Check out the A&B portal!

Pastelosis on blocks can be avoided. The Gdynia realization shows it perfectly!

30 of August '22

"Pastelosis" is something we are already used to. On the walls of blocks of flats in every part of Poland we can find mottled paintings, springing up like mushrooms after the rain with the economic transformation of the late 20th century. Can anything be done about the problem of "pastelosis"? The Traffic Design collective shows the solution.

Nowe murale na blokach przy ulicy Bohaterów Starówki Warszawskiej

New murals created on blocks of flats on Bohaterów Starówki Warszawskiej street

photo: Rafał Kołsut | © Traffic Design

The murals on Płyta Redłowska are a response to the tragic state of Polish space - the "pastelosis" manifested in the tragically mottled colors of the renovated facades of multifamily buildings built during the communist era. Traffic Design Association decided to go beyond the pattern and create a mural that is simultaneously a visual identification, street name and building number.

Nowe murale na blokach przy ulicy Bohaterów Starówki Warszawskiej

The author of the project is Jacek Wielebski

Photo: Rafał Kołsut | © Traffic Design

Natalia Wielebska answers about where the idea for this type of murals came from, who signs up for Traffic Design and the association's plans for the future

Wiktor Bochenek: Where did the idea to use such visual identification on the facades of blocks come from?

Natalia Wielebska (Traffic Design): The realization on the buildings on Bohaterów Starówki Warszawskiej Street was created as part of a subscription cooperation with the city, which allows us to test new design solutions and introduce design into Gdynia's public space.

: What do the murals refer to? How was the idea for them born?

Natalia: We are committed to looking for aesthetic systemic or individual solutions that can be introduced during the renovation of post-war blocks. We started these activities in 2017, implementing the first project of this kind on Lelewela Street in Gdynia (by Jacek Wielebski). At the time, photos of the building repainted in white rather than any of the pastel colors popular on the blocks attracted record interest from our social media audience.

In 2018, another block designed by Jacek Rudzki was created as part of the Design and Urban Art Biennale. It was also an opportunity to debate how to renovate blocks in general - what is the so-called "pastelosis" and whether white is always a good solution. Since then we have been doing individual block projects. Sometimes we hear back from residents and representatives of communities from different cities asking us to intervene.

The projects refer to the aesthetics of futurism

photo by Rafał Kołsut | © Traffic Design

The design was primarily concerned with making the building numbers well exposed. The whole design is set on a grid, and the lines used are a direct result of the architectural divisions. The aesthetic refers to the decor characteristic of modernism. In 2017, Jacek Wielebski and Rafał Kołsut collected photographic documentation of examples of modernist decorative elements from various Polish cities. This material is the inspiration for many of our projects.

We treat it as a form of departure from painting representational murals on the top walls, operating with large patches of color. In this project, the starting point was architecture, geometric patterns that refer to the aesthetics of futurism, based on simple shapes - they emphasize the form of the building and the atmosphere of the times in which it was built.

: Will we see more murals as part of Traffic Design activities?

Natalia: Our upcoming activities are first and foremost the Traffic Design Biennial 2022. This year we will present six realizations that expand our spectrum of activities with new materials and technologies: recycled plastic from cum and nets, biotin based on hake. There will also be some classics: a lettering mural, illustrative sculptures and a mural in the aesthetics of road signs.

The visual identification solved in this way is much better than what we encounter on Polish housing estates

photo by Rafał Kołsut | © Traffic Design

per aspera ad astra

The Traffic Design Association is primarily known for its unique realizations in Gdynia. The collective has created new visual identities for small local businesses, schools and milk bars, as well as car repair shops. They don't just stop at signs, they create unique metallographs, insect hotels or art installations. Working with the local government, cooperatives, small business and residents, Traffic Design shows what it looks like to create a better public space from scratch, with each action having a greater impact on local reality.

interviewed: Wiktor Bochenek

The vote has already been cast