Kapuściński’s crumbling childhood home to get 2 mln PLN makeover and be turned into a ‘Centre of Reportage’
Two Finnish-style wooden houses where reporter and writer Ryszard Kapuściński once lived are to be revitalised and turned into a Centre of Reportage and writers’ meeting point.
Located in Warsaw’s Pola Mokotowskie district, the houses are a remnant of the 167 wooden huts gifted to Warsaw by the USSR in 1945 and are registered in the directory of monuments.
Between 1946-1955, one of them was home to Ryszard Kapuściński, who lived there with his parents and sister between the ages of 14-23.
Kapuściński, sometimes nicknamed ‘the emperor of reportage’ became famous for his reports about Africa, where he stayed for six years while working for the Polish Press Agency.
One of his best known books is ‘The Emperor’ about the aftermath of the deposition of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie.
In one of his essays, ‘Morning walk’ (‘Spacer poranny’), published shortly after his death in 2007, Kapuściński described the Finnish house as: “That cosy house, without a bathroom, without central heating, was a luxury, was happiness, when we had hitherto been cooped up (a four person family) in a tiny kitchen, in ruins on the site of a brick and cement storehouse by Srebrna street.”
The planned revitalisation is being supported by the writer’s daughter Rene Maisner and his wife Alicja Kapuścińska, who say they want to help in the revitalisation of the place which was such an important setting in Kapuściński’s upbringing and where he spent a lot of his time strolling and writing.
Warsaw Councillor Marek Szolc said: “Now in this place, other writers will have the chance to create, those for whom Kapuściński remains an example.
“It will be a place bringing together his fans. An institution which will be a platform of meetings between people interested in reportage.”
Journalist and author Dawid Krawczyk said: “For many young writers, Kapuściński is an idol. I will be very glad to visit it when the place is set up.
“I hope it will be possible to both write there as well as discuss paragraphs with other writers and friends.”
The two houses were still inhabited until 2010 when an education trail following in the footsteps of Kapuściński’s morning strolls was opened, but after the last inhabitants moved out, they began to fall to ruin and fears, articulated in the press in 2018, suggested that Kapuściński’s former house would fall into a state beyond repair.
The finalised plans for renovation of the two Finnish houses and the transformation of one of them into a Centre of Reportage is expected to cost around 2 million PLN.