Spruce wood bus shelters in honour of ‘Świdermajer style’ brighten up Otwock streets
Referencing the Świdermajer architectural style that trended across Poland in the late 19th and early 20th century, the streets of Otwock are in the process of being embellished by a series of spruce wood bus shelters that pay subtle homage to the intricate wooden villas that the town is well-known for.
Though the first such shelter made its debut in 2019, it was only recently joined this month by a second – now, such has been the public’s response, approximately a dozen more are in the pipeline.
Doubling as “green educational galleries”, features of the bus stops include information boards detailing aspects of local history as well as texts dedicated to the wildlife found lurking in the pine forests that fringe the town.
The Mayor of Otwock, Jarosław Margielski, has praised the initiative as a unique way to promote the town:
“The gradual introduction of bus shelters that take into account the Świdermajer style whilst also serving as educational galleries is one of the tools with which we can change the image of the city,” he said.
Serving the Orla street stop, the latest shelter cost a cool PLN 25,000, of which PLN 20,000 was covered via a grant awarded by PSE, a state-owned transmission systems operator, as part of their “Strengthen Your Environment” program.
The project was realized by enJoiner, a Warsaw-based design studio specializing in carefully crafted wooden structures.
“The shelters are one of the steps that are being taken to revitalize Otwock,” say enJoiner.
“They’ve been built using new technology, such as laminated BSH timber, and the wood has been protected with colourless impregnants. This method of finishing the wooden elements will not only protect against biodegradation and insects, but also allow the material to take on a silvery colour over time.”
The roofs, meanwhile, have been purposefully planted with vegetation. “The use of a green roof will reduce the temperature below on warmer days and also promotes biodiversity,” say enJoiner. “Although we’ve not copied the original Świdermajer style, we wanted to highlight and emphasize this element of the city’s identity.”
First coined by painter and architect Michał Elwiro Andriolli, the Świdermajer architectural style was inspired by both existing trends and those fomented at the 1873 World Fair in Vienna, whilst also giving a nod to the wooden architecture of Podhale as well as the aesthetics applied to traditional Russian dachas, Alpine cottages and buildings of rural Mazovia.
Famous for providing illustrations for the first editions of such classic tomes as Pan Tadeusz and Konrad Wallenrod, Andriolli lived a true life of adventure – imprisoned for anti-Tsarist activities, he was pardoned in 1880 and returned to Poland whereupon he settled by the Świder River that runs near Otwock.
Here he designed not only a house for himself, but also a dozen or so others to which figures such as Władysław Reymont would later head to on holiday.
Defined by their ornate decorations, porches and lace-like exterior patterning, the style soon took off, particularly in the local area where it found itself widely mimicked in the summer homes of Warsaw’s middle class – not to mention further afield in spa towns such as Nałęczów.
Though many of these villas have since gone to seed – or have disappeared altogether – a concerted effort is now being made to preserve those that have survived the vicissitudes of time.
That they have been used as inspiration for Otwock’s future-forward bus shelters is a timely tribute to Andriolli’s lasting legacy.
To read more about Andriolli click here.