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Information Text: Krakow – Communism 1945-1956 - Architecture

Central Square, 2008, Photo: Beata Poręba

Nowa Huta, now the district of Kraków, is a model example of social realism architecture.  The building of Nowa Huta housing estates started on June 23, 1949 on terrain reclaimed from former villages situated there. Tadeusz Ptaszycki, Bolesław Skrzybalski, Adam Fołtyn and Zbigniew Sieradzki were the authors of the urban project modelled on the urban designs of the Warsaw architect, Franciszek Adamski.

One or two storey buildings with steep roofs made of red tiles, having neither service points nor offices on the ground floor, were the most characteristic feature of the new housing estates. One, two or three room flats had small niches instead of balconies. Simple, blockish buildings with artistically undifferentiated facades were built.

The unfinished construction of Centralny Square (Plac Centralny) designed by Janusz Ingard, and, in the years of 1952 to 1956, supervised by Tadeusz Ptaszycki, constitutes one of the best architectural examples of Polish social realism. Centralny Square is in the shape of a pentagon with three wide avenues. In the middle of it, an obelisk was to be raised. The whole design is geometric and axial. Four of the five sides, as well as the avenues radiating from the Square, were to be built over with six storey buildings containing residential and shopping arcades. A rich artistic segmentation of facades, attics and arcades reflected the socrealistic design. Also, mammoth industrial complexes such as the Nowa Huta steelworks were constructed. Their organizational design was complicated and characterized by a small amount of cooperation with outside partners. Similar plants were built in other countries of the Eastern block.

urban project: city building design

facades, attics, arcades: decoration elements

socio-realism/social realism: an epoch and ideological-artistic movement. Socialist realism – a movement in the Soviet art postulating a realistic form of artistic expression and its socialist content, for example, working class hardships and proletariat struggle. The movement was officially established in the Soviet Union in 1934, and in Poland in 1949.