Patchwork. The Architecture of Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak in Lisbon


Patchwork is the title of the travelling exhibition organised by the Museum of Architecture in Wrocław (Breslau), in cooperation with the Foundation Entre and financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. Coming from the Centre for Architecture in New York, where it was last displayed (Spring 2019), it is now presented in Lisbon.

Born in Tarnawce, a small village in eastern Poland, Grabowska-Hawrylak went to study architecture in Wrocław in 1945, the city that until that year had been Germany’s Breslau and suffered considerable damage during the war. As an essential part in the post-war reconstruction of Wrocław, the architect is responsible for a patchwork that has given a new unity to the torn city fabric.

With an extensive career covering much of the second half of the 20th century, we can find in this exhibition projects that span from 1954 to 1993. From participation in the reconstruction of Wrocław to the modernist designs of the 1960s-70s and the postmodern aesthetics she adopted in her later works from the 1980s-90s, the architect’s work reflects the successive cultural and political changes in Poland.

Grabowska-Hawrylak is known for the huge and sculptural housing complex of Wrocław popularly known as Manhattan. Completed in 1976, the emblematic project has become a symbol of the city’s aspirations. Her body of work also includes many examples of exceptional design: 1950s schools, a maisonette building with duplex apartments in the city centre or a futuristic urban centre, among others.

Despite changes in architectural trends, this patchwork sewn in Wrocław remains to this day one of its most interesting features and still holds an important position in the collective imagination of those who inhabit and visit the city. “Every building tells a story. For over five decades, the Museum of Architecture in Wrocław 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 curators Michał Duda and Małgorzata Devosges Cuber.

Patchwork features 24 built and unbuilt (or speculative) works by Grabowska-Hawrylak, and a model of Manhattan, her most famous work, rises from the Palácio Sinel de Cordes foyer.