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Abstract

One of the characteristic features of the architectural landscape of the Stalinist era in Poland (post 1949) was the widespread use of standard designs. Initially these were not part of the propaganda of socialist realist architecture. The ideological justification of the use of standard designs as a “reflection of the era in which they arise” only began in 1953. During the following three years, a period in which the slow process of undermining Stalinist dogmas in architecture took place, supplanted by an openly technocratic vision of an industrialized architecture, the problem of standard designs regularly arose in contemporary discourse. One aspect was the growing criticism of the monotony of housing estates erected throughout the country by the state Workers Housing Department. The issue of these typical projects also came up at the National Conference of Architects in March 1956, where severe criticisms of socialist realism were voiced. The criticism arising from the architects’ milieu was heard alongside positive assessments from those close to the construction industry, who saw standard projects as instruments for producing an “architectural background worthy of a socialist society” in the Polish landscape. The adoption of “theses on typification” in 1959 (probably unwittingly repeating the words used by Hermann Muthesius in 1914) by the team of Władysław Gomułka finally terminated this period of intellectual fermentation, administratively imposing the use of standard projects and industrialised building technologies.One of the characteristic features of the architectural landscape of the Stalinist era in Poland (post 1949) was the widespread use of standard designs. Initially these were not part of the propaganda of socialist realist architecture. The ideological justification of the use of standard designs as a “reflection of the era in which they arise” only began in 1953. During the following three years, a period in which the slow process of undermining Stalinist dogmas in architecture took place, supplanted by an openly technocratic vision of an industrialized architecture, the problem of standard designs regularly arose in contemporary discourse. One aspect was the growing criticism of the monotony of housing estates erected throughout the country by the state Workers Housing Department. The issue of these typical projects also came up at the National Conference of Architects in March 1956, where severe criticisms of socialist realism were voiced. The criticism arising from the architects’ milieu was heard alongside positive assessments from those close to the construction industry, who saw standard projects as instruments for producing an “architectural background worthy of a socialist society” in the Polish landscape. The adoption of “theses on typification” in 1959 (probably unwittingly repeating the words used by Hermann Muthesius in 1914) by the team of Władysław Gomułka finally terminated this period of intellectual fermentation, administratively imposing the use of standard projects and industrialised building technologies.
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