Apartment blocks and housing estates, 1961-1972

In the 1960s and 1970s, Chrząszczowa created a series of documentations of housing estates newly built in various districts of Warsaw, including Śródmieście, Rakowiec, Żoliborz and Bielany. Among them are high-rises, apartment blocks, multi-dwelling units, as well as residential complexes designed according to the socialist principles of the prewar Warsaw Housing Cooperative (WSM). Chrząszczowa photographed construction sites or, in some cases, freshly completed developments that had just been inhabited. The images of housing estates surrounded by large empty plots or, conversely, of gaps in the urban tissue being infilled with new buildings, constitute a unique documentation of Warsaw’s postwar architectural development.

Residential buildings, Marchlewskiego Street

Marchlewskiego Street, today’s Aleja Jana Pawła II, was, the communist authorities decided, to receive stately socialist-realist architecture. The stretch south of the intersection with the East-West Route (Aleja Solidarności) retains this fine character thanks to developments in the Muranów and Mirów neighbourhoods. Chrząszczowa documented the construction of seven- and nine-story high-rises, with services and shops on the ground floor, along the northern stretch of Marchlewskiego Street, between Anielewicza and Stawki streets. As the distance from the city centre grows, the architecture becomes less majestic and more residential in character.
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Development at the corner of Miodowa and Długa streets

From behind new buildings forming a courtyard with a playground emerge the towers of the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army and the wall of houses at Krakowskie Przedmieście Street. On the other side of the courtyard, between the buildings, can be seen a new development of eleven-story blocks at Trasa W-Z. Chrząszczowa’s documentation shows how new development encroaches upon the very city centre.
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Development at Stołeczna Street, Żoliborz district

The triangular area between Stołeczna (today Popiełuszki), Broniewskiego and Krasińskiego streets is commonly known as the ‘Żoliborz V-neck’. The apartment blocks developed there between 1958 and 1961 to a design by Bohdan Lachert and Stanisław Piotrowski surrounded the Stefania Sempołowska High School building, completed two years prior. Chrząszczowa photographed also the nine-story high-rises by the rail bridge at Stołeczna Street.
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Development at Sanocka Street, Rakowiec district

In the Rakowiec area in southern Warsaw, Chrząszczowa documented two blocks of flats designed by Oskar and Zofia Hansen, characteristic with their protruding roof cubes. Jarosław Trybuś quotes Oskar Hansen on the subject in his ‘Guide to Warsaw Housing Projects’: “Each little flat had been individually designed, individually situated in space, and made evident in a collectively organized set – the building and the development itself. ... Thinking of Rakowiec, I will forever remember the unhappy dressmaker whose appliqués were blown about the “excessively spacious” flat by the wind, and the happy artist who thanked my wife for being able to feel like a European citizen at last. The former, instead of having been mechanically allotted the first flat from the list, should have been allowed to choose one that fit her needs.”
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Backyard between Hoża, Krucza and Wilcza streets

New buildings in the area flanked by Hoża, Krucza, Wilcza and Ignacego Skorupki streets were portrayed by Chrząszczowa from the courtyard. All are six stories high. The high-rise, the gallery-access apartment block, and the brick front wall of a ruined prewar tenement all form a single row that surrounds a school playing field and a small green square.
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Zatrasie development, Żoliborz district

Zatrasie, the name meaning ‘back of the road’ and referring to the city’s main north-south thoroughfare (today Aleja Jana Pawła II and Broniewskiego Street), was developed on the initiative of the Warsaw Housing Cooperative (WSM) to a design by architect Janusz Nowicki and team (T. Fiećko, W. Materski, J. Osuchowski). Between 1960 and 1964, in an area flanked by Krasińskiego, Przasnyska, Elbląska and Broniewskiego streets, residential blocks were erected that were three to nine stories high and contained flats of various metric areas (from M1 to M6 – the nomenclature referring to the intended number of residents). In keeping with the WSM’s prewar philosophy, the project included also a school, a kindergarten, shops, green areas and playgrounds. Chrząszczowa portrayed the Zatrasie development twice: in wintertime, during construction, and in summertime, after it had been inhabited.
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Bielany II and Bielany III

The layout and architecture of the new housing developments in the Bielany district in northern Warsaw were designed almost exclusively by Maria and Kazimierz Piechotka. Between 1958 and 1964, the couple designed the Bielany II and Bielany III housing estates, which featured ample public space between the buildings, lots of greenery, and easy access to retail and services. Chrząszczowa documented the early and final stages of construction. Workers can be seen in some of the photographs.
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