Award-winning architects unveil jaw-dropping plans for Saski Palace reconstruction
The restoration of Saski Palace has taken a step closer towards realization following the announcement that a Warsaw-based architectural studio will be in charge of its rebuilding.
The WXCA Group studio beat off competition from 11 other entries to win the coveted contract with a stunning vision of the palace’s exterior and interiors.
Posting on social media, WXCA said: “Our concept of the Palace is based on the assumption that reconstruction is never just a recreation of the walls and aesthetics of the past.
“Rather, it is a process of restoring or reshaping the city's identity while emphasizing the importance and influence of modernity.
“Therefore, it is not a return to what was, but a search for a dialogue between caring for memory and addressing current needs and conditions.”
First built in 1661 by the poet Jan Andrzej Morsztyn and modelled on the Palace of Versailles in France, in 1713 it was bought by the Saxon king of Poland August II the Strong, giving it the name used today.
It was under his rule that the whole Saxon Axis running from Krakowskie Przedmieście up to the Mirów barracks, where the Mirowska market buildings are now, was designed and built.
By the 19th century, between 1804-16, the palace housed the Warsaw Lyceum, where Fryderyk Chopin’s father was a teacher, and the Chopin family lived on the second floor.
In the times of the Congress Kingdom, the square in front of the building was used for drills and military parades.
During the November Uprising in 1830, the building was destroyed and rebuilt in 1838-42. At that time, two independent buildings with internal courtyards were built, and the main body of the palace was pulled down.
The colonnade erected at that time connected the palace to the nearby Saxon Garden.
In the interwar period, the General Staff of the Polish Army was housed in the Saski Palace and it was there that Soviet radio messages were decoded, which helped give Poland victory over the Bolsheviks in the Battle of Warsaw in 1920.
In 1923, the monument to Prince Józef Poniatowski that now stands in front of the President’s Palace was placed in front of the building, and in 1925, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was placed under the colonnade.
In 1932, the German Enigma cipher machine was broken by Polish mathematicians working in the building.
Following the outbreak of WWII, the palace was occupied by the Wehrmacht. In December 1944, after the fall of the Warsaw Uprising, the palace and the neighbouring Brühl Palace as well as the monument of Józef Poniatowski were blown up.
Only a fragment of the colonnade with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier survived, which since that time has become the unique symbol of Poland’s statehood and wartime suffering.
WXCA said: “The reconstruction process and the change of purpose of buildings for new functions make it possible to transform the internal fabric of buildings, give them a contemporary expression and create additional value in them.
“In place of the existing courtyards of the Saski Palace and tenement houses at ul. Królewska, we offered attractive and representative interiors connected with each other by clear passages.
“We open buildings that were once inaccessible to residents. Clearances and courtyards constructed in this way will constitute an extension of the space of streets and squares, which will ensure freedom of movement in various directions - between buildings, from the tenement house to the Palace or Saxon Garden, from the Palace to Piłsudski Square.
“Thanks to this, the existing pedestrian routes will remain undisturbed, and the volume of the Palace and tenement houses will not constitute an urban barrier.”