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Warsaw. All that remained of Ryszard Kapuściński’s house was a sad wall

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The renovation of Finnish houses in Pole Mokotowskie is delayed. Officials report that they were forced to change the reconstruction concept, which originally assumed the use of original fragments. After demolition, it turned out that all building elements were in very poor technical condition and were not suitable for re-use.

Only two houses from a large colony in Pole Mokotowskie, near the National Library, have survived to this day. As luck would have it, one of the surviving wooden cottages is the building where the outstanding reporter and writer Ryszard Kapuściński lived. Both were in terrible condition. Less than two years ago, the Warsaw Council allocated PLN 2 million for their renovation.

A wall supported by boards collapsed

Both houses were partially demolished. There are only two walls left from the one where Kapuściński lived. Until recently, both were supported by boards. Now only one is standing, the other one has collapsed. A fragment of the corner of the building has survived from the second building (it is still vertical).

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There is no information on the site about ongoing construction works, nor a sign – which would be more appropriate in this case – warning that the standing fragments are at risk of collapse. The makeshift fence erected during the renovation, made of wooden posts and wire, also did not stand the test of time and is torn in many places.

There are single bricks and rubbish lying around the remains of wooden houses, and there are clearly visible cracks in the concrete foundations.

They won’t build anything from old elements

Renovation works are carried out under the supervision of a conservator. Is this what they should look like?

– From the beginning, we assumed the option of using some of the materials that would be classified as reusable during demolition. Unfortunately, after the dismantling of the Finnish houses, it turned out that they were not suitable for re-use – informs Karolina Kwiecień-Łukaszewska, spokeswoman for the Greenery Board. – Some of the best-preserved elements will be transferred to the Warsaw Office of the Conservator of Monuments, which may use these elements as part of the exhibition – adds the spokeswoman.

The concrete foundations of the houses are also in poor technical condition and require reinforcements. – Unfortunately, this also resulted in the postponement of the renovation deadline – admits Kwiecień-Łukaszewska.

Work on the project, delay

According to the first assurances of officials, the renovation of the houses was to be completed in mid-2023.

– We are currently at the stage of refining minor changes in the design and accepting them with the designers, and we will immediately start working on their reconstruction – says Karolina Kwiecień-Łukaszewska. He assures that the work is scheduled to be completed by the end of June this year.

The renovated houses are to be used for social, cultural, educational and artistic purposes. The one where Ryszard Kapuściński lived is to become the center of the reportage.

This is what renovated Finnish houses are supposed to look likeCity Hall

There were 160, only two left

Ryszard Kapuściński was a reporter, publicist, poet and photographer. He worked for the Polish Press Agency as a permanent foreign correspondent in Africa, Latin America and Asia. His books have been translated into many languages ​​​​of the world. He is one of the fathers of the Polish school of reportage.

He died on January 23, 2007 at the age of 74. He was buried in the Avenue of Merit at the Powązki Military Cemetery.

“This cramped house without a bathroom, without central heating was a luxury, it was happiness, because until then we had been living in a tiny kitchen, in ruins, in the area of ​​cement and brick warehouses at Srebrna Street,” Kapuściński wrote in an essay, which is a description of a morning walk around Pole Mokotowskie.

Wooden Finnish houses were donated to Warsaw in 1945 by the Soviet Union. At the peak, there were over 160 of them in Pole Mokotowskie.

The largest preserved cluster of Finnish houses is the Jazdów estate in Śródmieście. In the discussion about the future of this place, there are arguments about the need to renovate the houses also in this part of the city.

Finnish houses in Pole Mokotowskie before demolition (May 2020)Mateusz Szmelter, tvnwarszawa.pl

Author:Artur Węgrzynowicz

Main photo source: Artur Węgrzynowicz / tvnwarszawa.pl

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