Poland’s ‘most beautiful swing’ resembling Szczecin’s iconic shipyard cranes returns after national tour
Hailed by many as the most beautiful in the country, a swing resembling Szczecin’s iconic shipyard cranes has returned home following a much-publicized nationwide tour.
Now settled on the city’s Plac Orła Białego, the four-metre high structure features a twin pair of cranes holding a swing-bench between them.
Modelled on the cranes that locals have long affectionately known as the ‘Dźwigozaury’, the originals were constructed in the 1930s, most likely by the German firm Krupp.
Built to handle cargo coming in and out of the port, they were renovated numerous times after the war, most recently in 2017 after PLN 550,000 restoration saw them repainted in their original colours of brown, green and yellow.
A much-loved feature of the city’s skyline, the cranes have now been exposed to an even greater audience after a municipal project saw these landmarks reimagined as a public bench.
Shrunk to an approximate scale of 1:14, and featuring a swing capable of seating five people, the task was realized by Metal Madness, a Szczecin-based firm specializing in high-quality metalwork.
Speaking to TFN, Piotr Ratajczak of Metal Madness said: “We tried to replicate the cranes as accurately as possible, which meant making personal visits to take photographs as well as flying a drone so as to capture the cranes from every possible angle.”
Commissioned by the voivodeship following a competitive process the challenges, says Ratajczak, were numerous.
“It was a tight deadline,” he says, “so we had a team of six or so people working seven days a week and well beyond normal working hours.
“Moreover, we had to think logistically of how to build the crane inside our workshop before being able to take it out.”
The challenge, however, was relished.
“Our metalworker manager is a real artist,” says Ratajczak, “and you could literally see his eyes light up when we received this job. It was a real break from the norm so everyone threw themselves into it – even though there was little time to turn it around, it pumped us with energy. Yes, it was demanding, but it was constructed with the greatest of pleasure.”
Weighing four tons, the idea for the metal masterpiece was coined by authorities who saw it as a novel way of promoting the region.
Olgierd Geblewicz, the Marshal of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship, said: “The cranes are symbolic of our port city, while the swing brings to mind joyfulness and rest.”
Subsequently taken on tour, the swing became one of the unlikeliest attractions of the Pol’and’Rock Festival, and has also since touched down for extended periods in Warsaw, Łódź, Wrocław, Gdańsk and Rzeszów.
“We wanted to send a bit of our fine West Pomeranian climate around Poland,” added Geblewicz. “In this way, we hoped to encourage people in other cities to visit us and learn a little more about the things to see in Western Pomerania.”
Winning top prize in the Micro Enterprise category of a 2019 business competition conducted by the voivodeship, it’s proved another affirmation of the versatile talents of Metal Madness.
“We tend to specialize in things like stairs, partition walls, lofts, furniture, etc.,” says Ratajczak, “but as unusual as this commission was it was by no means the strangest – for example, previously we executed an art project that was quite sexual in its content: I’d go as far as to even call it really rather spicy!”
Though more conservative, the cranes have themselves not been short of press, and their appearance around Poland’s towns saw them become a favourite on social media over the summer.
“We’ve been so busy that we haven’t followed the press,” says Ratajczak, “but for sure we’re delighted to hear that the feedback has been so positive. Although we’re more used to doing everyday stuff, we love these kind of projects and I think this is something we can really be proud of.”
In Szczecin, the success of the benches has been equally well-received. Set to remain in the city until at least January of next year, another domestic tour is currently being planned for 2022.
So too, say authorities, are other similar projects aimed at showcasing the region.