House of the Society of Naturalists or Naturalists’ House, Gdańsk
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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House of the Society of Naturalists or Naturalists’ House

Gdańsk

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The Naturalists’ House is attributed to prominent architect A. Obberghen and is the most impressive Renaissance residential building in Gdańsk. Its unique body with a distinctive tower is a very important element in the cityscape on the Motława waterfront.

History

The house was built for merchant Hans Koepe in 1597-1599 (most probably designed by Anton van Obberghen). An imposing tenement house was built in place of the Gothic house from the 2nd half of the 15th. It was used both for residential and storage purposes. Until 1637, it remained in the hands of Peter Koepe (son), then it was the property of the family of Koenig and Efraim Sonntag (in 1771-1839). In the 2nd quarter of the 19th century, its successive owners were Johann Maerter and merchant Lemke. In 1845, the building was purchased by the Society of Naturalists and the name of the house dates from that time. In 1869, a completely altered interior housed a natural and archaeological exhibition, and the tower started to be used as an astronomical observatory (Mannerist dome was replaced with a rotating cupola). In March 1945, the building was destroyed in a fire; the southern gable and the bay sticking out from the east wall collapsed; the front façade, tower, and ceilings over the basements survived. As a result of the reconstruction of the tenement house in 1956-1961 (design by K. Macur), the form of the building is similar to the original (reconstruction of the dome, eastern gable and bay); the spatial layout was not restored.

Description

The house is situated on a corner plot at the intersection of Mariacka Street with Długie Pobrzeże Street. It is located in a densely built-up area of the frontage of Mariacka Street to the west; its front façade faces the north; the tower is embedded in the St Mary’s Gate; the remaining part of the side façade overlooks the Motława river. The building was designed in the style of Dutch Mannerism. It was erected on the floor plan in the shape of an elongated irregular rectangle and features a quadrangular tower along the outermost eastern axis of the front façade. The building is tall (30 m to the roof ridge), has six storeys and basements with a stoop. The five-storey bay to the east is topped by a pair of gablets. The tower is quadrangular at the base, and passes into the shape of an octagon in the upper storeys; its dome-like roof features a pinnacle and flag. The building is covered with a tall roof with dormers, which has slightly bent slopes and is framed by two decorative gables. The house is built of brick, faced with brick and decorated with stonework; the roof and dome are clad with a cooper sheet metal. The basements feature barrel vaults with lunettes, supported by stone pillars (the pillars are made up of fragments of old reused architectural components, such as a Romanesque base). The four-axial façade features a tower along the eastern axis; its corners are decorated with plastered rusticated finishes; storeys are partitioned by cornices; and gables are characterised by lavish Mannerist decorations (batten-shaped partitioned, S- and volute-shaped corners, pinnacle as finial). The east façade has many axes and is asymmetrical and characterised by a multi-storey bay. The southern gable was designed using a set of Mannerist forms (most decorations are incorporated in plaster). The interior of the house was functionally combined with the tenement in 9/10 and 11 Dzielna Street. The interior layout dates back to the period of the post-war reconstruction.

The monument is open to visitors. Visiting hours are set by the Archaeological Museum at: http://www.archeologia.pl/index.php?n=1

compiled by Krystyna Babnis, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 17-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Barylewska-Szymańska E., Dom Towarzystwa Przyrodniczego, [w:] Encyklopedia Gdańska, red. naukowa B. Śliwiński, Gdańsk 2012, s. 235-36.
  • Stankiewicz J., Ulica Mariacka nr 26 [w:] Katalog Zabytków Sztuki, pod red. B. Roll i I. Strzeleckiej, Miasto Gdańsk, cz. 1, Główne Miasto, Warszawa 2006, s. 323-325.

General information

  • Type: tenement house
  • Chronology: koniec XVI w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Mariacka 26, Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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