New interactive map shows off Warsaw architecture of the 1990s
The architecture that sprouted up in Warsaw’s construction boom in the 1990s evokes extreme feelings.
While some would like to see all the kitsch and gaudy creations raised to the ground, others are pushing to have them shielded from harm by heritage protection.
To bring this legacy into the spotlight, a team of volunteers has published an online map that contains information on hundreds of buildings erected in the capital during the transformation decade.
The map was created by Aleksandra Stępień-Dąbrowska, Alicja Gzowska and photographer Maciej Leszczełowski from ARCHIwum Warszawy lat 90 and offers an inventory of over 380 buildings.
Each is accompanied by information about the architects, when it was built, who built it as well as photographs. The map can be filtered by the district, building type, and its state of preservation.
The team says, “Our aim is not to convince you that behind the layer of coloured plaster and reflective glass there are forgotten masterpieces, but rather to ensure that the narrative about the architecture of the times of political transformation is not lost.”
In the 1990s, Warsaw was the most rapidly developing city in the country. Research from 1997 revealed that 90 percent of all office buildings in Poland, 60% of new warehouse and industrial buildings and 40 percent of residential buildings were built here.
A browse through the map reveals an architectural legacy that is often overlooked. In the 1990s, Warsaw shed its communist greyness and entered a new beginning in sparkling colour.
A new phenomenon was the arrival of foreign capital. The map’s creators say that this “often brought with it its own architects and ideas - even if these had not been sold in the West, in Africa or in Asia.”
One of the best examples of this is Reform Plaza on Aleje Jerozolimskie, completed in 1999 by Turkish architect and businessman Vahap Toy. The building has variously been called Toi Toi, alluding to the ubiquitous potable blue toilets, as well as the Shower Cabinet.
The 1990s was a decade when architects’ imaginations ran wild. Office buildings, such as the Zepter Building in the Służew business district, looked like ocean liners, while family houses were built to look like palaces, reflecting the capitalist dreams of Poles.
“The building boom after 1989 meant that, whether we wanted it or not, the architecture of that period strongly shaped the new, post-communist society, becoming a signpost of aspiration,” the creators say.
According to the creators, the map is a project continually in progress. “We want to make our project as social as possible. That's why we are collecting memories from that period, and we encourage everyone who wants to co-create the map to suggest a building or help us verify the information available, “ Aleksandra Stępień-Dąbrowska wrote.
The project was co-financed by the National Heritage Institute - Together for Heritage and can be viewed at http://archiwumlat90.pl/.