During urban planning workshops, a concept of changes for Iron Gate Square was developed. Architects, social activists and residents propose that the parking lot in front of the Lubomirski Palace be turned into a French garden with a fountain. A pedestrian crossing would also be marked in the Saxon Axis.
– We want to change Żelazna Brama Square. And restore the pedestrian crossing on Oś Saska, which led from the Za Żelazną Bramą estate through Marszałkowska to the main avenue of the Saski Garden towards Piłsudski Square – says Marlena Happach, director of the Office of Architecture and Spatial Planning, quoted in the town hall’s announcement.
The crossing with traffic lights would be 13 to 16 meters wide, with a bicycle crossing on its northern side, and would continue the existing pedestrian axis of the Saska Axis. There are to be more trees and mineral surfaces at Żelazna Brama Square. There would also be a place for meetings and sculpture installations, a stage and fountains.
The Iron Gate Square was bustling with commercial life
“The working concept of the new development of the square was developed together with the residents of Warsaw, including the nearby Za Żelazną Bramą housing estate. Experts and officials responsible for, among others, greenery, roads and monuments also participated in the live design at tables during charrette workshops. and all interested parties. The workshops, which took place on December 2-13, were conducted by an experienced team from the MAU Architecture & Urbanism studio,” the capital city hall said.
The head of the MAU studio, architect Maciej Mycielski, recalled that before the war this part of the city with Iron Gate Square and the Lubomirski Palace had a completely different character.
– It was densely built up with tenement houses and commercial facilities. There was life, trade, culture, meetings, with direct access to the Saski Garden – through the Iron Gate (today the place where the gate stood between the two roads of Marszałkowska – ed.) – said Mycielski. – On both sides of this square, excluding it, there was a ghetto – part of the ghetto border is marked on the pavement on the southern side near Mirowski Park. It should be noted that there is no trace of the former square, but its extraordinary history should be recalled and commemorated. The Saxon Axis, the history of the reconstruction of the Lubomirski Palace, and the Kościuszko monument give this place an additional new identity – he recalled.
A French-style garden instead of a parking lot
In the developed proposal, a great change would take place between the classicist palace itself and the monument to Tadeusz Kościuszko. The city parking lot located there today would be transformed into a representative and green space. Instead of a parking lot, the MAU studio proposes a geometric garden in the French style. There could be a fountain in its central part.
In the “green pocket” – north of it – the architects suggest placing an attractive sculptural installation – a rotating model of the nearby palace, which originally stood diagonally to the Guard hall. It was only rotated in 1970 to enclose the Saxon Axis in its central part.
At the back of the plinth of the Tadeusz Kościuszko monument, the architects propose a stage for theater performances, dances and intimate concerts with a view of the fountain and the Lubomirski palace. On the northern side of Kościuszko and closer to Przechodnia Street, there is a place for a recreational clearing with picnic tables.
The symbolic return of “Fat Josek” from Gnojna
Picnic tables are also planned south of the stage, closer to Mirowski Park. A bench with a sculpture of “Fat Josek” would remind us that before the war, there was a tavern in the tenement house at Żelazna Brama Square, on Rynkowa (formerly Gnojna) Street. It was run by a Hasid of enormous stature – Józef Ładowski. “Fat Josek” was immortalized in the ballad “Bal na Gnojnej” sung by subsequent generations, with music composed by Fanny Gordon.
In the central and green space of Żelazna Brama Square, a pond with seats, deckchairs, a recreational clearing, ping-pong and chess tables could be created.
The border of the green and attractive space of the square would be marked by a wooden pergola with vines. It would provide cover from the large parking lot that serves residents of nearby apartment blocks. A similar pergola is planned at the intersection of Ptasia and Przechodnia streets, where urban planners propose a quiet intersection with a roundabout.
Main photo source: UM Warszawa/MAU Architectural Studio