Jakub Certowicz demonstrates what life is like in 11–22 square metre apartments.
The titular micro-apartments are subject to different legal requirements than typical apartment buildings, since they are registered as hotels. This allows them to circumvent regulations concerning minimum living space, for example, or access to sunlight. In an interview for Dwutygodnik, the photographer said:
In Poland under communism, we used to live in 20-square-metre apartments due to the post-war housing shortage, but now we are living in small apartments again because the others are too expensive for many people.
People on a limited budget opt for apartments of this size, and developers are glad to sell them as micro-apartments, making them sound chic and stylish. The luxury is usually limited to the building’s lift, however, and calling the security guard a concierge.
This photograph depicts a temporary installation in a shower cubicle. One of the apartment’s two rooms is so small that the clothes airer has to be suspended from a mop. On the left is a washing machine designed for yachts, which is fed with water from the shower hose, so the shower head has been unscrewed. Interestingly, the building does have a communal laundry room, but it is inadequate to satisfy the residents’ requirements.
Jakub Certowicz’s project is a critical commentary on the Polish housing situation – the insufficient number of municipal apartments, lack of state housing support, and high prices in new, private investments. In summary, Certowicz wrote:
The urban architectural planning era is over. Nowadays, construction is no longer driven by any particular ideas, only by developers’ profits.
Originally written in Polish, translated by MB, Nov 2018
This text is part of the project Metaphors of Independence: Poland In 100 Photos.
To coincide with the centenary of Poland regaining its independence, we have created a selection of photographs that allow us to understand both yesterday and today. A hundred photographs but so much more. Find out more.