Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Warsaw Old Town

I've posted about the fantastic '99% Invisible' design podcast on this blog before, but I wanted to draw attention to the most recent episode on Warsaw.

Warsaw's 'Old Town' was pretty much levelled in the bombing campaigns of WW2, following a direct order by Hitler to utterly destroy it as part of his subjugation of the Polish.


What is fascinatingly revealed in the podcast though is the quite bizarre process of re-building, and indeed re-imagining of the historic town centre, to give it the look it has today.

Much of the rebuild was directly based on the 18th century paintings of the city, produced by Italian artist Bellotto - who had 'prettified' his vision of the city while documenting the skyline (adding extra windows or storeys to buildings, cleaning up confusion etc). His vision of Warsaw was 'better' than the reality, an approach taken by those responsible for the post-WW2 rebuild too. The buildings we see today are simple facades - fake fronts dropped onto modern buildings.

I'll leave it to the podcast to take you through the story - a highly recommended piece of social history and architecture. Go and subscribe to the podcast and download the back catalogue: there's some superb things to hear.

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