idzioreks in warsaw!

March 27, 2008

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the third and final stop on my trip was warsaw, where i was able to meet some distant idziorek relatives. they kindly invited me into their home for the holiday and fed me wonderful food. i stayed with jerzy and anya (in the foreground) and was able to meet their son, daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. they also showed me around warsaw and were able to share many stories about the city and about poland. i had a fantastic time, and can’t thank them enough for their hospitality. my dad says that i’m the first idziorek to return to poland since his great-grandfather emigrated to america in the late 1800s, so i’m glad that i had this opportunity to meet the polish idzioreks. the photo above is of delicious easter breakfast with the whole family in jerzy and anya’s home.

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antosch passes the bread at breakfast/”the idzioreks” in polish (“owie” makes it plural)

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the first stop on my tour of warsaw was the wilanów palace, which was built for king john iii sobieski, a great ruler of poland who stabilized the polish-lithuanian commonwealth and defeated the turkish army in the battle of vienna. it was modeled after an italian villa, and is a blending of baroque and renaissance elements. after sobieski’s death, the building was owned by many great polish families, and has also functioned both as a museum and as a temporary residence for important guests of state.

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jerzy took this photo of me in front of the monument to polish composer frederic chopin. this was in lazienkowski park, which had beautiful trees and a few early crocuses.

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a reconstruction of warsaw’s old city walls in the stare miasto (or “old town”). warsaw’s historic center is also a unesco world heritage site (yes, i saw three such designated city centers on my brief easter vacation!). although it was originally established in the 13th century, the stare miasto was almost completely destroyed (more or less leveled) during the german invasion of 1939. the city made the decision after the end of wwii to completely reconstruct the old town just as it had been before the war, using surviving architectural drawings of what had existed there before. there’s lots more to this story (and a great chapter devoted to it in anthony m. tung’s book, “preserving the world’s great cities”), but for now i’ll leave it at this – it was a controversial decision that has caused a lot of discussion about the authenticity of the city center and the quality of the workmanship used in the reconstruction. however, it is today a lovely area and i think that the city would feel very empty without this physical reminder of its pre-wwii past. but i digress.

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the barbakan, built in 1548, that used to control entrance through the city’s double walls/colorful buildings on plac zamkowy, or “castle square”

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rynek starego miasta, the old town market square – colorful buildings with beautiful decoration/me with the polish idzioreks in rynek starego miasta

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another view of plac zamkowy – the column on the left of the photo holds the statue of sigismund iii wasa (a native swede), and was erected by his son, founder and king wladyslaw iv/view of the statue from below – it’s the oldest secular statue in poland

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st. anne’s church in the stare miasto, where jerzy and anya were married

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the monument to the warsaw uprising on krasinski square. the polish resistance against german occupation began on august 1, 1944 and lasted for 63 days. there is disagreement about the number of deaths that occurred, but likely more than 200,000 polish civilians and soldiers were killed during the fighting.

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monument to the little insurgent, another tribute to the 1944 uprising and the many children that were actively involved in the fighting/monument to józef piłsudski, marshall and key figure in the regaining of poland’s independence in 1918 (after having been partitioned for more 123 years)

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the presidential palace, home of the republic’s leaders since 1994 (also the location of the signing of the warsaw pact in 1955, during the cold war)

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church of the visitation sisters, and a monument to great polish poet adam mickiewicz

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view from the stare miasto toward’s warsaw’s downtown – the tower in the center of the photograph is the “palace of culture and science,” a 760-foot-tall gift from stalin to the city of warsaw/st. anne’s church in wilanow, near the palace

historic kraków

March 26, 2008


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like vienna, kraków’s old town (or stare miasto) is listed as a unesco world heritage site. kraków was the capital of poland until the late 16th century, when warsaw took over. wawel castle, (above and below) was the royal residence during kraków’s time as the seat of power.

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the path up wawel hill to the castle/wawel cathedral up close…a number of polish kings and saints are buried here (also i liked the aesthetic of the two chapels – identical in form, but different in material)

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interior of the wawel castle courtyard/there have been human settlements on wawel hill since the paleolithic age (i’m sure these ruins aren’t from that time, but show how layered the history of this spot is)

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a view of the vistula, poland’s great river, from wawel hill

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view over the rooftops of kraków

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colorful streets!

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lots of plazas and nice urban spaces – notice the guy on the bike in the left-hand photo

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i particularly liked this square – the installation was done by the polish design firm lewicki and latak. the space with its bronze chairs is a tribute to the tragic fate of 63,000 of kraków’s jews that were exterminated from the ghetto in 1943.

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the designers chose the chair forms because they recalled historic photographs of the city’s jewish population in exodus, carrying their belongings with them – everyday objects, even furniture. the chairs evoke a feeling of emptiness, and also provide a place to sit and think in this powerful space.

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some beautiful building details

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statuary in front of st. peter and paul’s cathedral

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the barbakan, or old city gate

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a ring of parks (called planty) now stand in the place of the former city walls, and encircle kraków’s historic center (this is also how vienna’s inner ring boulevards came to be)

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there seems to be a really great tram system in kraków, though i didn’t ride any while i was there/this bar had the best name, one i’ll use some day if me and joe ever open up a place – the ‘alkohole’

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a green building that i liked/one of the only obviously contemporary buildings that i saw in the center, and an interesting use of upended brick

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i liked the colors on these two buildings

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rynek glówny, kraków’s main square, is the largest medieval european marketplace (it’s about 40,000 square meters in area and dates back to the 13th century). the main building (center) is the sukiennice, or “cloth hall” and was once a meeting and trading place for merchants from around the world (today it houses souvenir stands). rynek glówny was also #1 on the project for public spaces list in 2005…!

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there was an easter market going on while i was there, which was really fun

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lovely buildings in rynek glówny

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horse-drawn carriages waiting at the edge of the square/the tower is all that remains of the town hall, which was demolished in order to make more space in the square

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this rather sleepy lion guards the tower…while sunbathing

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rynek glówny in the evening, just before i boarded the night train to warsaw…

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two days was not enough time for vienna. guess that’s what i get for trying to divide my short easter break among three cities…next time i’ll know better. : ) one fun thing about my visit was getting to meet some very distant idziorek cousins, michal and maciej, who are studying in vienna – they gave me a quick insider’s tour of the city center and we enjoyed some native wienerschnitzel. 😉 very fun. i had some fairly wet, rainy/snowy weather while i was in vienna, so i’m not sure that my photos really do justice to how picturesque the city center is (it’s actually designated as a unesco world heritage site)! i could probably go on for a while about how great the streets were and how each building was lovelier than the next and how of course so much amazing music and art comes from such an inspiring environment…but i have lots of photos to show, so:

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horse-drawn carriage with the rathaus in the background

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i think the highlight of my stay in vienna was fulfilling a young katie’s wish to see the lippizaners at the spanish riding school. i got a tour of the stables and also got to watch the morning exercises set to classical music. photos weren’t really allowed, but i snuck a few – this is supposed to be the most beautiful indoor riding arena in the world, and used to serve as an occasional ballroom for various austrian monarchies. this is where the lipizzaners train to do a kind of ‘equestrian ballet’ that was derived from the breed’s past as cavalry horses. okay, enough about horses…now for buildings! : )

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the ‘inner ring’ of vienna, a series of connected boulevards that encircle the historic center. i walked the circle – lots of beautiful trees, lanes for biking…there’s even a tram that follows the ring. excellent street.

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while following the ring, i took a detour to the stadtpark, where i was lucky enough to catch a patch of blue sky.

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i also visited the art history museum, which was fantastic!

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the dome over the entrance hall at the art history museum

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more museum interior…i saw an excellent exhibit of arcimboldo’s work here.

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exterior and interior of stefansdom, vienna’s most famous cathedral. i love the pattern on the ceramic tiled roof!

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it was a rainy day in vienna.

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i ran across otto wagner’s majolikahaus, which was designed as part of the viennese jugendstil movement. the facade is covered completely floral patterns of tiles…so beautiful!

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not far away was something completely different (it kind of reminds me of a wedding cake, like you could just eat the icing off of the facade…)

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the ‘downtown’ center of vienna, where the serious shopping was to be had…an interesting mix of older and more modern buildings (that’s hans hollein’s haas haus on the left).

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i was very excited to see otto wagner’s austrian postal savings bank, even if it was snowing a bit.

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exterior bank details: angel with laurels, detail showing the (decorative and functional!) aluminum rivets that attach the marble plates to the building facade.

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i got stuck inside the building during one of the day’s snowier moments, but it was great to spend some time checking out all of the neat steel and glass interior details.

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the city is full of ornate statuary: the pestsäule, devoted to victims of the plague; and the fountain at michaelerplatz

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more statuary: a tribute to josef haydn; fountain in the neuermarkt

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i of course had to visit the secession pavilion.

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it was designed in 1898 by joseph maria olbrich as a temple to the arts…inside is the absolutely incredible beethoven frieze by klimt, a tribute to the composer’s ‘ode to joy.’

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detail of exterior decoration of the secession pavilion…the owls are apparently symbols of pallas athena, the goddess of wisdom, victory and the industrial arts.

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i also took the metro a little ways out of the city center to visit prater, vienna’s famous amusement park, and the riesenrad, the giant ferris wheel that has become an icon of the city since it was erected in 1897 (to celebrate the 50th anniversary of franz-joseph’s coronation).

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i also got off the metro at the stop on the ‘donauinsel,’ the island in the danube (the metro stop was actually on the bridge over the river, which i thought was kind of cool). thought i should see the great danube as long as i was so close…

and a slide show to finish: this was just a ‘random’ block of buildings that i happened to walk by…i photographed them in order, just as they are on the street. i thought maybe it could help to show how beautiful and ornate many of the buildings in vienna’s center are:

not quite spring…

March 17, 2008

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my friend, cat, and i found this beautiful bed of purple crocuses (croci?) at kongens have on saturday. i thought it made a lovely patterned lawn with rosenborg slot in the background. (i call this post “not quite spring” for two reasons…#1: i’ve been told that this is the actual name of a season in denmark, to be followed by “not quite summer;” #2: even as i post this green, flowery springtime photo, it has begun to snow outside…)

this week i took a seminar at school called “typology of dwelling,” part of which was to take a one-day field trip to different parts of copenhagen, looking at new ideas in housing projects. our professors rented a bus, and we stopped at seven different developments, all either under construction or built within the last few years. the focus of the course was to consider each project at different scales of organization (the urban plan, the single dwelling, the building structure, and the detail) as well as ways in which the different projects might be equipped to handle change over time. it was a really fun trip…here are my photos from the projects that we visited:

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#1: Oxford Gardens, Amager (Bplus Arkitekter)

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these were rowhouses done on an extremely tight budget. i thought the spaces were really nice, but the detailing, not so much. but i guess that’s what suffers when there’s not a lot of money to be had. a really nice couple let us onto their roof balcony so that we could get an aerial view.

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#2: VM Mountain Dwellings, Ørestad (BIG, formerly PLOT)

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(libby, these are for you…) the vm mountain is progressing nicely! i didn’t have time on this trip, but i plan to go back to see the model unit that they have on the site. the idea with this building is that each unit gets its own private view and garden…and the parking is contained underneath the units (behind the screen with the mountain graphic on it, lower right photo). i’ve heard that even the parking space is supposed to be pretty impressive (“cathedral-like,” even!). we’ll see…hope it’s finished before i leave.

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#3: VM Houses, Ørestad (JDS Architects, formerly PLOT)

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one of my favorites, mostly because of the funky balconies. the two apartment buildings look like the letters “v” and “m” in plan, hence the name. these are right next door to the vm mountain and were finished several years ago. i’ve been here before, but this time i got to sneak inside and take photos of the (very yellow) hallways. : )

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#4: Tietgen Dormitory, KUA (Lundgaard + Tranberg) tietgen1.jpg

another copenhagen favorite. this is probably the nicest dorm i’ve ever seen. a friend of a friend lives here now, so i’m going to have to try to arrange an interior visit. the manager of the building told us that the architects had no budget for this project – a dream come true! i like the organization of the building – all of the common spaces face the interior of the “donut,” while the individual student rooms are on the outside of the ring to maximize views and privacy.

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#5: Fyrtårnet, Amerika Plads (Lundgaard + Tranberg)

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although this project is named “the lighthouse” after the tall tower, it is actually a combination of high-rise and townhouse-type apartments. i would definitely move into one of the townhouse units that we visited – an excellent view of the train tracks (above)…with extra sound-proofing.

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#6: Sluseholmen, Sydhavnen (various architects, see Sluseholmen site)

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the last project we visited is almost an exact copy of a dutch project that i’ve visited, the eastern docklands in amsterdam. they even brought in the same master planner to do the initial design…and proceeded to create eight new islands in the south harbour in order to create that dutch, canal-like atmosphere. i guess i don’t really like that the idea was just transplanted, but the houses seem to be selling out. the photo above is of one of the finished areas (the photo on the lower right shows a new canal yet to be flooded).

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last night i visited the rundetårn again with some friends – this time to visit the observatory at the top of the tower. unfortunately, it was a bit too cloudy to see either the moon or saturn, but the view of the city was nonetheless fantastic (photo disclaimer: not as crisp as i’d like, but still not bad for a 10-second hand-held exposure…)

københavns bymuseum

March 7, 2008

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went to the copenhagen city museum in the very fun neighborhood of vesterbro today with some friends…the museum was an urban designer/planner’s paradise for information about the city, and it had lots of models, including ‘the model city,’ above (no indoor photos for me today). here’s the excerpt from the københavns bymuseum site about the outdoor model:

“When you visit the Museum of Copenhagen you are welcomed by a model of medieval Copenhagen. The model, which was created in the 1940s, is the oldest outdoor city model in Scandinavia. The model depicts Copenhagen around 1530, that is in Catholic times, and therefore the city is characterized by many churches and monasteries. Recently the model city has been thoroughly restored.”