Thursday, 5 May 2011

Functionalism in Warsaw

One of the most well-thumbed books on Warsaw is Architektura w Warszawie by Marta Leśniakowska (I have the 1998 edition; the book was updated in 2005). En route from a lunch meeting to an interview with Polish Radio (Trójka), I passed the post and telecommunications building on ul. Nowogrodzka 45, an excellent example of pre-war Functionalism.

Turning to my trusty tome, I discover that this was Poland's first steel-framed building, completed in 1934. I am particularly struck by the Polish eagle, rendered in functionalist style, and the wording: "Interurban telephone - telegraph - radiotelegraph". Imagine coming here in the mid-'30s to phone your relatives in Kraków or to reach a crew member on board the transatlantic liner, the MS Batory.

While considering pre-war functionalism, it's worth taking a peek at this building on Al. Na Skarpie, overlooking the Vistula escarpment. Completed in 1935, this was the villa of architect Bohdan Pniewski, a complete functionalist remodelling of what had been a masonic temple from the late 18th C. The use of stone cladding was quite revolutionary at the time (in Britain today it's associated with right-to-buy council houses trying to distinguish themselves from their neighbours).

Above: the coded inscription, which according to Ms Leśniakowska, says something like "Raising ahead he rebuilt the masonic temple and lived in it". Below: I mentioned this before, but I feel it would be worth placing the station signage at W-wa Włochy into the context of pre-war functionalism.

This time last year:
What's the Polish for 'to bully'?

This time two years ago:
Making plans

This time three years ago:
The setting sun stirs my soul

This time four years ago:
Rain ends the drought


Paddy said...

I have always wondered about the building which I now know is the Pniewski villa, which is so out of place with every other building in the city. Thanks!


Unknown said...

Wife tells me Eagles crown added post 1989 STOP look closely and you can tell STOP also remembers schoolteachers adding crowns to existing crownless eagles with white out STOP

Can one still send a telegram in modern times? STOP

Neighbour said...


Here you have more about Pniewski, truly great Polish architect:

Best regards,

ajuc said...

@Kolin: Polish Eagle have had a crown before WW2, then communists decided he doesn't need one, then after 1989 he get a new one.