Furnishing The City: Polish Design for Public Spaces
default, Pokój na lato by H2architekci, photo by MPW/archives of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, center, pokoj_na_latoproj.h2architekci_fot._chawran.pl_mat._iam.jpg
Small-scale designs can truly change our surroundings, our realities. The design of basic street furniture, such as a bench or a rubbish bin, can shape our living environment – these design can make city life easier and better for one and all. Culture.pl presents a dozen innovative designs selected by Polish curator and designer Paweł Grobelny.
Pokój na Lato by H2architekci
Pokój na Lato (A Room for the Summer) is a summer pavilion, erected next to, and by the initiative of, the Warsaw Rising Museum. The light slatted wooden structure designed by H2architekci is the perfect place to spend your summer evenings. Despite being quite open, the pavilion shields visitors from the noise from the busy streets around the museum.
The pavilion is the perfect example of a museum and cultural institution stepping out of its own four walls, moving beyond the confines of its own building. Even a museum that covers a serious topic such as the Warsaw Uprising, can create a space that is more light-hearted and open and which can offer a more extensive programme for people of all ages.
Wisła District Visual Identity System by Towarzystwo Projektowe (Grzegorz Niwiński, Jerzy Porębski & Jakub Marzoch)
The Wisła river banks in Warsaw have been transformed beyond recognition over the past few years. Neglected for decades, this part of the capital has undergone most likely the biggest transformation since 1989. Life has returned to the river and the areas along the river have earned their own visual identity system developed by Towarzystwo Projektowe (designers of the Urban Information System).
The system was expanded to include additional functions, such as exercise bars, which make it much more than a collection of signs but also an attractive solution created especially for this area.
Water Under the Bridge: The River Wisła in Literature, Music & Art
Urban Instrument by Jan Pfeifer
Jan Pfeifer has designed an object which prompts people to engage in not-so-obvious behaviour – to stop and play with… a railing. The railing he created serves as a musical instrument, to the delight of both children and adults. It is the perfect antidote to a boring daily routine.
Interventions like this one make people smile and offer spontaneous fun, an important contribution that makes urban space more attractive. Jan Pfeifer’s design was a graduation submission at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.
Poland's 11 Most Intriguing Outdoor Sculptures
Reflex by Dingflux (Joanna Piaścik)
Reflex by Dingflux (Joanna Piaścik) makes it possible to brighten the northern and eastern facades of residential buildings by attaching light-reflecting panels to the walls of neighbouring structures. These panels are made from modular elements which may be mounted next to each other so as to cover even the largest section of a wall. The installation mounted in a courtyard on Szpitalna Street catches the eye and, not only is it useful, it is also beautiful.
The design won first prize in the 2014 BMW/URBAN/TRANSFORMS competition organised by Fundacja Nowej Kultury Bęc Zmiana and BMW Group Polska.
The Oxygenerator - Joanna Rajkowska
Spring water well bottle holders by Aleksandra Jankowska
While spring water wells are not as popular as they once were in Polish cities, lots of people still use them. Aleksandra Jankowska’s design is as ingenious as it is simple, true to the core role of the designer: to create objects that make life easier. Her design helps users fill their bottles with water without having to hold them as they get heavier and heavier. Jankowska’s holder is a great help especially for elderly and less abled users.
Pregnant Lamp by Ultra Architects
Street lamps are an indispensable part of the city – so obvious that they usually remain unnoticed. The architects Tomasz Osięgłowski and Marcin Kościuch of the Poznań-based studio Ultra Architects have designed a lamppost which has an extra function: that of a nesting box for birds. The prototypes erected in Poznań were quickly populated by tits.
Swifter by Aleksandra Mohr
Swifter is another design created for cities’ bird – swifts, a species of small but useful migratory birds that have adapted to city living. Unfortunately, they build nests in the façades of buildings and the recent efforts to upgrade and insulate old buildings with a layer of Styrofoam has barred birds from the façades. Swifter is a nesting box which can be mounted on the façade of a building undergoing an upgrade. A polyurethane foam unit houses a ceramic sleeve with a nesting chamber which keeps out light.
Aleksandra Mohr’s design was a graduation submission at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk.
The Forests and Meadows of Polish Design
Tree Hollow by Menthol Architekci
Another bird-friendly design is the Tree Hollow by Menthol Architekci. It is a bird house which can be affixed onto walls of buildings or trees. The modular design allows for the addition and positioning of boxes to create different patterns – an interesting alternative to urban murals.
Silence by Paulina Kwiatkowska
What are the main downsides of living in a city? Noise pollution probably makes the top of the list. Instead of monuments, shops and institutions, the city map developed by Paulina Kwiatkowska features locations which are least exposed to city noise. Based on a publicly available app, the Warsaw Acoustic Map, the alternative map offers an interesting quest in search of silence.
Archimapa: A Digital Guide to Warsaw
Open-Air School by Aleksandra Szewc
School is not necessarily kids’ favourite place on Earth. Being cooped up in a classroom, when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping is truly a pain. But what if classes could take place outside the classroom? How about outside the school building?
Aleksandra Szewc ran with the idea and designed a set of school furniture comprised of desks that can be placed absolutely anywhere: in a park, on a square or in a football field. Moreover, the benches are created so users have to sit in a specific position, to promote a healthy posture.
The design was a graduation submission at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw
Urban Armrest by Zuzanna Czerczak
The Urban Armrest is a small, almost unnoticeable, yet very useful intervention in city space. Zuzanna Czerczak noticed that passengers waiting for a bus or tram often stand halfway up the stairs from underground passages in order to keep out of the noise or the rain. Her Urban Armrest lets them lean against the wall without getting dirty or having to touch the cold slabs of concrete of the walls. The form and material of the armrests were both inspired by rock climbing holds.
Parkower by Studio Kompott (Maja Ganszyniec, Paweł Jasiewicz, Krystian Kowalski & Marcin Krygier)
Cycling has been exponentially gaining in popularity in Polish cities. That is great news, however, most of the cities’ infrastructure does not fully support this positive transition. Bike racks are few and far between. Maja Ganszyniec, Paweł Jasiewicz, Krystian Kowalski and Marcin Krygier offer a solution, turning posts on Warsaw sidewalks into bicycle racks. Just drill an extra hole through them, and voila!
Do No Harm: An Interview With Polish Designer Maja Ganszyniec
Polish designs of urban furniture and solutions which make city living easier and better will be presented at the exhibition Urban Prototypes at Budapest Design Week 2018 from 5th to 19th October 2018.
Originally written in Polish, translated by MŁ, edited by NR, Oct 2018
contemporary polish design
urban public space
budapest design week
Discover 100 Years
of Polish Design