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Katowice - Modernism Inspired City

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Characteristics of Modernism in Katowice Architecture

In the inter-war period the Silesian voivodship was the richest region in Poland. Its major city, Katowice, was one of the only two sites in Poland (Gdynia being the other one) where, following the modernist credo ''Form follows functions'', impressive modernist edifices were erected.

The modernism of Katowice can be divided in two periods. The first one followed the ''old tradition'', whereas the second stage consisted in the construction of modern functional buildings. Moreover, what distinguished the latter period structures was their modern construction, large paned areas void of any ornamentation and with ship-shaped structures.
 
First, these were mainly public buildings (e.g. ''Sejm Slaski'' - the seat of the voivodship authorities) and luxurious villas (in PCK Street and in Marii Curie Sklodowskiej Street). However, due to the city's dynamic development and influx of people, the construction of modernist housing estates started.
 
The main architects of that period who contributed to making Katowice the city with the largest inter-war modernism edifices in Poland were Tadeusz Michejda, Lucjan Sikorski, Leon Dietz D'Arma and Karol Schayer. However, Katowice was not only one of the most modernist cities of post-war Poland, but a European pioneer in the field of steel-made skyscrapers, which were mainly designed by Stefan Bryla.
 
Katowice boasts not only its functional villas and housing estates but ''the most modern'' Old Town in Poland as well. It is the modernist quarter in the southern part of the centre of Katowice, which is regarded as one of the finest examples of the inter-war functionalism in Europe.
 
  Pre-war Modernist Buildings

There are lots of examples of modernist architectural structures worth seeing in Katowice. As far as the pre-war period is concerned, these include:

  1. Silesian School of Technology Professors' House (Dom Profesorow Slaskich Technicznych Zakladow Naukowych) - the first skyscraper in Poland situated at 23 Wojewodzka Street. This nine-storey building, erected between 1929-1931, was a pioneer in the steel skeleton construction.
  1. slask modernismSkyscraper (Drapacz Chmur) – the most interesting and the most magnificent example of functionalism in Poland. It is situated at 15 Zwirki i Wigury Street. It is the second skyscraper to have been erected in Poland. This seventeen-storey edifice was completed, after five year building process, in 1934. The ''Drapacz Chmur'' was designed by Stefan Bryla and Mieczysław Kozlowski. Many Polish celebrities used to live in the luxurious and spacious flats of the ''Drapacz Chmur'' in Katowice. The innovative, at the time of its construction, method consisting in the use of steel skeleton design was also applied here.
  1. The Garrison Church of St. Casimir (Kościół Garnizonowy pw. św. Kazimierza), erected between 1930-1933, is the first"CaË,olic church erected in accordance with the functional architectural trend. It is situated in Marii Curie Sklodowskiej Street.

  Modernism after World War II
 
The post-war period also produced a variety of modernist buildings. The most famous ones are as follows:

Spodek Silesia1. Spodek (Saucer), situated in Korfantego Avenue, is one of the first constructions in the world whose roof has been constructed according to the innovative tensegrity principle. The edifice, erected in 1971, has been used as a multi-functional arena hosting a wide variety of sports, cultural and business events. World-famous soloists and bands have performed here.



2. Dworzec Glowny PKP w Katowicach (Katowice Main Railway Station), completed in 1972, is an example of late modernism. It was designed by a team of recognized architects known as ''Tigers'': Waclaw Klyszewski, Eugeniusz Wierzbicki and Jerzy Mokrzynski. The construction supervisor was Waclaw Zalewski. The two-storey building was constructed with the use of concrete cups supporting the ceiling of the top hall. The Main Railway Station used to be one of the most representative structures. However, not having been renovated for years the building has fallen into decay.


  What Else Should Be Seen?

 
There are more modernist edifices in the centre of Katowice and its districts. Thus, it is a good idea to walk along the streets of the capital of Silesia to discover more modernism inspired architectural constructions.
 
Some examples are given below:
  1. Tadeusz Michejda's Villa – a modernist detached house designed by and built for Tadeusz Michejda, the modernist architect, in 1926. It is situated at 19 Poniatowskiego Street.
  2. Katowice Muchowiec Terminal designed by Tadeusz Michejda, the prominent modernist architect (1927)
  3. Silesian Library at 12 Francuska Street (1928)
  4. Palace of Youth at 26 Mikolowska Street - an excellent example of late modernism
  5. ''Zenit'' Department Store (1962) at 12 Rynek Street
  6. ''Tysiaclecia'' housing estate (1967 - 1972).

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