wroclaw | little manhattan 

residential & commercial complex, grunwaldzki square, wroclaw, 1963-1976, arch. jadwiga grabowska-hawrylak.

Last week I took one-day-trip to Wrocław to see newly opened  (after complete restoration) Four Domes Pavillion by Hans Poelzig, which now became a branch of the National Museum in Wrocław devoted to contemporary art. That wasn’t the only reason to visit the city. Wrocław can boast to be the seat of the only architecture museum in Poland. Founded in 1965 the Museum of Architecture is located in the 15th century post-Bernardine complex including former church of St. Bernardine of Siena and the adjacent cloister. I’ve been there several times, when visiting Wrocław, but this time the main reason was the exhibition devoted to the most influential woman-architect of the city — Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak (Patchwork. The Architecture of Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak, on display until 4th of September 2016).

Grabowska-Hawrylak born in 1920 in Tarnawce (now Podkarpackie, Eastern Poland) was the first woman to graduate from the Architecture Faculty of the Wrocław University of Science and Technology (Politechnika Wrocławska) after the war. For her entire professional career tied closely with Wrocław. As a young designer she worked on the post-war reconstruction of monuments of Wroclaw, then designed the first housing estates, schools and residential buildings, to later move on to developing shopping centers, recreation centers, housing complexes and churches. The exhibition being so far the largest presentation of designs and projects of Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak includes designs and drawings, movies, archival and contemporary photographs and models of the most interesting structures designed by Grabowska-Hawrylak between 1950s and 1990s.*

Although the interior of the late-Gothic church seemed to be rather difficult venue for presenting modern architecture the exhibition was surprisingly well-designed. What I liked most were the 1960s-1970s archival photographs of the architect’s realisations and architectural models prepared on the occassion of the exhibition. As Grabowska-Hawrylak became famous primarily for her project of the the residential complex at Grunwaldzki Square called Wroclaw “Manhattan” directly after the visit at the museum I moved there.

Residential & commercial complex designed by Grabowska-Hawrylak in the late sixties (1963-1976), is considered one of the finest and the most distinctive  works of architecture in post-war Poland. After the war the site remained empty since the Germans demolished several quarters with the intention of creating an airstrip here. The architect  commissioned in 1963, designed a group of six high-rise residential buildings linked by low pavilions intented for commercial  use and platforms for pedestrians, covering garages and parking lots. The use of spatial precast elements enabled to transform the facades of the high-rises into plastic, sculptural structure which harmonized with round windows used in low-rise pavilions and superstructures on the roofs as well as small architectural elements.

Precast elements forming balconies were also meant to serve as an additional outer wall with protective function. If the original concept was fully realized, precast elements would be executed in white concrete (however, now thanks to the recent restoration they’ve finally became white), the inner wall would be covered with dark-wooden cladding and the space between them would have been filled with flower pots. Initially, the architect designed only same small apartments that were supposed to be urban apartments – “second homes” for the employees of the nearby universities. However this did not happen.

Currently, the Grunwaldzki Square complex is being renovated according to the project of Marta Mnich, Mark Lambert, Natalia Rowińska, Lukasz Wojciechowski, Agnieszka noise; Consultation: Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak & Andreas Wolf.

Residential & commercial complex, Grunwaldzki Sqaure, Wrocław, 1963-1976, arch. Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak.

Residential & commercial complex, Grunwaldzki Sqaure, Wrocław, 1963-1976, arch. Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak.

Wroclaw, lato 1982 Fot. Chris Niedenthal

Residential & commercial complex, Grunwaldzki Square Wrocław, Summer 1982, Ph. Chris Niedenthal (source: Museum of Architecture press release).

Wroclaw, lato 1982 Fot. Chris Niedenthal

Residential & commercial complex, Grunwaldzki Square Wrocław, Summer 1982, Ph. Chris Niedenthal (source: Museum of Architecture press release).

_____

* Exhibiton at the Museum of Architecture is not the first presentation devoted to Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak. Between 14.4–18.6.2012.Wrocław Contemporary Museum in cooperation with Jednostka Architektury Foundation was presenting an exhibition “Above the Roofs of Wrocław. Polish-Eglish catalogue can be downloaded here.

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