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1999 Photographs from Szczecin | Panoramic Photograph | 1997 Text and Photographs from Szczecin | Poland Site Index | Home
The morning began with a fairly uneventful ride to Szczecin. The train was scheduled to arrive in mid-afternoon and I hoped to walk to the hotel quickly to contact a few people at their offices before the end of the day. Stepping off the train, I thought I knew where I was going. I did not. Instead of a direct line, I walked a zig-zag route from the station. It was not the most efficient direction but I was able to see a part of the city I had not known before.
Since my previous visit nearly two years earlier, the city seemed much more alive. People were on the streets in larger numbers. Shops and businesses were open and active while the quantity of shops seems to have increased as well. It crossed my mind that the weather could be altering my outlook. Impressions on a mild, sunny day are always better than on a cold grey one. However, I don't think it was the forecast. The streets were simply more active.
I had deliberately chosen a hotel close to the Podzamcze site so I would have easy access to it at various times of day. I walked right by the site on my way to the hotel. A large area of the main square was blocked by construction fencing where new development was just beginning initial sitework. The partially completed facades I had seen before were now complete. The stucco and paint still looked fresh, the window aluminum window frames were still shining, and some of the glass even had the remains manufacturer's paper tags on them. I was excited to see the project but something did not appear quite right.
The scale and detailing of the buildings is a little off; it is definitely a contemporary construction trying to imitate something that it is not. The colors are too bold. The roof tiles are too uniform. In some places, the detailing is clunky and not always well considered. If this was meant to be a reconstruction, it is not an authentic one. But as I was told, it was never meant to be completely authentic. Only the corner building on the square were somewhat true to historic forms, down to the decorative plaster work and window openings. These corner buildings do appear respectable. But moving away from these defining corners, the building quality seems to deteriorate. Many of the designs are simple blocks with gabled ends and balconies. In several cases, buildings are given architectural interest and patterning only by variations in paint color. Even the balconies abstractly recall the construction and detailing seen on other communist era housing blocks.
Moving towards the rear of the site, new construction has begun on another medieval block. The exterior forms were still unpainted grey stucco. All the forms and applied elements of the buildings are large, there is no detailing of the assemblies. However, this is the nature of the construction being used, block and poured concrete. Of course, not all the buildings were unsettling. Some were well done and well suited to their siting and interpretation of the medieval buildings. Others simply seemed out of place from the "historic" character the site is trying to recreate in some manner. A glass corner and a porthole window does not fit this historic definition.
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