Summer palace of the Na Górze garden, so-called Masonic Lodge, Villa of Bohdan Pniewski, currently Museum of the Earth, Warszawa
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Summer palace of the Na Górze garden, so-called Masonic Lodge, Villa of Bohdan Pniewski, currently Museum of the Earth

Warszawa

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The building was created as a summer palace of the “Na Górze” garden, according to a design by an eminent architect from the turn of the 18th and the 19th century - Szymon Bogumił Zug. It is associated with the artistic patronage of prince Kazimierz Poniatowski. The Classicist palace was converted into a villa owned by architect Bohdan Pniewski, which is a valuable historic monument of the interwar functionalism. The historical significance of the building is enhanced by the blood stains of a soldier injured in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, preserved on the landing of the stairs.

History

Approx. 1781, a Classicist brick garden pavilion designed by Szymon Bogumił Zug was created here, called Summer Palace. It housed a ball room on the ground floor and guests rooms of the first floor. The residence was part of the “Na Górze” garden, created at the behest of prince Kazimierz Poniatowski according to designs by Zug. It was one of the most interesting Romantic gardens of the end of the 18th century. One of the next owners of the “Na Górze” garden was Dominik Radziwiłł. In early 19th century, a Masonic Lodge was allegedly meeting in the pavilion, and the park was leased in 1815-18 to restorer Szymon Chovot, who arranged an entertainment garden here, called Frascati. Since 1849, the complex belonged to Róża Branicka nee Potocka. In 1887, Ksawery Branicki organised the Zoological Museum in the summer palace, with a rich collection of birds. In the 1930s, the residence fell into decline and was partially partitioned. In the interwar period, Na Skarpie Avenue was delineated here, which was to become an important urban axis of Warsaw. The former museum pavilion was bought then by Bohdan Pniewski who, in the years 1936-1937, converted the building into his own villa in functionalist style. The building also housed the studio of the architect. Pniewski kept fragments of the summer palace (Classicist colonnaded portico, terrace, and side annexes) in the garden façade. The villa was damaged during the Warsaw Uprising (1944) and rebuilt in the years 1948-1949. In 1966, after the death of the architect, his family sold the building to the Office of the Council of Ministers which transferred it to the Museum of the Earth of the Polish Academy of Sciences. In the same year, the interiors were adapted according to a design by Władysław Jotkiewicz.

Description

A free-standing villa is picturesquely situated on a slope of the Warsaw Escarpment, in the western part of the former suburban landscape garden, “Na Górze”. It is surrounded by a park, and adjoins from the east Na Skarpie Avenue. To the north from the building, the escarpment is intersected by a gorge of the former river, in which Książęca Street runs. At present, the area of the former Romantic “Na Górze” complex forms part of the spacious Park of Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły. The Modernist villa contains architectural relics from the times of the reign of king Stanisław August Poniatowski. The building was constructed on a rectangular floor plan with two small annexes in the western section. From the east, it has three storeys, and on the other side - four, which is a result of the location on the escarpment. The compact, cuboid body is made more elaborate by the recession of the upper-most storey, covered by nearly flat roof with wide eaves. The four-axis front façade and the northern and southern façade are clad in stone, crude rustication which gives the villa, together with small window openings, a look of defensive architecture. In the south-eastern corner of the eastern façade, there is inscription "SCANDIVUS/DDAR/FX/T.AMRC+", referring to the name of the architect (loosely translated: "The one who climbs up converted the church and settled in it"). From the garden, the architect embedded a Doric colonnade coming from the 18th century in the building. The colonnade is embraced by cuboid, projecting avant-corps, two storeys high. Between the avant-corps, there is a spacious terrace resting on columns. In the bottom part of this section of the building, Pniewski maintained the original layout, slightly elevating the side annexes (on their roofs, there are small terraces). Only the three-storey body of the building, serving residential purposes, is built anew. The external finishing of the walls applied by the architect are distinctly different in the adapted sections and in those based on Pniewski's own creations. Apart from the magnificent colonnade as well as the rustication in the plinth section of the wall and decorative corners (relics of Classicist architecture), and also the upper-most, receded storey clad in sandstone panels (the finishing is similar on all four sides of the building), the façade is deprived of decorative finish. The crudeness of detail complements the sumptuous, multi-element composition of the façade, which features distinct axes. The axial character of the façade is caused by regularity and symmetry, and reinforced by the balcony located in the centre. The partitions visible from the side of the garden stays in contrast with the blocks comprising the front façade. On the bottom floor of the villa from the side of the garden, there was a spacious studio of Pniewski, illuminated through wide glazings in the intercolumniation. The interior is lavishly fitted (stone cladding, oak floors, sophisticated door woodwork, fireplaces). The preserved library in whose ceiling vessels embedded in concrete were incorporated, and where the bookshelf is made of alabaster, is worth particular attention.

The historic monument is accessible to visitors. It can be visited during the opening hours of the museum (Monday-Friday from 9 to 16, Sunday from 10 to 16).

compiled by Wojciech Głowacki, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warszawa, 19-10-2015.

Bibliography

  • Karta ewidencyjna, Loża Masońska, oprac. J. Szuliński, 2005, Archiwum Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa w Warszawie
  • M. Czapelski, Bohdan Pniewski warszawski architekt XX wieku, Warszawa 2008
  • Kwiatkowski M. Szymon Bogumił Zug, architekt polskiego Oświecenia, Warszawa 1971

General information

  • Type: villa
  • Chronology: 1781 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Al. Na Skarpie 27, Warszawa
  • Location: Voivodeship mazowieckie, district Warszawa, commune Warszawa
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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