Two-Tier Architecture: Famous Polish Architect Couples
no-image, Two-Tier Architecture: Famous Polish Architect Couples
These power couples built amazing things together. From housing complexes, family homes, to shopping centres, office buildings and religious structures these five couples helped shaped Polish architecture of of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Barbara and Stanisław Brukalski
Barbara (1899-1980) and Stanisław (1894-1967) Brukalski are one of the best-known couples of avant-garde architects and interior designers of the interwar and post-war periods. They were known admirers of Le Corbusier. As members of the modernist group Praesens, they were representatives of functionalism – comfortable and affordable apartments for all. In her book Women Architects, Marta Leśniakowska writes:
The Brukalskis were aware of the fact that a modern architect must become ‘an element of social organization,’ responsible to society and they defined contemporary architecture as a combination of classicism and modernism.
Their best-known joint projects are the colony known as the Warsaw Residential Cooperative in Żoliborz (1928-30; post-war continuation 1946-48) and their home and architectural studio at 8 Niegolewskiego Street, which is now considered the first avant-garde project in Poland. In 1937, this house won a bronze medal at the International Art and Technology in Modern Life Exhibit in Paris.
Zofia and Oskar Hansen
The architect couple Zofia (1924-2013) and Oskar (1922-2005) Hansen jointly designed exhibition pavilions, residential colonies in the Rakowiec neighborhood in Warsaw and the Słowacki Colony in Lublin, as well as their most controversial undertaking, the Przyczółek Grochowski (editor’s translation: Grochów Abutment) in Warsaw. In each of their projects, the Hansens built upon the principles of the theory of Open Form. Their own home in Szumin completely expresses its manifesto, being one of a small number of the couple’s structures built in line with the couple’s wishes and without the limitations of the socialist construction industry. The Polish reporter and architecture expert Filip Springer wrote in the daily Gazeta Wyborcza:
Its fundamental axiom is the transformability of architecture, the ability to adjust to the needs of its users. (…) In an ideal world, Open Form would allow people to decide not only about the layout of their apartments, but also about their height, their functional divisions and the placement and size of the windows in the façade. All this to allow each individual to ‘build their own nest.’
Ewa and Stefan Kuryłowicz
Ewa (born 1953) and Stefan (1949-2011) Kuryłowicz are the owners and creators of one of the largest contemporary architectural studios, Kuryłowicz & Associates, whose work has left a lasting impact on the landscape of Warsaw.
In the capital, at least fifty structures were designed by their studio: office buildings, religious structures, residential complexes and public utility buildings. Among others, these include the headquarters of the Warsaw Rowing Society, the Modlin airport and the Plac Unii shopping centre, which, standing on the former site of the famous Supersam, caused controversy and stirred up emotions among the residents of Warsaw. On the Polish architecture website Bryła.pl we read:
Prof. Ewa Kuryłowicz for years as an architect remained in the shadow of her husband, Prof. Stefan Kuryłowicz, who died tragically in June 2011. (…) Ewa Kuryłowicz, as her husband often emphasised, was the co-author of the majority of the work coming out of the studio. (…) It is said that the failure to build the Barnabite Church in Warsaw’s Stegny district as it was designed by Ewa Kuryłowicz in a competition in 1988 was a loss for Polish architecture. She had designed a glass, semitransparent, illuminated rectangular container. In its place, a brick, styleless, historicizing structure arose.
Maria and Kazimierz Piechotka
Maria (born 1920) and Kazimierz (1919-2010) Piechotka studied architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology. Starting in 1947, they worked professionally in tandem, designing, among others, the residential complexes Bielany I-III (1951-1963) listed among the Treasures of Contemporary Culture, the Medical Professional Development Institute on Marymoncka Street (1958-1965) and the residential neighborhoods of Słodowiec (1963-1964) and Aleja Zjednoczenia (1964-1965).
Starting in the mid-1960s, the Piechotkas conducted research on the industrialsation of residential n construction, but it is their work on the history of architecture, particularly as reflected in Jewish heritage, that is better known. Their books Wooden Synagogues (1957), Heaven’s Gates: Wooden Synagogues in the Territories of the Former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1996) and Heaven’s Gates: Brick and Stone Synagogues (1999) rescued many synagogues from oblivion.
Helena and Szymon Syrkus
Helena (1900-1982) and Szymon (1893-1964) Syrkus worked together in designing and in creating an architectural theory in which they postulated the industrialisation of residential construction. This theory was put into practice in the buildings of the Warsaw Residential Cooperative in Rakowiec (1934-1938) and in homes in Łódź, Marysin and Grudziądz. They were constructed from repeating segments with bedrooms on the mezzanine level. Their façades were made of prefabricated materials and wood, which created an attractive visual effect at low cost.
They conducted their experiments in novel construction primarily for private clients. Examples include: a house built on a steel base on Jasiowa Street in Konstancin (Skolimów) in 1930, the villa at 26 Katowicka Street in Warsaw (1936), a villa in Sosnowka near Pińsk (1937), the houses at 12 Walecznych and 8 Estońska (1938). They used an iron-concrete construction for the residential buildings on Jaworzyńska Street in Warsaw (1936-1937). The tenement houses they built were modestly appointed from mass-produced elements, but with great attention to details and aesthetics.
After the war, they worked in the Capital Reconstruction Office, soon returning to the theme of industrialization of residential architecture and developing apartments for high-rise apartments of concrete slab construction. In this, they encountered many problems stemming from decisions of the authorities, economic and material limitations and poorly developed technology. Their residential colonies in Warsaw’s Kolo and Praga were among the first examples of post-war architecture inscribed in the landmark registry.
Sources: sztetl.org.pl, bryla.pl, culture.pl, compiled by AS, 18 Feb 2017, translated by YJR, Aug 2017
contemporary polish architecture