FAMOUS, HARD-WORKING AND FORGOTTEN? THE WORK OF WOMEN ARCHITECTS IN POLAND IN THE TIMES OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC

                                                                                       

PIOTR MARCINIAK

ABSTRACT

Women’s contribution to the development of architecture is not questioned today, yet it definitely remains insufficiently explored and recognised. The participation of women in the country’s social, political and economic sphere in the period of the Polish People’s Republic was for years outside scholars’ scope of interest. The questions of women’s participation in building our spatial environment are still a blank page in the literature, with the names of women architects cropping up only occasionally, and rarely with reference to the challenging activity of architectural design. It is only in the last few years that systematic research into these issues has been taken up. The aim of this paper is, on the one hand, to familiarise the reader with the achievements of women architects working in the post-war decades, and, on the other, to examine the reasons for their work being unrecognised.

Key words: women architects, architecture in the period of the Polish People’s Republic, Barbara Brukalska, Helena Syrkus, Teresa Żarnowerówna, Anatolia Hryniewiecka-Piotrowska, Halina Skibniewska, Małgorzata Handzelewicz-Wacławek, Hanna Adamczewska-Wejchert, Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak, Anna Górska, Krystyna Tołłoczko-Różyska, Maria Piechotka

 

 

[4] This article is an extended and modified version of: P. Marciniak, Spousal Collaboration as a professional strategy for women architects in the Polish People’s Republic, [in:] M. Pepchinski, M. Simon (eds.), Ideological Equals: Women Architects in Socialist Europe 1945–1989, Routledge 2016; the presented fenomena were also discussed by the author in: P. Marciniak, Famous or Forgotten: Women Architects in Communist Poland, [in:] M. Rosso (ed.), Investigating and Writing Architectural History: Subjects, Methodologies and Frontiers, Papers from the Third EAHN International Meeting, Torino 2014, pp. 855-864.

 

[5] One of the first books on architecture in the Polish Peoples Republic, published in 2001, does not contain a single paragraph on the activity of women architects, cf.: A. Basista, Betonowe dziedzictwo. Architektura w Polsce czasów komunizmu, Warszawa-Kraków 2001.

 

[6] The stories of women were a marginal issue in research on the history of the Polish People’s Republic. It is only in the last few years that it has become a popular research area, and publications have appeared that look at the hard times under communism from the vantage point of feminist criticism. One of the earliest, and the most outspoken, is the book by M. Fidelis, Women, Communism and Industrialization in Postwar Poland, Cambridge-New York 2010. More comprehensive research on the activity of women architects was undertaken by M. Leśniakowska, Polskie architektki w dyskursie nowoczesności około 1960 r., [in:] E. Toniak (ed.), Jestem artystką we wszystkim, co niepotrzebne. Kobiety i sztuka około 1960 roku, Warszawa 2010, pp. 123-135. One should also mention here another  book by E. Toniak, Olbrzymki: kobiety i socrealizm, Kraków 2008. Both devoted to the position and role of women in the 1950s. Books of a more popular kind have also appeared, such as: S. Koper, Życie artystek w PRL, Warszawa 2013, S. Koper, Kobiety władzy PRL, Warszawa 2012. The current state of research and its likely directions are discussed in greater detail in K. Stańczak-Wiślicz, P. Perkowski, Dzieje kobiet w PRL – stan i perspektywy badań, [in:] Dzieje kobiet w Polsce, Poznań 2014, pp. 133-157; Polska ludowa i porządek płci. Rozmowa Piotra Szumielewicza z Małgorzatą Fidelis, “Bez dogmatu. Kwartalnik kulturalno-polityczny”, No. 98/2013, pp. 6-9.