Identity: 100 years of Polish architecture

five exhibitions in five cities in Poland: Art–Kraków, Power–Warsaw, Society–Lublin, Transfer–Poznań and Change–Katowice, 27 September-15 December 2019

curators: Małgorzata Jędrzejczyk, Grzegorz Mika, Marcin Semeniuk, Karol Krupa, Alicja Gzowska, Jakub Świerzawski

exhibition design: CENTRALA
(with Aleksandra Zawistowska, Billy Morgan, Julia Lipińska, Kamil Urban)

graphic design: Tomasz Bersz

organised by National Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning (NIAiU)

The exhibition organized on the occasion of 100 years of Polish independence took place in five locations in parallel. Each of them presented a different chapter from the recent 100 years of Polish architecture history, focusing on the issues of art (Cracow), power (Warsaw), society (Lublin), transfer (Poznań) and change (Katowice).

CENTRALA’s tasks consisted of designing display arrangements for each show and preparing a documentation that would allow to execute historical architectural models. The challenge was to develop a system that would be flexible enough to easily adapt to any of the proposed locations and at the same time offer a consistent architectural and graphic language for each chapter of the show.

Thus the display was composed of movable spatial surfaces made of plywood tilts that could be arranged according to the needs. They could be rotated, broken in parts or opened. The gaps created by those openings were meant to establish relationships between the exhibited objects, as well as between the objects and the visitors. The assembly had to be simple as the openings of subsequent chapters of the show were planned week after week within one month.


The exhibition took place in former Cracovia hotel, an iconic postwar modernist designed by Witold Cęckiewicz in Cracow

The exhibition took place in postmodern seat of BUW (The University of Warsaw Library) designed by Marek Budzyński and Zbigniew Badowski in Warsaw.

The exhibition took place in recently constructed Centrum Spotkania Kultur (Centre for the Meeting of Cultures) designed by Bolesław Stelmach in Lublin.

The exhibition took place in 1960s former office spaces of the Alfa complex, designed by Jerzy Liśniewicz in Poznań.

The exhibition took place in the foyer of NOSPR (Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra) designed by Tomasz Konior Studio in Katowice.

We executed a series of cardboard study models to investigate possible display strategies.

An important part of the project was the execution of architectural models, possible thanks to meticulous work and in-depth analysis of archival drawings and historical photos by Aleksandra Zawistowska and Billy Morgan:

  • Polish pavilion for the 1925 World’s Fair in Paris, scale 1:15
  • restaurant pavilion in Kraków, 1936, scale 1:50
  • villa in Kraków, 1936, scale 1:50
  • model of contemporary Warsaw’s city centre displaying socialist realist buildings, scale 1:2000
  • interactive educational model of housing estate on Kubusia Puchatka Street in Warsaw
  • Warsaw’s Praga II housing estate and the zoo, 1958, scale 1:1000
  • Lublin’s University District in three stages of its development: before 1956, between 1956 and 1970, after 1970, scale 1:1000
  • interactive educational model of the Piastowskie housing estate in Lublin, scale 1: 500
  • Veteran’s house in Poznań, 1972, scale 1:200
  • two typical three-room apartments in prefabricated mass housing: ‘M3’ from 1970s and ‘M3’ from 1980s, scale 1:50
  • church of St. John Cantius in Poznań, 1978–1988, scale 1:100
  • Palm House in Gliwice by Andrzej Musialik, 1982-98, scale 1:200
  • ZUS (Social Insurance Institution) headquarters in Zabrze by Andrzej Duda, Henryk Zubel, 1994–96, scale 1:100
  • House of Culture in Katowice by Rafał Mazur, 2015, scale 1:100
  • Nad Jamną housing estate in Mikołów by Stanisław Niemczyk, 1982 (elevations)

The models were incorporated into the permanent collection of the National Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning. Now most of them are on show at the permanent exhibition ‘Sections. Gallery of Polish architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries’,   The Szołayski House, National Museum in Krakow

CENTRALA has previous experience in reconstructing historical architectural models. The Ramp Housing Block by Józef Malinowski from 1925 was the first one reconstructed by CENTRALA, in result of a challenging process of interpretation and analysis of only few technical drawings left by the architect. The experimental project was design as his graduation thesis.

Images courtesy National Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning and ONIMO architectural models.