25 May 2022, 14:57
How Warsaw Was Rebuilt after World War II

As painful as it is to look at the cities destroyed by russians, one thing needs to be remembered: we will surely rebuild everything. And these are not just words because there is a similar experience in the world. We have already told how, after the war, British Coventry was restored, and now it is the turn of our much closer neighbor – Warsaw. The Polish architect Grzegorz Piątek spoke about its reconstruction.

In the World War II, Warsaw suffered serious destruction: 44% of the city was not subject to reconstruction. The Old Town district was destroyed by more than 90%, only 6 of 260 stone houses survived. Despite this, people began to return, they were to be provided with temporary housing. And at the same time, it was necessary to think how to solve several other problems in the long term:

  • Randomness of construction and streets;
  • Lack of green areas and public places;
  • The neglect of the river and historical buildings;
  • High density of industrial development;
  • The division of land between thousands of private owners.

After the end of the war, Poland was under Communist control, while its own government was in exile in London. The leadership of the USSR left its imprint on the architecture of the modern Warsaw, especially in monumental government buildings. At the same time, the city was to some extent fortunate — its mayor, Marian Spychalski, was an urbanist. So, in Warsaw, bold solutions were implemented as for that time, such as open green spaces in front of government agencies.

How much it cost to rebuild at the time, no one knows for sure. There was not enough stable financial support from other countries in the city, so even former construction waste was used in the work. The restoration of Warsaw began as early as 1944, before the final end of the war. During it, the following was implemented in the city:

  • people without housing were provided with modular houses;
  • all the lands on which the reconstruction was to be carried out were nationalized;
  • housing was built in industrial districts; factories were converted into buildings;
  • functional areas with a spacious transport system were created;
  • the density of construction was reduced;
  • the size and style of buildings was unified, and the city was significantly landscaped;
  • the housing was rebuilt to its original historical appearance, not pre-war one — although not always successfully.

Of course, not everything turned out perfectly. Too wide avenues were flooded with cars, and the monofunctional zones of the city turned out to be far from as comfortable as planned. And now the traffic at the entrance and exit of office districts adds to the nerves of the townspeople.

Watch more about the rebuilding of Warsaw here. 

Grzegorz Piątek advises Ukrainian cities the following:

  • To identify the most pressing problems of the city and use the chance to solve them.
  • To assess what the legislation lacks for quality reconstruction and implement the necessary solutions.
  • To solve short-term problems, but not to the detriment of the future. For example, people who have lost the roof over their heads need to be provided with temporary housing. However, you should not erect low-quality buildings, later they will turn into a ghetto. It is necessary to conduct several processes in parallel: to rebuild what was destroyed, to create temporary high-quality housing and, in addition to it, new permanent housing.
  • To create institutions that bring together standard-setters, architectural bureaus, and think tanks.
  • To involve students — their ideas are sometimes unexpected, and thus very valuable.


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