During the work on Plac Defilad, among other things, the floor of one of the tenement houses that stood before the war in the place where Plac Centralny is being built was unearthed. Despite unfavorable weather conditions, archaeological works are still being carried out there.
The construction of Central Square began in June. This is the central part of Plac Defilad on the axis of Złota Street. In front of the entrance to the Palace of Culture and Science – as announced by the Municipal Roads Authority – there will be less concrete and asphalt. There will be over 100 new trees, lawns and a low pond. The green, orderly and resident-friendly space is being created with respect for the city’s history. The irregular arrangement of sidewalks and greenery reproduces the network of ancient streets and the outline of buildings. After World War II, the remains of the tenement houses were demolished to make way for the Palace of Culture and Science.
As work progresses on the construction of Central Square, large fragments of the pre-war city are emerging from the ground in the central part of Defilad Square. At this point, downtown Warsaw was densely built-up. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, this area was filled with tall Art Nouveau tenement houses. There were about 180 residential buildings there. After the war, the tenement houses and their remains in this area were demolished and the entire area was covered with rubble.
Workers also discover unique fragments of pavement and old buildings. So far, tram tracks, cobbled roads, granite curbs, as well as the remains of tenement houses and traces of house basements have been uncovered. As part of the construction of Central Square, excavations were also carried out underground of the honorary tribune, which once served communist dignitaries. Some parts of the buildings are even two meters below the current ground level.
More discoveries by archaeologists
The finds are – as in every such case – examined by archaeologists. The latest discovery is the floor of one of the tenement houses, probably secondary, provisionally laid after the war. However, this will be assessed on site by a team of specialists.
Currently, works on the construction of Central Square are focused primarily on securing the excavation for the retention tank located closest to Marszałkowska Street and the future seat of the Museum of Modern Art. In total, water reservoirs were planned there, placed about seven meters underground. They will be used to collect rainwater, which will be used to irrigate the new greenery in the square. The tanks will be made of prefabricated elements. A specially developed system will allow for ongoing control of their filling. When the tanks are empty, the greenery will be watered with city water, but water from the “second circuit” will always be used first.
At the same time, archaeological research is being carried out on the excavated fragments of the tenement house located between the MSN and the honorary stand. This work should be completed this week. It will culminate in a report on the basis of which road workers will wait for permission from the Masovian Voivodeship Conservator of Monuments to demolish the inventoried structures. Additionally, earthworks are underway. What was excavated from other parts of the square is also taken away.
Archaeological research of old tenement houses
“This week we should start archaeological research of the former tenement houses colliding with the remaining retention reservoirs located between the honorary stand and the Palace of Culture. We will also soon start works related to the reconstruction of the water pipeline in the part of the square located closer to the planned TR Warszawa Theater building,” road workers announce in a press release.
ZDM also selected a company that will carry out comprehensive archaeological research. They will consist in identifying and documenting discovered relics revealed during archaeological supervision. The contractor will have to inventory them and describe them in detail. “It is a unique opportunity today to once again see live what the center of the capital looked like before World War II with a dense network of streets and tenement houses. At the same time, it is necessary to continue the full scope of construction works” – says ZDM.
Two companies entered the tender. The road builders took into account not only the proposed price for the work, but also the experience of the archaeological research manager assigned to carry out the order.
“A more favorable offer was submitted by Asinus Igor Maciszewski. It demanded PLN 1,027,945.44 for its works. The competitor – Monuments, Research, Projects, Realizations, Michał Grabowski, Archeology, Architecture, Law – wanted PLN 1,175,683.20. Now chosen by “The contractor has six months to complete the order,” they announce.
The square floor is made of six types of stones
Without these works, it would not be possible to continue the work on transforming the concrete Defilad Square into a green space with trees, bushes and a pond. The construction of Central Square is coordinated with the construction of the nearby Museum of Modern Art. Most of the MSN facilities are located in the future square. The works were planned so as not to interfere with each other.
The square’s floor – designed by architects from the AA Collective studio – will be made of six types of stones. The outlines of the old tenement houses will be made of large-format stone slabs in various colors: gray and red. The former courtyards will be paved with reused granite cubes and supplemented with granite slabs from the area of the honorary stand. “The area of the square will be approximately 23,000 square meters. For comparison: Pięciu Rogów Square has only 3.5 thousand square meters” – say road engineers.
The construction of Central Square is consistent with the assumptions of the program New Center of Warsaw. According to the announcements of the mayor of the capital, Rafał Trzaskowski, the very center of the city will become a place worth coming to and spending time here. There will be less concrete and asphalt in front of the Palace of Culture and Science, and over a hundred new trees will appear, such as: black locusts, ashes, gledicias, dogwoods, blackberries, maidenhair trees and magnolias, as well as thousands of shrubs. More than 40 species of bulbs and perennials will be planted, lawns will be created, as well as a low pond in the north-western part of the square.
Main photo source: ZDM