The Palace Complex
238 pages

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238 pages

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The Palace of Culture and Science is a massive Stalinist skyscraper that was "gifted" to Warsaw by the Soviet Union in 1955. Framing the Palace's visual, symbolic, and functional prominence in the everyday life of the Polish capital as a sort of obsession, locals joke that their city suffers from a "Palace of Culture complex." Despite attempts to privatize it, the Palace remains municipally owned, and continues to play host to a variety of public institutions and services. The Parade Square, which surrounds the building, has resisted attempts to convert it into a money-making commercial center. Author Michał Murawski traces the skyscraper's powerful impact on 21st century Warsaw; on its architectural and urban landscape; on its political, ideological, and cultural lives; and on the bodies and minds of its inhabitants. The Palace Complex explores the many factors that allow Warsaw's Palace to endure as a still-socialist building in a post-socialist city.

Preface: Politicized Perambulations

Introduction: Palace Complex/Complex Palace

1. The Planners: Conceiving the Palace Complex

2. Public Spirit, or the Gift of Noncapitalism

3. Designing Architectural Power: Scale, Style and Location

4. Site-Specific: Varsovian Interpretations of the Palace

5. Varsovianization: The Palace Complex After 1989

6. "The Center of the Very Center"

7. The Extraordinary Palace

Conclusion: Complex Appropriations

Epilogue: The Still-Socialist Palace and the War Against Post-Communism

Appendix: Palaceological Survey: Summary of Results





Publié par
Date de parution 22 mars 2019
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253039989
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 16 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0047€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Michael Herzfeld, Melissa L. Caldwell, and Deborah Reed-Danahay, editors
A Stalinist Skyscraper, Capitalist Warsaw, and a City Transfixed
Micha Murawski
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 3504
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
2019 by Micha Murawski
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Cataloging information is available from the Library of Congress.
ISBN 978-0-253-03994-1 (cloth)
ISBN 978-0-253-03996-5 (paperback)
ISBN 978-0-253-03999-6 (ebook)
1 2 3 4 5 23 22 21 20 19
This book is dedicated to the memory of my grandparents: Kazimiera Zabrocka (31.1.1928-01.1.2008) and Jo zef Zabrocki (22.2.1927-4.1.2014).
I see Warsaw through their eyes.
Preface: Politicized Perambulations
Introduction: Palace Complex / Complex Palace
1 The Planners: Conceiving the Palace Complex
2 Public Spirit, or the Gift of Noncapitalism
3 Designing Architectural Power: Scale, Style, and Location
4 Site-Specific: Varsovian Interpretations of the Palace
5 Varsovianization: The Palace Complex after 1989
6 The Center of the Very Center
7 The Extraordinary Palace
Conclusion: Complex Appropriations
Epilogue: The Still-Socialist Palace and the War against Postcommunism
Appendix: Palaceological Survey: Summary of Results
J ZEF Z ABROCKI, MY GRANDFATHER, WAS AN UNAPOLOGETIC, HOT-BLOODED communist. He wasn t dogmatic about his ideology, but he was determined to make his opinion known and to defend it when it was challenged. He saw himself, I think, as one of the last living carriers of the message of communism, certainly in Poland. He was determined to resist what he saw as the endless distortion and whitewashing of the communist contribution to the creation of modernity, whether in its Varsovian, Polish, or global incarnation. Furthermore, he was possessed of a clear sense of how communism had formed the urban morphology, aesthetic, and social fabric of postwar Warsaw and of how the progressive aspects of this legacy were being erased in the post-1989 reality.
J zef Zabrocki was twenty-two years old when he moved to Warsaw in 1949, to study at the Warsaw Polytechnic. I was six years old in 1990, when I left Warsaw for England with my mother. Since then, however, I regularly travelled back, and it was during these trips that I got to know my home city through the eyes of my grandfather. For more than two decades he would take me-and any visitors, friends from school or university I happened to be with, for whom I would have the job of speed translating-on long, meandering excursions around the city he was proud to call his home.
Our perambulations around Warsaw were relentlessly politicized, sometimes exasperatingly so. If, as sometimes happened, we tried to stop for lunch at a caf he had once frequented and found it turned into an overpriced sushi bar or hair salon, the rest of the day would be spent scornfully pointing out former libraries or cultural centers turfed out to make way for car dealerships and banks. When I, in a fit of adolescent emigrant municipal patriotism, would express admiration for the shiny glamour of some newly planted glass, steel, and granite edifice, he would instantly bring me back down to earth: Look at that person s balcony cast into shadow-socialist architects and planners designed it to be bathed in sunlight. Where are the planners now? And that private atrium decorated with fake exotic plants-that was once a housing project garden planted with lime trees or weeping willows.
In the Old Town, my bemused foreign guests would have hammered into them the awareness that this cute warren of ancient streets was in fact only several decades old. They would be told how the people of Warsaw-my grandfather among them, a member of the Student Brigades for the Reconstruction of Warsaw (Studenckie Brygady Odbudowy Warszawy)-toiled at Stakhanovite pace (the famous warszawskie tempo ), fishing through endless seas of rubble, picking out and scrubbing clean whole bricks suitable for reuse.
Sometimes our trajectories would take us to Old Ochota (a smart residential district to the southwest of central Warsaw; most buildings there date from the interwar years), where my grandfather, then an engineering student at the Warsaw Polytechnic, had lived during the first years following his move to the capital. From this base, he told me, he had made his proudest contribution to the rebirth of the capital city. In May 1950, the so-called peasant-proletarians ( ch oporobotnicy ) engaged in construction were streaming out the city for the harvest period, and there was no one left to complete the new halls of residence, which were to provide accommodation for the deluge of students due to arrive in Warsaw from all parts of the country that September. In response to this crisis, my grandfather undertook the herculean task of coordinating six hundred student laborer volunteers, who, working through the hot summer in four three-week shifts, completed the construction of five halls of residence for students of the University of Warsaw, the Warsaw Medical Academy, and the Warsaw University of Life Sciences. As my grandfather put it in a short, unpublished memoir written with his comrade and lifelong friend Zbigniew Karandyszowski, Without exaggeration, we can say with some pride that thanks to this initiative of the Warsaw branch of the Warsaw Academic Polish Youth Union (the student section of the Polish equivalent of the Soviet Komsomol) over 1,300 students were able to find a home during the academic year 1950-51. . . . The mass development of education in Warsaw would not have been possible without this initiative (Karandyszowski and Zabrocki 2005, 8-9).
While these trips were taking place, I would alternate between finding them captivating, boring, and infuriating. Accompanied as they were by generous doses of humor, irony, and self-deprecation, however, they were never unbearable. And there is no doubt that they planted within me the seeds of a lifelong fascination with Warsaw. Back in the UK, I would spend endless hours gathering up all the Varsaviana (Warsaw-related literature) I could find in my parents house-guides, architectural atlases, coffee table picture books, collections of poems, pamphlets-pore over them, and discuss their content with my mother and stepfather, who encouraged and to a large extent shared my obsession.
And, of course, during these formative years I also encountered other people s perspectives on Warsaw. My (unfortunately much less frequent and protracted) visits to other family members left me very aware of radically disparate perspectives on and ways of experiencing and imagining the city. My grandmother Kazimiera Zabrocka, who knew Warsaw longer and better than her husband, and who had spent the entire war there, would occasionally accompany us on the urban journeys described above, but-partly as a result of my grandfather s tireless extroversion and her humility-I never experienced her take on the city as intensely as I did his. My impression of Warsaw, then, and my fascination with the city, was most directly formed by the content, rhythm, and attitude of these tours and discussions with my grandfather. He died on January 4, 2014, after I had defended my PhD but before this book was published.
Ignoring the Palace
These journeys through Warsaw would take us to (or at least through) Parade Square, to the Palace of Culture, a building whose praises my grandfather never tired of singing. We would end up there either on purpose; on our way to visit one of the theatres, cinemas, or museums located within the building; or by chance, because we happened to be changing trams, trains, or buses at one of the public transport interchanges located in its vicinity. During the early 1990s, we would also visit Cricoland, a hair-raising amusement park that occupied a large patch of land in the southeastern corner of the square for several years (featuring shark tank divers, daredevil motorbike stunt riders, and unnervingly creaking mini rollercoasters); or we would go looking for knockoff-brand trainers or pirate CDs in the vast open-air bazaar, which spread semilegally throughout the eastern and southern sides of the square for much of the post-1989 period. Occasionally we would take the lift up to the thirtieth floor of the Palace. From there we would benefit from the total perspective-the heaven-storming God s eye view-provided by the Palace s viewing terrace. From there, the summit of the tallest building in Poland, the disparate locations and narratives of our urban excursions would be brought together and explained.
But when I arrived in Warsaw in December 2008 to carry out fieldwork, I spent six months trying to ignore the Palace. My research was supposed to be about the relationship between architecture, urban space, and ideology in the twenty-first century city. I wasn t sure yet what I was going to write about, but I wanted it to encompass several key concepts

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