Gdynia, a  city where You always hear the seagulls singing


From all the Tricity cities, Gdynia is the one where tradition permeates with modernity, fot. pomorskie.travel

At the beginning of XX c. it was still a fisherman village. It was given a city law nearly one hundred years age, in 1926. Since then is one of the most interesting example of a deliberate example of a city planning, an example for the businessman and modernity lovers. This is Gdynia, he city from the sea and dreams, where You can hear the seagulls singing.

Gdynia was designed for a specific purpose. Due to the fact, that after WWI Gdansk became part of the Free City of Gdansk and the Second Polish Republic needed the access to the sea and the modern port, it was decided to develop Gdynia.

The city started the impressive development and what is more important it lasts till today. Gdynia is the seat of many modern companies and international corporations. In a big and modern building in Redlowo, there is a Pomeranian Technological and Science Park, where the new start up can develop.

In Gdynia, there is second, largest re-loading port. This is the place, where now ferries to Scandinavia leave and 100 years ago, where famous transatlantic ships (including, sorely missed passenger ship “Batory”) took people to USA and Canada.

Stories of those who decided to leave the country became the inspiration to open a new, unique Museum of Emigration. It is situated in a former Sea Station at the French Embankment.


Museum of Emigration   is situated in a former Sea Station at the French Embankment. Fot. pomorskie.travel

The modernism passionate will love the central part of Gdynia. Gdynia architecture in an example how 100 years ago new, modern cities were built, combining the classics with the new. It is worth paying attention to the houses in a centre as well as bigger buildings. For example a market hall complex, built in 30ties last century. Every day, even during the past, dark history days, this place was always full off life. You could buy everything here – from the vegetables and fruits brought to the jeans by the sailors from USA, perfumes from China or Persian carpets. The market halls were the symbols of modernity and openminded Gdynia, where You could meet “the whole world”. The complex of Gdynia Market Halls, still full of life, was registered on the list of stationary monuments.


Gdynia's modernism trail. The A. Ogończyk – Bloch and L. Mazalon Tenement House

Gdynia is a city where culture is very important. The younger European generation for sure recalls one of the biggest musical festivals – Open’er Festival. Stars like: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam, Rihanna, Coldplay or Radiohead played there. Gdynia is also the capital of Polish film business. Every September, all famous Polish film stars come to Gdynia for the Polish Film Festival. There are also Film Centre and the Film School in Gdynia. Close by there is a Musical Theatre with the name of Danuta Baduszkowa, famous from the most spectacular musicals.


Moby on Opener, fot. pomorskie.travel

If We want to admire this sea city, the port, the shipyard, the beach and the sea boulevard take a funicular to the Stone Hill. There is a picturesque city panorama from there. Those who prefer a stroll along the beach, inhaling fresh, sea air, we recommend going to Orlowo. Walking down the Orlowo pier it is worth entering the nearby Tawerna to try fresh fish and climb up the cliff, from where there is a view to the Baltic Bay, Sopot and Gdansk.

Modernist Gdynia. How the city from the sea and dreams was built.

The only one in Poland, Europe and even in the world. Gdynia. Although it is not yet one hundred years old, and therefore it can be assumed that it has not yet reached the age of majority, it is a thriving city. The specificity of Gdynia consists of several aspects: it was built for a specific purpose, in a strictly defined style, and unconventional people lived here. Gdynia, open to the world, modernist, is an example of modernity to this day.

Modernist route of Gdynia, a look at the city from the perspective of architecture. Arkadiusz Brzęczek will show us Gdynia, a great enthusiast of the city. As he says about himself, Gdynia is the essence of life for him. During his walks and presentations he introduces the beauty and uniqueness of this city and opens up closed spaces within the Open House Gdynia festival, which he co-organizes. He presents Gdynia since it was a village, then as a summer resort and finally a city from the period of modernism to the present day. He is the author of the book "Secrets of Gdynia tenement houses", and in the field of tourism he was awarded by the Marshal of Pomorskie Voivodeship in the Personality of the Year category.

Pomorskie.travel: Gdynia gained city rights in 1926. This is a young city that has developed with amazing panache and admirable dynamism. Because it was built in the 20th century, the buildings are specific here ...
Arkadiusz Brzęczek: Interwar Gdynia, since 1926 as a city, is inseparably connected with the style and modernist idea, because it was born with the development of modernism. From the 1920s to the end of the 1930s, from a small summer village with 1,200 inhabitants, Gdynia became the third largest Baltic port, to which people were moving for work from all over Poland. Rapid development, cult of modernity and a rational approach to the problems of the place where the modern idea. Thanks to this, 120,000 people moved to  Gdynia, that is, over the ten years, the population has grown by an impressive 10,000%!

Modernism building, 24 February Street, fot. P. Kozłowski

Pomorskie.travel: A specific architecture was created in this large city. What is Gdynia modernism? What characterizes it?

Arkadiusz Brzęczek: The distinctive feature of Gdynia's modernism is diversity and due to that it is difficult to give specific dates for individual stages. This early modernist was closely related to the Art Déco trend. The second branch, extremely avant-garde, called cubic functionalism, manifested itself in the arrangement of bright, cubic solids. The third softened the avant-garde and connected streamline, or streamlined forms with the luxurious trend. Finally, the fourth branch was characterized by monumentalism and classic vertical compositions presented moderate modernism. The best in many publications was Maria Jolanta Sołtysik.

Pomorskie.travel: Strolling around Gdynia and getting acquainted with Gdynia modernism, which buildings we should especially pay attention to and why?

Arkadiusz Brzęczek: When it comes to architecture inspired by the Art Déco trend, a perfect example is the cubic form of the Maritime Office building at Chrzanowskiego 10 Street, and a wonderful illustration of such interior are representative rooms of the Bank of Poland with 10 February 20/22 Street.
When extreme functionalism is concerned it began in Gdynia in the port. The first private industrial plant, or "Rice Rush", has been attracting an eye for 90 years with a simple shape of walls built with red brick ribbons, which are separated by windows against the background of belts covered with smooth light plaster.

BGK Housing Estate at 3 Maja 27/31 Street, fot. pomorskie.travel

When we want to show streamline modern icons, the best example of the luxury trend of the 1930s is the office and residential complex of the Poznań ZUPU with a cylindrical corner of the office building, designed in 1934 by the Warsaw architect Roman Piotrowski, placed on the corner of 10 Lutego 24 and 3 Maja Street / 24. The outstanding architect Stanisław Ziołowski, who lived in the residential building of BGK at 3 Maja 27/31 Street placed a cylindrical quasi turret with a flagpole above the gate. This largest cubic house in Gdynia between the two cities was also the highest, and there were the first underground garages in Poland there.
The aesthetics of moderate modernism is clearly visible, for example, in the solution of the residential block and office building of the company "Paged" at Świętojańska 44 Street, designed by Jan Bochniak. Also, the expansion of the Commissariat of the Government (City Hall of Gdynia), and especially its new wing from Piłsudski Street designed by Jerzy Müller and Stefan Reychman, by vertical artistic divisions is a clear example of the new monumentalism.

Office building of the company "Paged" at Świętojańska 44 Street, fot. P. Kozłowski

Pomorskie.travel: There are many places worth seeing on Gdynia's modernism trail. If you were to suggest a trip along Gdynia's modernism route, but off the main route, where would we go?

Arkadiusz Brzęczek: If I were to lead a modernist walk through a non-obvious route, I would have walked down the main streets and showed a corner house at Abraham 28 Street, erected in 1935 according to the design of Edward Furschmied. It has a preserved luxury staircase and apartments, in the corner of which winter gardens have been placed - the first in Gdynia.
Then I would propose an office and residential tenement of the Bananas company at the former Kwiatkowskiego 24 Street designed and built by Eliza and Oswald Unger. It is characterized by cubic forms, and it was built in the style of late functionalism combined with the luxurious trend. It had at the back, the only downtown in the city, a professional ripening that received 35 tons of bananas at one time.

The interior of the house  at Abrahama 28 Street, fot. P. Kozłowski

 Finally, I would suggest a luxury tenement house at Wybickiego 3 Street built for Jadwiga Bemowa, on the ground floor where gentlemen could have fun in a sophisticated place called "Mascotte" - the most beautiful restaurant of the Coast.
These three outstanding projects, in addition to architectural values, are also connected by the fact that their owners, architects, builders and mostly residents were rich Gdynia Jews.

Pomorskie.travel: In 2015, the historic urban layout of the city centre of Gdynia was recognized as a Historical Monument. What does this mean for the city?

Arkadiusz Brzęczek: Recognition of the urban layout of the city centre of Gdynia, mostly modernist, behind the Monument of History is very prestigious for the city and is a source of pride. The President of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, placed them among 60 elite monuments. At the same time, Gdynia is the youngest Monument of History in Poland, while 88 hectares show that also one with the largest area. These 450 buildings show the changes in style of our young city, reminding at the same time its modernist tradition.
The eastern border of the Monument of History runs along the wall of the building at Marshal Piłsudskiego 50 Avenue, set up in 1931, and by a complete accident is also the wall of my apartment, as well as the room in which I wrote most of the texts about Gdynia.

Building at Świętojańska 28 Street, fot. P. Kozłowski