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Warsaw. Reconstruction of the center of Warsaw, time travel thanks to a smartphone

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Just stand at a given point in Warsaw and use your smartphone to see what this place looked like less than a hundred years ago. The effect will shock many people, because almost everything has changed at the intersection of Aleje Jerozolimskie and Marszałkowska.

More than 10 years have passed since Tomasz Gomoła and Ernest Rogalski digitally reconstructed Warsaw in 1935. The flight over the virtually recreated Prudential, Mirowski Halls, the Great Synagogue, the Saxon Palace and the Art Nouveau tenement houses of Śródmieście made a huge impression (although there were voices that it idealized the pre-war capital in spirit of the far-fetched thesis about Paris of the North). Today, only a few DVD owners can find out about it, because “Warszawa 1935” is not available online. The film is a rarity on auction portals.

The main creators also parted ways. They made an even smaller production commissioned by PGNiG (it mainly showed the rotundas of the Warsaw Gasworks and Kercelak). And that's it.

– Things started to grind to a halt in the team, so I decided to leave the company that produced the film – recalls Ernest Rogalski. Today, he works mainly in the construction industry, but he has not completely abandoned his activity in the field of digital reconstruction. Together with their former colleagues, they did some interesting things, including: VR reconstruction of Piłsudski Square for the Saski Palace company and a multi-sensory exhibition “Retro Warsaw” for the Norblin Factory.

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Now he is focusing on Virtual Journey. Together with three people, he is finishing work on a two-minute film using Virtual Reality 360 technology. The video will be posted on YouTube and will be available for free. It will show the intersection of Aleje Jerozolimskie and Marszałkowska Street in the 1930s.

Digital reconstruction of the center of WarsawVirtual Journey

One common point with pre-war Warsaw

Thanks to your smartphone, the film will take you back in time. However, for the full effect to take place, you will have to stand at a specific point – near the elevator to the underground passage under the Dmowskiego roundabout, in the corner next to the Metropol hotel. Why there?

– We needed a reference point. And the nearby Polonia hotel was the only facility in close proximity to the intersection that remained in its original form – explains Rogalski.

If you stand in this place and turn in any way, you will see the same place on your smartphone screen, but it will look the same as it did a hundred years ago, maintaining the right distance to the objects. There will be cars and trams appropriate to the era on the streets. The time will be morning, the weather will be sunny and stormy, because the city is nicely reflected in the puddles.

You turn around with your smartphone, what do you see?

By pointing the phone at the Rotunda, we will see Lothe's tenement house, not just any old one, with a façade styled like the Louvre. In the corner we will see the Żywiec restaurant, and on the roof there is a double-leaf neon sign with a simple message: DRINK BEER ŻYWIECKIE. Take the phone to the left and in the “pan” area in front of the Centrum metro station you will see the tower of the Warsaw-Vienna Railway Station. On the other side of Jerozolimskie we see the above-mentioned Polonia hotel, an equally impressive tenement house attached to it at number 37, and a much more modest corner building – the station designer Henryk Marconi lived here. Then we turn left, and in place of the tall building of the Novotel, we see a beautiful tenement house designed by Witold Lanci – at the bottom there is the Orbis office, at the top there is an illuminated advertisement for Telefunken radios.

Apart from technology, what else is needed to create pre-war Warsaw? Only photos. – In our experience, one photo is enough, if it is detailed. Of course, the further away something is, the less detail is needed. But if we “approach” the building itself, we have to get very good references to reflect the details – explains Ernest Rogalski and adds that everything is created without the use of artificial intelligence.

Digital reconstruction of the center of WarsawVirtual Journey

Approach and talk to a resident of Warsaw from years ago

The second point that he and his team intend to recreate is Bankowy Square. In this case, the “time machine” will be near Fat Kaśka. And what next? Depends on technological progress. – I can imagine that in 20-30 years you will be able to not only stand, but also walk along Marszałkowska Street, and maybe even stop at someone walking on the sidewalk and talk to them – Rogalski muses.

The exact release date of the film is currently unknown, but it is likely this summer. The creators report the progress of their work on their Facebook profile Virtual Journey.

Author:Piotr Bakalarski

Main photo source: Virtual Journey

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