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Between reconstruction and reference. The identity of Gdansk architecture

29 of August '22

Gdansk with its historic center, completely destroyed after World War II, is a clear example of reconstruction. At the same time, the historic center is, on the one hand, a field for the realization of architectural icons of recent years, and on the other hand, a strong developer pressure. The question of what makes up the identity of contemporary Gdansk is sought to be answered by the next installment of the exhibition "Identity. 100 years of Polish architecture".

The exhibition is the next edition of the project of the National Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning, implemented this year in conjunction with the local branches of the Association of Polish Architects. Based on the original concept from 2019, when NIAiU organized the exhibition simultaneously in five cities, more are now being added, and the exhibition is visiting different regions of Poland in a mobile format. After Bydgoszcz, Lodz and Szczecin, the time has come for Gdansk. From here, the exhibition will travel to Olsztyn and Radom.

Widok wystawy

View of the exhibition

Photo: Kacper Kepinski / NIAiU

What makes Gdansk so interesting in terms of architecture? It is determined by the special atmosphere of the downtown, which consists of several parts. The most important of these is the Main City, with its Gothic and Renaissance era buildings, shaped from the 14th to the 17th century, during the heyday of the Hanseatic League, demolished during World War II and carefully rebuilt later with numerous changes flowing from the ideas of modernism. It's also an Old Town with an 800-year-old mill, numerous churches and its own town hall, suburbs with preserved bastions from the 17th century and contemporary waterfront housing developments.

wernisaż wernisaż

View of the exhibition

Photo: Kacper Kepinski / NIAiU

Granary Island is a special case of a contemporary reconstructing area of the city. Situated in an extremely attractive location and neglected for years, today it is experiencing a renaissance with new architecture referring (sometimes only in urban planning) to the historic shape of the buildings. The new cultural buildings - icons of modern architecture in Pomerania - are commonly associated with contemporary architecture in Gdansk. These include the headquarters of the Shakespeare Theater, the World War II Museum and the European Solidarity Center.

Widok wystawy

View of the exhibition

photo: Kacper Kępiński / NIAiU

Representatives of SARP, including Justyna Borucka - curator of the Gdansk exhibition - who were present at the opening of the exhibition, drew attention to another important aspect of local identity, i.e. the inclusion of Gdansk in the broader context of the Tricity, functional and spatial connections. They encouraged a joint debate on architecture and its identity. The director of NIAiU, Boleslaw Stelmach, and Malgorzata Chmiel - an architect, long-time councilor of Gdansk, and today a PO deputy- also spoke. She pointed out the need to reform the urban planning system and considered the possibility of returning to the idea of master plans.

wernisaż wernisaż

Exhibition opening

photo: Kacper Kępinski / NIAiU

So how can the architectural identity of Gdansk be defined? It stems from the metropolitan identity, and is contextual and multifaceted. The exhibition presents a slice of the rich and extensive architectural tradition of the metropolitan region using the example of interesting realizations located in Gdansk.

Tożsamość. 100 lat polskiej architektury, Gdańsk

Identity. 100 years of Polish architecture, Gdansk


Identity. 100 years of Polish architecture. Gdansk

Curator: Justyna Borucka
Coordination and production: Weronika Soltysiak
Exhibition architecture: Centrala - Malgorzata Kuciewicz, Simone De Iacobis
Exhibition graphic design: Tomasz Bersz
Organizer: National Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning
Cooperation: Association of Polish Architects
Media patrons: Architektura Murator, Architektura&Biznes
Co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage
Cardboard for the exhibition elements was produced at DS Smith Polska

Facebook event: LINK

27.08-15.10 2022

Opening hours
Monday - Friday 10.00 - 14.00
admission free

SARP, St. George's Brotherhood Court, 27 Targ Węglowy Street, Gdańsk

Kacper Kępiński

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