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Warsaw. There was a sanatorium and the Luftwaffe headquarters here. Conservation research of the building at Żwirki i Wigury 41

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The modernist building at 41 Żwirki i Wigury Street looks inconspicuous, but it has an amazing history. From the Kotarski couple’s house, through the sanatorium, to the Luftwaffe headquarters. – Before the planned renovation, we commissioned conservation research – announced the capital’s conservator of monuments, Michał Krasucki.

The building was built in 1925-1930 for Aleksandra and Zygmunt Kotarski. It was designed by Władysław Nałęcz-Raczyński, an architect working in Ochota. In the 1930s, the building was rented as a private facility for the treatment of mental and neurological diseases. In the years 1935-1939, the “Anima” sanatorium for children operated there, headed by Dr. Helena Flatau. During World War II, the facility was occupied by the Luftwaffe.

Building at Żwirki i Wigury 41 in WarsawUM Warsaw

Modernist form, amazing location

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“The house has a very interesting, modernist form, consisting of cuboid shapes of various sizes. There are no recesses with balconies on the front elevation (visible in photos from the 1940s) – they have been bricked up with ordinary windows. In the rear elevation, on the central axis, attention should be paid to “is attracted by a three-axis semicircular avant-corps. On the ground floor, it connects to the terraces on both sides, from which stairs lead to the garden,” the conservator explains in a press release on the subject.

As he adds, the building is astonishing with its location – it is located at an angle both to the street. Żwirki i Wigury, as well as ul. Rakowiecka. “When it was built, Zbarska Street ran nearby and it was built parallel to it. Before World War II, its address was Racławicka 115. Aerial photos from 1935 and 1945 show it standing alone among orchards and arable fields.” – Krasucki points out.

The interior of the house was significantly transformed due to the subsequent functions it served. On the main staircase, ceramic tiles on landings and platforms, terrazzo stairs and window sills, and a metal balustrade have been preserved. In the corridors, apart from the arched lintels, architraves have survived, probably of double doors. In the interiors you can find several examples of pre-war woodwork, and even a skirting board whose shape refers to the appearance of the original architraves.

What did conservation research show?

Before renovating the building, the conservator supported the investor, i.e. the Real Estate Management Company in the Ochota district, in preparations for this task. The conservator’s opinion is already ready, a query has also been carried out, but unfortunately there are few archival materials.

A mycological expert opinion, an opinion on the technical condition and conservation research were also commissioned to determine the originally used finishing materials and their colors. This documentation will constitute the basis for developing a construction design.

Conservation research provided interesting information about the original form of the façade. Parts plastered in warm white colors were combined with parts made of gray facade bricks with a cement joint and black. The chimneys, the crowning cornice, the plinth and the cuboidal shapes flanking the central part at the front were made of this brick. Green paint was used to paint the balcony railings. Inside, beige and gray dominated. The information obtained as a result of the research will allow the building to be restored to its original façade finish, which will recall its modernist character.

Main photo source: UM Warsaw

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