The TAZ workers’ housing estate, Zawiercie
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The TAZ workers’ housing estate

Zawiercie

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The TAZ workers’ housing estate presents a substantial architectural value both insofar as its individual components and its overall urban layout are concerned, making it a historical monument of regional importance. Unlike the vast majority of the colonies and towns erected in the former Russian Partition, the TAZ housing estate is characterised by an admirable clarity of spatial composition and a purposefulness of design. 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. Another fact which further enhances the value of the complex is that TAZ (Towarzystwo Akcyjne Zawiercie, the Zawiercie Joint-stock Association) was one of the three largest capitalist ventures in the cotton manufacturing sector anywhere in the Kingdom of Poland, second only to the Łódź-based companies owned by Karol Scheibler and Ignacy Poznański.

History

The TAZ workers’ housing estate in Zawiercie was erected in the second half of the 19th century and was designed to accompany the cotton manufacturing plant founded by the brothers Bernard and Adolf Ginsberg, who were both Berlin-based banking tycoons. The entire complex was built in the years 1880-1910, with the oldest part, designed on a chequerboard plan and situated in the western part of the site, dating back to the years 1880-1887. The eastern part of the estate, erected in the years 1895-1910, is reminiscent of the earlier efforts in terms of spatial composition; it was during that period that the public buildings designed by P. Waligórski - the school, the bathhouse and the so-called peoples’ house - were all constructed. Another significant part of the complex is the park established in 1901, accompanied by the director’s villa surrounded by a garden adjoining the park to the west. The villa was designed by Hugo Kuder, an engineer and architect from Warsaw, who was also responsible for the design of the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, consecrated in 1903, which also forms part of the housing estate. In 1945, after World War II came to an end, the TAZ manufacturing plant was renamed as the “Zawiercie” Cotton Manufacturing Plant, with the entire housing estate being taken over by the State Treasury, although in the years that followed a number of buildings were handed over to various other entities, including the MZBM (Municipal Housing Administration). Overall, the post-war period has taken its toll on the housing estate; among the adverse consequences, linked to the absence of a comprehensive spatial policy resulting from the entire site being split between various administrators, was the construction of a modern sports and recreational centre east of the park in 1968 as well as the demolition of some of the historic buildings in the 1990s, with thoroughly modern apartment buildings taking their place; the design of these apartment blocks was, needless to say, completely unrelated to the rest of the complex.

Description

The TAZ workers’ housing estate is located in the city centre, its total surface area being more than 20 hectares. Situated north of the railway station, the complex lies between the municipal green areas to the west and the sports grounds and industrial estates to the east. The entire housing estate features a chequerboard layout, incorporating the two parallel streets - Niedziałkowskiego st. and Bohaterów Westerplatte st. - as well as the pedestrian walkways positioned at a right angle to the said streets, dividing the site into quarters. The oldest part of the housing estate, designed on a chequerboard plan and situated in the western part of the site, dates back to the years 1880-1887. The individual houses were erected on parcels of land separated by three streets running alongside the east-west axis, with the surface area of each lot being 63x35 metres. The individual lots were surrounded by various species of trees and shrubs, planted with the intention to ensure the intimacy of the residents as well as to accentuate the newly demarcated roads and walkways. The eastern part of the estate, erected in the years 1895-1910, is reminiscent of the earlier efforts in terms of spatial composition. It was during that period that the public buildings forming part of the complex - the school, the bathhouse and the so-called peoples’ house - were all constructed. The houses themselves did not have individually allocated gardens, with the surrounding greenery serving merely as a framing device, creating a picturesque backdrop to the buildings. The park, situated in the southern part of the complex, behind the Gothic Revival parish church, was established in 1901, along with the nearby director’s villa and the accompanying garden, designed by the Warsaw architect Hugo Kuder. At the centre of the entire concept lies the Młynówka river, which was transformed into a system of decorative ponds; the park complex itself contained both an English-style garden surrounding the villa and a public landscape park situated east of the mansion, its design incorporating a great variety of themes.

The housing estate consists of several types of residential buildings erected during the successive phases of the project. The buildings in the oldest part of the housing estate are designed on a rectangular floor plan and arranged in regular rows, their gable ends facing the street. These two-storey brick houses feature a compact silhouette and are covered with gable roofs. The walls of the buildings feature a plaster finish with a distinctive shaded appearance achieved through the use of horizontal hatching, supplemented by eared window surrounds. The larger buildings, designed for a greater number of families and erected in later years, are quite different in terms of appearance. These include the free-standing Gothic Revival building at 16 Niedziałkowskiego street, erected on a rectangular floor plan in the years 1895-1901. It was designed as a three-storey brick building with a basement, its compact silhouette covered with a gable roof. Unlike the vast majority of the houses, the walls of this edifice feature an exposed brick structure.

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 school, the park, the parish church and the Stanisław Szymański palace, are open to visitors, with the palace serving as a museum and restaurant.

compiled by Agata Mucha, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 24-04-2015.

Bibliography

  • Studium Konserwatorskie byłego Osiedla TAZ w Zawierciu, compiled by Przedsiębiorstwo Usługowo-Handlowe ABC spółka z o.o., Gliwice, 1990 (Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Katowice, file no. 4199-4203)
  • Kolonie robotnicze i urzędnicze na obszarze województwa katowickiego do 1939 r. /dawny zabór rosyjski i austryjacki/, compiled by D. Głazek, Katowice 1995 (Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Katowice, file no. 6607-6608)

General information

  • Type: spatial layout
  • Chronology: 1880-1887 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Bohaterów Westerplatte , Zawiercie
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district zawierciański, commune Zawiercie
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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