Meeting Modernisms in Gdynia
Gdynia is a particular place, where, in less than twenty years, political will and Modernism have transformed a small fishing village into a large modern seaport city – Poland’s “window to the world.” Although it was not the only modernist city built in Europe between the two World Wars,1 Gdynia is exemplary for the “extent to which Modernism was assimilated and absorbed,” reaching a dominant position and determining the face of the city. This makes the city stand out from the rest of Poland.2 In an incredible way, Gdynia’s architecture and planning resisted German occupation, the destructions of the war, successive demographic waves, political changes and the new post-1989 economic pressures. Its inhabitants – including investors, scholars and general public – succeeded in developing a strong community spirit around Modernism, giving rise to strategies of conservation that are carefully integrated into present and future urban policies. Nowadays, the white city of the 1930s became a vivid “platform for Modernism.”
This spirit secured the continuity of many architectural events, among which the International Scientific Conference Modernism in Europe – Modernism in Gdynia stands out as one of the most important in Poland and constitutes a timely occasion to periodically review the state of research on the modernist architectural development of the 20th century, to compare underlaying contexts, and to learn about state-of-the-art approaches to its preservation, as well.
The 7th edition took place in October 2019. On this occasion, professor Robert Hirsch, Head of Municipal Office of Monuments Protection in Gdynia, was kind to summarize for sITA the unique and fast development of this Polish modernist icon – a city aspiring to having its urban core included in the World Heritage List.