Reklamoza

Reklamoza at Wilson Square station. The metro stop has been disfigured by huge illuminated screens

Until recently, the Wilson Square underground station in Żoliborz was regarded as one of the most beautiful stops on the underground railway not only in Warsaw, but in the whole world. In the space, which was commissioned in 2005, the removal of the perforated panels adorning the walls began in April this year, with media installed in their place. Then large screens were hung on the station, appreciated for its architecture. It was caught up in the adobe, which destroyed the formerly coherent design.

The metro station, located in the northern section of the M1 line, was designed by architect Andrzej Chołdzyński. The Wilson Square stop won the award for best new metro station in the world at the MetroRail Conference in Copenhagen. It was also nominated for the Architectural Award of the Mayor of Warsaw. In 2014, it was also recognised by the American news television channel CNN.

Reklamoza

Since 2022, Ströer – the exclusive operator of advertising in the capital’s metro – has been modernising the advertising media there. Their initial actions aroused much controversy and opposition from passengers. The new carriers turned out to be quite a lot larger than the previous ones, they obscured the station name strips and the content was too intensely illuminated. In the case of Ursynów and Służew stations, the Mazovian Conservator of Monuments intervened and included their mosaics in the register of monuments. Faced with these changes, the city decided to carry out inspections, resulting in a series of new guidelines for the placement of advertisements.

Reklamoza
Advertisements before modernisation. Photo by IngolfBLN, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Large-format advertisements can be seen at every station on the Warsaw metro. The Wilson Square stop is no different. So far, however, they have been small and not too obtrusive and have only reached the station name bar. In April, large parts of the side walls made of weathering steel were taken down, which caused widespread concern among Varsovians. And rightly so. For the aesthetically finished station has been dominated by signs extending from the ceiling all the way down to track level. Not only were the characteristic rust-covered panels removed for this purpose, but even part of the station’s name bar was removed.

The transport-publicny.pl portal quoted Anna Bartoń, spokeswoman for Warsaw Metro, as saying about the work carried out in April:

“The current works at the A18 Wilson Square station are being carried out on the basis of detailed guidelines for the modernisation of the advertising system on Line 1 of the metro, agreed by representatives of the City of Warsaw, Warsaw Metro, ZTM and the Office of Architecture and Spatial Planning in May 2023. All media are being replaced in accordance with the adopted guidelines.”

There are provisions in the guidelines informing, among other things, that it is prohibited to install advertising in the central part of the jamming walls (station side walls) and that it is permissible to install media only on the outermost parts of the jamming walls and only in a way that maintains the legibility of the stripes with the name of the station. Mounted advertising media must also not detract from the appearance of the station, interfere with passenger information or dazzle drivers or travellers.

Reklamoza

It seems that either the regulations are outdated or the contractor has not complied with them. Huge illuminated screens are on each side wall, symmetrically placed in relation to the platform. The station’s subtly illuminated dome (the so-called ‘sky of Żoliborz’) has been overshadowed by intrusively bright and blinding banners. When everything is being done in the urban space to remove the dominant and disfiguring advertisements and signs on the streets, e.g. by introducing landscape resolutions, the Warsaw metro is doing the opposite. Reklamoza has become such a common phenomenon that the term has found its way into the dictionary of the Polish language:

reklamosis – contemptuously: filling public places with all kinds of advertisements, e.g. billboards, advertising signs, etc.; signboards

The author of the photographs is Wojciech Zawiliński, whom I thank for the opportunity to use them. Our attention to the disturbing changes in the metro was drawn to Jakub Jastrzębski – author of the book One Hundred Years of the Warsaw Metro and the initiator of entering the mosaics from the Służew and Ursynów stations into the register of monuments.

Source: Historia Metra w Warszawie, warszawa.naszemiasto.pl, transport-publiczny.pl

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