A lecture from the Bydgoszcz Academy of Art cycle Grzegorz Mika
Interwar housing estates – the beginnings of Warsaw blocks of flats
Blocks and housing estates have existed in Poland for almost 90 years, constituting the most common and often deformed face of the European architectural avant-garde movement that was born in the first quarter of the 20th century. Today, the settlements of the Athens Charter and industrial buildings are associated primarily with large anonymous colonies of identical prefabricated and monotonous buildings.
From the angle of the housing experience of the communist era, the avant-garde urban planning and architecture of modernist housing estates appears to be monotonous, anonymous and of low aesthetic value. Large urban areas are often “blamed” for the destruction of social ties.
Meanwhile, the idea of “social settlements” was born out of the need to solve the problems of overpopulated industrial cities of the 19th century. The beginnings of the theory and practice of new urban planning were created on the basis of a vision of small social cells, built around cosy housing colonies built in the midst of greenery, in the vicinity of schools, shops and community centres.
Low free-standing buildings offering small, cheap and ergonomic flats were a real revolution in the standards of apartment design, furniture design, urban planning, modern architectural detail as well as the way of living and spending free time. The first modern housing estates in Poland began to be built in the second half of the 1920s, but it was only in the next decade that the Polish State was able to undertake a wider campaign of cheap construction for workers. At the same time, state and cooperative projects of the era were created by a generation of young architects, educated in the spirit of modernism. Their projects were among the outstanding examples of the Polish and Central European architectural avant-garde.
During the lecture you will hear about the problems of industrial cities of the 19th century, the beginnings of Polish modern urban planning, European models of garden cities, industrial cities, and municipal and cooperative construction, Polish pioneers of new architecture, pioneering cooperative estates such as WSM, Szare Domy or Gdynia’s TBO, and state housing initiatives – ZUS Building Association, BGK, Military Housing Fund or Workers’ Housing Estates Association.
Grzegorz Mika – architect and Warsaw lover, PhD student at the Faculty of Architecture of the Warsaw University of Technology, creator and author of the “Warsaw Modernism 1905–1939” fanpage operating since 2011.
Author of “From big ideas to big panels. The turbulent fate of Warsaw architecture,” a book nominated for the 11th Warsaw Literary Award in the “Varsaviana” category.
Author of two maps of the Open Flats Festival – “Architecture of Warsaw Reconstruction” and “Architecture of Warsaw after 1949.” Co-author of the books “MOK – Illustrated Atlas of Northern Mokotów Architecture,” “Ochota – a district with class,” “Glory of the city,” “Dispute over the reconstruction of Warsaw,” “Who will regain the Parades Square?”. Author of several dozen articles in the monthlies “Skarpa Warszawska” and “Stolica.”
He cooperates with the Warsaw Uprising Museum, History Meeting House, Gdynia Development Agency, Bęc Zmiana Foundation, Polish History Museum, Museum of Modern Art.
10.10.2018, 6pm 20 Gdańska St.