Sunday, 18 June 2017

Building and the human living space

Every space we've inhabited is a man-made enclosure of space that was once a part of nature. Where you are sitting, right now, reading these words, was once a field, a meadow, a forest - then man came along, levelled the ground, laid foundations, and erected four walls with a roof over them. Building is but the first stage of that magic act of habitation.

As our house was being built, from 1999 to 2002, we'd come over from the house we were renting (it lay less than a kilometre in a straight line from the plot); we'd observing the progress phase by phase, walking into walled-off spaces that would soon become the rooms in which we would be living. An upstairs emerged, accessible at first only by a ladder. And then an attic, under a roof that took shape as the rafters were installed.

This is a process happening all over Poland, sometimes at a faster rate, sometimes pausing for a breather. Big developers, small developers, individual families. And not only houses - offices, shops, warehouses, factories, roads and bridges too. And when finished, when people move in, buildings literally encapsulate the human spirit. The drama that goes on inside, the joy, the pain, the day-to-day activities - as we go about our lives, we slough off dead skin, bacteria; we breathe in and we breathe out, - atoms of us, that were once in us, part of us, mingle with the wallpaper, the carpets, the floor. A shell of brick and wood absorbs us - who knows - our thoughts maybe, and becomes our abode. It's a bit far to go the whole supernatural thing with ghosts and that, but I believe that our houses absorb our personalities, the longer we live there, the stronger the effect gets.

Below: new houses in Jeziorki. It will be a while before they are finished, before families move in. Who will they be? How will the environment shape their lives? How will they shape Jeziorki?

Below: ten years ago - June 2007, across the tracks from the old rampa na kruszywa, new houses going up in Zgorzała. Now inhabited, a dormitory estate with one shop and little by way of character.

Below: ten years ago - June 2007, soon after take-off from Okęcie, the viaduct carrying ul. Poleczki is under construction; no sign of the S79 expressway nor of Poleczki Business Park. Ten years later, those who witnessed the construction have got so used to the way it is now that we've largely forgotten how it once was. Those who moved in, never seeing it being built, have no frame of reference.

Back to the rampa na kruszywa - you can see it in this shot from June 2007, below, at the end of ul. Nawłocka (then still unpaved). Today a large Biedronka sign in the car park is what you'd see if you stood here.

Below: more change in the built environment round these parts: ten years ago, ul. Puławska was being widened between Warsaw's boundary and Piaseczno. While this was happening, traffic was being diverted through the abandoned PGR Mysiadło. Today, Puławska's as busy as ever, these buildings remain abandoned.

Sitting here in my study, looking across at a mature garden, I can still remember when this 45 cubic metres of space that constitute the room I currently occupy, was the outdoors. A field. I can step out, walk around to the side of the house, over the fence - and I'm back in a field. But the bit of field that was once here has lost its field-like quality.

Where we live shapes our worldview.  It helps determine whether or not we're happy. Spirit of place is so important. Choosing exactly where you set down your roots should be determined by your soul, not by a pushy estate agent.


Ian Wilcock said...

I wouldn't say no character in reference to the new estate, there is a growing community that is very friendly. Of course I have to declare an interest as I live here, in fact we were the first to move into the estate in March 2008 :-)

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Ian Wilcock

Very friendly community - most important. Moved in in March 2008! I remember when it was all mud! What the estate needs is a social focal point - a village pub. Plus... not so long ago, there was a plan to built a railway station called Mysiadło between W-wa Jeziorki and Nowa Iwiczna (as well as once between Nowa Iwiczna and Piaseczno called Stara Iwiczna).

Ian Wilcock said...

A pub or decent little restaurant would be nice. Now the new line is up not sure what the gain would be in the new stations, it is not far to go to the existing ones for most. It will be interesting to see what effect the S7 has when it finally turns up.