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A long history of design. Piotr Wędrychowicz in a film documentary on the SARP 360° platform

15 of December '22

The achievements of architects active in recent decades deserve to be documented on film with their participation. The next film in the SARP 360° platform introduces Piotr Wędrychowicz, a Poznan architect and urban planner, winner of the Honorary Award of the Poznan SARP.

Exhibitions, albums and press articles are a tried-and-true way of popularizing architecture and its creators, but the closest we get to both works and designers is the film form—much more widely and—in principle—indefinitely available on the Internet. In January, we wrote about a project by the Poznań SARP, which inaugurated the SARP 360° profile on YouTube. It serves precisely to present projects, realizations and architects—from every generation. To the five videos made available by Poznan SARP, another one has now been added: a mini-documentary introducing the figure of Piotr Wędrychowicz (b. 1938)—the 2019 recipient of the Honorary Award of the Poznan branch of SARP.

In many fields

Piotr Wędrychowicz is an important figure for Poznan's architectural community for at least several reasons, although his account lacks a large number of realizations. First, from the very beginning of his career, he combines a talent for architecture with a great sense of urban planning issues while being a winner of important competitions. Secondly, for years he was a very active animator of the architectural community in Poznan, he also worked in the planning offices responsible for the development of the city and the region, in the breakthrough year of 1989 he briefly became the architect of the city. For a long time he was also a respected academic lecturer. Third, he was president of the local branch of SARP for two terms (1996-2002). Fourth, he is still active today and often serves the next generation with his knowledge of both design and the city.

Wędrychowicz's biggest project is the earliest realization—started in 1973. We are talking about the Kopernika estate in Poznań, for which—together with Andrzej Kurzawski—he received first prize in a competition organized by SARP. And, although the estate was not built in its entirety according to the architects' intentions (truncated, as usual in similar cases, by ambitiously conceived services), it is an interesting example of large-panel housing from the 1970s.

Projekt osiedla Kopernika w Poznaniu, 1973; proj. PIotr Wedrychowicz, Andrzej Kurzawski,

Project of the Kopernika estate in Poznań, 1973; designed by PIotr Wedrychowicz, Andrzej Kurzawski,

materials by Piotr Wędrychowicz / SARP Poznań

london changed a lot

Shortly after winning the competition, Wędrychowicz left in 1974 for an internship in London, where he practiced at the Greater London Council there, participating, among other things, in the realization of housing estates. The trip was, as he recalled a few years ago at a meeting, a big contrast with the approach to design in Poland at the time. The human scale and greater attention to context and detail that he had experienced in the UK influenced his subsequent approach to design. This can be clearly seen in the winning competition entry for the 1975 revaluation of the Wildecki Market in Poznań. The design takes into account the existing tissue, provides for very little demolition, and tries to fit the form into the historical context.

Rewaloryzacja Rynku Wildeckiego z ośrodkiem usługowym, Poznań, 1977

Revitalization of Wildecki Market with a service center, Poznań, 1975

materials by Piotr Wędrychowicz / SARP Poznań

It's worth noting here that Wędrychowicz was one of the first to not only appreciate Poznań's Art Nouveau, but also intensively documented its overblown shapes as early as the mid-1970s; at the time, he was in charge of the Jeżyce district, where most of Poznań's Art Nouveau townhouses are located.

Another success was winning a competition for a housing development in the then suburban Morasko district, which was planned as part of Poznan's so-called northern development belt. To the north of the then planned (and much later realized) university campus, a new district was to be created far from the stiffness of many settlements erected at the time.

Projekt osiedla na Morasku w Poznaniu, 1977

Project of a housing development in Morasko in Poznań, 1977

materials by Piotr Wędrychowicz / SARP Poznań

crisis in urban planning

Unfortunately, Wędrychowicz's interesting urban planning projects did not live to see realization. He won competitions in the mid-1970s, just before the economic collapse and subsequent crisis, which prevented the materialization of many ambitious plans. After that, there was even less of a climate or resources to undertake similar projects. In the 1990s, the concept of rebuilding Liberty Square in Poznań did not materialize. At the time, the team led by Wędrychowicz was awarded first prize in the SARP competition in 1994. And, although looking from today's perspective, it was not a project free of questionable solutions, it was still much better than the restitution of the square's pre-war and mediocre form, which was carried out in 2005.

Projekt przebudowy placu Wolności, Poznań, 1994

Reconstruction project for Wolności Square, Poznań, 1994

materials by Piotr Wędrychowicz / SARP Poznań

Wędrychowicz also has residential buildings to his credit. Noteworthy are one of the very few multifamily houses with two-story apartments on Dąbrówki Street in the Wilda district, a complex of single-family houses on the outskirts of the Citadel and—maintained in postmodern form—a single-family house on Głazowa Street in Poznań. Related to the latter is the history of the "Points" commercial building from the early 1980s, designed by Wędrychowicz on Półwiejska Street. The spatial disposition of the interior was based on very similar principles to the Glazowa house. "Points", however, is no longer there—it was demolished during the construction of the Stary Browar trade and culture center (designed by Studio ADS).

Domy jednorodzinne proj. P. Wędrychowicza

Single-family houses by proj. P. Wędrychowicz

materials by Piotr Wędrychowicz / SARP Poznań

bridge with experience

Very often, during public discussions, Wędrychowicz draws attention to the broader context of design and the completely neglected issues of decent (and any) urban planning. In recent years, he has often spoken out on the issue of the so-called Free Tracks (he took part in the 2015 competition for the area, by the way).

piotr wędrychowicz praca i twórczość piotr wędrychowicz - praca i twórczość

P. Wędrychowicz's work and creativity

Material: SARP Poznań

The valuable knowledge of the more than eighty-year-old architect and urban planner bridges the gap between generations operating at a time when urban planning matters mattered more, and younger generations of designers and, importantly, decision-makers unaccustomed to such a holistic approach.

The figure of Vedrychovich j the house he designed is also introduced in a film from the series Domokrążcy which is part of the New Plan festival organized by the Poznań SARP and the Open Center initiative. Meanwhile, after the publication of the latest film documenting Wędrychowicz's achievements (made by the Scientific Circle of the History and Theory of Architecture and Urban Planning at the Faculty of Architecture, Poznan University of Technology), it's time for more materials about other designers—not only from Wielkopolska. Poznan SARP strongly encourages other branches of the Association to jointly develop the SARP 360 platform.


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