The Giszowiec housing estate, Katowice
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The Giszowiec housing estate

Katowice

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The Giszowiec housing estate - a company town located within the boundaries of the city of Katowice - forms one of the most valuable and successful expressions of the concept of the so-called “garden city” in Poland. The surviving complex had originally formed part of an even larger, unique ensemble of structures rightly enjoying the status of a regional landmark today due to its exceptional artistic quality; the complex consists of residential buildings, modelled after the cottages of the Upper Silesia region, as well as of grander mansions and public buildings adorned with sumptuous architectural detailing in the form of porticos, cornices, terraces and loggias. The complex also presents a considerable landscape value, with the residential buildings being surrounded by picturesque gardens, while the entire housing estate lies in the shade of numerous old trees planted across various green areas the overall layout and underlying concept of which is still easily discernible. Even today, despite the passage of time, the housing estate continues to serve its original, residential function in an efficient and successful manner.

History

In 1905, the Assembly of Representatives of the “Giesche’s Successors” Mining Industry Association reached the decision on the formation of a separate landed estate, with a workers’ colony known as Gieschwald (Giszowiec) to be erected in its centre. The construction works commenced in 1907, based on the design produced by the architects Emil and Jerzy Zillmann from Charlottenburg. The first phase of the project mostly involved the construction of residential buildings - single-storey detached or semi-detached houses situated on the Agaty, Pod Kasztanami, Górniczego Stanu and Przyjazna streets; these houses were highly diverse in terms of both architecture and interior layout, although they all shared a common design scheme, being modelled after the old-style cottages of Upper Silesia; the houses stood on relatively small plots of land which nevertheless allowed every household to enjoy the comfort of a separate garden. The next stage in the development of the housing estate took place in the years 1920-1924, focusing on the Pod Kasztanami and Kosmiczna streets (i.e. the area stretching in the general direction of Mysłowice). The structures erected there were markedly different in that they were tightly clustered, multi-family units surrounded by small gardens.

The distinctive features of these houses were their pitched roofs with dormer windows as well as the rusticated decorations of their façades. Following the acquisition of the Association by a company known as the Silesian-American Corporation, the south-western part of the housing estate became the site of a new development known as the “American Colony” in the years 1926-1928, consisting of six large mansions designed for high-level officials. The construction of the housing estate was only completed in the year 1940. The houses erected at that time were strongly reminiscent of the buildings constructed during the initial phase of the project. In the 1970s, an entire quarter located in the north-western part of the housing estate was torn down to make space for a complex of nine-storey high-rise apartment buildings.

Description

The housing estate, consisting of nine quarters in total, is located in the Giszowiec district, situated in the south-eastern part of the city of Katowice, west of the KWK Wieczorek coal mining facility. The housing estate was originally surrounded by a forested area, although today it is dwarfed by the nearby Staszic housing estate, erected in the 1970s. The Giszowiec housing estate, envisaged as a typical company town, was established in 1907 and had originally formed part of the town of Mysłowice. The design called for a self-sustained town with its own stores, bathhouses, schools, bakeries, washhouses, sports facilities and cultural centres. The houses forming part of the estate benefited from the presence of adjoining gardens. The houses erected during the first phase of the project bear certain hallmarks of the modernist style, both due to the lack of decorative detailing as well as to the manner in which the buildings are positioned vis-à-vis their immediate surroundings. The design of these workers’ houses was heavily influenced by Prussian architecture, as evidenced by the pitch of their mansard roofs. The entire complex was modelled after the concept of a “garden city”, devised by the English urban designer Sir Ebenezer Howard. The housing estate was designed on a rectangular plan, divided into irregular quarters divided by curvilinear streets. The public buildings were clustered around the market square, with both a park with a tavern, a sports field and a theatre being situated in their immediate vicinity. The individual quarters consisted of free-standing houses accompanied by utility buildings and supplemented by small gardens. The total number of houses erected in the housing estate was more than 300, with 40 different designs being used. The houses were designed as brick structures, their walls covered with plaster; the colour scheme applied was carefully thought-out, with the predominantly white plasterwork contrasting with the red roof tiles and green wood shingles, while the surrounding perimeter fences were painted in various shades of grey. The buildings were covered with gablet and half-hip roofs, originally clad with wood shingles or roof tiles, although the latter type of cladding was reserved for larger mansions. Today, roof tiles are used throughout the entire housing estate, with very few houses still featuring their original wood shingle cladding.

The complex is open to visitors all year round. Due to the nature of the housing estate, there is no possibility of exploring the individual houses. The public buildings forming part of the complex, including the Silesian Tavern, the Silesian Hall, the Canteens and the Department Stores are open to visitors.

compiled by Agata Mucha, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 26-06-2014.

Bibliography

  • Reuffurth, Giszowiec nowa górnośląska wieś górnicza, Katowice 2006.
  • Giszowiec 100-lecie osiedla ogrodu, ed. Kudelka K., Katowice 2006.
  • Złoty A., Matuszek P., Tofilska J., Nikiszowiec, Giszowiec i inne osiedla Katowic. Katowice 2008, pp. 24-30.
  • Zespół Comenius 1, Giszowiec, Nikiszowiec, Szopienice. Przewodnik po dzielnicach Katowic, Katowice 2004, pp. 9-24.
  • Szlak zabytków techniki województwa śląskiego. Bożek G. (ed.), Katowice 2006, p. 41.
  • Giszowiec studium historyczno-urbanistyczne. (Archive of the Regional Monument Protection Office in Katowice, inventory no. 1721/III).
  • Giszowiec. Projekty zabudowy i ikonografia. (Archive of the Regional Monument Protection Office in Katowice, inventory no. 1722/III).

General information

  • Type: spatial layout
  • Chronology: 1907-1912 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kirowa, Górniczego Stanu, Kosmiczna, Mysłowicka, Sputników oraz Agaty , Katowice
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district Katowice, commune Katowice
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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