When my venerable colleague, architect Krystyna Łyczakowska, co –author of the concept of “Architect beyond architecture” and spiritus movens of the Krakow chapter of the Association of Polish Architects SARP, asked me to take part in the development of this publication, I felt truly honoured. The more so as owing to artistic and architectural family connections, I have had the pleasure of knowing the other author of this idea – Mr Wojciech Plewiński, artist and photographer – and admiring his career for as long as I can remember. The fact that numerous graduates – or sometime students – of the Faculty of Architecture of the Krakow University of Technology have phenomenal accomplishments in many fields of art (and not only) beyond architecture, was very well known to the originators of this book. However, I daresay, apart from them, only fellow architects were aware of such a link. Of course, many of the protagonists in this anthology are largely popular, both in Poland and abroad. For instance, even schoolchildren are perfectly aware (or so we hope, as they should know their obligatory reads!) of who Sławomir Mrożek is – a world –famous man of letters. Who, even in the broadest circles in Poland, has not heard of musicians and performers as beloved by audiences as Ewa Demarczyk, Marek Grechuta, Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz? Who does not know Janusz Majewski, the filmmaker? And amongst theatre and art lovers, who has not heard of Zofia de Ines, a stage designer, and Zdzisław Beksiński and Wilhelm Sasnal, painters – to mention but a few of the illustrious protagonists of this publication? Yet alas, paradoxically, who knows that they all studied at – and in most cases successfully graduated from – the Faculty of Architecture of the Krakow University of Technology? The greater the merit of the aforementioned authors of the concept of this publication – it was high time indeed to cast off the veils of ignorance.
Facing the fantastically rich vitae contained in our anthology, it is difficult to venture any general conclusion. I shall try in this vein: the discovery, that so many pre-eminent personages of Polish or world cultural life, entrepreneurship (e.g. Jerzy Donimirski), politics (Janusz Sepioł), or even aviation (sic! Zbigniew Staryszak, airline pilot), studied architecture, was very intriguing for me – and so it will be, I hope, for our readers. Equally interesting and edifying are their opinions, which are very flattering for the Faculty of Architecture (deservedly so). Architectural education gave our protagonists skills in composition, a sense of discipline, enhanced organisational capabilities, and provided an opportunity to meet outstanding creative personalities – including prewar Polish professors of architecture from Lwow and Warsaw Polytechnic, who taught in Krakow – as well as excellent colleagues. This is in spite of the fact that, as photographer Zbigniew Łagocki charmingly put it: “Please note that studying architecture is in my opinion often an option for those who are not sure what to do in life.” Admittedly, later he added: “[…] We studied architecture with great verve and passion...“
However, a true revelation for me was the conclusion that architectural studies at the Cracovian Faculty provided a key to individual freedom. Despite many complications in their paths of life, the graduates were imbued with an attachment to values: logic, beauty and creative expression and were thus enabled to have their own style of activity, regardless of the field. Most of our “architects beyond architecture” write about this. I take the liberty to quote but one of them, an avant –garde performer, Zbigniew Warpechowski: “I am really fortunate that I was able to study architecture. It has trained me in discipline, responsibility and independent thinking, and provided me with general knowledge. It also helped me to make ends meet working as a set designer in 1972–82. […] Architecture has taught me how to perceive the world around and appreciate the value of culture, especially of the architectural one. That is why – with all my heart and soul – I am an architect as well. As it appears, my way of life has not been an easy one, I have experienced many sorrows. Fortunately, I have had many truly happy moments too.”
This sentence I can only dedicate to my worthy readers and to myself, beyond – and especially, with – architecture.
Marta A. Urbańska
Copyright by Konrad Glos, Rafal Zub 2010