LUBOMIRSKI FAMILY VILLA AT NARBUTTA STREET IN WARSAW. HISTORY OF THE DESIGN AND THE BUILDING
MARIA CHODYKO
The Prince Lubomirski Villa at 21 Narbutta Street, Warsaw was built after WW I, at the time when the whole area of the city’s Southern suburb of Mokotów was taking its urban shape. The first design of the villa was drawn by Teodor Łapiński in 1922 in the traditional French classicism manner. In the subsequent design, of 1924, classical details of the building were modified leaning to the modernist fashion. The changes can be traced in compositional patterns such as unification of window widths at two levels of the façade, the replacement of windows pediments with purist decoration of geometric arch stones, and simplified corner pilasters. The front elevation was filled with panels decorated at their upper parts with mythological theme reliefs. The subtle erotic decoration of this design, as well as some noticeable architectural reminiscence with the Petit Trianon – “defines” the building as a feminine residence. In fact the villa at the time of its construction was owned by Marie Dunin-Markiewicz von Wiesenbach, and then by Princess Teresa Lubomirska.
The latest version of the villa design, by Adolf Buraczewski, dated 1928, did not actually differ from the previous ones, apart from some simplifications referring to the shape of inner spaces, including the main lobby and stairs.
The type of building can be counted among urban villas – as “a villa with a garden”. The tradition of such a building pattern evolved in Warsaw in the 19th century and continued through the whole inter–war period (1918 – 1939), as a type of “prestigious urban residence”. The interior space of that type of building was designed around a double volume central lobby with open stairs and surrounding galleries. This was a rule in the majority of 19th century Warsaw villas. The concept followed 19th century English houses, but its “genesis” is earlier and can be found in Palladian models of 16th century Italian villas.
The spatial pattern of the villa is in a way “timeless”, and “elite”. In its concept a memory of the “belle époque” easily corresponds with modernity and the form of the building is an expression of the continuity of a certain style and living standard.
The interior of the villa was burned by German Nazis in a planned action of annihilation of the city heritage after the fall of Warsaw Rising of 1944. Reconstruction started in 1946. In 1948 the site of the villa from the North (along Narbutta street) was fenced with a metal grill divided vertically with a rhythm of double Tuscan columns covered with architraves. After WW II the villa became a seat of the Cardinal August Hlond - Primate of Poland.
Since 1949 it has belonged to the local Roman Catholic Parish and is administered by the Jesuits.
The change of ownership and adjustments of the building to religious purposes caused substantial inner modifications. But the external appearance of the building has not changed so its appearance can still be an illustration of luxurious Warsaw architecture of the interwar period.
Key words: Warsaw, villa architecture, architecture of the twenty-year interwar period