Kamienica na Siennej 55

Tenement house at 55 Sienna Street – the pre-war legacy of the architect duo Gelbard and Sigalin

The work of the pre-war partnership of Jerzy Gelbard and Roman Sigalin is among the most recognisable examples of Warsaw architecture built in the spirit of modernism. Most of their works survived the Second World War and are today a testimony to their great talent and refined sense of taste. One of the most famous houses created by the architect duo is Gustaw Pal’s tenement house at 101 Jerozolimskie Avenue, which we wrote about HERE. A little further away is another of their creations in a slightly more intimate version – the tenement house at 55 Sienna Street.

The building on Sienna Street was built between 1937 and 1939. It was a rental house for middle-class people, built by engineers Henryk Isers and Stanisław Borowik. The tenement house was built according to one of the ‘typical’ designs developed by Jerzy Gelbard and Roman Sigalin: a variant with prismatic bay windows. The house at 55 Sienna Street is a tenement with a lower level of luxury than the downtown housing projects of the architect duo, but it survived the Second World War, unlike the vast majority of the rest of the surrounding buildings, so it is now a valuable reminder of pre-war Warsaw.

Kamienica na Siennej 55

In the autumn of 1940, the tenement at 55 Sienna Street found itself in the ghetto, right next to the wall. We wrote about its remains HERE. For some time the ground floor housed a café for the better-off ghetto inhabitants, and during the Warsaw Uprising the quarters of one of the platoons of the “Chrobry II” Company. In the 1950s, the building underwent renovation, as a result of which some of its stylistic features were lost. At that time, the stone cladding in the ground floor of the front elevation was removed, and the decorative wrought-iron balustrades on the window sills were removed. Over the years, the original entrance gate had also disappeared, the colour of the plaster had faded and the overall impression was depressing.

Kamienica na Siennej 55

This condition lasted until 2013, when extensive renovation work was carried out. During the renovation, the front façade of the house at 55 Sienna Street was reconstructed as faithfully as possible. It was not insulated with Styrofoam, like, for example, the neighbouring house at 57 Sienna Street, which was painted an unnatural cream colour at the same time, but covered anew with light-coloured plaster with a geometric grid drawn on it. Under the window sills and under the crowning cornice, the decorations in the form of narrow friezes, composed of ribbons of stone and vertical half-rails, characteristic of Gelbard’s and Sigalin’s work, were retained. The front elevation and the rest of the house’s facades have been given a light, subdued colour scheme, referring to their original colour.

Due to a lack of documentation and period photographs illustrating the original, the housing association commissioned the design of a completely new, striking entrance gate to the building. The metal work with expressive detailing was inspired by the gate door of the tenement at 22 Narbutta Street in Warsaw, which is also by a partnership of famous architects. It is therefore very possible that the newly created door has similar forms to the wings originally installed here.

Kamienica na Siennej 55

The Warsaw works of the partnership of Jerzy Gelbard and Roman Sigalin are undoubtedly a very interesting and valuable piece of architecture that needs proper protection. The townhouses they designed are very easily recognisable by their characteristic bay windows and elevation layout. Some of them have been renovated and the buildings are pleasing to the eye, while others are still waiting for better times.

Source: jedenraz.wordpress.com, warszawskie-mozaiki.pl

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