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Poznan's fillings, or the replenishment of urban development

07 of July '20

It has been 75 years since the last war, but Poznań is still filling in the cavities in the inner city caused by it. Rifts from later decades - the result of demolitions for the unrealized modernization of the downtown - are also being sealed. The effects are of varying quality. The denominator has been the same for years: inconsistency.

After the construction of new Poznań neighborhoods in the 1970s and 1980s, the last decade of the 20th century saw a return to sealing the downtown fabric. Admittedly, the previous decade had already seen the filling in of gaps in the frontages of the broadly defined center, but this was only a prelude to what began to happen after the political breakthrough. At that time, the city abandoned the spatial expansion decreed during the Gierek era and opted for density within the existing boundaries. Modernist concepts, with thoroughfares cutting through the center, went into the dustbin, and it was possible to build up off-road reserves without fear. Modernism also went into the drawer, so the infill buildings tried to engage in a dialogue with pre-World War I architecture.

postmodern variations

The 1990s is also a time when the archetype of the urban tenement house keeping the gabarit set back in the times of partitions is coming back into favor in Poznan. The largest number of plombings is then being built in the Jeżyce district, which was annexed to Poznań in 1900. These are mainly postmodern variations on the theme of Art Nouveau and eclecticism, acceptable in a district with less symbolic significance than the Old Town, Srodka and Chwaliszewo, which date back to the Middle Ages, and the strict center of the 19th century.

uzupełnienie zabudowy dzielnicy Śródka, 1997, proj.: Klimaszewska&Biedak

Postmodern addition to the buildings of the Śródka district, 1997, design: Klimaszewska&Biedak

photo: Jakub Głaz

In this most important area for the city, new architecture appears more cautiously and less frequently in the 1990s. In doing so, it is highly dependent on the guidelines of the city's historic preservationist. In the following decades, there are more investments, but preservationist directives play an equally serious role, only that they are sometimes different - successive heads of the MKZ office are behind them.

The first decade after 1989 is marked by the approach of then-conservationist Witold Galka. He is keen for designers to divide elevations into smaller lots in large downtown projects. This is supposed to be a reference to the old parcel and frontage divisions. Sometimes this loose retroversy makes sense, other times it is art for art 's sake - the new divisions do not always coincide with the historical ones.

Thus, in the course of a long exchange of correspondence between preservationists and designers, the first Old Town shopping center is born : Kupiec Poznański at Wiosny Ludów Square [design: Litoborski+Marciniak, 2000], whose compact body is dismembered by additions forced by conservators (they are to disappear after the modernization of the building, the start of which is planned for this year).

widok ze starego koryta Warty
(obecnie parking) na plomby z pierwszej dekady XXI wieku przy ul. Garbary

A view from the old Warta riverbed (now a parking lot) of the infill buildings from the first decade of the 21st century on Garbary Street;
on the left: a complex of buildings designed by Klimaszewska&Biedak studio, on the right: an apartment building and a hotel designed by Litoborski+Marciniak office

photo: Jakub Głaz

A similar thing is happening with the frontage on Garbary Street [proj.: Klimaszewska&Biedak]. The postmodern facade of the sizable block is cut into several tenement-like parts. A few hundred meters away, at the intersection of Garbar and Maly Garbar, the same architects create another concept in the last years of the 20th century, under the dictates of the conservator, maintained in a similar spirit. Happily, in 2005, the previously planned screen of "tenement" elevations is replaced there by a homogeneous contemporary elevation [designed by Jacek Bulat].

The vote has already been cast