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A skyscraper, a tunnel and a consolation square. Plan for Zawiszy Square

16 of January '23

What year are we in? This question doesn't stem from the post-year problems of getting used to a new date. Looking at the provisions of the just-enacted development plan for the Zawiszy Square area, one would assume that 1973 has just begun. The city has allowed the construction of a multi-level intersection and a controversial skyscraper here.

Zawiszy Square can hardly be called an urban square. Even by Warsaw realities, its shape is far from how we imagine public spaces in the city center. It is, in fact, a huge intersection on the edge of downtown, dominated on the one hand by car traffic and streetcar infrastructure, on the other limited by a railroad trench, and surrounded by questionable architecture. The local zoning plan for the Zawiszy Square area, which has just been passed, is intended to help clean up the place.

Plac Zawiszy

Zawiszy Square

photo. Rafał Motyl / Warsaw City Hall

Everyone knows Zawiszy Square and the complicated road system, which is like a Gordian knot. This place needs a change. A new plan for the Zawiszy Square area will enable sensible street reconstruction and better development of the area.

Marlena Happach, director of the Office of Architecture and Spatial Planning of the City of Warsaw.

The plan is the first step to completely change the character of this intersection. First of all, its shape will change - the section of Grójecka Street along the icon of postmodernism - the Sobieski Hotel - will be closed. Officials mention the construction of a Linear Park in this place, although the space that will be available allows rather to arrange a larger square here.


The drawing part of the adopted development plan

Photo: UM Warszawa

About 1 hectare of land will be freed up, which is now occupied by asphalt and concrete. Streetcars and cars that travel this way today will turn earlier in the direction of Jerozolimskie Avenues, and it is along these streets that they will continue toward Zawiszy Square. This is to help the organization of traffic, today hampered by the irregular shape of the intersection and the lanes and tracks crossing in many directions.

Bad or good neighborhood?

Skwer na placu Zawiszy

photo: JEMS Architekci / Ghelamco - press materials

The aforementioned square, or park as users want it, will be built in the shadow of a 130-meter-high skyscraper. We wrote about the history of this controversial development on the portal a year ago. The plan seems to have finally resolved the issue and given the go-ahead for the plans already presented by Ghelamco, which are the work of JEMS Architects. According to officials, its construction is compositionally justified - it will serve as a kind of gateway to the downtown area. However, it will be the only high-rise building in this part of Ochota, and residents and local activists have pointed out that it will dominate the composition of the district's main thoroughfare, overshadowing the tower of the church at Narutowicza Square, today a dominant feature of the neighborhood.

public interest

The skyscraper raises controversies not only of a compositional and urban planning nature, but also of a procedural nature. The local plan for Zawiszy Square was passed without ensuring effective protection of the public interest and the interests of citizens living in the vicinity of the planned investment. - Grzegorz Wysocki points out in his article. Neighborhood residents involved in the case point to ambiguities and lack of diligence in, among other things, determining the parties to the proceedings for the issuance of development conditions, the case was referred to the Local Government Board of Appeals - and with the enactment of the plan, the proceedings became pointless, as the plan protects the interests of the developer in this regard.

welcome to the seventies

Plac Zawiszy - koncepcja z lat 70.

A mock-up of the traffic solutions of Zawiszy Square from 1972

Photo: Express Wieczorny No. 99 (26.04.1972), source:

A novelty in the plan, which was introduced at the last straight before it was enacted, is a flyover or tunnel on the square itself, taken out of the justly forgotten bag of mid-century transportation solutions. Under pressure from KO councilors, officials introduced into the MPZP a provision for the possibility of a multi-level intersection and the widening of Jerozolimskie Avenue. As Monika Beuth, a spokeswoman for the capital's City Hall, argues, " For the time being, the city does not have this type of solution in the plan, as they too generate controversy. Lukasz Puchalski, director of the City Roads Authority, also argues that the provision will remain on paper.

Skwer na placu Zawiszy

photo: JEMS Architekci / Ghelamco - press materials

Kacper Kępiński

The vote has already been cast