the corner of Al. Jerozolimskie and John Paul II. – After all, such “pancake” one could make a mascot of Warsaw – dreams of Gosia Kuciewicz.

– Of which? – asks Krzysiek Banaszewski. – For example, plush – answers.

Cuddle up to soft PKP stops. Go to sleep with them . Press to your heart. What a cool idea!

Gosia: – Imagine it, that all those shacks and tents are disappearing. That we repair and clean everything – how beautiful it would be.

Round logs, Mushrooms, copulaki

A glance at the pavilion at ul. Jump. It looks like an advertising hanger. Awful. – You can't see the heroic bracket here. But there is a floor above the ground floor, overhang with a width of approx. 3 m above the sidewalk. And the contrast of a heavy box standing on a glass shaft. A bit like the idea for the Museum of Modern Art by Christian Kerez – throws Kuba.

– The Peasant's House. It has a wavy roof. Its soft lines were inspired by the swaying cornfields in the wind – reminds Gosia.

Next to – NBP z lat 1974-75. The young people from Centrala are paying attention, that the irregular oxidation of the bronze aluminum cladding on the facade of the building made it noble. – Now investors in the West are paying a fortune for a similar effect – Cuba points out.

It leads inside. In the bank's glazed operating hall, he is delighted with the light coming from above through the roof. It rests on marble and leather armchairs. He puts on a lordly pose and speaks English as in a kitschy advertisement: – This is Poland. Beautiful country. The land of amber.

After getting drunk with the luxury of the Polish People's Republic, it's time for dessert. – I will show my great love, that is, domes – encourages Gosia.

The nook multiplied the domes

Course for Ochota. Z al. Żwirki i Wigury, we turn off to 1 Of August, and from it to the left – in Ustrzycka. Oto i one. They could play bedtime “Żwirek and Muchomorek”. Hardly anyone knows about them. Kopulaki (from “copula”), that is, experimental single-family domed houses designed by architect Andrzej Iwanicki. – Inhabitants use different terms for their homes: that, round logs or mushrooms. Possibly domes through “Ł”. It is not known, where did such frivolous shapes come from?. A theory is likely, that it was necessary to deceive the bureaucrats who guarded the so-called. standards. In the Polish People's Republic, the area of ​​a private house could not exceed 110 m kw. And in three-dome (because they are also smaller – two-dome) the norm was exceeded by nearly 30 m kw. due to arches and spaces of shortage, because with a height less than 2,2 m – explains Gosia.

He knows everything about domes. In every nook and cranny there was storage space or buildings drawn with white oil. The domes were covered with brightly colored nitro paint. Colored estrichgips or PVC on the floors. In rooms “wet” (kitchen, bathroom) shiny glaze, fireplaces decorated with black and white checkerboard mosaics. The central dome is the living room, the other two, bedrooms were hidden by walls, kitchen and bathrooms. And in the middle between them under a flat roof – the heart of the house – dining room with two-sided fireplace opening onto the living room.

The Kopulaki was built by Zakątek (Cooperative Association for the Construction of Single-family Houses). In years 1961-66 an experimental colony began to be built among the fields at the junction of Rakowiec and Okęcie. Instead 70 only ten were created, because they turned out to be too expensive to implement. Only some of them have kept their fairy-tale form pure. The rest either grew ankle their houses or grew large, even in multi-story office buildings.

Gosia gathered the opinions of the residents: ? “Arranging a house is difficult, but the interiors are very nice”. ??”The pipes must be bent into the shape of the walls in some places”. ??”The buildings are insulated from the outside with thick pumice strips 10 cm. Thanks to this, we are very warm in winter and heating costs are not high. We have a pleasant summer, cool microclimate”.

– I wanted to buy a house like this. But I can't afford it – regrets Kuba Szczęsny.

– If the domes were in some city in the West, would go to guides and postcards – Gosia dreams.

– We still boast about the Old Town. And yet Warsaw is a fascinating period 50. i 60. It's a modern city – reminds Krzysiek.

And housing estates? Krzysiek: – There were also twists, e.g.. Za Żelazną Bramą housing estate. But in most of the communist housing estates there is light and greenery in flats. Buildings are separated from each other, and don't stand window to window like now.

The collective from Centrala announces, that in autumn, a festival of young architecture will take place in Warsaw. Then they want to scan the city. They will promote them. To colleagues, who will pull from the world, they will show it, what Warsaw has the best and original. Co? – Pearls of the PRL architecture – they answer in chorus.

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