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© Wageningen University, 2017 Łukasz K. Bąkowski Reg. No. 880308154180 e-mail: lukasz.k.bakowski@gmail.com All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of either the author or Wageningen University Landscape architecture chair group. This publication is written as a final master thesis report Landscape architecture by order of chair group of landscape architecture at Wageningen University. December 2017 Landscape Architecture group phone: +31 317 484 056 fax: +31 317 482 166 e-mail: office.lar@wur.nl Postal address: Postbus 47 6700 AA Wageningen The Netherlands Visiting address: Gaia, building No 101 Droevendaalsesteeg 3 6708 PB Wageningen The Netherlands


In fulfillment of the requirements for Master of science degree in Landscape Architecture at the Wageningen University, Landscape Architecture Group

Supervisor and examiner: Prof. Ir. Adriaan Geuze Professor Landscape Architecture Wageningen University


Supervisor and examiner: Ir. Daniel Jauslin Docent Wageningen University


Examiner: Prof. Dr. Ir. Adri van den Brink Chair Landscape Architecture Wageningen University



PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This thesis process was as turbulent as the history of Poland itself. Elements of happiness, triumph, bitterness, nostalgia and trauma, all of them accompanied me in the walk through Polish world of scars. However, this walk was also full of excitement, discovering new insights, both about the topic and also myself. Fascination of the discontinuity of Warsaw, the main characteristics which create a DNA of this place and its elements, became a motivation for a design and research. During the process I have learned a lot and explored new horizons which before I only could dream of. Studying Polish history and so delicate but tragic topic of Polish trauma strongly influenced myself. Attachment to a design and a long process of research and design resulted that also myself, couple of times, I powered the source of The River of Tears. Nevertheless, I am triggered by this topic and become a fascination which I am going to explore more in the future.


I would like to thank my supervisors Adriaan Geuze and Daniel Jauslin for showing me a fascinating world of design, hours spent on debating and exploring new design ideas. Moreover, I would like to thank Adri van den Brink for feedback during the thesis process, Kevin Raaphorst for help to understand better the world of semiotics, and my friends, with whom I owe so much, especially Antonia Cangosz, Kasia Starzycka, Kamila Lejman, Veronika Kunclová, Thanos Patsiogiannis, Maciej Wieczorek, Davor Dušanić. I would like to thank Despina Sapoutzi, Nikos Margaritis and Nahid Tabrizi for a help with an extraordinary maquette. And a special thank you for Nahid, for an ongoing support and enthusiasm that she brought. I would like to thank also my family, which supported me during the whole time, especially to my mother, my aunt and grandparents. Thank you all, Łukasz K. Bąkowski December 2017


ABSTRACT This thesis takes position on the current debate about understanding Polish national identity. Today’s Polish society is in stress about its identity. It desperately trying to reinvent it again, especially at the time of creeping homogenization and cultural globalisation. This thesis provides an understanding of national identity through looking at (urban) landscape and reading its symbolics. To do that it looks at identity and national identity through literature study, focusing particularly on Poland. It examines international examples of how national identification is kept and enhanced. Design research is conducted through a perspective of a landscape architecture profession which in its nature is cross disciplinary merging many concepts. Therefore a cross reference study is conducted deriving from fields of social study, political study and spatial (architectural) study, mainly architecture, landscape architecture and urban design. This research design is an attempt to help to deal with trauma and give to Polish people hope and perspective for the future. Providing a broad understanding of their own past and origin would help to bring perspective about their future, and therefore future of the capital of Poland. Landscape architecture brings delight that it can contribute to solving such important issues which become existential for Poles. In the core of the capital city there is an undeveloped square which in the past referred to parades. For more than 60 years it stays abandoned and defines the geometric city center of Warsaw and symbolically also of the whole country. This thesis tries to answer the problem of this location by the perspective of city’s and country’s identity. The design represents an idea of a Forum functioning as Warsaw’s urban park of the 21st century. The design of the park works as a mirror of the Polish society, using national symbols as a form of remembrance and a self reflection. The design evokes Polish national characteristics which becomes anchors for a design. It uses the essence of Polish characteristics and implements its metaphorical sense in the design. It evokes Polish landscape such as the forest, the river, the agriculture. The aim of the forum for the Polish capital is to better give emotions, directions and understanding of this traumatic period seen as a Polish identity. The Warsaw’s forum is dedicated for Polish sorrows, traumas and complexes. It reveals layers of history to overcome and deal with the traumatic experiences and complexes, and forces to self reflect about them. However, the idea of the nation is represented in an abstract way with a lot of room for spectator’s imagination. Some parts of trauma can be seen as ironic, some bitter, and some as provocation, such as a contradiction of the rural values and church against modernity. All of those unusual components works together and highlight a true and honest representation of Polish nation to become a powerful landmark of nowadays troubled Polish society.

keywords: national identity, memories, trauma, narrative, landscape as urbanism, void, metaphors, symbols




4 7 7 8 8 8 9 10 14

22 23 23 24 25 26 26 27 29 32 32 36 42

Preface and Acknowledgements Abstract

PART I INTRODUCTION TO THE RESEARCH 00. Introduction Imagination and memory Problem statement Knowledge gap Worldview and theoretical framework Research objective Relevance of the study Research questions and methods 01. Contextualization Alternative Locations Warsaw, the city of scars PART II RESEARCH 02. Exploring national identity (RQ1) Nation as imagined community (Urban) landscape as a carrier of meaning City as palimpsest Cultural trauma Conclusions RQ1 03. Symbols of other nations (RQ2) Introduction Diversity of national symbols Washington Mall (US), Champs Elysees (FR), Brasilia’s Governmental District (BR) Conclusions RQ2 04. Poland, the history of traumas (RQ3) Introduction Understanding contemporary Polish national identity Three anchors of Polish identity Conclusions RQ3


44 44 48 53 55 58 59 63

05. The Parade Square, exploring the void (RQ4) Where is the city which is not there anymore? Historical context The Palace of Culture and Science Phenomenon Plans for the Parade Square Spatial context Social context Symbolic context Conclusions RQ4

68 72 78

PART III DESIGN 06. Vision and Design aims 07. The Polish Forum 08. The Landmark For Polish Culture

132 132 135 135

PART IV EVALUATION 09. Evaluation Discussion Recommendations Limitations REFERENCES LIST OF FIGURES APPENDIX









One of our deepest needs in life, just after the basic physiological needs such as water, food, sleep, is looking for a sense of identity and belonging (Smith 1991, 1994; Taylor 2008). They bring a psychological comfort, happiness and relief. The idea of belonging is very important for the human nature, as from the beginning we were gregarious animals. The world that we live in is full of myths, memories, symbols and traditions (Smith 1991; Kaymaz 2013; Gospodini 2004). Being together and sharing values helps people to deal with stressful situations in a difficult world. From the ancient times people started to gather and form communities and civilizations. Such organization led to inventing a city, which is seen as a locus of civilization, world history and social change. This is a place where innovation, art, culture and science meet and supplement each other in order to create a better world. Cities which evolved from villages are the creation of a shared community and are based on common identity, sense of place and belonging. The city rich in symbolic values is always a better place to live. They are seen as a construct of human mind, the greatest human achievement, best invention (Glaeser 2012). Some might even seen cities as an imaginative concept, the construct of human imagination (Donald 2005; Cinar and Bender 2007; Westwood and Williams 2003). One of the great examples of seeing the city as a construct of human mind is presented in a great novel by Italo Calvino “Invisible cities” (1997) as poetic description of the phenomenon of the multiple ways of interpreting the city. Therefore based on culture and looking at myths, memory and landscape it is possible to establish a connection to the primal source of a nation. However, the connection to the origin of nations has been blurred by the global factors and global culture. In all European countries we may witness signs of national identity crisis. Falling integrity of the European Union and countries which are going back to their nationalities, might be connected to the world-wide processes of ongoing globalization and homogenization, leading to a compensation by reinventing local and regional histories and culture (Gospodini 2004). However, in some cases this process might be more influential than the others. It is especially clear in Poland, a country which witnessed unprecedented suf< Previous page Fig. 0.1: The image of the Polish reality. In the foreground we can see a walking woman on the street, holding many Polish red cloth bags with the visible emblem of Poland, the white eagle. She seems very tired, with time heavily imprinted on her face, walking in a direction of the soviet Palace of Culture and Science, possibly to sell them there, while passing by emblems of Coca Cola, Subway, good cars and the ‘Relax’ cinema in the background (photo by the author). THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

fering and horrifying events that influenced the nation. Poland is still trying to cope with its own turmoil history and blurred identity, while now also becoming more and more homogenized as part of modern capitalist societies. Too much excitement of a new, might seems by many, a better era, of Poles and Polish government, resulted in deepening the identity crisis even more. While I am Polish and Warsaw is my hometown, I asked myself: what would be my response to this dilemma of a blurred identity threatened again in a globalising world? My thesis is an attempt to design research this phenomenon. Fascination The fascination for the project of the urban condition and the city contrasts started with an inspiration of studying architecture of the 80s and 90s modernity, where the dominant theories such as chaos theory, voids, deconstructivist architecture, postmodernism were the dominant way of thinking. I was influenced by works of Rem Koolhaas, his Delirious New York (1994), the approach of architecture of OMA, and school of AA (Architectural Association in London). Throughout my thesis I continued the fascination of voids and discontinuity which led me to study Warsaw, a world of scars. During the iterative process I discovered that the clue to understand the discontinuity of Warsaw is not just to study the city and its relations, but a deep reflection on the origin of the problem which I had still to discover. Therefore, to do that I needed to reflect on the origin and history of the country as a whole. As an outcome, my approach shifted, from more idealistic research on postmodern approach, to a more mature academic research based on existing references of national forums and empiric research within Polish culture ambiance and Polish artists appeared, a world of national identification, of the Polish capital and therefore the whole country. The thrive to explore the unprecedented discontinuity of history and the blurred character of the identity of the city and the country became a motivation for a design and research project. Layers of discontinuity made Warsaw an intriguing and multi-meaning architectural phenomenon, which in my view, might be perceived as a city of memory. Nowadays, after the Second World War, it was rebuilt ‘de novo’, it has a different character and the old city lives only in people’s minds and imagination. There is little left from the built cultural heritage, thus city presents itself as a museum. Moreover, a new generation of ‘Millennials’, people like me, the network society lost in Internet and options, selection and international references, starts to shape the modern culture, have problems with specifying an identity of Warsaw. There is a very poor understanding of what is the city’s and country’s identity.

The world of scars Poland for centuries has been a battlefield. It is an example of a country which for last 200 years has been walked over and dictated by foreign people, partly due to its central location within Europe, being in between two superpowers: Germany and Russia. It witnessed very negative and difficult history which left traces in Polish culture and people’s memories, creating many traumatic experiences and destroying traditional Polish landscapes, towns, spaces or landmarks. As a consequence Polish national identity is blurred and Poles lack public spaces that enable them to experience the history of their own country and culture. Therefore I asked myself, if is it possible to tackle the problem of discontinuity on such a vast scale as it was experienced in Poland? And how can the city and landscape architecture contribute to help with such important and delicate problems concerned with a national identification crisis and bring understanding of the nation to the city? This design thesis provided me an opportunity to explore this difficult world of scars in Poland through a multidisciplinary landscape architecture approach, focused on research by design, which brings the delight to answer such important problems.

Fig. 0.2: To be free! To open your mind for spontaneous acts, to deal with a difficult history. A fascination and imagination of a ‘Girl in the rain’ with Warszawa taxi (source: Z. Siemaszko, 1968)

This thesis focuses on the most profound site, in the city core of the capital Warsaw, the Parade Square. Central square represents the extreme situation of layering of the negative influence of the past for the development of the city today. It is a fascinating city full of dynamics, a postmodern mosaic (Beck in Leśniakowska 2012) or a bricolage (Leder 2012). However without any vision for the future caused by a little understanding of the city. This unprecedented discontinuity of history of Warsaw became a motivation for the design.


This is the starting point of my thesis, research and design. In analyzing Polish history, more specific the way this has been represented in different applied arts, I found three fundamental aspects of Polish history. Applying the theories of “semiotics”, I selected a suitable, representative and symbolic part of Warsaw to develop a new urban park, that in my vision will help Polish people to cope with their history. In this thesis I will explain that Polish turmoil history may be understood as a ‘trauma’ or ‘traumatic experiences‘. By doing this I want to find out if and how by a design of a Polish public space, may help to express the country’s history and thus helping with coping with the traumatic experiences related to that cultural history.


Fig. 0.2: The complexity of a design process.


Thesis approach Complexity of the phenomenon of national identity can be approached from many perspectives, such as political, existential, personal, mythological and aesthetic. This research however, had an explicit aim, to be a research by design, seen from the perspective of landscape architectural profession. Therefore, this design research thesis had a process of cyclic nature, where two steps backwards, means one forward. Design research allows to take a design attitude as soon as possible in the process. In research by design the design is accompanied by a research and by a constant strong interaction with each other, they give new insights and unexpected creative results. Therefore, the strategy of research through / by design was a scientific embedding of a design. Within my design research I based my project on 4 pillars: • components of the theory of national identity, landscape meaning and trauma, all seen through the lenses of culture • historical references of landmark sites • empirical research on contemporary Polish culture through art. Looking for answers what is the Polish culture and identity and trying to understand the meaning of the city, by interviewing journalists, city experts, artists and architects. I had to look at the core and talk with the architect who was involved in redesigning Warsaw after its complete eradication in 1944. • synthesizing a new reality, through an iterative design process, an unbelievable tango with ongoing design process, constant sketching, 3d models, maquettes, long debates with my supervisors: Adriaan Geuze and Daniel Jauslin, months spent on self-studying and lectures, exhibitions and enthusiasm of exploring the site within multiple site visits. THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Thesis structure In the following chapters I will explain the main views on nation and identity seen through the lenses of culture. Concepts of memory, imagination and interpretation, elaborated further (chapter 2), are the clue for understanding history of nations and perception of the world. Therefore by looking at national identities the study looks at other nations and symbols which they represent. International examples of the three prominent landmark sites in Paris, Washington and Brasilia (chapter 3) show how to keep the continuity of culture. In order to focus on the Polish case and to understand the main forces shaping Polish national perception, I conducted a research, based on expressions of Polish culture, which in theory are the essence of truth about the culture and therefore, reflect the national identity (chapter 4). The aim of the research, however considering the field of landscape architecture, focuses on the translation of the research into a physical reality. Therefore, after the selection of the case study I investigated the Parade Square in the city core of Warsaw as the most profound and at the same time problematic site in the city concerning the topic. In terms to investigate the symbolic meaning of the site I used a framework of semiotics which unveiled layers of that place. In chapter 1 I will present the site choice and in chapter 5 I will elaborate on the conditions and meanings found at the case study site. Conclusions derived from the overall research specify and sharpen the vision and design aims for the Polish landmark design. The synthesis presented in the chapter 8 is a try to challenge and to look for the Polish national identity and the site, working as a mirror of the society. The designed place hosts the whole panoply of symbols relevant for understanding the Polish culture, together with providing room for visitor’s interpretation and reflection. This design research was looking for answers to many

difficult questions concerning the notion of national identification. However, no matter how difficult they were, without asking we will never find answers. National identity

Therefore, welcome to the fascinating world of scars...

PROBLEM STATEMENT The concept of national identity is getting weakened especially nowadays with ever changing multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Europe and factors, such as migrations and global culture (Gospodini 2004; Kaymaz 2013). The supra-nationality within the European Union (EU), economic and cultural globalisation problem are blurring the notion of national identities (Gospodini 2002, 2004). In total it faces the challenges with dealing with national narratives, memories, stereotypes, and historiographies (Kania-Lundholm and Lindgren 2017). The extreme situation can be found in the case of Poland, where looking for country’s identity collides with the imposed homogenization of Europe. Looking at Polish history for more than 200 years (after Partitions of Poland in 1795) Poland is filled with one specific image: trauma. The notion of trauma and of death, related to it, are the key elements and an outcome of the turmoil history that happened to Poles across the centuries (Czaja 2014). Because of this, there is little understanding of the national traditions and values. Therefore, there is a strong need for a definition of what Polish identity is and how it should be represented. For centuries Poland has been struggling with its blurred identity, which nowadays becomes an existential problem. An ongoing identity crisis caused by traumatic historical experiences results in native cultural values being neglected and disappearing connection to tradition, which is especially visible within the young generation. The lack of physical representation of Polish identity is even more intensified by factors which violate the national identity. These are the relics of the previous totalitarian system which brought foreign cultural patterns, which are not only present in a city tissue, but dominate over the city, such as the Palace of Culture and Science. Moreover, the problem with not defined national identity results in little understanding of the city. There are difficulties to define city’s complicated identity which influence the lack of vision and comprehensive plans for the future development of cities (Domaradzki 2016, Baraniewski 2014, Oleński 2014). The emphasis of the research project leads towards the key case study within the context of the Parade Square, the city core of Warsaw. Thesis is an attempt to understand a narrative of that site. The chosen site based on criteria elaborated in the next chapter (Chapter 2) presents the violation of Polish national identity and manifestation of foreign ideology

Trauma The Parade Square in Warsaw

Landscape architecture

Fig. 0.3: The knowledge gap

which emanates over the entire city (Murawski 2015). the symbol of communism, the Palace of Culture and Science, and the enormous void designated in the past for various propaganda parades makes the city core ambivalent and inhuman. Therefore, the study about Polish national identity and the case of its violation at the Parade Square, the most representative place in the capital of Poland, makes it meaningful, intriguing and important to investigate.

KNOWLEDGE GAP The lack of literature and a framework of how to deal with the difficult process of national identification while cultural identity loss and its translation into a physical world condition, consists a knowledge gap of this thesis. High degree of abstraction in both identity theory and nationalism and many variations of identity and ways of its interpretation makes this thesis topic difficult to research (Smith 1991; Woolf 1996; Anderson 1991). There is a consistent amount of literature stressing the theme of national identity in relation to power, governance and nationalism (Cuthbert 2011; Mitchell 2002; Vale 2014). Due to its character as a sociological phenomena it is mostly presented from sociological point of view (Smith 1991; Anderson 1991). The direct connection to architecture or landscape architecture profession in literature is scarce. Available research on national identity from the perspective of landscape architecture profession is conducted mainly from the rural context and concerned with local landscapes (Kucan 2007). The study of urban context on the other hand, presents research focused on place identity without references to a broader understanding of the national culture (Kaymaz 2013; Gospodini 2004). National identity understood as a collective phenomenon, is associated with the concept of trauma as collective memory and presented in literature on socio-cultural trauma. However, the gap in research also constitute a missing link between the translation of the notion of trauma seen as a part of collective national identity and its representation into physical public space.



WORLDVIEW AND THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE Creswell (2013) defines worldviews as types of beliefs and philosophical orientation about the world held by researchers that guide them within a research. Looking for meaning and understanding the notion of identity belong to socio-cultural issues. Humans are born into the world of meanings influenced by the culture (Croty 1998 in Creswell 2013). The role of a landscape architect is to identify those meanings and translate them into the public realm. Therefore, looking for an identity and meaning, ‘making sense’ of situations in a qualitative and contextual way, and the concept of nation itself are seen from the perspective of social constructivism, where the phenomenon of national identity is viewed through the lenses of culture.


In order to identify the symbols which constitute the meaning of physical space, this thesis followed a framework of semiotics as a lens to explore this phenomenon. Semiotics is the science of signs. It provides a set of assumptions and concepts that allows for a systematic analysis of symbolic systems (Manning and Cullum-Swan 1992). Physical space is a collection of signs and they refer to historical past that has a significant symbolic meaning. As van Assche et al. (2012) states, interpretations of signs is the production of meaning (van Assche et al. 2012). In general there are three categories of meaning that are represented by the sign. These are icons, indexes and symbols. In order to identify a meaning they work together and are relational, therefore they lead to some events. The framework of semiotics for this thesis provide a lens to help, by an insightful observation and a reflection, to identify the symbolics of the international examples (chapter 3) and the identity of Poland (chapter 4) and is used in particular to understand the interpretation and hidden meanings of the Parade Square in Warsaw. The framework of semiotics and its implementation to the case study are elaborated in the chapter 5. For understanding the city as a landscape the landscape urbanism approach was taken as way of reasoning. This view presents understanding of a city as landscape with all of its dynamics and processes. Landscape urbanism offers strategies for design and provides a cultural category which is the lens through which to see and describe the contemporary city (Waldheim 2006: 43). It is not possible to embrace the whole complexity of the city, however integrating parts of it in locally responsive solutions is a domain of landscape architects (Motloch 2001). The way to think “not what ‘the space is’ but how it is experienced as one moves from place to place, the temporal experience of time” (Motloch 2001: 25).


RESEARCH OBJECTIVE The objective of this design research is to redefine and enhance nowadays blurred Polish national identity by using a narrative derived from an understanding the elements of expressions of Polish culture and the project site itself. The synthesis of the design research will conclude in a design of a national landmark at the heart of Warsaw, the Parade Square, as a counterbalance to the foreign ideologies which shape the current image of the Polish capital. A design intervention would help strengthening Polish identity instead of violating it and deepen the understanding of the Polish history, culture and national roots to overcome dramatic past and by a deep reflection to have a fresh look in the future. Design research is focused on understanding the factors which influenced blurred identity such as trauma of the city and the site. It will try to answer how by a landscape design give more understanding of this trauma, through in depth study of site-specific cultural conditions and specific history and on using this knowledge in the iterative design process (research by design) to understand the narrative of “Polishness”. The aim of this design research is therefore, to enhance and create opportunities for a new type of a meaningful public space which would express the Polish national identity to better give emotions, directions and understanding of the traumatic identity. I will not solve the trauma, but it will help Poles to live with it.

RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY National identity is a very complicated subject to study. However, this design research is an attempt to tackle this wicked problem and to look for answers about Polish national identity by means of landscape architecture profession. Especially nowadays, while creeping homogeneity and globalisation factors plays a large role in urban development. The significance of the study lies in the potential of translating the notion of national identity into a public space through a design. (landscape) architectural relevance This study provides establishing relations between national identity and landscape architecture with a strong emphasis on looking at the meaning of the context. Moreover, research of national identity is translated into the physical reality using landscape design tools which at the end provides a meaningful design of a public space for people, a multi layered landscape at the heart of the city. academic relevance The relevance lies in bridging theory and practice together. This design research provides a framework for

identity-formation for countries which deal with identity related problems. This methodology of extended cultural studies, looking at cultural artifacts as a medium to investigate national identity, is especially relevant for countries which lack clearly defined national identities. These countries are possibly young nations or in the past they experienced turmoil history such as Balkan countries which suffered from recent wars, the former Yugoslavia countries or former countries behind an ‘Iron Curtain’, which under a large cultural influence of Russia, are still trying to define their identities. Moreover, study of Polish national identity is relevant for post-colonial countries which have the same problem with defining their own identity. In literature Poland is compared to the countries which suffered from introducing foreign culture and symbols to their own. This design research by creating a framework could be relevant for them to help to reinvent their identity. social relevance This design research focuses on looking for a solution to reinvent Polish national identity, to help Poles to understand their origin and look for a better, meaningful future. It is about creating a new layer of awareness of the past, remembering the good and bad, and an effort to build on that to go further, to orient in the future.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS & METHODS To answer the addressed above issues and problems, this thesis will answer the following main Design Question: DQ: How can Polish national identity be characterized through a landmark design intervention at the Parade Square in the capital Warsaw? To help to answer that question, other four research questions were formulated, which narrow down the research design. RQ 1: What is the current understanding of the national identity and trauma through the lenses of social constructivism and can it be implemented in a landscape design? RQ 2: In what way is national identity represented in public space in the capitals abroad? RQ 3: What are the fundamental characteristics of Polish national identity seen through expressions of Polish culture (art, film, literature, music) which influence the contemporary image of Poles relevant for understanding the narrative of Warsaw?

Square in Warsaw in terms of national identity? Research strategy Presented design research was not a linear process. Thesis focused on the approach seen as a design research, where the key element is a design process. Therefore, the design is seen as a vehicle of thinking (Nijhuis, Bobbink 2012). During the iterative design process, the design tried to integrate the outcome from each level of the research. Therefore the triangulation of methods was essential, between the appointed design area, theory and design. The main strategy used in this thesis is a Research by Design (Research through designing), elaborated in the begging of the chapter. During the process however, several other design approaches were used as well, such as: research for design (RFD) or research informed design and research on design (ROD). They provide knowledge about the subject and help to lead the process of design research. Methods Research constituted a qualitative approach to research and design. In this thesis I was working with semiotic theories of Charles Sanders Peirce to reveal symbolic nature of national identity. They helped also to investigate meanings of the case study of Warsaw and the Parade Square. Additionally, my observations about Polish identity were supported by historical analysis while taking inspiration from Polish literature, music, art and film to supplement my discussion. Moreover, this study used several approaches to investigate the phenomenon of national identity. Literature study provided a framework for understanding the study, reference study helped with understanding of the international cases of nation-building, key case study of Warsaw and the Parade Square provided insight of the complexity of the city dynamics and helped sharpen the problem. Within the case study other methods had been applied such as interviews with city experts and urban landscape analysis which provided an additional insight to the research with exploring the city and the site of the Parade Square. Conducted research was essential for developing the design aims, and later an iterative design process helped to implement and test the investigated outcome of the research into reality, in the context of Warsaw. Detailed information about the methods used in this thesis will be provided further, at each chapter.

RQ 4: What is the character and meaning of the site that influence the current perception of the Parade ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE


01. CONTEXTUALIZATION 1.1. ALTERNATIVE LOCATIONS ‘Designing a dream city is easy; rebuilding a living one takes imagination.’ Jane Jacobs (1961) What is the best site in Poland for a landmark to represent Polish national identity? And how should it look like? What should it represent? The following chapter will present the best location for the Polish landmark. Taking into consideration Polish turmoil history the landmark site should answer a question of how to create a condense place for a deep polish sentiment and self reflection?


Cracow, Gdańsk or Warsaw? Looking at the best place for a Polish landmark three cities have been compared: Cracow, Warsaw and Gdansk, as major cities in Poland and its historical value in the Polish history (Fig. 1.2). All three had an iconic role in shaping Polish identity. Cracow, as former Polish capital and a seat of rulers, for centuries had a large influence on Polish identity. The Wawel castle in Cracow is the burial place of Polish kings, poets and leaders. Gdańsk on the other hand, one of the wealthiest cities in Poland in the 18th century, a great trade city connected within the Hanza league mainly with the Netherlands, also influenced Polish mentality. The youngest city of all three, Warsaw became the capital after Cracow and its glory mainly started from that period. All of them had a turbulent history. Bombarded during the Second World War, and attacked many times by the enemy in the past, such as attacks of Swedes in the 17th century. Why Warsaw as a place for a landmark? While all three cities could be a potential place for the landmark of Poland due to its role in the past and present in forming Polish identity, I believe that Warsaw is the best place to represent Polish national identity, the place where national values and culture tried to be erased by the violence and trauma that happened in the past. The reasons for this is not only that Warsaw is the Polish capital. It’s central position along the Vistula river is promising, but also not the most determining reason. I choose Warsaw while some of the most determining and dramatic episodes in Polish history took place in the city. Reflections of these may be found in the multi layered tissue of present urban landscape, but are not clearly represented, nor visible. I will elaborate on these arguments after analysing the fundamental characteristics and symbolism of national identity and history of Poland in the chapters 4 and 5.


Occupied and destroyed many times, mainly by Swedish, Russian and German military, the city was going rounds from one occupant to another. Destruction and occupation brought devastation of the culture. As no other city it was struggling for centuries with ‘untraditioning’ of Polish culture and values by various oppressors which tried to introduce foreign culture and ideology. Moreover, many times it was degraded to a provincial city, which resulted of stopping the development of the city. Therefore, as a result, it has a blurred identity and strongly needs a symbolic representation of what constitutes the Polish nation. At the same time Warsaw in itself is perceived to be a symbol of the entire nation. Despite of its tragic history the city surprises by its vitality and strength. At the moment (2017) it has one of the largest GDP growth in Europe compared to the size of the city (Central Statistical Office 2017). But besides the positive growth, both spatial and economic, its amorphous and chaotic structure starts to deepen. The city does not have a comprehensive plan and a vision for the future development. It makes Warsaw the most challenging city in Poland to deal with in terms of its rapid growth after the total eradication (Baraniewski 2014). Alternative sites in Warsaw for a landmark Warsaw is seen as a city of empty spaces. Voids are the remnant of the past. The outcome of the Second World War and later the legacy of modernism left large undeveloped areas within the city which are still present in the spatial structure of Warsaw (Fig. 1.1). “It is a projection screen of our desire” van Dijk (1996: 242) “Where there is nothing, everything is possible. Where there is architecture, nothing (else) is possible.” Rem Koolhaas (1985: 156) Therefore one of the Warsaw’s voids should be taken into account for choosing a future iconic landmark site for Warsaw as a representative place. One of the most prominent voids in the city is the Parade Square. The Parade Square is the most representative void in Warsaw (Fig. 1.4). Its central position, connections, and a large scale (25.3 ha) allows for a development of the true city center which Warsaw lost after the Second World War (Fig. 1.5). Why the Parade Square as a place for a landmark? The landmark for Poles cannot be just anywhere. The characteristics of Polish national identity are specific and it looks for a commemoration place equally specific. Therefore, the location at the Parade Square, the most traumatic void of the city, is the most prominent, because the image which the landmark is going to present is the truth about the Polish nation, the trauma.

Fig. 1.1: The shadow of Kremlin is always present (author’s picture).

Undeveloped for more than 60 years it constitutes a geographical central point, the point zero, of Warsaw where the distances on maps are measured (the Warsaw’s kilometer zero pole). The central position within the city also leads to the highest development pressure of Warsaw. The place is also the center of the most important political decisions about the city. They are held within the Palace of Culture and Science where the Seat of Municipal Council is located. Besides spatial and functional reasons there are symbolic values. The Square is the most prominent and






Fig. 1.3: The location of the Parade Square in Poland.






Parade Square


Fig. 1.2: Diagram illustrating the site choice (drawing by the author).

Fig. 1.4: The satellite image of voids of Warsaw surrounding the area of the Parade Square (source: Google earth with author’s drawings). ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

Fig. 1.5: The emptiness of the Parade Square in comparison to selection of medieval European city centers (unknown author).

controversial void in the city, full of contrasts and contradictions. This ambivalence in the space is caused by the high ratio of dissonance in the public space, mainly caused by the Communist symbol of power, and at the same time the tallest building in Poland, the Palace of Culture and Science. The presence of the building is already a violation of the Polish national identity regardless of what it is. By bringing symbols of oppression it is a reminder of Polish tragic past. High symbolism is one of the factors of ongoing debates of the future development of the Square. The elaboration of the Parade square will


The selected site of the Parade Square will be more elaborated in the chapter 5 of this thesis as being a key case study.

Fig. 1.6: View of Warsaw, the new residence of the king. (1656 by Erik Dahlbergh)

Fig. 1.7: Canaletto, View of Warsaw, representing the most important city features, the river and the escarpment where the most important buildings are located (historya.pl). THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Fig. 1.8: Great vision of future Warsaw (1925) (wikimedia.org)





1.2. WARSAW, THE CITY OF SCARS Warsaw is the capital of Poland, located in the middle of the country. It has a population of more than 1,7 million people and covers 517 km2 of the area giving a low density for the global capital, of 3391 people per 1 km2 (Central Statistical Office 2017). Topography and the location Nature and topography are most of the time important landmarks for the cities within Europe (Kolbe 2007). Warsaw is located on the river Wisła (Vistula) and the post-glacial area with the ridgeline along the river. This prominent location approximately 25-30m above the water level created an ideal location for the starting city.


WARSAW IS MULTILAYERED Warsaw belongs to extraordinary cities, its greatness is based on multi-layering, and these layers are not based on traditional archeology. These layers constitute the archeology of ideas: layers of ideas, plans and dreams. Warsaw’s narrative is based on the very turmoil history. The tissue of the current city is very diverse. History of Warsaw presents a journey through many layers. It was invented in the XIV century as a fisherman village on top of the escarpment. The prominent location helped the city with a quick growth. The ridge of the escarpment as a very prominent location, allowed for a defense and showing power. Warsaw was growing quickly. At some point, the city couldn’t host people anymore in the medieval walled city therefore just next to it another city has been build - a New Town. Therefore, the history of Warsaw already from the beginning has a dual nature. Warsaw developed along the main road, leading from north to south, later called the Royal duct was parallel to the escarpment as a natural barrier. City therefore was growing along the Royal duct, however the development in the direction of East-West was abandoned and chaotic. Visible parallel structures leading towards the river created a strong image of old Warsaw, with many orchards and wooden houses. Later, the city is seen as a sort of megalopolis with villages around the Old Town with their own rights and owners with lack of organizing structure (Leśniakowska 2012; Domaradzki 2016). WARSAW IS PALIMPSEST Warsaw and the process of adding and erasing. The overall image of the city is visible through all of the city layers, however for the contemporary image of the city the most important are the last layers, starting from the fall of independence (Partitions of Poland) at the end of XVIII century which was most possibly the start of emerging notion of Polish nationality (Smith 1991, 1994). At this period until now there THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Fig. 1.9: Transformation of the Staszic Palace in Warsaw (b) into a Russian orthodox church (a) as an example of the Russification of Poland in the XIX century (warszawa. naszemiasto.pl)

Fig. 1.10: Bombardment of Warsaw in 1944 (wikimedia.org)




1382 - 1768 Jurydykas


Fig. 1.11: Timeline of Warsaw’s tragic past

Poland disappears from the world map for 123 years forced introduction of foreign symbols

20 years interwar period

1772 - 1795 Partitions of Poland

Second World War

devastating war makes Poland left in ruin


1989 fall of communism

1989 - solidarnosc

1979 - Catholic pope John Paul II visits city. 1981-1983 - Martial law in Poland

Kingdom of Prussia 1795 Dutchy of Warsaw 1809-15 (under Napoleon’s rule) Congress Poland 1815 (under Russia’s rule)

1953 - Old Town Market Place restored 1955 - Palace of Culture and Science built.

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

1944 27 July: German Festung Warschau established. August–October: Warsaw Uprising against German forces;[15] Wola massacre. Germans conduct planned destruction of Warsaw 1945 January: Soviet forces take city; German occupation ends.[13] 14 February: Biuro Odbudowy Stolicy (pl) (city reconstruction bureau) established

1943 - April–May: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Warsaw has a turmoil history going from hand to hand, from oppressor to oppressor. Warsaw was a very prominent city. It was a capital of once very large country (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the Partitions of Poland, held in three stages, (1772, 1793, 1795) Poland disappeared from the map for 123 years. During that time Warsaw, the capital, was changing the “handler“.

1939 1 September: Bombing of Warsaw in World War II by German forces begins. 28–8 September: Siege of Warsaw (1939) by German forces. 27 September: German occupation begins 16 - 1940 October: Jewish Warsaw Ghetto established by Germans 1942 July: German Grossaktion Warsaw (1942) begins. Pabst Plan created

1920 - August: Battle of Warsaw

1918 - Polish independence

1918 - 1914 First World War

1863 - January Uprising

1833 - Grand Theatre opens

1831 - September: Battle of Warsaw

1830 - November Uprising (31–1830); Polish–Russian War 31–1830

1815 - City becomes capital of Kingdom of Poland under Russian Empire 1816 - University of Warsaw established

8 - 1813 February: Russians in power

1807 - City becomes capital of Duchy of Warsaw 1809 - April–June: Austrians in power

1806 - City occupied by French forces

1794 - Warsaw Uprising 1794 - Battle of Praga; city taken by Russians 1795 - City becomes part of Prussia

1764 - City taken by Russians 1788 - Lazienki gardens laid out

1702 - City taken by Swedes


1689 - Warsaw becomes capital of Poland

1655 - City besieged by Swedish forces 1656 - Battle of Warsaw

1. 2. 3.

1390 - St. John's Cathedral construction begins

1350 - Establishing the city of Warsaw













have been five most important periods which can be distinguished in the history of this town: 1.



4. 5.

Russification XVIII - 1918 Warsaw in the Russian period as a provincial city, stopped with development large russification (destroying Polish culture) - censorship. Polish culture had to be created underground 20 years of independence 1918-1939 developing into a new modern European metropolis and the capital of the democratic country - revolutionary plans for the city Second World War 1939 - 45 destruction of the city during the Second World War leading to the emptiness and decline - both in physical and symbolic matter Communism 1945 - 1989 the socialist city - the capital of the communist non sovereign country Capitalism 1989 - now - the capital of a new democratic European country (Leśniakowska 2012).

This amalgamation of the city layers and its distinctiveness create the identity of the city. Being able to read them and their main elements is a key to understand functioning of the city and a precondition for a design. WARSAW IS TRAUMA The notion of trauma defines the DNA of Warsaw. Almost entirely destroyed during the Second World War, Warsaw lost majority of its cultural heritage in forms of architecture with numerous works of art. The act of deliberate annihilation of culture resulted in identity crisis and cultural trauma (Tung 2001). Warsaw seen as a narrative is based on a very turmoil history. Telling its story shows categories like discontinuity and oppositions, conflicted space, heterogeneity and voids (Leśniakowska 2012). Turmoil history resulted that Warsaw could be perceived to be built of various layers of trauma: 1.

Trauma of the 19th century russification (Russian annexation) and germanisation (Prussian annexation)

cial trade city. Therefore no radical changes has been made to make the city remarkable, like it had been done in many 19th century European capitals. 2. trauma of the Second World War “Warsaw has to be pacified, that is, razed to the ground”. Adolf Hitler, 1944 “The city must completely disappear from the surface of the earth and serve only as a transport station for the Wehrmacht. No stone can remain standing. Every building must be razed to its foundation”. Heinrich Himmler, SS chief. October 17, 1944, SS officers’ conference Warsaw, loosing almost entirely the built historical tissue (built heritage) resulted in an identity crisis (Domaradzki 2016). 80% of the city was entirely eradicated and 96.5% of the city’s historical and architectural legacy was destroyed during the Second World War by both Nazi Germany and the Soviets. By a planned annihilation of Warsaw, Nazis deliberately were destroying the heritage of Poland to rule easier the Polish nation. The most precious of Warsaw’s heritage, such as literature, art, monuments was eradicated. Of 957 buildings classified as monuments, 782


Fig. 1.12: Month before Warsaw Uprising Germans loading trucks with Polish artwork at Zachęta building at Plac Małachowskiego 3 (Warsaw Uprising museum).

19th century consist of a difficult period for Polish culture. It is a period of forced introduction of foreign symbols, restrictions in the use of the Polish language and discrimination of national culture and traditions. Due to the secret cultural organizations (Philomaths and Filaret Association, including Adam Mickiewicz) and underground schools by reading Polish poetry and maintaining Polish culture, it was possible for Polish culture to be preserved (Davies 2005). During the time of the Russian empire in the 19th century, Warsaw was diminished to the role of a provin-


Fig. 1.13: the fall of a Mickiewicz monument by Nazi Germany (dawnotemuwkrakowie. pl). ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

were totally destroyed and 141 partly demolished. The act of bestial bombing the city (including hospitals, public buildings and churches) was a Hitler’s revenge for the Warsaw’s uprising in 1944 (Tung 2001). Moreover, trauma of the Second World War also drawn upon the annihilation of all groups of people, including Warsaw Jewish Ghetto, street executions, concentration camps and later Soviet invasion of Eastern Poland. The Katyń massacre in 1940, where Soviet soldiers killed 22.000 people is part of the annihilation and Polish trauma. It was an act of mass murder of a highly educated segments of Polish society, including officers, doctors, policemen, teachers and others in terms of erasing Polish culture and tradition (Ozbay and Aras 2008).

Fig. 1.14: Warsaw according to the Pabst Plan: German new provincial town with Hitler’s summer residence (wikimedia.org).

The other example of Polish trauma is the Pabst Plan, a design prepared during the Second World War by the Hitler’s architects of degrading and transforming Warsaw into a medium size provincial German city with the summer residence of Adolf Hitler at the Warsaw Royal Castle (Fig. 1.14) (Tung 2001). 3. Trauma of Communism and Modernism


Fig. 1.15: Trauma of Communism (Z. Siemaszko)

Fig. 1.16: Modernism ideology built on the ruins of Warsaw (city as cemetery) (arbiter. pl)

Fig. 1.17: Trauma of capitalism (wawalove.pl). THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

The process of filling the voids after the city destruction started together with entering a new period in history - communism (Fig. 1.15). Therefore, by many Warsaw is perceived to be almost entirely product of the communism (Hatherley 2016). It was one of the most difficult periods in terms of shaping the culture and influencing the Polish identity. The totalitarian system of communism besides of influencing economic, social and cultural life, ruled over the visualized and aesthetic expressions of everyday existence in the city (Czepczyński 2016). Mostly it was about silence, censorship and forgetting or erasing / not commemorating many historical events and cultural activities, together with pressure on the Catholic faith. Foreign ideology introduced in the city violated Polish perception of culture and tradition, therefore influencing Polish national identity. Moreover, almost at the same time, movement of modernism started to shape Polish poor cities, bringing uniformity and standardization, creating the space monotonous, without connections to Polish legacy. Repetition became the

Fig. 1.18: New city built on the ruins of the old. City seen as a cemetery (drawing by the author)

image which dominated Polish cityscape. New ideology was built over the ruins of the old Warsaw, a city-cemetery (Fig. 1.16). 4. Trauma of Capitalism After getting independence again in 1989 new opportunities opened to the city. However, ad hoc urbanization, rapid growth after the total eradication and craziness of urban design and modern capitalism in form of skyscrapers creates spatial chaos of the city. Trauma of capitalism is therefore seen as a mindless excitement of a new system, flux of cash, donations from the European Union for infrastructure and other projects, just after being an enslaved, poor country. Globalization and homogenization of the society brought new risks and concerns about the condition of a shaping nation. Visible cultural layers in the city tissue, which started to appear, made an interesting and intriguing multi meaning space, an architectonic-cultural and sociological phenomenon (Leśniakowska 2012). WARSAW IS VOIDS Warsaw is perceived as a city of open spaces. After the Second World War empty city started to be redeveloped. Voids started to be filled according to two ideologies, of communism and modernism. Both destroyed the city in its physical space by introducing ideologies violating Polish cultural identity. In communism void was showing the power of the government and ideology, represented in monumental scale in architecture and public space. Modernism on the other hand left many open spaces reserved for future development, especially transportation networks: railways and highways. Empty spaces in the city resulted in chaotic and mosaic structure of the city


Emotional Void Besides the physical void left in the city tissue there is an emotional void which was left in people’s minds. This creates an enormous void of feelings - trauma is a sort of a thing which leaves some emptiness. A post-traumatic shock.







02. EXPLORING NATIONAL IDENTITY The main aim of this chapter is to define concepts of the nation, identity and trauma in relation to landscape architecture and design profession in general. The study for this chapter involved multidisciplinary investigation based on literature review. Knowledge from sociology, psychology and philosophy had to be explored in terms to acquire and create a link into a physical world of landscape architecture, urban design and architecture. Therefore the following question needed to be answered: RQ 1: What is the current understanding of the national identity and trauma through the lenses of social constructivism and can it be implemented in a landscape design? The approach of this thesis looks at the phenomenon of national identity seen through social constructivism by studying and reflecting on art and culture. Moreover, this research provides an understanding of a national identity by looking through an (urban) landscape and reading its symbolics.


To answer the question of how discourse of national identity can influence the design, the basic concepts of nation and identity need to be explored. Looking from abstraction to representation. It is important for a landscape architect to look at national identity from the perspective of tangible cultural artefacts which could help to understand the nation and its interpretation to be implemented in the real-world condition. Therefore, questions as, what is the representation of the nation and how it relates to the concept of trauma will be examined.

2.1. NATION AS IMAGINED COMMUNITY The notion of identity and nation are very broad. Besides of many meanings they can be used in various contexts by different fields of study, in each with a slightly changed meaning emphasized on different issues. For this thesis the term “nation“ is used from the cultural, not a political perspective. For this, I follow the concept as described and shared by Smith, Wangler and Anderson where the term “nation” is understood as a cultural and social phenomenon sharing historic territory, common myths, historical memories, mass, and public culture (Smith 1991, 1996; Wangler 2012; Anderson 1991). Identity on the other hand is defined by Castells as “people’s source of meaning and experience” (Castells 2010: 6). He states also that the “identity is a process of construction of meaning on the basis of a cultural attribute, or a related set of cultural attributes, THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

that is given priority over other sources of meaning” (Castells 2010: 6). National identity therefore is understood as a cultural construct represented by myths, memories, rituals, traditions, ceremonies and symbols (Anderson 1991, Smith 1996). However, the concept of identity and nation, and therefore national identity are seen by many as a very abstract, unclear and blurry terms (Smith 1991; Anderson 1991; Woolf 1996; Wangler 2012). Many interpretations makes difficult to approach this topic and conclude relevant outcome. However, still a sense of identity and belonging is one of the deepest human needs (Smith 1991; Taylor 2007). Identity refers to the quality of difference and affiliation to a certain concept or set of concepts which defines belonging to a group (Kaymaz 2013, Smith 1991, Taylor 2008, Gospodini 2004). Additionally, Anderson (1991) defines nation also as an imagined community, where society holds a strong mental image of their relationship. He argues that it is imagined because members of the community at one point bonded together and created a ‘nation‘ based on completely illusory, non-empirical, nonexistent quality of the original event. For Anderson (1991), a nation is an invented construct working as a cultural relict. Imagination, therefore is crucial for the process of representation, because it transforms underdeveloped experience and memories from life and forms it into a specific shape (Alexander 2004). Similar opinion to presented above is shared by Castells (2010) who sees the identity in a broad spectrum, which uses people’s imagination and fantasies in terms to shape it. “The construction of identities uses building materials from history, from geography, from biology, from productive and reproductive institutions, from collective memory and from personal fantasies, from power apparatuses and religious revelations”. However, he claims also that “individuals, social groups, and societies process all these materials, and rearrange their meaning, according to social determinations and cultural projects that are rooted in their social structure, and in their space/time framework” (Castells 2010: 7). Therefore, both entities are heavily influenced by the notion of imagination, which the world is perceived by the Eye of Imagination (Fig. 2.1). Abstract concepts of nation and identity however are presented in forms of symbols, a cultural heritage. National symbols play a significant role about giving a narrative of the nation. They fulfill a role of a history lesson and help to look for answers for the future. Symbols intend to create a notion of belonging through visual, verbal, or iconic representations of history, influential people or important values. Symbols can be tangible and intangible, such as myths, be-

lieves, narrations, but also language and expressions of art, literature, music, film, architecture, memorials, monuments and landmarks (Smith 1991). Following this reasoning, identity is seen from the perspective of culture which defines the nation. Common myths, believes and traditions are addressed to keep the idea of belonging to one group strong. By looking at representations of culture we could find representation by symbols. They are a carrier of meanings in the physical realm. Those representations are very valuable for understanding the society because they are a carrier of emotions. They can be shown as a vehicle of national symbolism.

in which they start to operate, and a ‘terrain’ where national identities can be created or enhanced (Gospodini 2004). And the culture is an element which enhances understanding of the nation and national identity.



History, culture, and therefore identity are never stable constructs. On the contrary, they are very dynamic, constantly evolving phenomena (Kaymaz 2013). Additionally, history is being reconstructed and a sense of belonging to a certain nationality depends as much on forgetting, as on remembering (Gillis 1994). Moreover, identities are continuously constructed not only by facing the present and future but also by examining and reconstructing the past (Alexander 2004).

The fact of the landscape and urban landscape is that they are not only physical entities, and should not be perceived as such. As stated by many authors landscape reflects history, cultural phenomenon, memories of people (Schama 1995; Meining 1979; Taylor 2008; Motloch 2001). By understanding landscape as a grater entity and city as a part of it (city as a landscape) (Waldheim 2016), the whole panoply of understanding of the city opens. Landscape is not simply what we see, but a way of seeing and understanding (Taylor 2008; Meinig 1979; Motloch 2001). Landscape and cities reflect culture and national identity, therefore by designing parts of the city landscapes, they may express national identity.

Process of writing and erasing of memory leads to a change in the meaning and the representation of history (Leśniakowska 2012; Gillis 1994). Memories influences behavior and identity by erasing and adding new layers of memory. Therefore cities can be seen as palimpsests where they carry a record of their history in a built form (Leśniakowska 2012). The morphology of cities changes because of the constant changes of a dynamic history. Looking at national identity which is a construct of memories of common past (Gillis 1994) therefore an imaginary (Anderson 1991) and abstract concept (Smith 1996; Woolf 1996) which represents collective expressions belonging to a nation-state.

Following that thought symbols for national significance can be read through the perspective of a landscape. Schama (1995) defines concepts of a ‘landscape as memory’ in which he claims that tradition of landscape is the product of the shared culture, which derives from myths, memories and people’s obsessions. Landscape is understood as a source or as a carrier of meaning and memory. Therefore, landscape becomes an open book for an investigation and through cultural landscapes, such as cities, it is possible to learn about the culture and at the same time about ourselves. Authors, such as Meinig (1979) and Motloch (2001) go further and define landscapes as multi-layered, seen from many perspectives and ways of interpretation, such as landscape seen as: ideology, history, place, aesthetic (Meinig 1979). Others, such as Spirn (1998) defines it as a language, Kucan (1999, 2007) and Schama (1995) as carriers of collective identity and historical memory or by Taylor (2008) as a cultural construct in which our sense of place and memories inhere. (Urban) landscape is therefore seen, as a carrier of symbols and meaning, and as a signifying systems. It is perceived as part of the larger realm of landscape a city as landscape. Landscape is understood here as a medium to think about cities, which therefore has power to form and shape national identity, a narrative

In history of nations very strong role is given to physical representation of nations, mainly memorial sites and monuments. Due to its scale and meaning they become landmarks in the city. Memorials physically transmit a historical context for urban places, transfer historical meaning to the present. However, nations are not always honest with its representation. The process of selective representation leads to not clear view at the nation and therefore its representation. Selective representation of history, has a large influence mainly because it is steered by the rich and powerful with specific idea of the nation which may lead to dangerous propaganda and at the same time what

Fig. 2.1: The Oculus Imaginationis (The Eye of the Imagination) by Robert Fludd’s Ars Memoriae (source: Fludd 1617). ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE


is ordinary or vernacular is being neglected. History in that sense is understood as selection of facts for a steered functioning of a society as nation. Urban landscapes might be therefore manifestations of power and ideology (Mitchell 2002; Vale 2014). Cultural landscapes in totalitarian regimes, such as Communism, are an example. They were used to perform power over people and landscapes, such as transforming Warsaw’s landscape in order to have control over the people by visible relics of the system and their specific aesthetic form, as the Palace of Culture and Science or the MDM, the workers district. The plan of transforming Warsaw into a German provincial city with qualities of a small German town by the Nazi had a similar intention of diminishing the culture. Nevertheless, honest representation of the nation and seek for the truth can be achieved by a wide arrange of art as presented by Heidegger’s concept of aletheia (1993) (elaborated in the chapter 4). National identity represented by expressions of culture such as art, literature, film, music, and others, helps with understanding of the society, due to them carrying a meaning. Therefore expressions such as paintings from different historical periods and different artists can be understood as a vehicle of national symbolism.


History is related to memory and memory is enhanced by representing it in a physical form. It is important because memories of a given ethnic group are a key to the understanding of that group (Thompson 2005). The freedom to remember and to preserve memory of the past is a condition necessary for a civilized society to exist. Without the freedom to remember we lose our ability to put events in perspective and to understand the present state of the world. Therefore memory is important not only for nationalistic reasons but also, and primarily, because it helps to make us into civilized beings and enables us to solve problems (Thompson 2005).

2.4. CULTURAL TRAUMA The physical representation of the nation can be seen as representation of positive memories, such as victories, leaders, heroes or negative connected to dramatic events and death. The problem occurs when the event especially negative, related to the notion of trauma, is still very deeply rooted in the mindset of people. The definition of trauma oscillates between the physical and mental. The etymology of the term ‘trauma’ comes from the Greek word τραῦμα, meaning ‘wound’. It appeared in English language in the 17th century in medicine and it referred to an injury, a physical damage to a body, caused by an external factor. In the late 19th century for the first time it shifted the meaning from physical to mental. Described firstly as an indiTHE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

vidual character, as the origin which describe trauma relation to the means of transportation - railways. In the Oxford Dictionary (2017) nowadays it refers mainly to the fields of science such as psychoanalysis and psychiatry. The current connotations of trauma refers to metaphors of psychic scars and mental wounds however the cause of it is still affected by an external factor (Luckhurst 2008). The fact that it refers, both to physical and psychical, is interesting to observe especially in the urban condition. “Experiencing trauma is a sociological process which defines painful injury to the collectivity” (Alexander 2004). Trauma, however, has been understood firstly from the perspective of the entity then of the collective. In the past its concept was very individual and not yet explored. Nowadays trauma is understood much broader and seen as a collective, group problem, sometimes even national, related to collective national identity. Cultural trauma is understood as one of the large groups of trauma, a national problem. It was researched on the basis of post-colonial countries which experienced negative influence of cultures of suppressor’s countries. According to Alexander (2004) cultural trauma is understood as an unhealed wound in the collective memory of a social community. For instance, the fact that a generation of young Poles has never experienced the war or losing independence does not mean that it is not affected by the trauma. It is a part of collective identity, a remembrance that left deep traces on Polish mentality in general. Moreover, it can be reflected in everyday life in the form of various behaviours without knowing its influence in a first instance (Alexander 2004). The concept assumes that trauma contain some unresolved problems which are in depth of the human subconsciousness. Important is the layer of forgetting or not wanting to remember which is connected to subconsciousness and the trauma itself. Cultural trauma according to Alexander (2004) is an outcome of a cultural shock caused by an accident concerning loss of culture and its attributes, like cultural artefacts. These, according to semiology are a strong carrier of symbols and plays a role in shaping the understanding of the narrative of a nation, seen from a perspective of social constructivism (Anderson 1991; Schama 1995; Kucan 2007). Destruction of culture Therefore when a disruptive event which has occurred involved loss of cultural artefects, it affects the whole society’s identity. “Destroying culture means taking away what defines us” (Prince Constantijn 2011, in Frerks et al 2011: 4). As previously stated, while culture is essential for an

image of yourself, then its destruction virtually means a killing the group itself (Frerks 2011). The denial of culture means a denial of identity. “Culture becomes part and parcel of conflicts over identity, over land and homeland, and about nation and nationality” (Frerks 2011). Overcoming trauma The aim of a physical representation of trauma is to create an imaginative identification and emotional catharsis for people (Alexander 2004). In terms to relieve the emotional stress after traumatic event, there is a need for an identification of that trauma and representation of it in a physical, palpable way (Luckhurst 2008). Then this is a moment when the collective memory becomes cultural memory for a traumatized nation (Thompson 2005). Monuments, memorials and museums are seen as efforts to memorialize the victims and tries to restore an objective reality of the brutal events.

rier of meaning, memory and symbols, which therefore constitute a national identity 3. culture / nation is represented by symbols: literature, art, landscape etc and monuments which are a carrier of memory (Smith 1991; Schama 1995) 4. to represent a nation / culture as a true (real) image of itself culture needs to be represented in positive aspects as well as in negative. “In representing only the positive aspects of culture, distorted communication occurs, and society is presented with a false image of itself” (Cuthbert 2011) 5. trauma as an outcome of the tragic past, however, to be overcome, needs to be represented in a physical form, such as a landmark or a memorial (source of the cultural trauma), then the collective memory would become a cultural memory for a traumatized nation (Thompson 2005)

Therefore it is collective memory which needs to be transformed into a cultural memory without so strong emotional baggage carrying by the people (Thompson 2005). “The transformation is there when all the traumas have reached closure and there is little bitterness in remembering one’s history” (Thompson 2005). The process of overcoming trauma “rearranges events of the past into categories that become part of one’s cultural identity; it enriches a person instead of embittering him or her” (Thompson 2005).


2.5. CONCLUSIONS RQ 1: What is the current understanding of the national identity and trauma through the lenses of social constructivism and can it be implemented in a landscape design? Theory of semiotics is a way of dealing and expressing feelings by using symbolic images, physical structures or elements of landscape. Therefore means of expressing trauma by a design intervention of a symbolic, meaningful urban space. How may urban landscapes represent symbols and cultural identity? Public realm constitutes an enormous stage, where memory, historical consciousness, space and form collide (Cuthbert 2011), through landmarks, memorials and monuments. Public space has a force to convey specific meanings. The conclusions of the chapter are presented as follows: 1. national identity is seen as an abstract, unclear and blurry concept, based on imagination (Smith 1991; Anderson 1991; Woolf 1996; Wangler 2012) 2. urban landscapes can be understood as the carŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

03. SYMBOLS OF OTHER NATIONS Presented reference study tried to answer the question of how to keep a continuity of culture through the physical representation if a form of public design. Therefore it will look at how national identity is expressed in other capitals in a design of a public space. RQ 2: In what way is national identity represented in public space in the capitals abroad?

3.1. INTRODUCTION Nation as it was elaborated in the previous chapter can be represented in a variety of ways. However tangible representation in a form of landmarks, monuments and memorials is still the most dominant form of representation in the urban setting. Capitals all over the world design landmarks seen as signifiers which are designed to reflect the core ideals and values of the nation. They provide a language in which nation should be understood and should communicate to citizens (White 2012).


Examining those landmarks such as important buildings, monuments and memorials and other signifiers of national capitals provides an understanding of the culture and how the national story could be read and understood (White 2012). The framework of semiotics allows to observe and interpret these signs. In terms to understood the nature of particular nation one needs to study a repertoire of the national signs. Throughout centuries history has shown that there are places which are dedicated for the purpose of highlighting symbols of nations. They are important because they represent ideals of the nation and its goals. Research presents investigation of three prominent landmark sites in the world: the Boulevard des Champs Elysées in Paris, France, the Washington Mall in Washington DC, US and the Eixo Monumental (the Monumental Axis) at the Governmental District of Brasilia in Brazil. Presented examples consist a collection of monuments and memorials. To represent a nation in a symbolic way there is a need to create the whole panoply of symbols. It is only possible with focusing on the sites which consists of cluster of monuments. Chosen international references are places where all of the elements: landscape, architecture and urban design come together and create a coherent and holistic vision for the representation of the nation. Particular places which enhance national identities are “centres of collective cultural consciousness” (Graham 1998, p.40)


Fig. 3.1: Symbol of Japan, the sacred mountain represented in one of the imprints of Hokusai, 36 Views of Mount Fuji (1830) (source: wikimedia.org)

Fig. 3.2: The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of freedom to all of the immigrants, and the icon of the USA (source: www.rd.com)

DIVERSITY OF NATIONAL SYMBOLS In history of nations very strong role is given to a physical representation of nations, mainly memorial sites and monuments. Due to its scale and meaning they become landmarks in the city. Landmarks express the national identity and the notion of what nations wants to say. As it was more elaborated in the previous chapter urban context can be very strong carrier of national identity (Gospodini 2004). Mainly it is the contribution of landmarks in the public space. Landmarks fulfill the public space and interact strongly on citizens. They tell the story of the past. However, this story reflecting history is selective and do not represent everything what has really happened. It is a reflection of remembering and forgetting established by the authorities which are influential at particular moment in history. History is selective and therefore its representation. According to Cuthbert (2011) the selective representation of history reflects on not honest representation of the nation. Landmarks are diverse, they may vary with almost every aspect, such as size, materials or timelessness, from the largest erected by human, like the Statue of Liberty to the very small, like the Copenhagen Mermaid. It is not that much about the form of the constructed objects, but the narrative that they have.

The Statue of Liberty for instance (Fig. 3.2) is a symbol of freedom to all of the immigrants coming to a free America, a sort of a dream where they can liberate themselves, and at the same time an icon for America. There are also examples of nature proving a role of being a national symbol, such as the image of Mount Olympus represented in Greek mythology, the Great Canyon a natural landmark for the US or the Mount Fuji, the sacred mountain in Japan, represented in poems, songs and paintings. The most famous are landscape prints by Japanese artist Hokusai called 36 Views of Mount Fuji (1830) (Fig. 3.1).

Fig. 3.4: Parisian avenue sketch

But there are also representations of power of the government and the story of nation, like the Washington Mall in Washington DC or Champs Elysees in Paris. They are much more political and holds different notion of symbolism. Washington presents a symbol of democracy for the people and an icon for the capital. Champs Elysees on the other hand presents a symbol of French culture and imperialism.

Fig. 3.5: Monumental axis of the Champs Elysees (www.travelin.pl)



Is described as the most beautiful street in the world (Cuthbert 2011). The significance of representing and commemorating events and historical figures is reflected in the names of streets. The street Champs Elysées literally translates as “The Elysian Fields” which derives from Greek mythology and means the place where the blessed went after death (Cuthbert 2011). Fig. 3.3: Parisian avenue is an important place for people to celebrate victories. Liberation of Paris and military triumph of Charles de Gaulle (source: http://www.rfi.fr)

As stated by Vale (1992) Parisian Axe historique resembles an axis of power, imperialism, where French victories, honours and culture are proudly displayed to the world on the best street in the world. The Royal axis in the past was a ceremonial way for kings and now conjoins high culture and high capitalism (Vale 1992). The narrative which is emphasized in Paris is directed to commemorate military triumph on grand squares and boulevards designed for imperial processions and promenades (Vale 1992).

Fig. 3.3: Boulevard des Champs Elysées and its multifunctional use for hosting the most important cultural and sport events for the country and abroad. Tour de France 2013 (source: images.frenchly.us) ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE


2. WASHINGTON MALL, WASHINGTON DC, US Washington was envisioned as a monumental city, planned and built to express the power and the purpose of American nationhood (White 2012).

Fig. 3.6: Sketch of the Washington Mall (drawing by the author)


Fig. 3.7: Connection to landscape (source: wikimedia.org)


Despite that Washington Mall was originally based on the form of baroque, beautiful formal Parisian boulevards it represents different symbols of a nation. The immediate difference is the setting in which monuments are located. A large piece of landscape was constructed to create a kind of green carpet, a parklike setting where the most important monuments describing nation are located. However the most prominent in the whole layout are the governmental buildings which define the core of the monumental plaza. The Capitol and the White House, create axes along which museum and other cultural institutions are positioned. This is a clear statement that there is a large belief that governmental institutions and architecture of power create a national identity and a feeling of stability (safety). Clear urban layout helps to understand how the democratic system works. It is about transparency of it. Besides even monuments tell different stories. It started from the Washington Memorial - the obelisk which represents the founding father of the nation - George Washington. Other monuments were established also to commemorate individual persons, later it changed to group memorialisation. Therefore the character of the site evolved, from praising and glorification of units to remembrance of the victims. Washington monument in the center of the Mall was the first official monument located within the National Mall (Evans and York 2013) Washington monument is considered as a spiritual center of the capital and plays a role of an icon of place and identity (White 2012).

Fig. 3.8: The masterplan of the Washington Mall (asla.org)

The Mall is shaped in a process of adding, shifting and reconstructing the whole area and monuments. It is perceived as a national park with monuments and memorials incorporated in it. The park was designed first by a landscape designer Andrew Downing as an “ornament to the capital city”. Park resembled a natural style and created a “living museum of trees and shrubs”.

Fig. 3.9: Washington mall as a place of gathering and celebration (wikimedia.org)

Fig. 3.10: The Mondadori headquarters by Oskar Niemeyer (www.magzine.it)


3.2. CONCLUSIONS Chosen examples reflect a development of the city core where architects and urban designers faced the challenge of developing a meaningful public space with identity and reflecting national identity. Presented sites are always positioned at the strict city core as the most representative space to reflect the nation.

Fig. 3.11: Sketch of the Brasilia’s Monumental Axis (drawing by the author).


Presented reference study explored three significant landmark sites in the world. Examples focused on research about the narrative of the nation, looking at its representation in the physical form as a landmark. They represent a national identity reflected through a landmark design and culture.

The main ideas of the Pilot Plan for Brasilia designed by Lucio Costa was to reflect on the current society and bring it into modernity, therefore the most important objective of the city was linked to principles of modernism - mobility. Under the rule of the then president of Brazil, Juscelino Kubitschek, and his program “Fifty years of progress in five” the government chose Costa’s design. The capital had to represent a monumental city to highlight the new nation. The plan consists of the monumental axis and neutral grid which hosts the most important cultural, sacral, governmental and other public buildings (Shane 2011).

Based on criteria: • many functions at the ground level • long visual lines connecting the forum, the core axis which spines the forum into an integral whole • multifunctional core (place for gathering and expressing culture: sport, exhibitions, art, politics), mostly park or with elements of green • places with many symbols of the nation embedded in the forum, such as monuments, memorials, sculptures, significant buildings, cultural institutions and religious symbols. Praising events, people, groups of people, history of the country. Representation of positive and negative aspects of the society, with an emphasis on the positive. • flexible core and a strongly defined edges, marking the parameter of the forum • connection with the landscape

Plan for the city was designed by Lucio Costa, monumental architecture was designed by Oscar Niemeyer, landscape design of the Monumental Axis was made by Burle Marx.

Investigated examples only partially should be compared according to the layout of the design, due to the design trends in each period of history when the objects has been constructed.

Lucio Costa’s Pilot Plan for Brasilia, 1957

Study of the references led to three main observations: 1) all three refer to a specific spatial framework in a form of a forum, 2) they present a constructed image of the nation, rather than an honest one and 3) a notion of artificiality in representation.

Fig. 3.12: The symbolic triumphal gesture of the newly elected president of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the symbol of ancient power as the Louvre Pyramid in the background (source: www.lepoint.fr)

PEOPLE’S FORUM Presented international examples seems to be based on a coherent repeatable framework. They create a phenomenon which is based on the ancient forum - a main plaza in the city which enhance the exchange of information and influence of culture. The prominent example can be Forum Romanum in Rome. Such a place enhanced a feeling of belonging to a group and a possibility of expression of people’s thoughts. It enriches the culture and keeps it going when it is shared by the people. The concept of the forum is that it helps to organize elements. The process of building a culture is an ongoing procedure. The design is never finished. People will constantly carry new meanings and relevant memoŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE


ries because history and the concept of identity are very dynamic. The open-ended design characterizes all of the three presented examples, where new cultural artifacts are being added. The recent example could be the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Washington Mall (Fig. 3.14). Parisian Axe historique is also in constant change, which with the recent development of the modern district La Défense, opened a new chapter of history. Such a place resembles a people’s forum with a collection of the most important cultural institutions, monuments, memorials and other symbols of nation located at one place. Museums are also seen as carriers of national identity (Macdonald 2003).


The public space for people to gather and interact with each other. This provides a flow of information and serves as a sort of educatorium. It is a collective space for people to gather when there is a need for it. It can be a special event, positive or tragic. It is a place to meet to celebrates victories but also traumas. Forum allows for debates and strengthen a feeling of belonging. Mass events provides being with others. Manifestations, celebrations, allow people to feel of being together. National symbols which are present in the forum strengthen the feeling of belonging to the nationality, sharing the same past, culture, etc. Physical cultural symbols help with it.

Fig. 3.14: New Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Washington Mall as an example of the ongoing process of filling in the historical events at the forum (source: Archdaily.com)

THRIVE TO HONESTY Representation of the national symbols in studies examples presents a constructed image of the nation


Fig. 3.15: Evocation to forum (drawing by the author).

by using selective historical facts, a misleading information about the nation. As observed by Cuthbert (2011) this leads to false representation of the nation. In some cases the narrative is carefully organized and choreographed that it creates a notion of propaganda, a point of view dictated by the government or in the past: a ruler or en emperor, since investigated cases were historical examples. History is shown selectively focusing on chosen items and events. Mostly it is an image of the nation which how it wants to be remembered, not an honest representation. There is a strong feeling in humans mentality of showing the nation mainly from positive history, as triumphs and other victories. Then the image is distorted and presents a false image of the society (Cuthbert 2011).

Fig. 3.13: The comparison of the three forums: Washington Mall, Boulevard des Champs Elysées and Eixo monumental (drawing by the author). THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Therefore it is necessary to show nation how it is, without blurring or improving the past, to thrive to honesty in representation for holistic understanding of the nation.

Fig. 3.16: Forum Romanum as an example of enriching the culture and sharing it with others. (source: http://www.wikiwand.com)


It is very clearly shown in totalitarian regimes that national identity is being shaped by selective representation of history which works better with the imposed ideology.


ARTIFICIALITY Organized and clean simplicity of the studied cases seems to be artificial. White (2012) refers to capitals such as Washington that the over-planned nature of the city creates a feeling of “clinical or sterile tourist experience” and is lacking authenticity.



This chapter presents an interpretation of notions fundamental nowadays to Polish national identity. It tries to explore the limits of the notion of Polish national identity.

4.1. INTRODUCTION While exploring culture and symbols it is crucial to understand its meaning. History of Poland is marked with turmoil and constant looking for the identity of the country. Throughout centuries there are many examples of looking for the notion of Polish identity. It is very well illustrated with the painting of ‘The Polish Hamlet’ by Jacek Malczewski conducted in 1903 (Fig. 4.2). It shows two versions of Poland and an indecision of future fate of the country. Personification of Poland is shown as two women, a young one, full of vitality and strength, and the old, exhausted and enslaved with visible chains on her wrists. This allegorical image is strengthen by a figure of a man in the middle, which resembles Hamlet and his famous question: "To be, or not to be?". This trend, of the unknown future of the country, is still being continued till nowadays.

4.2. UNDERSTANDING CONTEMPORARY POLISH NATIONAL IDENTITY Why the use of arts in national identification? The work of art and the representation of truth is a concept explored by a German philosopher Martin Heidegger. In his view art is a true representation of the culture. He uses the ancient Greek term aletheia (ἀλήθεια) meaning the truth defined as the experience of the obvious, open and unconcealed (Szczerski 2017). In his seminal work “The Origin of the Work of Art”, Heidegger (1993) explains the essence of the art in terms of concepts of truth and being. “Works of art are not merely representations of the way things are, but actually produce a community’s shared understanding” (Heidegger 1993), therefore they express an element of truth in culture. Therefore in terms to unveil the truth about the culture of a nation we need to look at the culture from the perspective of art, which helps in finding a national identity. In 2017, a year before 100th anniversary of Polish independence, debates about the characteristics of Polish national identity started again. Two exhibitions “#dziedzictwo” (#heritage) organized by the National Museum in Cracow and “Późna polskość” (Late Polishness) organized by the Center of Contemporary Art in Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, gave an input and first insights of what are the important defining elements of Polish national identity.


Fig. 4.1: Identification of Polish culture (drawing by the author).

The following chapter presents the investigation of the key elements, historical events, people, and most representable examples from Polish film culture, music, literature, paintings and art, where Polish imagination and notion of 'Polishness' is organized around. These motifs lies in the center of a discourse of what constitute of Polish national identity. Studying them helps to better understand the narrative of Polish nation. The chapter will explore the method of looking at this phenomena by answering the following question: RQ 3: What are the fundamental characteristics of Polish national identity seen through expressions of Polish culture (art, film, literature, music) which influence the contemporary image of Poles relevant for understanding the narrative of Warsaw?


Romanticism and Poland as a martyr of nations One of the strongest movements and influencing force on perception of national identity was the era of romanticism. In poland it had a very strong tone and due to the harsh history lasted longer than in other countries. It changed the course of action with the perception of Polish national identity. The main repNext page > Fig. 4.2: The unknown and constant dilemmas about what Polish national identity is, presents the main theme of the painting. Two different visions of the fate of the Polish nation, the young, seeking for freedom and old, representing oppression and slavery. A symbolic gesture of the main character symbolizes indecision and lack of faith. Eponymous Hamlet is trying to answer the famous question "To be or not to be?". (Malczewski, Polish Hamlet, 1903) (wikipedia. org) Right > Fig. 4.3: Tragic history of Poland in XIX century, full of turmoil (Malczewski, Melancholy, 1890-94) (wikipedia.org)







resentative of the romantic movement were Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki, both in literature. They promoted a view on Polish martyrology and strong connection to the catholic church. According to Maria Janion romanticism is deeply rooted in Polish history. This strong relation to Polish identity is due to a fact that disasters, such as the risings against foreign rule in 1830, 1846-48, 1863-64, 1905, were seen as an evidence of the virtue of the national cause. The catalogue of failure, according to Crowley (2014) produced generations of martyrs and exiles. Romantic nationalism did not stop after 1918, after getting independence by Poland, but became stronger, supplemented by new myths of heroism (Crowley 2014). "The cult of the nation was expressed through corpses (Crowley 2014: 60).


Topos of death Polish history for more than 200 years is filled with an image of death. The notion of the dead and related to it trauma are the key elements and an outcome of the turmoil history that happened to Poles. After Partitions of Poland in 1795 where Poland disappeared from the maps for more than a century, the Polish national identity started to form, which later shaped the image of the suffering nation (Smith 1991). Therefore according to Czaja (2014) this lead to a fascination of death and fatality in Polish mentality. Understanding, that death and trauma defines Polish identity influenced the cult of the nation seen via the dead (Crowley 2014).

of mourning, renewed ceremoniously once a year, and Mickiewicz was right here when he wrote in the French preface to Forefathers’ Eve that a link between the visible and invisible worlds, between the living and the dead, was an important aspect of Polish culture, and discussed this aspect in his Paris lectures as a characteristic feature of Slavic culture in general”. Maria Janion (in Czaja 2014)

4.3. THREE ANCHORS OF POLISH IDENTITY According to the conducted research, Polish identity could be presented in the main three characteristics: Catholicism, Peasantry and Trauma




Presented artworks constituting an oeuvre of the most influential artists in Poland from the last 200 years and the derived outcome illustrating funda-

The topos of death is represented in tradition and art. Strongly visible in a poem 'Dziady' [Forefathers’ Eve] by the national poet Adam Mickiewicz, represents Polish fascination of death and in tradition importance in culture. For instance Polish model of Catholicism is strongly emphasizing the theme of the crucified Christ. In public-space practices, via the funerals of famous artists and political leaders, which become patriotic spectacles. And works of art, such as the Polish theatre filled with the spirits of the dead, related film tradition and paintings representing trauma (Czaja 2014). Moreover, beauty of cemeteries by night, full of lights, and one of the most important celebrations is the Day of the Dead on the 1st November are other signifiers of the cult of death. Therefore the “spirit of Polishness” lives at the cemetery or nearby (Czaja 2014). Dramatic events throughout centuries, demolition of the capital Warsaw, annihilation of all groups of people influenced perception of Polish national identity. The culture of the death can be represented very well in words of Maria Janion: “Culture needs to go with its dead, we need to go with our dead, and it’s an utterly fundamental awareness that they are with us. . . . I have pointed out on numerous occasions that Polish culture is a culture THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Fig. 4.4: Krzyż w zadymce [Cross in the fog] Józef Chełmoński 1907 (wikipedia.org)


Ashes and Diamonds, Wajda, 1958 Katyn, Wajda, 2007 Dekalog, Kieslowski, 1988 Potop, Hoffman, 1974 Man of Iron, Wajda, 1981 Powidoki, Wajda, 2017 Kanal, Wajda, 1957 Pianist, Polanski, 2002 Kill the Priest, Holland, 1988



Pan Tadeusz, Mickiewicz, 1834 Wesele, Wyspianski, 1901 Ferdydurke, Gombrowicz, 1937 Transatlantyk, Gombrowicz, 1953 Dziady, Mickiewicz, 1822 Potop, Sienkiewicz, 1886 Ogniem i mieczem, Sienkiewicz, 1884 Chlopi, Reymont, 1904 Krzyzacy, Sienkiewicz, 1900




Melancholia, Malczewski, 1890-94 Trumna chlopska, Gierymski, 1894-95 Orka, Chelmonski, 1896 Stanczyk, Matejko, 1862 Hamlet polski, Malczewski, 1903 Cykl rozstrzelanie, Wroblewski, 1949 Ziemia, Ruszczyc, 1898 Babie lato, Chelmonski, 1875 Mother with killed chiled, Wroblewski, 1949 Krzyz w zadymce, Chelmonski, 1907


Etudes, Chopin, 1831-49 Bogurodzica, XIII / XIV Folklore, Mazowsze group

Fig. 4.5: Matrix of Polish artworks and its fundamental characteristics (scheme by the author).


mental characteristics of Polish cultural identity overlap each other. The process of interpretation of art is intuitive and creative. The symbolics of presented artworks can be interpreted in many ways. Most of them present more than one characteristic from the defined ones. This chapter concludes findings of the research. A more in depth elaboration and a full comparison of other expressions of Polish culture can be find in the Appendix 2.


CATHOLICISM Catholic faith and Polish nation are strongly embedded with each other. During the difficult periods of foreign occupation for the nation, the Catholic Church has traditionally served as a bastion of Polish national identity and language (Oleksiak 2014). Moreover, according to Smith (1991) "the Catholic image of suffering and redemption is central to an understanding of the ideology, language and symbolism of Polish nationalism" (Smith 1991: 83). For centuries Poland, the "Christ of Nations", has been presented with an idea of a 'suffering Christ' which influenced the works of arts. Poland seen as a martyr nation was mainly emphasized at the era of romanticism by the Polish great poet, Adam Mickiewicz. "Poland has maintained its identity as a beacon of unreconstructed Catholicism" (Castells 2010).

Fig. 4.6: The Black Madonna of Częstochowa (wikimedia.org) ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

Poland was perceived as a bulwark of christianity, an Antemurale Christianitatis, a label used for a country defending the frontiers of Christian Europe from the Ottoman Empire. It was believed that Poland had a special role in the world. Cult of the monastery, Jasna Góra [Bright Mountain] has been a symbol and an object of a mass cult of devotion for Polish Catholics for centuries. It is one of the most famous and important Polish shrine to the Virgin Mary and the most important country's places of pilgrimage. For many the monastery is a spiritual capital of Poland. It holds the painting of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, also known as Our Lady of Częstochowa (Fig. 4.6), perceived as a symbol of Polish Catholic faith to which miraculous powers are attributed. A cult of Maria, as a protector of the country, is strongly embedded in the mentality of Poles due to history of Jasna Góra monastery and its miraculous defense against the Swedes in 1655. It has been represented in many works of art and literature, such as the novel 'Potop' by Henryk Sienkiewicz, the Nobel Prize winner.


The Pope John Paul II was an influential person on the Polish faith at the end of millennium. During the time when the Polish Pope John Paul II was a superior of the Catholic Church’s, the impact of religion on everyday life was large. It helped Poles to deal with difficult times of communism. Portrait of the Polish Pope was in every Christian house. This iconic person was also heavily connected to the fall of communism bringing a new hope for Poland. Literature, music, art, film Catholic motifs plays an important role in shaping Polish national identity. In literature, romantic authors such as Mickiewicz and Słowacki are most recognizable. In Mickiewicz's epic poem 'Dziady' [Forefathers’ Eve] besides of the notion of death that it highlights, religion is a very important element. The main character, the poet, deals with God, challenging him and blaming of the unwillingness to help Poland and sentenced it to suffer. But in the end, the concept of Poland as the 'Christ of the nations' appears, as a very optimistic picture, due to an evocation to a resonance to the resurrection of Poland, which in the end must become a fact. Other example, Wyspiański in his novel 'Wesele' describes Catholic customs and tradition though highlighting the description of the Polish peasant's hut, mainly paintings of Black Madonna of Częstochowa and Ostrobramska hanging on the walls. They symbolize the attachment of the nation to the religion and worship of Black Madonna. Another example of Catholic symbols in art is Józef Chełmoński's 'Krzyż w zadymce' [Cross in the fog]. Road crosses, often at crossroads, are a typical feature of the Polish landTHE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

scape. Symbol of unrelenting faith, a theme related to the Catholic religion and traditional Polish spirituality. Strong symbols of Catholicism are also present in Polish cinematography. Agnieszka Holland's 'To Kill a Priest' (1988) tells a story connected to a murder of Polish priest Jerzy Popiełuszko, a prominent person fighting for Polish freedom during the communism. Holland, in her movie presents a strong role of Catholicism in maintaining a sense of cultural identity. Catholic faith was regarded as of the highest value (Castle 2015; Mazierska 2001). Other works, such as historical movies of Jerzy Hoffman confirms that Catholicism forms the core of Polish national identity (Mazierska 2001). PEASANTS - UNWANTED PARENTS OF POLES Villages and rural mentality take up a distinctive place in Polish national identity. It is a place of origin of the greater part of Polish society. It is also a place of history of great exploitation, humiliation and violence. According to Wasilewski (1986) and Leder (2014) Polish society with “peasants roots”, demographically rural image, derived from the rural environment, where the society’s consciousness, culture and ideology are determined by peasant mentality (Wasilewski 1986). Moreover, they claim that the contemporary Poles do not accept easily the truth about peasant origin because they live in the romantic mentality about sarmatia (Polish nobility) and their manor houses, palaces and farms, making Poles as a nostalgic nation. However during the 19th century in the controversial period of nobility-centered concept of Polish identity shifted towards the ‘people’, the 'lud', therefore onto the peasantry (Struve 2008). This is the time where Polish intellectuals, and mainly romantic era, discovered folk culture and the peasantry as one of the main pillars of Polish history and culture (Struve 2008). Literature, music, art, film The long-suppressed peasant origins of the Polish society however is strongly reflected in the expressions of art. Peasantry is shown as traumatized, highly religious social class. Hard working, often hungry, without money. The images shows a strong correlation of Polish traditional village and its people with landscape, often people at work. Hard work is also present in the novel 'Wesele' written by Stanisław Wyspiański where the main symNext page > Fig. 4.7: The image referring to the trauma of genocide during the Second World War. The woman embraces her dead baby. Small, naked and defenseless - symbolizes an innocent victim. Motionless, silence, and monumentality of humans are well visible. Author portraits different stages of human existence, the death and life shortly before death. Andrzej Wróblewski 'Executions' (1948-49) (http://culture.pl/pl/dzielo/rozstrzelania)



bol of hard work is a plough. Additionally the author presents several myths about Polish peasants, which some are shown in an ironic way and other praising rural tradition and mentality. Peasants are presented also as a social class which cares more about their own wellbeing rather than the good of the country. Peasants are a narrow minded, vain social class, unable to cooperate in the name of nation. For them to be a nation doesn’t mean anything. Moreover, an epic poem by Mickiewicz 'Pan Tadeusz' [Sir Thaddeus] is an example of looking at sarmatia and peasantry, as well as at Polish village landscape during the difficult times of Partitions of Poland. Hard work, as one of the main themes, is depicted also on many other paintings. Ploughing of the Polish soil is representative for showing human effort and willpower which is confronted with the power of nature. It is visible very well at Ruszczyc's 'Ziemia' [Earth] painted in 1898 (Fig. 4.9). This painting, on the one hand, realistic presenting a peasant during work with two massive oxen under a large sky, has a fantastic, visional character. Other painters followed the theme such as Chełmoński Orka [Plough] (1896), Witkiewicz “Witkacy“ Orka [Plough] (1875), and its polemic representation by a precursor of Polish surrealist painting, Wojtkiewicz Orka [Plough] (1905).


Peasant tradition is strongly rooted as well in folklore music and traditional dances, such as the Mazowsze group and performances throughout the world in traditional costumes.


TRAUMA History of Poland is full with dramatic events. As Ozbay and Aras (2008) points out, "Polish history has left traces of pain and suffering in the collective consciousness of Polish people" (Ozbay and Aras 2008: 27). However, besides of the traumatic historical examples, trauma has been engraved in the mentality of Poles as one of the elements of culture. Expressions

Fig. 4.8: Trauma of the holocaust left deep traces in the art of Andrzej Wróblewski. In the series of 8 canvas 'Executions' he presents dramatic phases of facing death by executions. Blurred faces, the last strong hand shake and twisted bodies, shows trauma of genocide of the Polish civilian population by the German occupant (194849) (http://culture.pl/pl/dzielo/rozstrzelania) THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Fig. 4.9: An allegory of humans existence. A representation of a peasant during the work with two massive oxen under a large sky. Painting imposes a feeling of heaviness. The sky overwhelms the hard working peasant whose silhouette blend with the dark soil. Ferdynand Ruszczyc Ziemia [Earth] (1898) (lubicki.blogspot.nl)

Fig. 4.10: The film frame of Andrzej Wajda's 'Ashes and Diamonds' referring to the painting of F. Ruszczyc 'Ziemia'. (cojestgrane24.wyborcza.pl)

of the Polish art are numerous in representing death and trauma, especially visible in literature, theater, paintings and film. Literature, music, art, film Mickiewicz's Third part of 'Dziady' [Forefathers’ Eve] highlights trauma as an element of the suffering of the nation. It was written after the defeat of the November Uprising. The stigma of slavery and the associated trauma is imposed on the fate of the characters. The poet shows here the inner fire of the Polish society, thanks to which the desire for liberation will never pass. “The Catechism of the Polish child” From the early age all children in Poland are educated in patriotism and national symbols. One of the first rhymes to learn is the patriotic rhyme of Władysław Bełza written in 1900. Every school child in the beginning of their education learn this short rhyme. Its simple form, referring to children’s calculations, made it the easiest form of patriotic education of the youngest generation. The work consists of basic questions and answers about the identity features of a young

Pole. It made it easier to memorize national characters and symbols. Who are you? What’s your emblem? Where do you live? In which country? What’s this land? How was it won? Do you love it? What do you trust in? What are you? What do you owe her?

A Little Pole Eagle White Amongst my kind The Polish land It’s my homeland By blood and scar With my heart and soul. Poland – my home. Her grateful child. My whole life. Władysław Bełza (1900) (underlined by the author)

However, as a patriotic rhyme it resembles the brutality of Polish history. In the verses it tells that Poland was freed by blood and scar, revealing traumatic past. It’s shown in a harsh way however straightforward and honest. The rhyme ends: “What do you owe her? My whole life”. Wyspiański’s novel 'Wesele' depicts other view of national trauma, which shows the inability to mobilize the nation to fight for the freedom of the homeland. Drama overthrows national myths: the myth of the peasant (Piast), the myth of fraternization, the myth of the intelligentsia, the myth of the Polish estate. Bitter truth about the nation included in the drama and shown at the theatre in Cracow in 1901 made Poles cry during the premiere, realizing the national shortcomings. Trauma is present also in Polish cinematography. Many filmmakers had been inspired by works of arts evoking national history or remember the dramatic episodes of the Polish history. One of the most representable films which depicts the notion of trauma are movies of Andrzej Wajda and Agnieszka Holland, such as Holland’s 'Zabić księdza' [To Kill a Priest], or Wajda’s 'Katyń', 'Popiół i diament' [Ashes and Diamonds] or 'Kanał' [Canal]. As Wajda once stated “we had to expose our wounds”. They reflect a tragic moments of Polish history which influenced the perception of contemporary national identity, such as Andrzej Wajda's film 'Katyń' (2007) which explores the impact of the Katyń massacre on Polish people (Castle 2015). Moreover, in some of the movies directors wanted to create an experience of belonging to one community or nation during the difficult times of communism. As Wajda wanted to do with his 'Pan Tadeusz' movie, because as he pointed it out: “he wanted to screen Mickiewicz’s masterpiece simply to retreat from present-day Poland, which he finds deeply disappointing and disturbing and to re-create the experience of be-

longing to one community or nation; an experience which, in his opinion, was destroyed [...]” (Wajda in Mazierska 2001: 168) Representation of what constitutes the Polish identity has been a theme of many artworks of many artists in the field of painting. One of the most prominent is the symbolist painter, Jacek Malczewski. As presented before his painting “The Polish Hamlet” (1903) presents two visions of Poland, young which broke the chains at her hands, is free and energetic, and the old, tired and traumatized and oppressed with chains of her wrists (Fig. 4.1). Painting shows the ambivalence and unknown future of Poland. The image presented on the painting has a very universal meaning. It is very contemporary for nowadays Poland. It presents the same struggle of discovering Polish identity as a century ago. Other painting, 'Melancholy' (1890-94) by Malczewski might be an interpretation of the turmoil history of Poland in the 19th century. It seems that the notion of trauma and tragedy are deeply ingrained in Polish identity. Traumatic events has been depicted by Andrzej Wróblewski in the series of 8 canvas 'Executions' (1948-49) (Fig. 4.7, 4.8). They present street executions during the Second World War by Nazi Germany. The painted poses of human figures are presented as uncomfortable, impossible and tragic. The inhuman and uniform faces, twisted arms and dark, cold colors evokes feelings of fear and upcoming death. Trauma is also present at artwork of Gierymski, mainly 'Trumna chłopska' [Peasant's coffin]. The painting depicts the misery of the peasantry (the lowest social class) in the Polish countryside of the 19th century. This tragic image presents a couple of poorly clothed parents sitting outside their house. Their eyes are sad and still. The couple seems to be overwhelmed the dramatic image of the situation. Against the wall there is a small blue coffin which probably belongs to their child. Chopin's Étude Op. 10, No. 12, also known as "Revolutionary Étude" or the "Étude on the Bombardment of Warsaw" composed in 1831, was inspired by the Russian attack on Warsaw, during the November Uprising 1830-31. Chopin could not take part of the Uprising, because he had been living in emigration in Paris. The insurrection of the insurgents caused the pain, defeat, disappointment in the composer and prompted the creation of a piece that would sustain the spirit of struggle of the nation.




Fig. 4.11: Village a place of history of great exploitation, humiliation and violence. Gierymski, Trumna chĹ&#x201A;opska (Peasant's coffin) 1894-95 (wikimedia.org)

4.4. CONCLUSIONS RQ 3: What are the fundamental characteristics of Polish national identity seen through expressions of Polish culture (art, film, literature, music) which influence the contemporary image of Poles relevant for understanding the narrative of Warsaw? A research on Polish expressions of culture helped to achieve a better understanding of the Polish culture and its narrative. Presented Polish characteristics: Catholicism, rural mentality and trauma, overlap and influence each other. They intertwine and interconnect with each other very often. Perception of Polish national identity is a resultant of those three characteristics. Trauma however seems to dominate. Shared memory as an important foundation of the Polish cultural identity, where complicated cultural memory of the Polish historical narrative, results in a quilted Polish cultural identity (Castle 2015). Polish identity is strongly related to romanticism. This notion shaped the image of the Pole and influenced other characteristics which became stronger values and made them as fundamental characteristics deTHE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

scribing Polish cultural identity. These characteristics acquired a new, stronger meaning. Catholicism, rural mentality and trauma became national symbols and provide a new understanding as the main narratives for designing physical outcome of polish identity. Suppressed peasant origins, the dramatic Partitions of Poland, World Wars and Holocaust, Catholic faith influenced by romanticism and awaiting for liberation, the person of John Paul II, adapting western liberal culture and other, all constitute the notion of how Polish national identity can be perceived. These elements becomes an anchors for a design which helps to provide an honest insight and create a narrative for a research through design at the Parade Square in Warsaw. Warsaw is seen as a city-cemetery, which lost a distinction between place designated for living and dead, due to its tragic history (see chapter 2). The city is built on the ruins of the past. Therefore it continuous the narrative of trauma, which comes in hand with the elements of Polish national identity. Presented elements of Polish culture are strongly embedded in the mentality of people. Especially trauma which influence the mental wellbeing of Poles.

Developing culture of memory is a two-sided problem: you have to deal with the past and you have to look into the future. Poles did not deal with the past yet well but they are already very strongly oriented in the future. Therefore it means that if you didn't deal with the past yet the choices for the future might be questionable. History of Poland is extremely dynamic and it contains periods of glorious victories and heroism. However like in every nation it is also constructed of pitfalls. Unlike any other nation Poles seems to be haunted with a great extend of traumatic experiences. As Castle observed “the result is a cultural identity deeply divided in various perspectives on Polish cultural memory. This remains important even today, as these events are not a series of isolated cases of the past, but rather are parts of a continuous historical narrative” (Castle 2015). By providing a connection to traumatic events, religious events and peasant roots of Poles, enhances cultural identification with those memories (Castle 2015).



05. THE PARADE SQUARE, EXPLORING THE VOID Once a great architect said that in terms to understand the site fully, it needs to talk to you. To do that you have to consult nature. He used a metaphor of the brick. He asked ‘What do you want, Brick?’ And Brick says, ‘I like an Arch’. This metaphorical thought and equally the same question could be directed towards the Parade Square. A deep reflection and investigation of the identity and meaning of that place is a key to understand the complexity of this site. It would seem that the site of the Parade Square would scream loud and clear. But it doesn’t. It is a silent, unheard voice. It whispers about pain, violence, and a massacre that took place there. Layers of trauma superimposed beneath the ground reveal an annihilated and phantomic underground city. The walk on the field resembles a walk on the cemetery, full of reflection and humble. This is the Parade Square, a Garden of Tears.


The Parade Square in Warsaw constitutes a key case study. Exploration of the site is based on the empirical research: site visits, desk study, literature search and three interviews with the city experts. It also uses the framework of semiotics in order to look at the meaning of the site based on the previous empirical study. A study is a try to understand a narrative of the Parade Square. In this chapter I will try to explain how the Parade Square works and what is its meaning. Understanding the context plays the major role of a design. Conditions of the site inform the design and give an overview of the potentials and threads of the location. To explore the site the following research question will be answered: RQ 4: What is the character and meaning of the site that influence the current perception of the Parade Square in Warsaw in terms of national identity?

5.1. WHERE IS THE CITY WHICH IS NOT THERE ANYMORE? It is almost impossible to find a similar underdeveloped site in the heart of the global city. It creates an enormous potential for the site and a future image of the city. It is important especially because this image is not yet established and is waiting for being discovered. Centrality of the location makes it special. It is the first site to develop in Warsaw, largest and most valuable underdeveloped site where the development pressure and a prize of the land reaches extraordinary high prizes. Therefore the significance of the area is large. THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Fig. 5.1: The aerial view of the emptiness of the Parade Square the city core of Warsaw (photo by M. Margas)

It is an enormous unbuilt area, a rectangular plot which is approximately 600x400 meters (almost 25 ha) in the city core. It is the largest square in Europe and 7th in the world. The site is located at the crossing of two of the main city arteries: the north-south Marszałkowska street and east-west Aleje Jerozolimskie (Jerusalem Avenues). The other two streets which enclose the space are on the north Świętokrzyska street and west E. Plater street (Fig. 5.1). As presented in the previous chapter (Chapter 2) it is the most prominent and abandoned void in the city. The only building which stands there is the highly meaningful Palace of Culture and Science. The square has an ambivalent character, both because of its history and scale. Not developed for more than 60 years, is waiting to be rediscovered and understood. On the one hand it triggers but on the other is a symbol of a defeat of urban development, randomness and disorder.

5.2. HISTORICAL CONTEXT The Parade Square itself originated after the destructions of the Second World War, however as a site existed much longer. The first information about the development at the site urbanisation started in the middle of the 18th century. Before that, long strips of farmland located perpendicular to the river leading towards nearby villages organized the future spatial structure of the place. In the late medieval times city expanded outside the walls in the form of farms, inns and magnate’s estates along the main routes. This gave a beginning of jurydykas, an agglomeration of magnate’s estates with their own laws and organization (Fig. 5.3). This at the end lead to chaos in urban tissue of Warsaw. Two main roads starting from the Royal castle leading to the south, opening the city to Mokotów, Czersk, Rakowiec and Cracow. Spontaneous

Fig. 5.2: The plan of the area of the current Parade Square in the mid XIX century and projected outlines of the Parade Square nowadays (retrieved from Baranowski 2014). Fig. 5.4: The typology of historical roads. red: main medieval roads, green: field roads, yellow: baroque axes (retrieved from Sosnowski 1930).


Fig. 5.3: Jurydykas as an agglomeration of magnate’s estates located on private pieces of land with its own law and rules, surrounding the city of Warsaw (gray). Very well visible the layout of the plots divided by field roads positioned perpendicular to the river (drawing by the author).

processes of city development and chaotic urbanization in forms of jurydyks - the magnate’s estates were organized and planned according to the new monumental urban composition called Saska Axis. Therefore the axis and streets around, mainly Królewska street opened up the city to the west. On that street, opposite to the royal residence, marshal Franciszek Bieliński built his palace and the main street of his district in 1757 which later was the beginning of the Marszłkowska street, which gave the beginning of a new based on grid urban layout for this part of the city. The area was slowly becoming more urbanized with a mix of loose freestanding buildings, farmland with gardens and orchards (Fig. 5.2). Further expansion of the area was influenced by the development of the south of the city to finally at the and of 18th century be an important transportation hub with a railway station. This is the time where the place becomes very vibrant neighbourhood occupied mostly by families with Jewish origin with many workshops, Fig. 5.5: Lively neighbourhood at the Marszałkowska street in 1928 (author unknown). ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

Fig. 5.7: The 1st of May Worker’s Day parade (author Z. Siemaszko)

Fig. 5.6: The Parade Square before and after the Second World War (drawing by the author)


small businesses, cafeterias and music clubs (Fig. 5.3). However, the start of the Second World War disrupted the vibrant life. In 1940 part of the area of the current Parade Square became the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto. During the occupation by the Nazi Germany the site witnessed many horrifying accidents, such as mass murders and executions, often on the streets in front of apartments. There are organized mass transports of people by trains to German death camps such as Treblinka and Auschwitz. Moreover, planned annihilation of the neighbourhood caused that more than 60 % of the current area of the Parade Square had been destroyed. The horrifying accidents and the destruction of the once lively neighbourhood started a new chapter for the place where the Parade Square will be built (Baraniewski 2014).

Fig. 5.8: The function of the Parade Square organized parades for people and military representation in 1966 (www.skyscrapercity.com).

of May parades praising Worker’s Day (Fig. 5.7). After the fall of communism in 1989 the unorganized, large space of the square transformed from the highly political and abandoned into a temporary place for cheap shopping, car parking and markets (Fig. 5.9), which remains with small changes till this day (Fig. 5.12)..

The city almost entirely destroyed miraculously stood up. However the process of rebuilding which was an enormous effort of Poles, covered with the country entering a new era of communism. The dominant style that was imposed by the soviet aesthetics and ideology, with monumentality on the first place (Hatherley 2016). The communism brought a new ideology and construction of the Parade Square and the Palace of Culture as gifts from Stalin. Then the square has been mainly an empty space in the city core used for political celebrations and events, such as speeches of the leaders of the People’s Republic of Poland or 1st Fig. 5.9: The temporary market with metal barracks with cheap products to sell (wyborcza.pl) THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.


Fig. 5.10: The void of the Parade Square, Warsaw’s city core.(http://www.pkin.pl/)

Fig. 5.11: “Las Vegas“ in Warsaw. The amusement park at the Parade Square (en.wikipedia.org)

Fig. 5.12: The Parade Square as a temporary bus terminal (author’s picture). ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

THE PALACE OF CULTURE AND SCIENCE PHENOMENON The dominant element which highlights tragic history of Warsaw and resonates also currently again is the Palace of Culture and Science. This tallest building in Poland (237m) built under Stalin’s domination in 1956 as a gift for Poles, influence the city and its dwellers with double strength, due to its large scale and by bringing foreign ideology (Murawski 2016 refers to it as “bigness of the Palace”). It creates an artificial gravity in which the whole city spins around. It seems to be an epicentre of the city. The size of the Palace of Culture was one of the factors which triggered the “Manhattanization” of Warsaw. Because it was not possible to adjust the scale of the Palace to the city, the city needed to adjust to the Palace. Controversies of the symbolic influence of the Palace of Culture and Science on the city and its city dwellers are still present. Debates about future of the Palace and its surroundings remains still as one of the most popular and live discussions in the city (Oleński 2014).


Fig. 5.13: The Downtown Athletic Club in New York as an evocation to a ‘city within a building’ idea due to multiplication of the program (Koolhaas 1994).

The Palace of Culture could be seen as a city within a building. The floor surface covering 123,084 m² holds multiple functions, from culture to education, sport and recreation. It hosts a congress hall for 3000 people, exhibitions and markets, three museums (Technical, Evolution, Doll houses) four theaters (6.pietro, Dramatic, Studio, Lalka), a swimming pool, a cinema, a bookstore, sport clubs, scientific institutions and universities. Moreover, it is a place for the Seat of Municipal Council where the most important political decisions about the city

Warsaw Fig. 5.14: The comparison of the Seven Sisters in Moscow to a ‘gift of Stalin’, the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw (skyscrapercity.com) THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Fig. 5.15: Proposed design for the socialistic city center of Warsaw. Palace of Culture and Science is in itself a monument which represents Stalinist era. It presents the power of symbolism which dominates over the whole city. The intention of its architects and ideologists was that it “influence the whole city and transforms it in a revolutionary way“. Together with its “radiating cultural and social content“ and “architectonic power“ will dominate over the ruins of Warsaw (Goldzamt in Murawski 2015).


Fig. 5.16: The dominance of the Palace of Culture and Science over the cityscape of Warsaw (bryła.pl).

are being made (Baraniewski 2014, Murawski 2015). With this wide variety of program resembles American skyscrapers, such as Downtown Athletic Club in New York to work as a social condenser (Koolhaas 1994) (Fig. 5.13). The Palace of Culture and Science might be perceived as transplanted from Moscow. With its appearance it resembles one of the Soviet’s skyscrapers, called the ‘Seven Sisters’ which shaped the urban landscape of the Russian capital (Fig. 5.14). The building was designed by the Russian architect Lew Rudniew. The idea for a skyscraper was to design a landmark which will

Fig. 5.17: The illustration showing symbols of communist power, represented by the young men holding influential texts by Marx, Engels and Lenin (in the past also Stalin, however removed), juxtaposed with the symbols of capitalism (author’s picture).

praise ideology of communism. The project has been inspired by other design of Rudniew, the Moscow State University, however to better function within Polish society the concept was representing socialist contents with Polish form. The final design outcome regardless of the concept was strongly based on the form of the Moscow University (Baraniewski 2014, Murawski 2015). The elements of the Polish style were presented by the means of the Soviet aesthetics and nowadays present a caricature of Polish nation. The ideological context is represented also by the sculptural decoration at the base of the building (see Symbolic context). They refer to tradition and characteristics which influenced Polish society, such as influential Polish heroes: Mickiewicz, Copernicus, politicians, poets, musicians and others (Baraniewski 2014). The Palace of Culture and Science shouldn’t be just a symbol of communism and fixed in the past, it is already used by so many people and actually in fact it shaped in a way new Polish generation (contrasting). As Antisperova and Kozlov (2011) states due to the complex and problematic mythology of post communist buildings, such as Stalin’s Seven Sisters, it is difficult to put them in a modern context (Antisperova and Kozlov 2011). Seven sisters are the most symbolic buildings of Stalin’s era. The Palace of Culture and Science together with other Soviet skyscrapers was created to be a part of the Soviet culture of memory, to glorify the socialist era (Antisperova and Kozlov 2011).





Faces of the Parade Square - the forum: 1. representative place in the city center due to its location, which Warsaw lost, however now empty 2. place of trauma: demolitions, ghetto, murders, Palace of Culture and Science, communism regime 3. place of symbolic contrasts - symbols of communism and capitalism 4. place of chaos, uncontrolled development: trade and services, spontaneous development, the flowering of street markets 5. place of demonstrations and parades 6. place of politics: great speeches to the people by political leaders, to 1989 the most important place of any propaganda manifestation of communist power 7. place of farewells and greetings: (transport, metro lines and railways, bus terminal) 8. the turning point (place of change): the altar to the papal mass in front of the main entrance to the palace, the event strongly contrasting the character of this place as a symbol of Poland’s dependence on the Soviet Union. An altar on the platform covered the political stand 9. the meeting place of the people of Warsaw, as a trendy meeting place - the colonization of a strange, attractive, and not once. Now it is the place that becomes the living room of Warsaw - it is an interesting place because it has contained extreme, ambivalent feelings. This is a place of inspiration and surprise, seductive, strange, attracting its ambivalent face, exciting, emanating a certain energy. People have the impression of conquering the world, once raw, merciless, grotesque and turning it on friendly people. Sit on knees of sculptures of Mickiewicz, Copernicus and others. Look at chisels, pneumatic hammers and toothed wheels held by muscular, athletic workers. 10. venue for mass / concert events, such as: New Year’s Eve concerts or concerts of WOŚP 11. place of disputes about ownership of land, plots - great money 12. accumulation and complexity of the network of land, postulates to preserve more green

Top > Fig. 5.18: The power of Catholicism. Overcoming trauma by Catholic symbols. The Polish Pope John Paul II visited Poland and celebrated a mass at the Parade Square on top of the political tribune for speeches (www. konteksty.pl). Bottom > Fig. 5.19: Leaders of the People’s Republic of Poland during the celebration of May 1, 1968 (pinterest.com). THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.



Fig. 5.20: One of the proposals for a design of the Parade Square for the competition in 1992 by architect Jacek Damięcki (photo by author)


Fig. 5.24: Plan of the Warsaw’s city core in 2004 by the Warsaw city chief architectural office, 2004. (source: Office of the Capital City of Warsaw)

Fig. 5.25: Plan of the Warsaw’s city core in 2008 prepared by the Urban Spatial Planning and Development Strategy Office (source: Office of the Capital City of Warsaw) Fig. 5.21: The circular boulevard plan by Biełyszew, Skopiński, 1st prize 1992 competition (competition documents)

Fig. 5.22: The circular boulevard plan by Biełyszew, Skopiński, 1st prize 1992 competition (competition documents)

Fig. 5.23: Biełyszew, Skopiński and Fabierkiewicz (competition documents) THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

PLANS FOR THE PARADE SQUARE Competition 1992 After the fall of Communism in 1989 works on a new development of the Square had gained momentum. In 1992 after two previous failed competitions architects again were invited to propose their ideas of the development. The competition for “Development of Warsaw’s city core” this time was successful. From more than 300 entries the winner was selected with future plan for the implementation of the idea. The main competition guidelines were to break the dominance and monocentrism of the Palace. The desire to cover the building resulted in sometimes quite shocking projects. This was dictated by a change in the political system and changes brought about by the new policy. Most of the projects kept the building unchanged in its form, however there were some radical proposals which represented adjustments to its form or opted to its complete demolition (Fig 5.26). The street grid and therefore buildings were designed according to the volume of the Palace, as it dictates the development of the area with maintaining the main axis of Złota street. The winning proposal of Białyszew and Skopiński proposed a circular boulevard where the Palace would be invisible, covered by the new development. The project assumed reduction of the symbolic role of the Pal-

Fig. 5.27: The newest proposal of the development for the Parade Square by Thomas Phifer and Partners. (source: Thomas Phifer and Partners)

ace (Baraniewski 2014). However the most controversies were given to the circular boulevard which was found as “completely not from Warsaw” (Baraniewski 2014). Architects called their proposal “The great crown of Warsaw”. The lively discussion and the competition outcome revealed the syndrome of the complex of the Palace (Baraniewski 2014, Murawski 2015). Opinions consisted of statements that the design is working in an opposition to the competition guidelines leading instead of diminishing the dominance of the Palace to highlighting it even more, compared by some to the design to a drawing compass pounded in

Fig. 1.1: Spatial analysis of the Parade Square


Fig. 5.26: “Complex of the Palace”. Various proposals for a design of the Parade Square during the competition in 1992 showing the complexity of the building to deal with (competition documents) ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

Fig. 5.30: Disrupted relations: Square - city (drawing by the author)

Fig. 5.28: A new regime? Future tallest building of Europe (310m) by Norman Foster (warszawa.naszemiasto.pl)


Fig. 5.29: Grzybowski square and the layers of history (author’s picture)

the ground (Baraniewski 2014). The project was also criticized of the absurd of subordination of the project site to only visual composition and to the Palace itself, to its centrality, symmetry and axial alignment.

Parade Square has been designed several times. The next project in 2008, proposed by the Urban Spatial Planning and Development Strategy Office combined the elements of previous designs with many glass skyscrapers, was “an evidence of ideological helplessness of city authorities and complete lack of vision and holistic concept for the city center” (Baraniewski 2014: 107). Finally in 2010, a new spatial development plan introducing high-rise buildings up to 245m has been approved. This plan with small changes is valid till now. It consist of a series of buildings, however only a few with a defined program, such as Museum of Modern Art and theatre TR next to it, and other less defined volumes with cultural, residential and business functions (Office of the Capital City of Warsaw 2017). As stated by Baraniewski (2014) the “festival of infirmity“ already takes place at the Parade Square for more than 25 years. Intellectual helplessness and the lack of vision for the downtown and the city in general creates a problem to investigate closer.

Competition requirements and submitted urban plans for the Parade Square revealed what Murawski (2015) calls “complex of the Palace”. That is an inability to comprehend the complexity of the building and its monumentality together with its symbolic foreign meaning. The “complex” of the Palace has been revealed in presented works of architects as many proposals covered the Palace using other buildings as a sort of curtain, showing that complex of bigness and problematic symbolism of the Palace is strongly present in people’s mindsets. Plans after 1992 After failed implementation of the plan from 1992, the city authorities prepared new plans. In 2004 a series of studies were performed to find a coherent vision for the site. It resulted in reintroduction of the original block structure which was set according to the orthogonal layout resembling the prewar street alignment. Important was a ban of skyscrapers, introducing only low, up to 30m buildings and a place for events in a form of a square in front of the main entrance to the Palace of Culture and Science. In the meantime the THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Fig. 5.31: Stratification of the building heights and functions (drawing by the author)



















Fig. 5.32: Four “tectonics plates”: (drawing by the author)

Fig. 5.34: Disrupted connections (drawing by the author)







Fig. 5.33: Transport network (drawing by the author)

Fig. 5.35: Use of space (drawing by the author)


a process of ‘Manhattanization’ of the downtown of Warsaw. In the most European capitals urban vistas are carefully studied, such as in London or Paris, that new buildings do not interfere with the heritage tissue of the city. In Warsaw, on the other hand, currently under construction is the Varso Tower, future tallest skyscraper in Europe (310m) designed by an architect

physical analysis of the site Architecture and layout (proportions, scale) The dominance of the Palace (Fig. 5.30). influence the city’s structure and shapes the city center. More skyscrapers follow the height of the Palace, which led to

192 m

154 m

111 m

Fig. 5.36: Heights of the surrounding of the Parade Square (drawing by the author) ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE


Fig. 5.37: The main historical routes are leading to the square, creating a large potential for its development (drawing by the author).

Sir Norman Foster (Fig. 5.28). Stratification of the building heights and functions where the tallest developments located from east to west with a cluster of the skyscrapers on the west of the Parade Square (Fig. 5.31). The space of the Parade Square is very heterogeneous in its form and ambivalent with the meaning. In the opinion of Baraniewski (2014) the Parade Square do not create a coherent organism with the rest of the city and rather functions as an isolated urban island. Chaos and temporariness are the outcome of the site which create an unstable surface. Conflicted space at the Parade Square might be an outcome of a largely heterogeneous surroundings. The age, function and THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

the height of surrounding buildings differ significantly (Fig. 5.36). According to Baraniewski (2014) they create a four “tectonics plates”: historic Jerozolimskie boulevard Plate (Aleje Jerozolimskie), modern Eastern Wall Plate (Ściana Wschodnia), real estate Western Plate and tragic Ghetto Plate (Baraniewski 2014) (Fig. 5.32). Connections to the city The site is physically disconnected from the rest of the city despite of its central position at the city core of the capital (Fig. 5.34, 5.30). Large profiles of the surrounding streets isolate the area, therefore not many people feel invited to enter the Square. The absence of any program at the square intensify the feeling of emptiness and abundance. Moreover, the old street layout was reduced almost to the minimum, where

Fig. 5.38: Warsaw’s spatial zones. The zone of the modern skyscrapers, the communism era, old rebuilt city center with low rise development, and the green buffer, Natura 2000 at the riverside (drawing by the author).

the Square with the Palace itself and the new development broke the old streets connections and blurred its continuity (Fig. 5.34). Transportation / Infrastructure The site is a hub of transportation in the city. The constant flow of people makes places busy during the day as well as nighttime. At the area there are two major metro stations (Centrum and Świętokrzyska) and many bus and tram stops, with the main bus station. There is also a direct connection to the central railway station on the west for intercity and international connections and the station of suburban railways in the project area, south of the Palace (Fig. 5.33). Therefore it triggers large flow of people, who change means of transportation, often with luggages. The material used for the square consists mainly of natural stone bricks and concrete slabs, mainly in a very bad condition, many broken or missing slabs, concrete blocks with chains. Materialization creates a temporary character of the place, and chaos of the variety of used material.


Functions At the moment the square functions as a large parking spot and a temporary bus terminal for intercity and international connections (Fig. 5.35). The functions of the surrounding buildings is diverse, however the majority consists one large and a few smaller shopping malls and pavilions, hotels, private apartments, offices and public buildings. Functions of the Palace of Culture and Science, mentioned earlier, consists of multiple uses, with cultural functions as theaters, cinema, swimming pool, concert hall, dance studios, educational institutions, as museums and universities and offices, including the Seat of Municipal Council.


5.4. SOCIAL CONTEXT The social analysis was conducted on the basis of interviews with experts and information extracted from the survey prepared in 2008 for PhD thesis by Michał Murawski at Cambridge University. Both sources had shown that people have an ambivalent feelings towards the site. It is a place which triggers emotions even after more than 60 years of its existence. Discussions reveal contradictory emotions among the citizens. Some people like it, are triggered by the incomprehensible character of the space, some are less positive. “The Parade Square in my opinion is the heart of the city. It is a place to feel the crazy pace of the capital, its restless rhythm” (Długosz 2017). However, being asked considering a place to be a city center for the capital, she replied: “its ugliness offends” (Długosz 2017). The space of the square seems to be a place where the rational mixes with irrational, pragmatic with chaos. “Palace has a paralyzing power” states Świątkowska (2017) which emanates from the building.


The Palace of Culture and Science according to the Murawski’s survey is the most recognizable symbol of Warsaw. Other symbols such as the Warsaw’s Mermaid, the Zygmunt column and the royal castle were chosen as less important. Respondents also said that there is a need for a taller skyscraper than the Palace. At the same time respondents were asked of ‘in what way the Palace influence Warsaw?’ Answers however were not clear. The ambivalence was visible again, due to the answers that it has both a negative and positive effect (Murawski 2015: 338). Moreover, one of the most repeatable answers during the interviews was the problematic, large scale of the Palace of Culture and Science and the vastness of the open space of the Parade Square. Inhuman scale of both entities, makes the place anonymous. People feel alienated and being lost. Respondents were also pointing out to a disrupted feeling of safety at the evening hours or at night at the square, especially in the park, mainly caused by a lack of program.

Some respondents tried to identify the problem with the site more in depth. A city expert, and the head of a NGO organization ‘Bęc Zmiana’ in Warsaw, Bogna Świątkowska (2017) stated that the problem with the development of the Parade Square is highly charged with emotions and the pragmatic solutions for the Square do not work. In her opinion lack of vision for the square is purely symbolic and less an architectonic problem. An ongoing attempt to neutralize symbol of socialism triggers new discussions and emotions. In her view it is a political play-making. Therefore the negative symbolics of both, the Palace and the Square, seems to play a role with the development of the site. The cause of stagnation with the development in Świątkowska’s view is followed by a fear if the new urban plans can really take away enough power of dominance of the Palace. This resembles the ongoing struggle with the Palace of Culture in terms of its symbolics compared to the statement given by Murawski (2015) about the ‘Complex of the Palace‘. However, in her opinion younger generation do not notice the ideology, it is not a problem for them. Similar feeling is shared for tourists which do not identify themselves with the place and do not know the history of that place. For them it is a very interesting building, mainly because of its large size and plenty of ornaments. They like its “weirdness”. It is a “must see” on the list of program when coming to Warsaw. Important insights concerning the site were given also by Owsiany (2017), who stretched from the historical point of view that the place is very much a traumatized place. “The Ghetto Wall was there, but also this was a place where Jews used to live. Then extermination comes in, and there is no one. You do not have your neighbours anymore. There is nobody - just a void” (Owsiany 2017). According to Owsiany Jews who had lived there brought a lot to the cultural life of Warsaw and craftsmanship. Jews were seen as a driving force of the development of Warsaw at the time of pre-war. Świątkowska asked of what could be designed there to improve the current situation she pointed out that she would like to see a place for club-cafes (fashionable in Poland combination of a club and a cafeteria) where people could spend their free time enjoying the cultural life of the capital. Similar opinion is shared by Violetta Długosz, a city journalist: “In my opinion, this place should be like a magnet attracting Varsovians, bustling with life, but also a peaceful oasis in such a big and noisy city.”

Fig. 5.39: The Palace of Culture and Science and the Parade Square as a touristic attraction (source: Instagram, collage by the author) THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

5.5. SYMBOLIC CONTEXT Looking at the site from the perspective of semiotics based on the previous empirical study, history and observations, symbolic analysis tries to look for signs to interpret the identity of the site. Questions such as, what are the signs that led me to interpret identity as trauma? How is it characterized in the physical realm? What is the narrative (meaning) of the site by “talking to the landscape”? lead to conclusions presented in this sub-chapter. Semiotic analysis allows to look for a hidden meaning which broaden the spectrum of investigation of the empirical site observation. Moreover, it supports the argument that trauma at the Parade Square comes from a violent Polish past. By looking at physical characteristics of the site which refer to violent historical events, with trauma attached to that, it concludes that trauma is part of a physical space. The knowledge of how that is reflected, helps to establish design aims represented in a landmark design to communicate the same trauma using physical space. The method of the analytical framework for the site analysis contained three layers to investigate: 1. Physical aspects (to perceive the site by the empirical study) 2. Historical events (relate it to the past events based on the historical analysis) 3. Symbolic meaning attached to the historical events (what does that past mean and how does that historical meaning transfer to the present (transferring historical meaning to the present))








Fig. 5.40: The concept of semiotic analysis based in the Palace of Culture and Science (drawing by the author)

Fig. 5.41: The relief above the entrance to the Palace of Culture ans Science representing allegory of the Socialist ideology (author: J. Zieliński)


The object of investigation is a result of a historical event that is expressed in a collection of representations (signs) and the event is interpretive through those signs (icons, indexes and symbols). The analysis shows the way of interpretation of the site of the Palace of Culture and Science and the Parade Square by studying signs to interpret what is the meaning of that site. The Palace of Culture By the empirical observation, the building presents many iconic signs that are indexes for historical events that have a negative symbolic meaning. Besides of its inhuman scale it has foreign icons embedded in the facade in a form of reliefs and sculptures (Fig 5.42). Introducing a new ideological symbolics would create a visual system which would influence the perception and replace images inherited and shaped by native culture, religion and art (Baraniewski 2014). A strong relation to the difficult history and events which took place there have a severe negative connotation with the building and the site itself which refers to trauma.

Fig. 5.42: One of the many sculptures of the sitting worker holding a bearing at the side of the Palace of Culture and Science (author: M.Skup). Sculptures were representing the cult of work, fields of culture (art, theatre, science) and eminent representatives of Polish culture and science, such as Kopernik (Copernicus) and Mickiewicz (polskisocrealizm.org). ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

Steps of analysis: 1. Iconic signs of the building (position of the building, middle of the square, nonhuman scale, proportions destroying public space) 2. Index for Russian occupation of Poland (historical context) 3. Symbol of power of the regime and oppression, representing how Poles suffered during communism The Parade Square - semiotics of the absence The absence of the physical object, a part of the city tissue is a sign in itself. Invisibility / emptinesses is an iconic sign, where it is an index for the event that happened. The fact is no longer present, however it functions as a sign of the event: bombardment, war, casualties. This historic event has a strong symbolic meaning for Poles and Varsovians. The meaning represents lost lives, lost houses, the Jewish Ghetto wall, the Holocaust and at the end leads to the notion of trauma.

The Świętokrzyski Park The exiting park being a part of the square has also symbolic meaning, however it has been influenced by its direct physical connection to the soviet Palace of Culture and Science. Baranowski (2014) refers to the Świętokrzyski Park as it was once called “the Katyń Forest” by the people, due to its evocation to the forest of collective murder on Poles by Russians, Katyń massacre. Reaction has been strengthened because the park has been constructed within “one night“ due to planting large 20-30 year old trees. Painful symbolism and metaphors of grief and violence are strongly embedded there till now. By looking at the representations of signs at the Parade Square and the Palace of Culture and Science itself through the threefold category of meaning (icon, index and symbol) the conclusion is trauma. Trauma as the theme of the place The site experienced many layers of history. As any

Trauma of capitalism


The Palace of Culture and Science

The Jewish Ghetto Wall

Demolished vibrant neighbourhood

Fig. 5.43: Layers of trauma at the Parade Square based on semiotics analysis (author’s drawing) THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Fig. 5.44: Trauma of the Second World War - the naked facade of the pre-war building showing holes after the bullets from the period of the Second World War (photo by the author)

other in Warsaw could be seen as a palimpsest, the forces which were shaping the site were bringing new spatial elements to the tissue of the city and removing them. Only the changes of the development of the site seems turbulent and have a notion of temporariness while the Palace and the Parade Square seems to be timeless. However each of the elements have left a symbolic trace in space. The notion of despair presented at the site is a dominant feeling. Horrifying events which took place at the site present a feeling of trauma. In addition, adding and removing physical objects which were there brings feelings of temporariness and chaos. According to the history of the place there are a few layers with elements of trauma embedded within the site. Symbols of trauma: • the Palace of Culture and Science as a symbol of trauma in itself and its shadow casting over the city • the void presented as the Parade Square • traces of the foundations of old tenement houses as annihilated, phantomic underground city • traces of the Jewish Ghetto Wall, now commemorated as a pavement memorial • the Korsak’s former orphanage, presented as a memorial in the park • traces of the old street layout destroyed by the footprint of the Palace seen as emblems in the pavement, street names in the pavement at the location of the demolished streets • the Świętokrzyski Park represented as the Katyń massacre, a place of the mass murder • tribune for political events and speeches • statues representing Socialist workers and ironic representation of Polish heroes • covering the existing Catholic ‘All Saints Church’ with residentital buildings due to weaken symbolic value of the religion • fast food stalls (kebab, Chinese) - post traumatic symbol • “royal” interior of the Palace of Culture and Sci-

Fig. 5.45: The memorial of the Korsak’s orphanage which used to be at the location of the nowadays Świętokrzyski park, destroyed during the Second World War (photo by the author)

Fig. 5.46: The royal interior of the Palace of Culture and Science (author’s picture)


Fig. 5.47: Covering the influence of the Catholic faith symbol on the communist symbols, the Palace of Culture and Science, and the Parade Square by hiding the church (photo by the author)

Fig. 5.48: The Świętokrzyski park, a symbolic evocation by the Poles to the Katyń massacre forest (photo by the author)

ence. Using the best material, such as granite, constituted a strong symbol of Communist ideology and dominance simulating a real palace for people, emphasized as a gift of Stalin. ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

Fig. 5.49: Traces of the Jewish Ghetto Wall, now commemorated as a pavement memorial (author’s picture)


Fig. 5.52: Dramatic history of the street reflected in the different names (author’s picture)


Fig. 5.50: “Tu była ulica Pańska“ [Here there was a Pańska street]. Traces of the old street layout destroyed by the footprint of the Palace seen as emblems in the pavement, street names in the pavement at the location of the demolished streets (author’s picture)

Fig. 5.51: The stand for the political speeches during the political events (author’s picture)


5.6. CONCLUSIONS RQ 4: What is the character and meaning of the site that influence the current perception of the Parade Square in Warsaw in terms of national identity? Presented urban landscape analysis conducted various studies on the Parade Square, a key case study for the design research. The city core of Warsaw, a place which should represent the nation and be a visit card for Poland, stands empty for more than a half-century. The only building which is there is the Stalin’s gift, a remnant after the Communism, called the Palace of Culture and Science. The foreign ideology transplanted into the Polish city, untraditioning of the city for centuries, weakening of cultural values and lost cultural heritage, all meet at the Parade Square. The site analysis had shown that the dominant notion which creates the character of this place is trauma and despair. Warsaw is perceived as an empty city or palimpsest. Discontinuity, oppositions, conflicted space, heterogeneity and voids are the main characteristics which create a DNA of this place. The large scale of the Square and the physical dominance of the Palace of Culture and Science over the city are unprecedented. Their inhuman scale influence negatively people’s wellbeing and disconnects spatially the Square from the rest of the city. In addition, the Palace itself dictate the scale of the downtown of Warsaw, creating effect of ‘Manhattanization‘. Moreover pressure of the development at the square triggers new spatial plans for this area which are illogical and bring trauma of modern capitalism. Ad hoc skyscrapers, lack of program and vision are visible in proposed plans for over two decades. Moreover, a narrative of a very turmoil history of Warsaw resulted in its evocation to a cemetery. Loss of the city center and lack of structured city tissue in a combination with lack of future image of the city makes the site of the Parade Square a conflicted space looking for a new interpretation.

tempt to introduce elements of Polish national identity in order to reveal Polish roots and to overcome complexes and traumas embedded in Polish perception and the Parade Square itself. social: • trauma has been taking place • non human scale of the place - causes a feeling of being overwhelmed or lost vastness of the square causes disorientation and may influence negatively in social interactions (people sometimes are away of each other for more than 200 meters while the distance to recognize person’s face estimates around 100m (Gehl 2010) • place for undesirables symbolic • controversial symbolics of the Palace of Culture and Science • controversial symbolics of the square (used to be a place of propaganda demonstrations of the communist power), contradictions • power of symbolism over the whole city physical • physical dominance of the palace, lack of accessibility of movement on the square • unorganized and undeveloped for many years • development pressure - high value property • should be a great public place for people due to its prominent, representative central location • full of chaos at the square - temporary use • surroundings - new development (skyscrapers) together with the old (before the war) To conclude, Warsaw is perceived as a city-cemetery (it lost a distinction between place designated for living and dead) everything is built on the ruins.

Study of the Parade Square investigated layers which constitute a meaning of the place. Present trauma investigated through framework of semiotics can be seen from a few aspects: a visible trauma which influence negatively the city, violating Polish national identity and hidden trauma, as a remnant of the phantomic city. The layering of negative experiences at the Parade Square created an ambivalent character which influence perception of this space. Looking through the perspective of national identity, trauma is a factor which defines both, the place identity and therefore national identity. However, the presence of the post communistic symbols at the Warsaw’s city core, directly violate Polish national identity. The design assignment for this space would be an atŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE



THE FORMER PARADISE nature and agriculture

THE VILLAGE house with an orchard



THE ALIEN under the shadow

¥€$ the absurdity of the brutal capitalism


Marshlands and woodlands once covered the majority of Warsaw’s territory. The urbanization from Medieval times resulted in a contrast of former natural and agricultural patterns, with the clear lines of roads and alleys of the provincial town that became Poland’s capital. Highlighted by the Baroque axes and Gardens cutting through the old agricultural landscapes with the organic structure of the field roads of the Medieval Period.


The disappearing agricultural landscapes are replaced by the growing town. The grid structure is extended and covers the majority of territory. Between the houses a remnants of agricultural activity are shown as gardens and orchards.

Based on the conclusion and historical research Warsaw is defined as a palimpsest city. These layers create a DNA of the city and influence an identity of this place. However, to think and understand the future of the city, a new layer has to be added. The future design should be a response and polemic to the dramatic history and Polish archetypes. Elements representing Polish identity should interact with each other and perhaps create a surrealistic, phantasmatic imaginary.


The period of industrialization changes the city dramatically. Small wooden houses are replaced by the brick tenement houses with the maximum density. Narrow streets without green areas make living conditions difficult, but very lively. New railway connection provides new transportation networks. Second World War brings the trauma. Blood, cry and suffering. The Jewish Ghetto enclosed with a wall is erected and later the Nazis destroy the city by heavy bombardment. The continuation of Warsaw’s existence is disrupted, the city dies. The deliberate extermination of Polish culture results in an identity crisis. 1897 (1944) INDUSTRIALIZATION, THE JEWISH GHETTO AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR BOMBARDMENT


The destroyed city gave place to rise of the Communism on ruins of Warsaw. The city is compared to a cemetery. Communism rules over the visualized and aesthetic expressions of everyday existence in the city. Foreign ideology introduced in the city violates Polish perception of culture and tradition.


The main symbol of Stalin’s power is the Palace of Culture and Science built on the enormous void. The Palace and the square dictate the structure of the city and radiate over Warsaw. The intrusion of the foreign aesthetics and overwhelming scale of the building into the structure of Warsaw creates disharmony and chaos. 1956 COMMUNISM ON THE RUINS OF WARSAW AND THE VOID

Freedom after many years of being oppressed led to a fascination with the new and a fast prosperity. Disintegration of planning systems and no coherent vision and ideas for the city, especially at the city center, bring chaos of development and nonchalance of developers. The rise of new towers designed by famous architects is part of brutal capitalism which introduces a new layer of ignorance of the city context and modern dictatorship. Additionally a highly visible ‘complex’ of the Palace of Culture shows the emotional and post traumatic relation to the Palace, a desire to hide it. 1989 CAPITALISM








06. VISION AND DESIGN AIMS This design research resulted in design of a landmark site, a synthesis of the research outcome. This part of the thesis presents an explanation, rather than proving the design choices, based on the description of a design, consisting of three elements: metaphors, drawings (diagrams, sketches, illustrations, etc) and a self-reflection. Together, they interact and complement each other, in order to give a better understanding to the design. The design process is very complex, therefore all of the components of a design process influence and overlap each other. There is no a linear way to describe the design. However, there are components of a design process which can be presented as follows: The design part is divided into four elements: 1. VISION 2. DESIGN AIMS 3. DESIGN CONCEPT 4. DESIGN SYNTHESIS The aim of this chapter is to provide an answer to the following design question: How can Polish national identity be characterized through a landmark design intervention at the Parade Square in the capital Warsaw?


VISION The problem with ongoing identity crisis in Poland, becomes nowadays an existential issue. Poland for centuries being in the turmoil, needs a place to reveal its suffering and to understand its origins. Poles need to know who they are and reflect on their past to look for a brighter future. This design tries to evoke Polish national identity in a design of a landmark to show a reflection of the Polish culture and to educate Poles about their past. Showing the nation how it really is, together with its contradictions, it presents the truth about it. It tries to work as an antidote for the previous suffering. Lost and traumatized nation needs guidance for the future and a landmark design as a reminder can constitute an answer for this problem. This problem is especially visible in Warsaw where the discontinuity of the history of that city was a motivating element for a design. This notion is shared by all Poles. The city of Warsaw is seen as a palimpsest. It exists only in people’s stories and imagination. The nostalgia of the once beautiful city (compared once to a Paris of the North) became looking for a lost paradise. < Previous page Fig. 6.1: Polonia, the personification of Poland in the Polish landscape and the wall of pine trees. Painting became an inspiration for a design, which by its dynamism illustrates the chaotic process of looking for Polish national identity. (Malczewski, W tumanie [In the cloud] 1893-1894.) (wikimedia.org) THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Warsaw stopped existing, but now it got a new life. The discontinuity of urbanity represented in Warsaw is unprecedented compared to other cities. It is a Babylon of today. THE VISION FOR A DESIGN IS THEREFORE, AN ATTEMPT TO TOUCH THE TRAUMA OF POLAND BY ADDING ‘A MIRROR OF THE SOCIETY’. But how to design for a troubled society, which was always looking for its identity? As the painting “In the cloud” by J. Malczewski refers to a very dynamic and chaotic period of Polish culture and nation, the unstable period of rediscovering Polish identity and constant struggle and uncertainty (Fig. 6.1), then the poem of T. Kantor, reflects the mood which reflects the dark soul of Poles. Country being in ongoing identity crisis deeply affected the mental image of Poles. Therefore, trauma and complexes which are embedded in Polish mentality needs to be tackled and revealed. The aim of the design is therefore to find an answer on how to approach the site and a difficult and complicated history of the place which is so present in the space of the square? How to design a landmark, and what is a landmark? From the definition, it is an object which is easily seen from a distance, leads to somewhere, gives a direction. It is also defined as an important stage or turning point in something (Oxford Dictionary 2017). This metaphor is taken further for a design of a Polish landmark to guide Poles in looking for their own national identity.

DESIGN AIMS In order to translate the research findings into a physical design, a set of Design Aims were formulated which constitute principles and direct action for a design. Each Design Aim results from an outcome of a specific Research Question. 1. Bringing together Create a public space in form of a Forum for people to create a dialog, exchange of knowledge and culture. 2. Overcoming by revealing Overcoming Polish trauma and complexes by showing it. 3. Highlighting Highlighting Polish culture as an honest representation of Polish national identity. 4. Diminishing Creating a counterbalance to the Palace of Culture and Science by diminishing its role as a dominant over the city and its dwellers. 5. Connecting Giving the site back to the city to create a coherent, well functioning organism.

From the dim recesses, as if from the abyss of Hell, there started to emerge people who had died long time ago and memories of events that, as in a dream, had no explanation, no beginning, no end, no cause or effect. They would emerge and keep returning stubbornly, as if waiting for my permission to let them enter. I gave them my consent. I understood their nature. I understood where they were coming from. The i m p r i n t s impressed deeply in the memorial past. Tadeusz Kantor Excerpt from ‘Imprints,’ Silent Night (Cricotage), 1990







The polemic and a vision for the future


The concept for the park derives from the presented design aims. It is a translation of the goals and insights into a more concrete idea. The main theme which represents the design constitutes a notion of a Forum together with all of its qualities.


Forum for traumas, sorrows and complexes. Forum is a place to cry, and laugh, to walk and experience culture and history, to educate. It is a place to combine contrasts and paradoxes which normally do not come together. It is a place to be together, to pray, to manifest and protest, to celebrate important events, culture, victories but also reflect on pitfalls, complexes and traumas. It is also a place to be alone, to confess, to paint, to reflect, to cry, to reborn. People always would like to do that. And there is a lack of place for that, therefore forum is a place for people in need. Furthermore, the urban park creates a ‘mirror’ of Polish identity, culture and history. It represents the Polish nation, a Polish soul. Forum in Warsaw is the whole panoply, repertoire of the Polish characteristics. It is not just a mere act of remembering. Altogether combined activities and features found at the Forum create a spectacle of discovering roots and meaningful Polish history. All Varsovians and others are very welcome to take part in it.

Fig. 7.2: The Virgin Mary and the enclosed garden (www.google.com).

Polish Forum is based on layering. It evokes illusions of multiple layers, such as a monastery (together with enclosure and enclosed space), Polish landscape (woodlands, agriculture, the riverscape), the skyline, the mirror, memorials and others.

Fig. 7.3: The Jasna Góra (Bright Mountain) monastery in Częstochowa, a highly symbolic and historical place of pilgrimage for Poles (www.poland-active.com).

Fig. 7.1: The Design Concept

Fig. 7.4: Ferdynand Ruszczyc Ziemia [Earth] (1898) (lubicki.blogspot.nl)


The evocation of a monastery resembles Polish tradition and strong relation to religion and its symbolism (see chapter 4). Throughout centuries the Catholic faith was a bastion for Polish culture and tradition during the difficult times. Also today its universal content can be transmitted through the principles of a monastery, however seen in a different contemporary context, in cultural setting. A contemporary monastery is enclosed with a threshold. A rigid and clear structure of the edge strongly defines the perimeter of the forum giving it extra qualities (see The Cultural Edge). The concept of a forum for people helps to discover and find roots of the nation. The principle of it relates to the monastery which, how Irvine (2011) puts it, functions as “the heart of the self-identity of many of the monks” and nowadays “so many people are rootless“ (Irvine 2011: 40, 41). In an unstable world, where life is defined by mobility and fragmentation, a monastery becomes a place “where life is deeply experienced and where others come not only to share in silence and prayer, but also to discuss the social realities of the present time. Monastic life seeks an understanding of the meaning of life itself.“ (Rees et al. 1978: 142-143 in Irvine 2011: 41).

tions. It refers to Polish woodlands, primal forests of Białowieża, production forests with orthogonal ducts, agricultural fields, with smell of soil cut through in parallel strips, where peasants were able to feed the country, and even once the Europe, the riverscape with numerous meandering creeks, the vast forests of birch trees characteristic for the Mazury lakes region, or the dunescape, the remnant of the ice age, strongly visible in the topography of Warsaw. The design aim, by introducing fundamental elements of Polish national identity which shape the current image of the Polish society, is to question their relevance and look critically on Poles origin. Therefore, elements representing Polish identity could be seen sometimes as ironic, some banal, some drastic and horrifying, however all of them constitute the image of what the ‘Polishness‘ is. Together they interact with each other and create an almost surrealistic image of variations of Polish nature in impossible, phantasmatic imaginary. This illusionary image goes in hand with the abstract perception of the national identity which is seen as imaginative concept (Anderson 1991). The design tries to put ‘Polishness‘ in test and look whether it can work and help to deal with so traumatic past which affected Polish society.

The pace of the world is very quick, there are mostly short-term projects and relations, people live more nomadic life-style, mobility, people are freelancers (Irvine 2011). Therefore this is a place where you can rest from the city and start reflecting about your life, history and the future. A place of shared community which increases the idea of belonging - therefore fosters a notion of national identity.


The significance of the forum lies also on importance of the identification of what it means to be a Pole. It is especially important in cities, where the culture of the city is often homogenized and does not represent the original, national roots. Resulting in difficulties to find and identify with Polish traditional characteristics. Forum makes you understand by a constant reminder of who you are, highlighting national culture, tradition and roots. The concept of a forum is open-ended. It allows for future growth. It is oriented into the future due to the constant changes in history, welcomes new meanings, changes and possibly traumas. It is growing together with the history, and might change, as people throughout centuries changes. Therefore the framework and the design concept stays but the rest might change. Evocation to Polish landscape The best forum for Poles, brings illusions of Polish society and tradition. Landscape is part of it. Therefore the concept is echoing strong landscape images which constitute Poland to bring familiarity and trigger emoŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

Fig. 7.5: The meandering Wisła, the ‘queen‘ of rivers in Poland, connecting the whole country from the mountains to the sea. Wisła with patches of sandy islands is a recognizable landscape for Warsaw (warszawa.onet.pl).


Fig. 7.6: The Augustów Primeval Forest with Rospuda valley, with visible straight production ducts and the irregular opening for the river valley, a place where nature meets human (www.historiaozywadzis.powiat.suwalski.pl)


Fig. 7.7: Birch forest at Mazury lakes region in Poland shows the typical image of the Polish landscape. Smooth, white bark, transparent crowns and lightness of the forest, triggers senses and influence imagination. (upload.wikimedia.org)

Fig. 7.9: Agricultural fields reminds of the notion of feeding of the country. The parallel strips of soil touching the limitless horizon, under the large sky are the theme of many paintings, poems and photographs. Here an example of photographs of Jan Bułhak, the Polish pioneer and philosopher of photography tried to evoke an image characteristic for Polish landscape in looking for a Polish national identity (J. Bułhak, around 1910-15)

Fig. 7.8: The remnant of the ice age presents parabolic dunes at the Kampinoski National Park, in the close surrounding to Warsaw. It is unique location, and the only national park in Europe to be located in so close proximity to the global capital. (puszczakampinoska.blogspot.nl) ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE







The design represents an idea of a Forum functioning as Warsaw’s urban park of the 21st century. The concept is based on a contemporary evocation of a monastery with its ideals. The park tries to represent the identity of Poles, using national symbols as a form of remembrance and a self reflection. The design evokes Polish national characteristics which become anchors for the design. It uses the essence of Polish characteristics studied before, such as Catholicism, peasantry and trauma (see chapter 3) and implement its metaphorical sense in the design. It evokes Polish landscape such as the forest, the river, the agriculture. It reveals layers of history to overcome and deal with the traumatic experiences and complexes, and forces to self reflect about them. However, the idea of the nation is represented in an abstract way, with a lot of room for spectator’s imagination. Some parts of trauma can be seen as ironic, some as bitter, and some as provocative, such as the contradiction of the rural values and church against modernity. All of those unusual components works together and highlight a true and honest representation of Polish nation to become a powerful landmark of nowadays troubled Polish society.

The design is rooted in history yet evolves into the future. The design is open-ended for other monuments and memorials, and therefore, for future generations. This is a place of commemoration and reflection, a monument, but researched and designed from the perspective of shaping and strengthening the identity, the social coherency of the nation, in order to have a better understanding of the upcoming future. Design helps to get a direction of the narrative to the future on a different track, with strengthening Polish national identity instead of violating it.


The design consists of several parts. Building the Forum: UNDO STALIN (Warsaw’s new skyline) The domination of the Palace of Culture and Science needed to be reduced. It is welcomed in the forum, however it cannot dominate.


Keep the balance between green and urbanity. The forum is seen as an urban park in the heart of Warsaw therefore a balance between urbanity and green structure had to be kept.





INTRODUCE POLISH IDENTITY The project emphasizes the notion of the inside and outside. The image of the surrealistic world of trauma in the park setting is surrounded on the parameter by a threshold space with flexible program, full of cultural activities. In the design, there are two design components which define Warsaw’s Forum seen as a monastery, consisting of parts: the enclosure and the enclosed space. • The enclosure (The Cultural Edge) • The enclosed space (The Garden of Tears)



The Cultural Edge and the enclosed garden form together an urban park called the Warsaw’s Forum. It is designed for speculation and reflection of the condition of Polish society and nation, looking at its history, myths, narratives and culture. The Garden provokes questions about today’s state of polish national identity. It leads a visitor to reflect on it and to be conscious about the origin of Poles. Since the concept of identity is dynamic, it helps to look for solutions for the future of the nation.


The structure of a design derives from the evocation to Polish landscape and culture. It highlights its qualities and symbolics.


CONNECT TO THE CITY Regenerate the city tissue, improve / complement nowadays incomplete city tissue Connect the site to the city again while emphasizing its uniqueness (grasp the spirit of this weird space and the role of the Palace of culture and science)



4 sides of the surrounding city tissue are reflected in the design

reducing street profiles and extending public space to integrate the site to the city

the scale of the new development connects and respects the context

regenerate the city tissue




































as a symbol of Polish dominance.


the illusion of the vertical village and the unfulfilled ego of an architect. Peasants, 0nce a synonym of a hard work, now luxury, as developers with the most extravagant ideas from their dreams, push the limits of imagination and try to implement it into reality. Skyscrapers constitutes a modern trauma.


a symbolic representation of the origin of Poles, as berry and mushroom pickers Oak trees planted in grids and groves of birch trees growing freely along the River tell an almost surreal story of Poles. THE RIVER OF TEARS

is a symbol of trauma and reborn. It connects the site together and works as a time machine through layers of history, from the primal forest to modernity. Its meandering character evokes superiority of Polish landscape.



resembles the foundations of tenement houses as once a lively neighbourhood and the artifacts of people who have lived there.



a place of variety of cultural events (music, dance, performance, painting, theatre, market) to praise Polish culture. Enclosed by the double wall and buildings with cultural activities create a space in itself as entering a new world. It provides a coherent and undisturbed 2km long cyclical movement (a contemporary monastery).


a representation of a disturbing void at the city core

Fig. 8.1: Superimposition of the Forum layers THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.


The design is represented through layering. It is complex as the history of Poland itself. The city is understood as a “palimpsest” where each layer evoke specific feelings and relate to the turmoil history of Poles, Warsaw or the square itself. Layers interact and react with each other, intensifying its meanings. They are presented in an abstract way. A metaphorical and allegoric way of representation allows both for the evocation to the specific historical or cultural elements but also provides room for interpretation, and a self-reflection. Each of the components highlighted on the diagram of the design will be elaborated further while talking about components of a design more closely. ŁUKASZ K. BĄKOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE






UNDO STALIN Warsaw’s new skyline What constitutes a forum? The way to build it. The concept of the Forum welcomes traumas and complexes, such as the existing Palace of Culture and Science, as one of the symbols of trauma, violating Polish national identity. Creating a new Warsaw’s skyline is the first step towards keeping balance at the city and creating a counterbalance to the Palace of Culture and Science. It reduces its large scale and the symbolic dominance over the city and the site. The Palace should be one of the many buildings creating a skyline, not a solitaire, a freestanding tower in urban landscape of Warsaw how it was envisioned in the 50s.

creating a new skyline of Warsaw, overcoming power and dominance of the Palace. The Palace becoming a part of the forum, and surrounded by skyscrapers, as an element of trauma of capitalism, started to be neutralized. The large scale of the building determines the large scale of the surrounding. The Palace dominates the city with its scale, therefore a new skyline and tall skyscrapers are positioned next to it in order to diminish its dominance. One particular building, the thinest skyscraper in the world is positioned in front of the main entrance to the Palace, covering visually half of it (Fig. 6.15).

Fig. 8.4: The erection of Warsaw’s urbanity


Fig. 8.2: Craziness of urban design and architecture at one place (OMA)

Warsaw’s new skyline has a twofold meaning. On the one hand it consists of amalgamation of different typologies of architecture, a mix of craziness, a place where all of the traumas and ego of modern architecture and urban design comes together and is clustered only there, without going beyond to the city (Fig. 6.12). On the other hand it creates a counterbalance to the exuberant ego of the Palace of Culture and Science,

Fig. 8.3: Creating a new skyline for Warsaw (drawing by the author) THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Fig. 8.5: The thinest skyscraper in the world covering half of the Palace


Fig. 8.6: Imaginary of the design process: the high development pressure of the area is reduced and pushed away / cramped at the side of the plot creating space for a meaningful forum for people.


Fig. 8.7: 1) The Palace of Culture dominating over the city surrounded by a green park 2) Loosing dominance of the Palace, as one of the elements of trauma surrounded by skyscrapers, a trauma of nowadays.


Fig. 8.8: ABOLITION BY BEHEADING THE CROWN IS OFF! Decapitation of the Stalin’s tower is a symbolic act of diminishing the importance of the Palace. It is welcomed in the Forum, however cannot dominate. Its scale is reduced and parts are exposed. People conquered the building. It truly became a palace for people. THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

The Palace of culture and Science caused a large trauma in the mindset of Poles. It is the monument erected to show the dominance of Russia over Poland and Poles. Palace, as a symbol of oppression and foreign ideology transplanted on the Polish ground needed transformation and reduction of its dominance over the city and its footprint for public space. It can be done by the urban design of the area and interventions within the building. The important step is to “decapitate“ the Palace by cutting the top of its long tower. A highly symbolic act of chopping off the head of Stalin, means reducing the ego of Moscow and giving a smile on faces of oppressed Poles. There needs to be some happiness put on their faces, because they are tired, hard working, developing their carriers, but not looking at the future, just at presence.

Current and a proposed skyline of Warsaw




Peasantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s skyscraper The illusion of the vertical village (Fig. 8.9). Poles origin from peasants is not only visible on the street level. It also makes the city. Nowadays, farmers are one of the wealthiest social groups in Poland. Selling precious plots, once used for agriculture and being a symbol of a hard work, farmers changed their situation dramatically. After moving to cities, they try to possess as much as possible. Being a modern type of developers, they push the limits of their imagination with the most surrealistic ideas from their dreams, implemented into reality. Skyscrapers in the city core are one of them.

Fig. 8.9: The skyscraper (Life magazine cartoon, 1909) THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Fig. 1.1: Creating a new skyline

Fig. 1.1: Creating a new skyline


Program Skyscrapers at the forum differ with program. They host commercial program, such as shops and galleries, business related program as offices, hotels and apartments for people, and cultural related program in form of art galleries, theaters, cinemas, opera, city archive, and a city library. Cultural program is stacked in the tower starting at the ground level with art galleries and at the top theater, cinemas, or opera with the open view to the panorama of the city. Buildings height ranges from 25-30m at the edge and a plinth of the tower, to 200-230m including the tower. Plain park with only the Palace of Culture and Science in the middle would be partly an evocation to the proposed plan by the Soviet architects in the 50s resembling communist idea of solitary highlighted Palace dominating over the city. Therefore the proposed plan by the author of this thesis was made to create a skyline which would reduce the dominance of the Palace.


Fig. 8.10: Section of the passage way between the buildings


THE CULTURAL EDGE the elements of culture

The enclosure For a better understanding of the condition and impact on the Palace of Culture and Science, the area of the Parade Square was surrounded by a threshold. The strong division resulted in creating an inner world, separated from the city delineated by a double wall of the Cultural Edge. The threshold works as a filter for thoughts, the space in between the walls, understood as a threshold space, is a continuous boulevard where a variety of cultural activities takes place. To go further and look in the future, people need to know their origin and reflect on their culture. The cultural edge provides that experience by the variety of program held throughout the whole year. The flexibility of program and the temporal use of the edge allows for a variety of events to take place.


Green and urban Edge Part of the Edge is open air and the other is covered by buildings. This division provides a better harmony with the surrounding context and the bigger variety of program linked to seasonality and climate of Warsaw, where buildings provide a shelter during uncomfortable weather conditions. Due to this the program can be held the whole year and make the place always vibrant. The variety of program include pavilions for many activities, stands with Polish cuisine, movie projections, art exhibitions, theatre plays, dance performances, music performances and other temporary activities, such as religious processions connected to the church nearby. The edge triggers. The edge is made of concrete tiles (bricks) which resemble the material used for the reconstruction of Warsaw after the Second World War. Its massiveness


Fig. 8.11: Principle of the edge

The continuous, non-disturbed Cultural Edge provides a cyclic movement throughout the whole length of the boulevard on the perimeter of the Forum of 2 km long. The walk provides different experiences along the Edge related to Polish culture and tradition, including exhibitions and open air performances. Furthermore, the walk helps people to contemplate about the nation and themselves, reflected in the traumas and complexes at the inner Garden of Tears. Cyclic movement evokes a contemplative, cyclical walk at the cloister.




and light gray color create a distinction within the city, but also merge it into a coherent entity with dramatic past of Warsaw. The pavement used for the Edge creates a seamless surface, emphasizing the continuous connection throughout the whole length. It resembles the concept of a continuous monument by the architectural group Superstudio. Passing through the edge will always give you the feeling of the Polish culture - you are taking a bath in the creativity which is enhanced there but always rooted in polish culture (rich and highly mixed because of the influence of other cultures). Every year there is a different exhibition organized. The edge plays a role of educatorium for Poles and others about Polish nation, culture and traditions, to cherish it and to be proud of it. The edge provides a constant reflection on the Polish culture and therefore keeps its continuity.

entering the garden and crossing through the Cultural Edge, visitors experience an enriching moment of catharsis. The edge forms a filter to detoxicate your thoughts polluted by the ongoing struggles of the world. Threshold is therefore understood as a place of changing of the condition. You enter the whole new world of nostalgia and meaning, which leads to the Garden of Tears. Due to the dual nature of thresholds, they can connect and separate. The connection is emphasized through culture and different scenarios while forming an enclosure which isolates the visitor from the noises of the city. Crossing the enclosure changes the perception of space. Changing the condition from real (city) to surreal (garden). Surrealism exists only because there is reality. The edge enhances / intensifies senses and experiences. When crossing the threshold you enter the unknown world. It scares, but at the same time it draws inside, excites. The imagination, while entering the inner world, shapes the understanding of that space.

Threshold space enclosed by a double wall emphasizes the difference between the outside and inside. While












Variety of program and flexibility of the Edge allows for different uses of the Edge. This is a place where the culture is widely accessible to everyone, regardless the age, sex, social status, education or taste of arts.


The buildings at the Cultural Edge are designated to host various program. They are related to culture, with galleries on the ground level, connected to the street. The open ground level at the continuous Edge allows for a flexible use of the space, where even monumental art objects can be placed.


Each building has been designed by a different architect in a slightly different style, but they create a coherent structure, connected with each other constructing one, non-disturbed walk throughout the whole parameter. The idea about the continuous edge has been inspired by the concept of a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Continuous Monumentâ&#x20AC;&#x2DC; by Superstudio, which unifies the globe by one seamless structure. Urban edge has a variety of program inside. Cultural activities happens there. Space could be programmed for a large museum space, a long walk through culture, from building to building. Cultural edge is programmed to enhance Polish culture and highlight its values to the city. It encloses all of the trauma and complexes while preserving the Polish spirit. Existing Point Zero of Warsaw, a place where all of the distances at the city are being measured, constituting an origin point of Warsaw. It was kept, and is located at the urban edge, near the entrance, highlighting the importance of the place.





The event square At the urban part of the garden there are skyscrapers and other buildings located. One of them is the Museum of Modern Art located near to the central part of the Forum. The museum will have a dedicated space only for contemporary Polish art. Next to it, there is a public square where the larger cultural mass events such as the New Yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Eve will take place. The square can host at the same time 130.000 people (according to 7p/m2 rule, calculating the surface of the square) and will become a new square for Warsaw. The square is raised to 50cm above the street level to work as a THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

podium for events. This is a civic stage where the public live can be experienced. The square can become a new place for public speeches or gatherings, with cultural program hosted throughout the year. Here, this can be a place where all of the demonstrations start or finish.



THE GARDEN OF TEARS the elements of trauma

the enclosed space After experiencing the moment of decantation while crossing the Cultural Edge visitors are welcomed to step in to a place of reflection where you can be deep with your thoughts and you can cut off from the outer world. The Garden of Tears evokes an enclosed garden of a monastery. This landscape helps to gain a different state of the mind (Geuze 2014). The first step to overcome traumatic experiences which happened to Polish nation is to face them in the real-world condition. The design assumes that by highlighting trauma, which is already present at the site, it is possible to overcome it. By presenting a strong and painful image of Polish society, it has a power to reflect on the history and the roots of Polish nation. Garden is filled with elements of Polish national characteristics - trauma, Catholicism and rural mentality.


The urban park or garden can be referred to a hortus conclusus - a medieval enclosed garden, which paradox is to manifest the landscape in all its complexity, excluding that landscape at the same time. It is internal and external at once. Enclosed garden is seen as a magnifying glass to see a broader landscape (de Wit 2001). It is a reproduction of the world, a book that one can read and discover the world. It tells the story of memory, grief, and turmoil of the Polish nation, which experienced tough history. This history is expressed in landscape features within the Garden of Tears.

the limitless sky The two worlds of the Garden and the Edge overlap and complement each other. However, they have a dual nature, they work together as a whole but also create an opposition to each other. The thick wall against the open space of the park, the invisibility of the outside compared to the limitless sky. However the Garden of Tears could also be seen as a cemetery. It is built like the whole modern Warsaw on the ruins of the past. Layers of trauma lay beneath the soil. Moreover the inner world and the enclosure triggers also other senses. People disconnected from the outer world full of noise, chaos, speed could better reflect on the traumatic past of Poland and heal their own wounds. The enclosure shuts out all of the images from the outside and enhance sensuous world of the Garden.




SYMBOLS OF POLISHNESS The Garden of Tears presents multiple of symbols of Polish trauma and complexes which are located in the park. Main elements are expressed here, however further are elaborated in detail. the River of Tears symbolize a metaphorical river, a place of trauma, cry and suffering. It works also as a reflecting pool, a connection to the sky. Reflection of the sky in the water brings people closer to the heaven and enhances spiritual connection. the forest symbolize the illusion of Polish cultural landscape. Long lines of trees evokes straight ducts of the production forests or the parallelism of the agricultural fields. Trees oaks, birches, symbolize contradiction between lightness and heaviness and perception of seasonality as passing time. This spiritual landscape evokes as well the dramatic events of the Katyń massacre with mass murder of Polish intelligentsia and authorities. the maze of the Polish memory the maze of the artifacts from the Polish culture evoking the life of people at this place before the war, where walls of the maze resemble the foundations of the once lively neighbourhood. the Stalin’s tower / crown chopped off tower of the Palace of Culture and Science as a symbol of freeing the mind from yoke of the past. The tower is forgotten, lost and sunken in the vast forest.


the mirror of the Polish soul representation of Poles as being born from the cut, the misery and trauma “Who are you Pole?” The cut of the tower and the golden mirror symbolize the image of a Pole. the void this open space resembles the holocaust fields where immense groups of people were killed and buried. The field is surrounded by the hills (the Polish dunes) which create an enclosure which better reflects the character of this significant place the ruin One of the wings on the ground floor of the Palace of Culture and Science is left to become a ruin. It is a metaphor of a decay and a progressing time for that building. It demonstrates the end of foreign ideology of communism and symbols of foreign power which no longer dominate over the city and the country. the wall and distinct entrances (pillars on both sides) leading to the entrance of the Garden of Tears. The wall evokes the Jewish Ghetto Wall and executions. The dark surface and poems engraved with golden letters reflect the dark soul of Poles. the (roadside) chapel - as a reference to a chapel in a burial place, reference to Warsaw tragic past, and a city as a cemetery. It evokes a connection to the Catholic faith and lies in a direct extension of the visual line of the nearby church. It is a place where people can pray and reflect.




Multi-meaning landscape In the urban park visitors are welcomed to walk along the River of Tears, see how wet the water is, be lost in the oak and birch forest valley, be lost in the maze of Polish memory, be shocked with the chopped off “Stalin’s head” dropped forgotten in the symbolic forest. They can explore the undulations of Warsaw’s dunes and the meaningful meadow as a void, look at the dramatic black execution wall. While the abstraction of the Garden is pushed to the maximum, presented signifiers strongly evoke Polish characteristics and trigger people’s senses. “The less resemblance to reality the more magical the effect” (de Wit 2001: 220). 1+1=3 The design elements support and supplement each other creating a complexity of the meaning within the whole site.


Connection to Polish landscape. The Garden of Tears evokes Polish landscape. Landscape is an important carrier of meaning, including national identity. Symbols which constitute the Garden relate to Polish myths, beliefs and traditions. The River of Tears refers to the River Wisła (Vistula) which is the largest river in Poland stretching throughout the whole country. The Forest resembles a dense Polish primal forests with straight production ducts where nature meets culture, perhaps Białowieża (see Schama 1995). It combines species: heavy oak trees with their symbolic value and light surrealistic birch along the river. The oak represents a tree of life, and it refers to “Oaks of memory“ used in Poland to commemorate the dead, while birch symbolizes protection, a strong connection to Polish traditions and beliefs. The layout of the forest represents long lines of production forests and the connection to peasantry. The structure of the park resembles Polish landscape, long lines of trees, planted in rows, create a recognizable pattern for Polish cultural landscape and resemble strips of agricultural fields or straight lines of ducts in production forests. Moreover, they refer to the old Warsaw’s field road structure with the layout perpendicular to the river. The hills at the design evoke parabolic dunes which are characteristic to the landscape nearby, such as Puszcza Kampinoska (Kampinos Forest), a large protected forest complex within Kampinos National Park, the unique national park in Europe, located in a close proximity to the global capital.




THE FOREST It relates to Polish myths, beliefs and traditions. It emphasizes Polish strong connection to the forest as people from the woodlands. It is a place of joy and happiness. It also resembles in the past a place of great exploitation, humiliation and violence. It evokes agricultural roots of Poles and peasants, seen as poor, simple, hardworking people, constantly under pressure with a strong Catholic faith. Trees planted in rows create strong long lines across the length of the park, looking like the agricultural field just after ploughing or dense Polish primal forests with straight production ducts where nature meets agriculture. They also refer to the old field roads in the past where Warsaw was much smaller, surrounded by agricultural fields. Villages and rural mentality take up a distinctive place in Polish memory. These are the places of origin of the greater part of Polish society. The forest however, evokes one more connotation. The KatyĹ&#x201E; forest, a place of mass murder of thousands of Poles, well educated, being an anchor of Polish culture and tradition.


The characteristic forest type for the region of the city of Warsaw is the forest Tiliocarpinetum betuli. Main species which can be found are - Primula (Primula vulgaris) - Bluebell - Silver birch (Betula pendula) - normal and multistem (10-15, 5-10) - Red oak (Quercus rubra) (20-25, 20-25) not deciduous, however it is widely present in Kampinoski Park - European oak (Quercus robur) - Cornish oak (Quercus petraea) The Warsawâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s forum evokes the symbolic power of the Polish landscape. The eroding force of nature over the negative symbolics of the Palace of Culture and Science caused that one of the extensions of the ground floor wings of the Palace has been deteriorated and transformed into a ruin. This act creates an illusion of the construction of the Palace being unstable and being deteriorated by the power of Polish nature.
















THE STALIN TOWER itself has fallen from the top of the Palace. It fallen in the woodlands, top to the ground. Hidden, forgotten, slightly protrudes over the crowns of trees, it is barely visible. The only part which draws the attention is the cut, the reflection of Polish soul.


THE MIRROR OF THE POLISH SOUL The cut and the mirror symbolize the image of a Pole. When visitors wander around the forest, at one point they meet a large golden mirror located at the cut of the Stalin tower. The reflection shows the mirrored image of the visitor. This act triggers a reflection of a person about themselves. The existential question arises: “Who are you Pole?” from a famous children’s rhyme. It symbolizes the difficult history, in which Poles were born ‘from the cut‘. The mirror symbolizes the image of the Polish soul, deeply traumatized and experienced through the centuries. Everyone can step back, experience their own reflection, a kind of self portrait and contemplate about life and what it means to be a Pole. This also should trigger thoughts that the future of culture continuity is in a person itself, and there is also a large responsibility for every person to be an ambassador of their own culture and identity. The design of the cut makes also polemic with the previous spatial development plans, such as ‘The great crown of Warsaw’ designed by Białyszew and Skopiński in 1992.









THE RIVER OF TEARS has a strong accent in a design. The dark color of the water, reflects the dark souls of Poles. The water is so black that there is a fear of falling inside and be drawn. The smooth meandering curves contrasts with the dark unknown. It is one of the most toughing elements in the design. This is a place powered by the tears of the people. Mainly little children, little Poles, and women, who suffered the various traumas. Everyone can hear their cry. The River is a key element which spines the design into a one integral whole. Elements of Polish trauma are located along the river, such as Polish cities and villages are positioned along the queen of the Polish rivers: WisĹ&#x201A;a. Evocation to Polish river landscape is reflected in meandering character of the water feature with visible curvature. The power of Polish landscape is reflected in the river which on its way cuts the Palace, a symbol of communism and skyscrapers, symbol of trauma of capitalism, on the south side of the site.


The river is also a time machine, where if you follow the stream, you move from the past - the agricultural character and peasant roots, to the times of communism and oppression, to the urban part, where you can explore the trauma of modernity. The river cuts the buildings, causing its deterioration and showing the superiority of the landscape. The significant place where the River of Tears kiss the Cultural Edge. This is a place where the culture meets trauma. The culture changes through time, same as program at the Edge. However, the history lasts, you cannot escape it, it always affects the culture. The accent is reflected by birch trees which enter the edge. This is a place where the wall is black and there is a poem of the great Polish national poet Mickiewicz, reflecting on Polish sorrows while the main character in the poem is arguing with God, why he allowed that Poland suffers so much. Here there is also a direct visual connection to the Catholic church, a pillar of the Polish national identity.


























































Fig. 8.12: The topography of the area














Rivers of Tears works also as a reflection pool, where people can connect to the sky, with spiritual connection with God. Moreover, along the river there is a chapel, a symbolic connection to a nearby church, to bring the spirit of Catholicism to the site. The chapel, significant for Polish culture, located mostly at the crossroads, evokes being at the cemetery. The chapel refers to be in a sacred place, where people can find a spiritual peace and reflect on dramatic history of Warsaw, seen as a cemetery.


Science and flows into two directions due to topography and existing height of the ground floor of the Palace. The two-directional flow enhances feeling of surrealism at the site. The topography of the parks differs as well and the water feature follows this topography. Sometimes the water runs faster, sometimes slower, according to the designed inclination of the river bed. With higher inclination river has more porous bottom which creates additional ripples in the water, making the effect of a cascade even more dramatic.

Since it is an evocation to the riverscape, the design is made of granite edge with a dark porous natural stone at the bottom of the construction. This creates an effect of depth and unknown. It also enhances the effect of mirroring. The two sides of the granite edge differ with width and inclination. The river has one source at the ruined leg of the Palace of Culture and







THE MAZE OF THE POLISH MEMORY the walls of the maze resembles the foundations of the once lively neighbourhood which was there before the Second World War. Moreover, the maze contains artifacts from the Polish culture, such as furniture, photographs or paintings which evokes the life of people at this place before the war. This is an evocation of the demolished lively neighbourhood and many lost lives.












photo of the maquette





CONCLUSIONS The monastery, the wall, the poems, the river, the hill, the chopped off tower - they all show the character of the Polish national identity. All of them are an evocation of the Polish national identity by symbolic physical representation in urban landscape. It shows values which are important in polish culture, its symbolism, sometimes very tragic, brutal, sometimes heroic. But this is a showroom, a display which shows who the Poles are and what their roots are. The conducted study of Polish national identity resulted in a design assignment at the Parade Square in the city core of Warsaw. The main design question (DQ) was: How can Polish national identity be characterized through a landmark design intervention at the Parade Square in the capital Warsaw?


The Parade Square was chosen as a key case study because of its traumatic past as a place and turbulent events which took place and are still present. The place has not been developed for more than 60 years and there has been no coherent vision for it till now. All this resulted in myths about this place as an impossible location to create a meaningful design for generations. In addition, there is the symbol of communism, Polish oppression, the Palace of Culture and Science, which seems to be timeless and resists all of the design interventions which were proposed there in the past. Elaboration of the Design Aims DA1: Bringing together Phenomenon of the peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s forum as a place of exchange culture and tradition A forum for people to create a dialog, exchange of knowledge, culture. Place for both happiness and sadness / nostalgia. Connection of chosen references is also political. All of them shows strong connection to nation-politics relation. The site of the Parade Square is also very much political. There were organized speeches of the socialist leaders. However, it has always been a place of people gathering - a forum. All of the marches starts there. The Pope had a mass there. All the massive events are there. It is a place for people to gather. The same function is hold by the cases presented in reference studies. Nowadays the Parade Square does not have a direct political connection, but, still it is a place for people to gather, manifest, be happy, but also sad. A place for reflection and manifestation. This is the forum for people, showing human values, happiness, but also tragedies. It is an honest representation of the humanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s soul. It represents particularly THE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

Polish nation but could also help other nations to connect with those values, because they are global. Every nation has different past. Therefore, it is necessary to present it in the public place, the square in the city center being the best for it. How could Warsaw have a forum for people? Forum for debates, to be happy and sad if necessary, to be emotional and to discover yourself. The design and research is a speculation about this subject due to the problem of a lack of clear identity. DA2: Overcoming by revealing As presented in the previous chapters, trauma is one of the characteristics of Polish national identity which can be represented in a landmark landscape design. The design reflects the authenticity of the turmoil history of Polish nation and refers to the tragic and ambiguous identity of the Parade Square. The design concept tries to unveil and highlight the truly traumatic atmosphere of this place by making layers of trauma visible. It tries to show the site how it really looks like without masking or hiding its true nature. Moreover, by a design it tries to help to overcome it to deal with it better. Exposing trauma to Varsovians works as a mirror of the Polish society. It tells a narrative of the nation. Contradictions and ambivalence are projected on the site, sometimes using almost surrealistic means. Usage of color, texture, undulation, mass/open. Putting the monster on the pedestal, is a reference to the psychoanalysis which say that to revel trauma we need to get to the subconsciousness. We need to look at the problems which were there and see how we can deal with them. According to the theory of the cultural trauma to overcome traumas they need to be represented in a real, physical world. DA3: Highlighting The design thought the use of cultural means provides a constant connection to culture. Enhancing the continuity of the Polish culture and looking at art as a true representation of the nation ensure a deep relation to the notion of Polish national identity. By making it free and widely accessible for a broader public, the design works as an educatorium for Poles and others, to deepen the horizons about own past and culture. By being surrounded by cultural artefacts, whether it is a bus stop, or wandering around the city you can always cross the edge, drop by to experience an exciting world of art, which triggers senses and gives a deep reflection of the common past. Highlighting Polish culture and tradition by means of art at the city core has a large role of educating Poles about their origin. Additionally, highlighting Polish cultural identity works as a counterbalance to the foreign ideology of the communism.

DA4: Diminishing The most dominant building in Poland located at the place where trauma in physical representation is ever present caused a large change in the mindset of Poles. The Palace of Culture and Science as the monument erected to show the dominance of Russia over Poland and Poles, cannot dominate anymore over the city and its dwellers. The Palace from the beginning was a symbol of oppression and foreign ideology transplanted on the Polish ground. Being part of the forum it becomes neutralized as part of the trauma which defines Polish society. Together with other skyscrapers, which tells a narrative of the craziness of urban design and capitalism, they fit there, at the Polish forum, a forum for traumas, complexes and sorrows. Moreover, transformations of the building, such as decapitation of the top tower, means reducing the ego of Moscow, which puts a small smile of faces so oppressed Polish people. There need to be some happiness put on their faces, because they are tired hard working, making their carriers, but not looking at the future, just presence. “guillotine on the square” - reference to the decapitated tower of the palace. Showing the traumatic events which were held there. It is so powerful that it is just enough. DA5: Connecting The design ensures a physical connection to the city to create a coherent organism. By introducing a new urban tissue, as either lower buildings at the edge, as high skyscrapers. Proper cultural program and its distribution would allow for the area to be perceived as a heart of the city, not as before as an empty, shameful place. By reducing the street profiles and referring to the neighbouring development with similar cubature, the connection to the city is enhanced.








09. EVALUATION 9.1. DISCUSSION DQ: How can Polish national identity be characterized through a landmark design intervention at the Parade Square in the capital Warsaw? The results of this thesis presented in this chapter allowed to trigger a fundamental discussion about the significance, contribution and limitations of the study and used methods. THE RELEVANCE OF THE DESIGN RESEARCH cultural problem = cultural dimension


One of the aims of this design research was to bring a debate about the condition of nowadays Polish nation and to propose an alternative solution to the discovered problem. The question whether this project will be built was never my intention. It stresses rather a very important aspect in Polish society nowadays and tries to respond to a current demand on understanding Polish national identity. It tries to raise a debate on Polish understanding of identity and quality of landscape architecture in bringing a delight to such a serious problem which becomes existential for Poles. Understanding of what it means nowadays to be a Pole is a relevant problem in present network society - a new generation of ‘Millenials’ which starts to be on the market and rule the world, without remembering the past, connection to culture and tradition. Today Polish society is in stress about its identity. It is desperately trying to reinvent it again, especially at the time of creeping homogenization and cultural globalisation. As mentioned before, this is not a onetime problem but there is an ongoing identity crisis and constant look for the national identity proven by history. It is a result of Polish turmoil history throughout centuries, where new layers of history, often tragic, were shaping the image of the Polish nation and people’s mentality. Therefore, this design research investigated how the Polish capital could have a forum to better give emotions, directions and understanding of this traumatic period seen as an identity. Warsaw forum is dedicated for Polish sorrows, traumas and complexes. As presented above, it works as a time machine, where past, present and future meets together and interact with each other. The design, however, will not solve the trauma, but it will help Poles to live with it. The concept of the forum helps to organize elements of the memory, especially tragic. According to the shared view of Thompson (2005) and Alexander (2004) the articulation of trauma has to be visualized to better live with it. It is like ‘putting the monster on the pedestal to walk around it’ (Geuze 2017). Architecture alone canTHE GARDEN OF TEARS. LOOKING FOR A POLISH IDENTITY.

not solve the problem with trauma. It does not have enough power to do that. The problem however is visible and in this respect I believe that I can make a difference by providing a design research resulting in a meaningful design synthesis. This design will never be built in its entirety, however its elements could work very well. People always would like to confess, paint, protest. And there is a lack of place for that, therefore forum is a place for people in need. Design is perceived to be multi-meaningful, where new meanings are being created from day to day. The park leaves its own life, being open for interpretations as a good art is. This makes it timeless. Design is experienced differently according to the visitor’s experience to many factors, such as cultural background, sex, age and interests in general, such as taste of art. However everyone can find there something interesting. People who comes form different backgrounds and cultures might find the park intriguing and educating about Polish culture. Moreover, the process of building a culture is an ongoing procedure. Therefore, the design is never finished. People will always carry new meanings and relevant memories, therefore there is a need for such a forum, as a place to welcome new stories to tell. The open-ended concept of the forum allows for further development of the place. It welcomes traumas and complexes, such as the existing Palace of Culture and Science, as one of the symbols of trauma, violating Polish national identity, and other elements, such as the peasant origin. The Palace becoming a part of the forum, and surrounded by skyscrapers, as new trauma of capitalism, started to become neutralized. It cannot dominate, that is why it was reduced and became one of the other buildings in the forum, a next layer of Polish history, a booming capitalism. The developed methodology of looking for a national identification through design means might be relevant for other countries which are lacking clearly defined national identities. Countries which experienced turmoil history similar to Polish, such as the former Yugoslavia countries, Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Slovenia which suffered from recent wars, or former countries behind an ‘Iron Curtain’ of communism, as being under a cultural influence of an oppressor for a longer time. Such countries are still trying to define their identities (see Kucan 2007 and Aceska 2014). Moreover, for post-colonial countries, located in the Middle East, Africa or Asia, which have the same problem with defining their own identity, suffered from introducing foreign culture and symbols over the original culture, this research framework and design approach for national identification might work. Accordingly, designing a national forum, for a national

identification could be an interesting and relevant to help to reinvent their identities. Therefore, the interpretation of the design synthesis as Warsaw’s prototype, using other country’s emotions and specific history, can be researched further. Landscape architecture plays a significant role in being an agent in national identification. Landscape has an ability to reflect and evokes emotions, be a carrier of meanings and therefore be able to represent even so traumatized society as Polish. Landscape design has an ability to reflect Polish wounded soul and transmit notions, such as Catholicism or peasantry. (Urban) landscape surrounds us and influence our state of mind, perception of aesthetics. Itself it is a book which contains information about the culture and societies. Landscape architects by designing urban landscapes unveil parts of the pages showing it to other people. The elements of a design always create a diversity and complexity within them, together influencing each other. Contribution The following design research has shown that articulation of what national identity is and its representation in the physical form is a complex process. There is no one answer to the problem, therefore it can be classified in my view as a wicked problem. However, what motivated me to tackle this issue was the high level of significance of the problem for the entire country. Polish nation is in stress and is desperately trying to find its position in the modern world. This thesis tries to examine the phenomenon of Polish national identity looking at Polish culture and tradition, in order to respond to the ongoing identity crisis present for centuries in Poland, provoked by the turmoil history. The design research results in a physical representation in a form of a landmark as a landscape architectural design in the city center of the capital Warsaw. The research design consisted of many elements Methods Nowadays national identities are deteriorating influenced by growing cultural globalisation and homogenization of values and at the end of entire cities. In order to fully understand the complexity of the subject, research covered many aspects. The physical representation of national identities based on three best worldwide examples in a reference study, led to the conclusion of the forum, a place where the culture can be enhanced and preserved. The concept of the forum, a place which proven by history has a large potential of enhancing culture and cultural values within the society from the ancient times. Lack of physical expressions of Polish national identity in public space, a designated place for such artifacts

Fig. 9.1: Interview for the local television about the situation at the Parade Square in Warsaw (TVP3).

triggered a discussion of how national identity can be recognized. The literature review helped to establish a link between the abstract world of identity to culture and art. Therefore, according to Heidegger’s ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’ (1993), and following Greek word alatheia, meaning the truth as the experience of the obvious, art constituted a fair representation of the nation. Polish nation therefore became a topic of research about Polish culture. The outcome of the research confirmed earlier speculations that Polish identity which experienced tragic history on the unprecedented scale is soaked with the notion of death and trauma. Expressions of art, music, literature and film all represent this notion profoundly. Therefore, having in mind the outcome of the research, I had to look for a suitable place for the Polish forum, which should be representative for the entire nation and should be able to host so delicate, but on the other hand dramatic emotions. After study on the alternative locations, I chose the Parade Square in the city core of Warsaw. Besides its central location in the country and other values to become a landmark site for the representation of the national identity, the city is profoundly filled with the notion of trauma. Layers of trauma, revealed using the framework of semiotics in chapter 5, were a significant motivation for the design. The study of semiotics gave a great deal of understanding of the discovered problem. Looking for a meaning at a difficult site, like Warsaw, needed this approach. Semiotics of the existing physical objects, such as the Palace of Culture and Science, combined with semiotics of the absence, which is represented by the void of the Parade Square, once a lively neighbourhood of Warsaw, gave sufficient results for the discovering the meaning of the site. Moreover, study was based on interviews with city experts which helped to strengten the position. A chosen worldview of social constructivism provided useful framework for the design research. Following the perspective of social constructivism this study is focused on the context, however presented framework is transferable and may be used for other, comparable inquiries (Lenzholzer et al. 2013).




I started this thesis with the fascination of the city of Warsaw and its chaotic structure. Firstly the problem seemed to be purely focused on urban design issue of not having a proper planning tools and vision for the city. However after exploring deeper the subject, I discovered the whole panoply of layers which construct the current image of Warsaw. The research was motivated by the discontinuity of urbanity in Warsaw, due to its dramatic past. It triggered me to understand better the fascinating world of scars, where Warsaw is the prominent example. I observed that each day I had experienced a confirmation of my insights about the traumatic nature of Polish national identity and hopelessness of how to deal with it. Therefore, the problem I stressed in the following thesis confirms my assumptions. The research I conducted seemed to be an ‘urban archeology’ based on the framework of semiotics which looked at the layers of the past, present and future and tried to discover the meaning that is carried along the site. Discovering those layers and their meaning, and applying it in landscape architectural design therefore reminds working as a time machine.

Position as a Polish landscape architect International distance and perspective allowed me to look at Warsaw and the Parade Square from a different angle. Before, I was attached emotionally to the city, I could not see it holistically. The Dutch university and the perspective on landscape and architecture that I had gained within a few years living and working in the Netherlands, influenced the way I think nowadays.

Within my research I observed that the result of such situation in Warsaw is the blurred identity, which first of all is an outcome of the complicated and dramatic history and second, it leads to difficulty to define Warsaw’s specific identity. Furthermore, it leads to the lack of understanding of the city and, at the end, the coherent vision for further development of the city as

From some time I have been involved in the Parade Square, firstly as a schoolboy attending swimming classes at the Palace of Culture and Science and a pupil of the dance academy located at the same building a few floors higher. Therefore my cultural and sport life was always around the Palace and the Parade Square. Now, the same situations concerns thousands

it was stated by many specialists such as Domaradzki (2016), Baraniewski (2014) and Oleński (2014). In the recent years new publications (Warszawa Niezaistniała by Trybuś 2012) and NGO organizations (Bęc Zmiana) tried to bring awareness about the city and its uncertain future, however many Poles, including architects and landscape architects, are still looking for an answer. Therefore the problem lies much deeper than just only in promoting Warsaw as a cultural capital. A much deeper reflection of what is the real problem had to be explored. This thesis tries to reveal this problem, give it a name and tries to find a solution.



Fig. 9.2: The maquette of the site has been a great source of reflection of the design process, and judging the final outcome of the design. Model making helps to look at the design process differently, from many perspectives. Discover project’s strength and limitations (photo and the maquette made by the author).

of children attending classes there. Before, the building and the vast space of the square were just a weird place. However, we grew up in a space influencing our aesthetic values, partly developing our sense of aesthetics. There was no a deeper thought behind this space. The building was a part of everyday life. There is something fascinating about the Palace. Its dominance and the vastness of the square dictate the life of the city. While writing the thesis I have been involved also in a discussion of the development of the Parade Square and shared my views in the local television (Fig. 9.1). REFLECTION ON A DESIGN PROCESS Designing is not a linear thing. Constant reflection and looking back at the origin of the problem, research findings and information gathered on site was a challenging but intriguing process. The iterative design process consisted of many overlapping and repetitive steps, where the concept, context and research insights overlap and interact with each other. Moreover, a design research allows to take a design attitude as soon as possible in the process, and therefore where the design and research go along and interact with each other constantly, they give new insights and sometimes unexpected creative results. For a designer, especially for a landscape architect who is more design oriented, to be academic, the approach of design research is very useful. It merges in a creative way the use of science with a delight of designing with intuition which is inseparably connected to the design process. Subjectivity in this field is inevitable, however by implementing academic reasoning based on solid scientific evidence leads to great results. Landscape architecture is a multidisciplinary profession. This research design shows the complexity of the studied topic of national identity. To explore the complexity of the topic I needed to look at the nature of the problem, which is based on knowledge of many other disciplines, such as social sciences, psychology, art and philosophy. Landscape architecture is a mediator between all of these professions and is able to use the outcomes from each of them to achieve a better, more comprehensive result (insight). The difficulty however lies in the comprehensive understanding of the researched topic which requires a broad knowledge to acquire within a limited time period. It happened to me that at one point I was overwhelmed by the complexity of the site and knowledge I gathered from multidisciplinary literature study. Design research has been motivated by giving a place an identity, illusion and spatial quality for an ongoing debate about Polish trauma, society and culture. Even a very meaningful design can be simple. It is

just about the mere act of putting a guillotine on the square.

9.2. RECOMMENDATIONS Presented design research focused on representing polish nation from a perspective of history and arts. However there is always a space for an improvement and further in depth research. This research characterises Polish identity within three aspects: trauma, Catholicism and peasantry (rural mentality) which consist of the most fundamental values (see chapter 5). The characteristics of Polish national identity could also be researched from a different perspective in order to have a bigger scope on the phenomenon, such as: economic, social or political, which could bring more value to the project. Moreover, collaboration with other specialists from various professions would be an asset. As stated before, this thesis design will never be built. Design research was a way to express and trigger the discussion about the state of Polish national identity. Especially now, at the upcoming anniversary of 100 years of Polish independence in 2018, this discussion in my opinion is very relevant. The network society, a generation of Millenials in general, tend to forget about the past and tradition. To be a global citizen and to have the nomadic nature of changing the surrounding a part of human nature, is good. However, this nomad should not forget whom he is and what is his origin. A tendency to forget about it with the nowadays society of the Internet, where young people are being bombarded with commercials and ongoing speed of life, live in a moment, do not think about the future. Strong reminder about the national origin might provide new perspectives for looking at the world and using it to distinguish themselves from others. However, elements of this design might be used for a real design. In my opinion Polish cultural institutions would be interested in this approach to design and a vision that this thesis presents. It already came to the interest of the local television (TVP3) where I was invited to give a short interview about the condition of Polish urban landscape, especially at the Parade Square in front of the Palace of Culture and Science. This thesis topic was also interesting for other specialists I had a chance to interview.

9.3. LIMITATIONS The aim of this design research was directed towards Polish culture and understanding of the notion of Polish national identity. It refers to the traumatic experiences embedded in Polish history and culture. Ĺ UKASZ K. BÄ&#x201E;KOWSKI MASTER THESIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE


Therefore, the project might be understood best by Poles, because of the context and relation to Polish tradition. Meanings that it carries may be understood differently depending on the culture and the origin of somebody who is experiencing it. Emotions which the project evokes will be possibly experienced mostly by Poles, however it has a broader, general role as an educational tool for everyone, no matter the origin or culture. It is a carrier of universal symbolics referring to the traumatic past, a place dedicated to sorrows, deep reflection and the meaning of life. Understanding culture and related to it cultural and national identity is a subjective and context related topic. Presented framework for looking at national identification problem should be tested by other designs and designers, using the data derived from the specific context related to the topic and the place of investigation. Therefore, the outcome of the following presented methodology will be different, culturally dependent.


Limitations concerning reference study covers the research made only on a base of literature, desk study and photographs without a site visit, mainly due to time constrains and finance. The local visit might influence on the outcome. Moreover, Polish national identity has been characterized in three fundamental elements: Catholicism, peasantry and trauma, however since national identity is perceived as complex and multilayered there are also other elements which might influence this notion. Moreover, these elements might be interpreted in different ways in a physical form of a design. Therefore selective representation and subjectivity of interpretation might be the limitation.


FURTHER REFLECTIONS Why people need a strong symbolic place to cope with trauma? Why the need of articulation Polish identity in the landmark? The design represent a strong meaning of the Polish identity. Traumatic and violent history left an imprint in Polish mentality. It is well illustrated in the poem of Tadeusz Kantor â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Imprintsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, Silent Night which became an inspiration for the design (see chapter 7). Therefore the strong image of trauma is an evocation of history, both from the holistic point of view of the country and the history of the project site itself, and should not be weaker. Revealing the layers and being objective about so deep traumatic events, especially by representing it in a public space, cannot be neglected and simplified. It needs to be articulated equally strong, because only then it could have an impact. The purpose of the design is to make visitors aware of their origin, and to help Poles to deal with their cultural trauma and other complexes. This thesis is an example of how, by means of landscape architecture, it could bring a relief to the traumatized society. Visualizing Polish identity, that is an evocation to dramatic events and Polish complexes by a landscape design, together with praising national culture and its beauty was not an easy task. However this thesis came from the conclusion that to be real about the future, means being real about the past, no matter how tragic it is. To understand it, to find a way to deal with it and to represent it in a landscape design, was a motivation for this design research. Is bold representation not too strong representation not giving any place for reflection? Dictating what to believe in? A landscape architect in design should provide also room for interpretation. Everything should not be over-designed. Landscape architect should keep it simple and develop at first a frame, a basis for the design, especially when dealing with such highly dynamic public space as the Parade Square. There is no possibility to predict all the changes on the site, therefore the room for other future development should be provided. The open-ended design would provide as well a place for future Polish traumas and complexes to fill by the future generations. Therefore, the space for future interpretation is kept. This view is equal to the initial idea of the forum which allows for an open-ended situation.





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Fig. 8.2: Photograph from the lecture of Rem Koolhaas, April 3, 2009, Harvard University, Graduate School of Design (GSD) Fig. 8.9: Life magazine cartoon, 1909






APPENDIX 1 main results of the expert interviews

Bogna Świątkowska The cause of the interview was to find out about the situation in Warsaw both from built and socio-cultural perspective. Mrs Świątkowska is an architectural critic and a jury member for many architectural competitions held in Warsaw. She is also a director of the Fundacja Bęc Zmiana, an NGO organization which promotes cultural activities within the city. Janusz Owsiany Varsavianist and a designer. The interview was taken from the historical perspective, focusing on the city of Warsaw and the site of the Parade Square. Bogdan Wyporek an architect and urbanist with international experience. He is an author of many urban plans and city plans. For more than 40 years he has been involved in spatial development planning in Warsaw. He was a member of the BOS (Biuro Odbudowy Stolicy) [Office for the reconstruction of the capital] which was responsible for rebuilding Warsaw. meeting conducted as a part of the symposium „Co nam zostało z odbudowy?” [What was left of reconstruction?] organized by Muzeum Woli on the 28th May 2015.


Violetta Długosz television reporter, media and cultural life



APPENDIX 2 Polish studies comparison FILM



To Kill a Priest Agnieszka Holland

in this grim period in the history of Poland, the sermon of Father George gave hope to freedom. People crowded into the church for a new dose of optimism and faith that would be better. It was the faith in God that allowed us to survive in these sad and difficult times

Katyń Andrzej Wajda

In the film there is a theme of prayer repeated by Polish officers staying in the internment camp. Many of them carry roses (some of them are made by hand in the camp) and sacred pictures (most often of Our Lady of Czestochowa). This demonstrates the deep faith of the officers and the attachment of Polish elites to the Catholic religion. The words that fall in the film, just after the images of the mass murder, come from Penderecki’s oratorio: “Requiem aeternam dona eis” - an eternal rest, and express a silent trust in God’s justice after death.

Ashes and Diamonds Andrzej Wajda

One of the scenes takes place in a ruined war of the temple, in which hangs the cross turned upside down. It symbolizes the world of inverted values, morally morally corrupted people and the fall of all holiness. Taking in the ruins of the church (the sacred space) deepens the film’s appeal, highlighting its existential issues - it raises the question of the meaning of sacrificing higher goals.


Kanał (Canal) Andrzej Wajda


Pan Tadeusz Adam Mickiewicz

Dziady Adam Mickiewicz

Wesele Stanisław Wyspiański

Chlopi Wladyslaw Reymont

Poland as a lost paradise becomes the object of quasi-religious worship. Mr. Tadeusz is a kind of Bible for the Poles

religion is a very important element. The poet also deals with God, challenging him. But in the end, the concept of Poland as the Christ of the nations appears - it is a very optimistic picture. His most important resonance is the resurrection, which in the end must become a fact. The elements of Christianity presented in the work are: paintings of Black Madonna of Częstochowa and Ostrobramska hanging on the walls of the Polish hut in Bronowice, where there is a wedding of two social classes intelligentsia and peasantry. They symbolize the attachment of the nation to the religion and worship of Black Madonna.

religion pervades all layers of this fascinating story. The characters of the novel are guardian, deeply religious, participate in religious rites, participate collectively in Sunday Masses. People in the hierarchy of the village are directly related to the church. The priest is a true authority, and the organist is an object of interest to the people and the subject of their gossip. The religiosity of peasants is often bordering on pagan beliefs. Faith shapes the whole life of the villagers. They confess all its truths, their life as a stage in the journey leading to eternal life. Pay homage to God as they taught it to the church. All the important moments of life are crowned with presence in the church. In Lipce there are no atheists, unbelievers, hard-working people, humiliating in their humility, deeply believing in the existence of the soul and divine justice.

The poet draws above all the image of the former nobleman. There is also talk of peasants - the main character Tadeusz decides on their emancipation

Drama through symbols recalls the painful history of Poland: Galician slaughter of 1846., during which the peasants slaughtered the Polish nobility. Historical hero Jakub Szela hidden in the form of the Phantom is a symbol of ruthlessness, cruelty and desire for revenge on Polish noblemen. Drama, therefore shows peasants as a social class which cares more about their wellbeing than the good for the country.

peasants are the main characters of this multi-volume novel. They live according to the nature and the rhythm of nature. We can easily see the division of the peasant into three basic classes: the rich (Maciej Boryna), the middle-class (Dominican), the poorest (the farmer of Cuba).

TRAUMA the film is set in Poland during martial law. It was created on the basis of real events connected with the murder of Fr Jerzy Popiełuszko, the priest of Solidarity, who exerted a tremendous influence on the masses enslaved by Poles; Popiełuszko was kidnapped and brutally murdered by the Security Service in 1984. He was only 37 years old. The Katyn massacre, depicted in two perspectives: women waiting for the return of husbands, sons and fathers, and the prospect of officers intercepted by the Soviets in 1939. All but one of the protagonists of Jerzy die in the Katyn forest. George, after years of guilt, commits suicide. On the other hand, widows try to fight the falsity of communist rule, only one of them becomes a new statehood. The tragedy of the nation highlights in the film the last scene of a drastic mass execution on Polish officers. The film creates a collective imagination of Poles as a presentation of the silent truth about the bestial death of Polish military elites made by the Russians. The source of the national tragedy in Wajda’s film is the need to make a deal with communism and punish the Stalinist dignitaries. The main character, AK soldier, Maciek must execute a sentence on the party secretary. The hero is overwhelmed by conflict, because he falls in love with Krystyna on the eve of the performance. He must choose between personal happiness and the good of his country. She is devoted to the national cause - she executes the sentence on the dignitary but she is mortally wounded. Macka’s death scene in the garbage dump symbolizes the “dustbin of history”, the helplessness of man against the cruel history of the nation. The film depicts a democratized picture of the Warsaw Uprising. The action takes place during two days, during which insurgents evacuate by canals to the city center. The director shows acts of sacrifice and heroism (such as a small insurgent taking a heavy rifle) but does not conceal humanity, egoism, desire to survive at the expense of others. Wajda shows the insurgents not like heroes, but raises questions to the viewer: Does making a sacrifice of life on the altar of the fatherland make sense? national epithet of Mr. Tadeusz is a kind of antidote to social moods, to doubt and despair. Mickiewicz brings up the images of the old Poland to refresh the hearts of the Poles; he wants to take his mind off the everyday life of the stigmatized history. It is a painful search for lost homeland The third part of “Dziady” was written after the defeat of the November Uprising. The stigma of slavery and the associated trauma imposed on the fate of the characters. The poet shows here the inner fire of our society, thanks to which the desire for liberation will never pass. The biggest trauma in Wyspiański’s view is the inability to mobilize the nation to fight for the freedom of the homeland. Drama overthrows national myths: the myth of the peasant (Piast), the myth of fraternization, the myth of the intelligentsia, the myth of the Polish estate. The painful tone of the drama emphasizes the final scene of the chochol dance - the symbol of marasmism and the lack of readiness of Poles to fight for national liberation. So bitter truth about the nation included in the drama and shown at the theatre in Cracow in 1901 made Poles cry during the premiere, realizing the national shortcomings.


Jacek Malczewski Polish Hamlet

The background of the painting represent a typical Polish countryside landscape. Women are in traditional costumes. They are the personification of Poland.

Jacek Malczewski Melancholy

In the crowd, the Catholic priest blesses the fighting character. In front of the visible dead man with the church banner (in this context, the entire scene becomes simultaneously a religious procession) and a monk with an hourglass - as a reference to the Latin memento mori (“remember of death”).

Józef Chełmoński Krzyż w zadymce

Road crosses, often at crossroads, are a typical feature of the Polish landscape. The cross against the snow is a symbol of unrelenting faith. A theme related to the Catholic religion and traditional Polish spirituality

Ziemia” Ferdynand Ruszczyc 1898

Plowman - a small dark figure stubbornly chasing the whip two pretty massive oxen. The painted figures are blending with, equally darkly painted ground, under an extremely suggestively painted sky with huge clouds. Human effort and willpower in confrontation with the power of nature. This painting, on the one hand, realistic - has a fantastic, visional character. The full title of the picture is: “Stańczyk at the ball at the court of Queen Bona against the lost Smolensk”. The title character is “The wise clown” of King Zygmunt I-go Old (Matejko’s self-portrait). The Royal Clown is associated with a very funny character, who serves to cheer. This is serious, reflective. Clown - a philosopher pondering the fate of Poland. There is a document on the table about the occupying part of the Muscovite army. At the same time, people deciding the fate of the country are playing with carelessness behind the closed door of the chamber. The comet seen outside the window is a sign of the inevitable catastrophes and misfortunes. Paintings (8 canvases) are devoted to the subject of street executions, with which the painter encountered during the Second World War. He gave evidence of the genocide of the Polish civilian population by the German occupant. Painting referring to the trauma of genocide during World War II. The woman embraces her dead baby. Small, naked and defenseless - symbolizes an innocent victim. The picture depicts the misery of the peasantry (the lowest social class) in the Polish countryside of the 19th century. It shows poorly clothed parents sitting outside the hut along the wall on which the lid of their child’s light blue coffin is positioned.

Matejko Stańczyk

Andrzej Wróblewski Executions (1948-49)

Andrzej Wróblewski Executions (1948-49) (Woman with the child)

Aleksander Gierymski Trumna chłopska (1894 - 1895)

Józef Chełmoński 1896 Orka


Fryderyk Chopin Étude Op. 10, No. 12, also known as “Revolutionary Étude” or the “Étude on the Bombardment of Warsaw”

The picture depicts two different visions of the Polish nation during the Partitions. There are three figures in it: Hamlet - who in the famous monologue “be or not be” contemplates the meaning and value of existence, the old woman in chains - as a symbol of many years of bondage, resignation and doubt, and a young woman who broke the chains and is a hope of freedom It concerns the loss of Polish independence and national insurrections during the partitions. From the canvas of a painter sitting at an easel, a crowd of human characters is poured into the space of the human body in a fervent rapture, including: children changing into adolescence, then in adult insurgents, clergy, convicts and artists, and then in the elderly. Their attributes are: scythe, saber, rifle, but also violin, brush, book. Their heroic struggle ends in failure and death. The title melancholy is a pity over the futile effort and destruction of patriotic generations. The interior of the studio symbolizes slavery, and the space behind the window is a dream of freedom.

Catholic motif is a simple white Catholic cross on a blue coffin.

This work shows the effort of working on the role. Peasant plowed with two oxen. Despite the sunset and visible fatigue, the work continues.

Composed in 1831. after the fall of the November Uprising. Chopin could not take part of the Uprising, because he had been living in emigration in Paris. The insurrection of the insurgents caused the pain, defeat, disappointment in the composer and prompted the creation of a piece that would sustain the spirit of struggle of the nation.




Profile for Lukasz Bakowski

THE GARDEN OF TEARS. A design research for Polish National Forum: in looking for Polish identity.  

MSc landscape architecture graduation project

THE GARDEN OF TEARS. A design research for Polish National Forum: in looking for Polish identity.  

MSc landscape architecture graduation project