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Barbara Brukalska

Barbara Brukalska in 1927. photo: family collections.
Barbara Brukalska in 1927. photo: family collections.

Avant-garde architect and interior designer, architecture theorist, member of Praesens group. The first woman-professor at Warsaw University of Technology. Wife of Stanisław Brukalski, also a renown architect. Born 4 December 1899 in Brzeźce, died 6 March 1980 in Warsaw.

In her book Architektki Marta Leśniakowska describes her as follows:

She used to dream about studying architecture, but her first choice was agriculture and gardening in Puławy, a field of study quite common among females of petty bourgeoisie. Even though she did not graduate in this field, gardening was ever-present in her designs.

In 1921 Barbara Brukalska got accepted for Architecture Department of Warsaw University of Technology, where she not only met her future husband, but also became a first woman-professor of that Academy in 1948. He 1920s, together with her husband, she joined a modernist group Praesens. On a blog Design po polsku, Piotr Wiśniewski writes about them:

The members of Praesens wanted to get away from traditional forms in architecture and visual arts, similar to Bauhaus from Weimar Republic, De Stijl from The Netherlands, or Russian Wchutiemas. They opted for standardisation and industrialisation of architectural designs in order to provide comfortable and functional housing available not only to well-off minority.

These ideas were implemented by the couple ever since the 1930s, when they designed a housing estate often called the colonies of Warsaw Housing Cooperative in Żoliborz, as well as their own house on Niegolewskiego street.

Their home in Żoliborz is the first avant-garde building in Poland. It has a very characteristic façade, clearly inspired by neoplastic conception, as well as terrace on a flat roof. It is a representative of so called ‘international style’, which is inspired on the outside by De Stijl, however, on the inside, by La Roche – Le Corbusier’s villa in Paris.

After WWII Brukalska chose to her on her own. She was in charge of expanding Dom pod Orłami (1948-1950). She was also responsible for designing several important constructions, such as housing estate in Okęcie (1960), Matysiaks’ House in Warsaw (1965), church in Troszyn (1956-75) and church in Sypniewo (1971-74).

Along with her architectural career, Brukalska also pursued her interests in interior design, especially furniture. One of her most notable achievements is the room design in Polish Pavilion during World’s fair in Paris in 1937. It had a wooden column, brick-and-stone fireplace, light-frame, glass-and-aluminium table, ash coffee table, vivid, raspberry-red leather couch and hanging chair upholstered with pelts. Pelts were also used to adorn walls of the room. In a further part of her book, Marta Leśniakowska writes:

The furniture and interiors designed by Barbara Brukalska, or with her help, clearly have this kind of woman’s touch to them. It is, by the way, a distinctive feature of all her work.

The architect is among the creators of contemporary Polish housing design. She authored theoretical works in the subject, such as Zasady społeczne projektowania osiedli mieszkaniowych [trans. Social rules of housing estates design] (1948), where she describes conceptions and experiences gained while designing for WHC.

In 2011 Barbara and Stanisław Brukalscy’s Award was established by Association of Żoliborz Inhabitants in order to acknowledge the best construction project in Żoliborz.

Sources: culture.pl, nagrodabrukalskich.pl, zsah.blox.pl. Edited by AS, 23.02.2017, translated by ASob

The architect's home turf is often the space that serves as a true manifesto of the creator's own... Read more about: At Home with the Architect

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Culture.pl
2017/03/02

Barbara Brukalska

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Halina Skibniewska in her office, 1963, photo: Wiesław Stasiak / PAP

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