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Beautiful Modernism: Bankowiec, or the BGK housing complex in Gdynia

This was the largest residential building in pre-war Gdynia. The BGK “Bankowiec” residential complex was designed by Stanisław Ziołowski for the Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego Employees’ Pension Fund. Today, the building is one of the best examples of pre-war modernism in Gdynia.

The building was designed in the characteristic ship style, like a large transatlantic liner of a thriving port. The reference to the ship style is evidenced by the rounded corners, horizontal stripes of windows and a semi-circular tower topped with a flagpole. These elements can be likened to ships. The aforementioned tower is a kind of captain’s bridge. The light-coloured façade is also a clear reference to late functionalism. It is partly made of stone and partly decorated with plaster imitating the natural raw material.

The building consists of a total of three buildings. Their construction was divided into different periods, as can be seen by comparing the archive photos below. The first was probably taken in 1940, and the others a few years earlier. The bank building was built on the corner of 3 Maja and 10 Lutego Streets.

The architect designed the building using solutions that were unique at the time. The building was equipped with shelters, an air filtration system and an underground car park. Due to its height, permission for its construction had to be granted by the Civil Aviation Department. In the 1930s, it was one of the tallest in Gdynia.

photo author unknown, source: Gdynia City Museum

To this day, the interior of the Banker is still impressive. The ornate staircase, original lighting and terracotta tile mosaic attest to the care with which the entire building was designed. The mosaic already appears at the representative entrance. It is made of gorse tiles in four colours: white, red, yellow and black.

Here, residents were able to benefit from technological innovations. The splendour was possible because the construction had a stable source of funding. The money for the work was provided by Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego from the pension fund. All floors were connected by lifts and the stairwells were designed in such a way that the spaces between the flights of stairs remained free. It is a very photogenic place.

Today, the Bankowiec, or BGK Housing Complex, in Gdynia is legally protected. The building was entered in the register of historical monuments in 1983. Inside, there is a Mini Museum, which displays the original furnishings.

For more examples of modernism in the Tricity, see our guide HERE.

source: Gdynia City Museum

Read also: Gdynia | Modernism | History | Curiosities | Tenement house | Elevation | whiteMAD on Instagram

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