Poland Architecture and Literature

Poland Architecture


Crossroads of cultures, victim of war, of a planned economy first and then of free-market logic, Poland is a country of strong contrasts; member of the European Union since 2004, it has tried to erase the wounds of the past by recovering its own cultural identity. Although not spared by the general economic crisis of 2009, the list of investments, public and private, even in the absence of an overall urban plan and adequate instruments for controlling the territory, is nevertheless impressive. In Krakow alone there are many new projects, among which deserve to be mentioned: the tourist information center CORT Po-wiśle (2006), the work of the Imb Asymetria studio; the reconstruction of the stadium (2007-10), based on a project by the Lamela studio; the cycle / pedestrian bridge dedicated to Father Laetus Bernatek (2010) on the Vistula, the work of Andrzej Getter, which connects the city center with a new museum complex on the opposite bank. The latter includes a new section of the Historical Museum housed in Oskar Schindler’s restored administrative building (2010); the MOCAK (Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow, 2010), in the former Schindler factory, designed by the Italian Claudio Nardi; the Muzeum Tadeusza Kantora i ODSTK Cricoteka (2007-2014), by nsMoonStudio and Biuro Architektoniczne Wizja. The most recent cultural investment in the city is still the Ice Kraków Congress Center, designed by IEA + Arata Isozaki & Associates, inaugurated in October 2014. No less impressive were the tourism and sports infrastructure projects, given the role that Poland played as co-organizer of the European football championships of 2012. The new Stadion Narodowy (2008-12) was built in Warsaw, which was awarded the World stadium award in 2012, by JSK Architects and Schlaich Bergermann and Partners, while in 2008 it was the extension of Terminal 2 of the airport, and in 2014 that of Terminal 1, both the work of the aforementioned Lamela studio.

In recent years Warsaw, the country’s capital and main city, has seen a series of important projects such as: the Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego (2004) by Wojciech Obtułowicz; the Rondo ONZ Tower office tower (2006) by SOM – Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; the Chopin Muzeum (2010), the work of the Italian studio Migliore + Servetto Architetti associates; the Chopin Center office building (2010), by Stelmach i Partnerzy; the Copernicus Science Center (2010), of RAr-2 Studio Laboratory of Architecture; the Historical Museum of Polish Jews (2013) by Lahdelma & Mahlamäki + Kuryłowicz & Associates; Christian Kerez’s Museum of Modern Art (2014). Symbols of market optimism still appear, although slowed by the crisis, Zaha Hadid’s projects for the Lilium tower,


According to usprivateschoolsfinder, the Polish literature of the early years of the new millennium carries on the critique of identity models of the past and discovers the existence of multiple narratives of the world, privileges subjective and minority points of view, showing particular attention to ambivalent realities and a widespread taste for formal contamination. The propensity for magic still prevails in the mythicizing prose of Olga Tokarczuk (b.1962), increasingly interested in the exploration of ‘mobile identities’ (Bieguni, 2007, I corridori), or in the poetic one by Magdalena Tulli (b. 1955). Fruitful of the trend of ‘small homelands’, characterized by the nostalgic idealization of multiculturalism of individual cities or regions, in which Stefan Chwin (b.1949) and Paweł Huelle (b.1957; Mercedes-Benz, 2001, trans. 2007; Castorp, 2004), but also Andrzej Stasiuk (b. 1960), with interesting travel stories in which the author finds refuge in the peripheries of central-eastern Europe; Wiesław Myśliwski (b. 1932) returns to arouse interest, in whose novels the Polish countryside is the background for a philosophical epic. Jerzy Pilch (b. 1952) tackles individual and collective obsessions with a taste for the grotesque, a style also favored by Manuela Gretkowska (b. 1964), but with a desecrating function towards some Polish mental habits. Among the other writers who started from critical positions and feminist themes, Joanna Bator (b. 1968) deserves a mention. Of the younger generation, a prominent place is occupied by Dorota Masłowska (b. 1983), whose novel Wojna polsko-ruska podflagą biało-czerwona had great echo.(2002; trans. It. Take it all, 2004), a parodic camouflage of the Polish patriarchal, nationalist and heteronormative culture, and Michał Witkowski (b. 1975), whose novels are inspired by the Camp aesthetics (Lubiewo, 2005; Margot, 2009). In the limelight genres such as reportage, for which recognized reference points remain for many Hanna Krall (b.1959) and Ryszard Kapuściński (1932-2007), science fiction (Jacek Dukaj, b.1974, is the heir of Stanisław Lem) and fantasy (still dominated by the figure of the master Andrzej Sapkowski, n. 1948).

Poetry takes on the worries linked to the fragmentation of the subject or to one’s own cognitive impotence, but not without a large recourse to irony. This applies to the aestheticizing nihilism of Andrzej Sosnowski (b.1959), or to those poets who try to recompose chaos into the order of a form, such as Jarosław Mikołajewski (b.1960), Adam Wiedemann (b.1967) or Tomasz Różycki (n. 1970; Świat i antyświat, 2003, Mondo e antimondo), but not even the metaphysical poetry of Wojciech Bonowicz (b. 1967) is capable of reading symbols (Pełne morze, 2006; transl. It. Open sea, 2012). A process of identity demolition is carried out in the verses of Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki (b.1962) or Bożena Keff (b.1948; Utwór o Matce i Ojczyźnie, 2008, trans. it. Mother, homeland, 2011). The cult poets of the 1990s, Marcin Świetlicki (b.1961) and Jacek Podsiadło (b.1964) remain faithful to their own ‘rebellious’ poetics.

In the theatrical field, the vein of Bogusław Schaeffer (b. 1929) continues to express itself between the absurd and the grotesque. Tadeusz Słobodzianek (b. 1955) explores ethical and philosophical issues in a personal dialogue with tradition, returning to the relationship between Poles and Jews in Nasza klasa (2008, Our class). Psychological is the theater of Ingmar Villqist (pseud. By Jarosław Świerszcz, b. 1960), while that of the group of authors of the so-called porno pokolenie isdecidedly oriented towards today. (“Porn generation”, named after a successful 2003 anthology), including Michał Walczak, Paweł Sala, Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk, Magdalena Fertacz, who tackle the problems of the new Polish society, between capitalism and media invasion, or themes considered taboo, related to sexuality or violence in family relationships.

Poland Architecture