Nov 30, 2023–Mar 31, 2024

Shape of Dreams

The Architecture of Witold Lipiński
ul. Bernardynska 5, Wroclaw 50-156 Map
Tue+Fri-Sun 11 am-5 pm, Wed 10 am-4 pm, Thu 12 am-7 pm

Witold Lipinski has always wanted to be somewhere else. He was fulfilling his dream by designing impossible objects, proving time and again that there is no such thing as impossible. When the Polish landscape was dominated by simple blocks of flats and cube houses shaped by economic constraints and strict norms, he designed buildings-clouds and houses-spaceships. When prefabrication spread and buildings began to be mass-produced on factory lines, he dreamed of creating bioclimatic architecture, focused on shaping the right conditions for the coexistence of man and nature.

“The Shape of Dreams” is a journey through the most fascinating period of Witold Lipiński’s work. It is a time of extraordinary experiments that began in 1962 with the design of his own house on Moniuszki Street in Wroclaw, all summarized in the book “Coat-based Vaulted Forms”, published in 1978, which is a collection of designs, analyses and experiences related to the architecture of coated forms.

Each of the nearly twenty items presented at the exhibition could - at first glance - be considered a study of a set design for a science-fiction film. It is all the more remarkable that five of them have been actually constructed. In addition to the canonical works - the Igloo own house on Moniuszki Street and the High-Mountain Meteorological Observatory on Śnieżka - the exhibition presents two lesser-known houses in Wroclaw and a former holiday resort in Rokitki near Legnica.

All of the extremely futuristic buildings implemented according to Lipiński’s designs stemmed from the architect’s very personal experience. For instance, the three flying saucers’ on Śnieżka Mountain wouldn’t exist if it had not been for the author’s experience in aviation. The aerodynamics of the form, necessary in the harsh mountain climate, became the starting point in the 1960s for this now iconic building. Ever since he was a teenager, Lipiński brought two distinct experiences of nature: an idyllic landscape of the Narew River countryside, and the other - nature as a refuge from the dangers of war, when as a 20-year-old he fought in the insurgent forces against the army occupying Poland. Although from the outside the domes bring to mind space pavilions, their interiors turn out to be cozy shelters, roosts with biomorphic shapes, subconsciously evoking prenatal memories.

Most of the designs presented at the exhibition are the original drawings by Witold Lipiński. Some are accompanied by ceramic models, prepared by artists from The Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design specifically for the exhibition. The structures that still exist today were portrayed by architecture photographer Jakub Certowicz. What is particularly striking in Lipiński’s works is the contrast between the technological perfection of the designed buildings and the imperfect materiality of the implemented works. The strength of his buildings - despite their fragility in the face of time - lies in their sensory impact on the most primal, non-intellectual feeling of space.

He sought refuge from the world in the skies, devoting himself to gliding - his greatest passion, right next to architecture. At the university, he focused on teaching and research work that combined the achievements of modern engineering with art. It resulted in a whole series of designs - detached houses, commercial, service and catering pavilions - in which he tested a variety of innovative construction solutions. By designing - he created an alternative reality to the one that surrounded him.

Witold Lipiński zawsze chciał być gdzie indziej. Projektując spełniał to marzenie. Projektował obiekty niemożliwe, raz po raz udowadniając, że rzeczy niemożliwych nie ma. Kiedy w polskim pejzażu dominowały prostokreślne bloki i domy-kostki, kształtowane za pomocą wytycznych ekonomicznych i surowych normatywów, on proponował budynki-chmury i domy-statki kosmiczne. Gdy rozpędzała się prefabrykacja, a budynki zaczęto wytwarzać masowo na fabrycznych liniach produkcyjnych, marzył o tworzeniu architektury bioklimatycznej, skupiając się na kształtowaniu odpowiednich warunków dla współistnienia człowieka i przyrody.