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Hits and kits, or a summary of the year 2021 in architecture (part I)

04 of January '22

The end of December - because that's when we finished preparing the January issue - is the best time for all kinds of summaries. And like every year, we ask practitioners and architecture critics to write what they consider a success and what they consider a failure in a given year. We do it in the convention of Kits and Hits. We give our Authors and Authors total freedom of expression and exceptionally we do not moderate this discussion. We are simply very curious about it.

Monika Archinskaya on hits and putts in 2021
From A&B issue 01|2022



It's hard to say whether it's a rebound after lex Szyszko, a love of nature after the coronavirus shutdown, or simply a rise in environmental awareness, but it looks like Poland is finally starting to green up tentatively. Municipalities are planting trees, the term "concretosis," coined by Jan Mencwel, has become as recognizable as "pastelosis" once was, and Kutno is no longer associated with late-night shifts, but with a certain project that inspired many Internet memes. Awareness of the importance of greenery is growing, everyone seems to already know what retention is, planned tree cuts are protested, and petitions to turn parks into parking lots are ridiculed. Ba, even the Breakthroughs Dialogue Center is about to go green, and by Robert Konieczny. We're waiting for a roller-skating slalom between flowerbeds.

architecture for the people

The stage of high-budget educational and cultural facilities closed with the turning off of the tap of EU funds for this purpose. Instead, recent years, including the past year, have been exceptional in terms of the quality of smaller, more modest investments with these functions. The library in Glucholazy designed by the Domicz studio, schools and kindergartens - including those in Opole's Malina by the PORT studio, or the invariably sensational designs by xystudio - are just a few examples of quality rarely seen in similar investments just a decade or two ago. The post-pandemic need to meet and integrate is fostering the emergence of more attractive public spaces and communal Local or Intergenerational Activity Centers. Standards and the presentation of good examples and practices, such as Warsaw's "School Well Built" and the school theme of this year's WARSAW UNDER CONSTRUCTION, are helping to achieve high quality projects.



The failure of the Mieszkanie+ program, the snail's pace of development of housing cooperatives, seventy-meter houses without building permits and more examples of doe urbanism are just some of the housing weaknesses. And on top of all this, the crazy jump in real estate prices and little change - despite the pandemic - in the short-term rental market make the narrative of treating housing as more than a commodity seem incomprehensible. As a salve to housing poverty, there remain more sensibly designed TBSes and the fashion for living in tenements, so that the pre-war fabric is beginning to undergo solid modernization. It is also encouraging to see the use of the developer's lex for a good purpose (including for the introduction of apartments in the mono-fuckable Mordor) and the conversion of post-industrial buildings into real lofts, but these are still rather raisins in a cake with a big crock.

less money for local governments

Less money in local government budgets due to the New Deal is very likely to translate into savings for public investment. One would like well-designed public housing, meaningful public spaces and their further greening, but if tenders for documentation return, with price as the only criterion, it will be difficult to acquire quality projects. It will also be easier to decide to cut budgets for participation or environmental education, since they don't seem to be matters of first necessity. But maybe this situation will bring a revival of grassroots activities and make residents take matters into their own hands.

Monika Arczyńska

The vote has already been cast