Where Ideas Grow

Patchwork: Architect Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak’s work on display at the i3S until December

The traveling exhibition called “Patchwork” that is currently on display in the i3S lobby until December the 11th is free and open to the general public from Monday to Saturday, between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm and between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm. The exhibition reflects the work of Polish architect Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak, who, in a brilliant patchwork work, gave a new unity to the “torn fabric” of the post-war city of Wrocław.

Organized by the Wrocław Museum of Architecture in cooperation with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, “Patchwork” presents 24 constructed and unbuilt (or speculative) works by Grabowska-Hawrylak. After a presentation in New York’s Center for Architecture in 2019, and in Lisbon during 2021, the exhibition now arrives at Porto, more specifically to i3S, in a collaboration between the Contentor e Conteúdo-Associação and the University of Porto.

In the atrium of the i3S, a model of the enormous and sculptural housing complex in Wrocław, popularly and internationally known as “Manhattan” is erected, almost six meters high. Completed in 1976, the emblematic project has become a symbol of the aspirations of that Polish city and is the architect's most famous work.

With an extensive career spanning much of the second half of the 20th century, we find in this exhibition projects by Grabowska-Hawrylak that describe a temporal arc from 1954 to 1993. From participation in the reconstruction of Wrocław to the modernist designs of the 1960s-70s and the postmodern aesthetic that she adopted in her later works in the 1980s and 1990s, the architect’s work reflects the successive cultural and political changes in Poland. Her body of work also includes many examples of exceptional design: 1950s schools, a maisonette building with duplex apartments in the city center, or a futuristic urban center, among others.

This retrospective highlights the architect’s extensive and pioneering work — for her genius and assertion as a woman in an area dominated by men — and at the same time opens the door to the history of Wrocław, a city that was once the greatest metropolis of the eastern territories of Germany and which, in 1945, was granted to Poland at the end of the Second World War.

Despite changes in architectural trends, this patchwork sewn in Wrocław remains to this day one of its most interesting facets, and continues to occupy an important place in the collective imagination of those who inhabit and visit the city. “Each building tells a story. Over five decades, the Wrocław Museum of Architecture has consistently presented these stories in an effort to understand what it takes to make good architecture and how architecture is influenced by life and vice versa”, say the exhibition’s curators, Michał Duda and Małgorzata Devosges Cuber.