Falowiec

Piotr Malecki

Roughly translatable as "wavy block", the longest residential building in Gdansk on Poland's Baltic coast is a tangible relic of the country's communist past but stands for some of the communality that Piotr Malecki misses in his native country today.~~The Polish term “falowiec” means something like “wavy block”. In the northern city of Gdansk, on the shores of the Baltic Sea, eight ‘wavy’ apartment blocks were built in the 1960s and 1970s. The largest of them is the longest residential building in Europe measuring 860 metres in length, housing around 6,000 people and rising 11 floors along Obroncow Wybrzeza Street in the Przymorze district. The building is so long that there are three separate bus stops servicing its different parts. PIotr Malecki, who grew up in Poland in the years these buildings were constructed, visited this falowiec in Gdansk and discovered a number of details about its design and use that are illustrative of Poland’s recent history.

While visiting the housing estate, he noticed the egalitarianism of among its inhabitants. On a typical floor you might find a plumber living next door to a university professor, a painter next to a kitchen porter and filmmakers, web designers, shipyard workers and pensioners all sharing a communal corridor. Living side by side for many years, people from very different walks of life have become friends and gained insights into people from very different backgrounds. Their contact with people from other social groups is mutually enriching, making for a happier coexistence than in residential environments where people have little or no contact with their neighbours.~~The falowiec is a legacy of the communist era which Piotr found heartening and reassuring, despite the fact that he was never fond of the political system while he was growing up. The falowiec is the opposite of a ghetto, so common in many modern urban environments, where different sections of society live radically different lives in different parts of the same city that can sometimes feel like different countries.~~Piotr himself grew up in a high-rise housing block in Warsaw and recalls: “I remember that this was so natural, so normal to me. I also remember coming back home from school, dropping my bag in my room, taking a bike and going off, outside, to play with other kids living in the block. There was a lot of green, plenty of places to play ball, shootout, hide-and-seek or just cruise around the building on my bike. This familiar feeling was back in my head when shooting this material. Falowiec, the longest apartment building in Eastern Europe, is a concrete reminder of my pretty happy childhood.”

 

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      Poland

      The 'Falowiec' ('The Wave Building'), the longest...

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      A man looks over a balcony in the 'Falowiec' ('The...

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      Julka, dressed in ceremonial clothes, and her mother...

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      Young girls filming as they playi a game of jumping...

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      People outside an elevator in the 'Falowiec' ('The...

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      A woman selling sweets to little boy in a small shop...

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      A woman and her children outside the 'Falowiec' ('The...

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      People inside an elevator in the 'Falowiec' ('The...

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      Blood in an elevator following a late night fight in...

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      Girls running outside the 'Falowiec' ('The Wave...

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      A family in their aprtment in the 'Falowiec' ('The...

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      Man waiting for elevator in the 'Falowiec' ('The Wave...

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      A man walking outside the 'Falowiec' ('The Wave...

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      Piotr Markiewicz, photographer and video maker, in...

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      Marta with her seven month old son, Antek at the...

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      A woman walking outside the 'Falowiec' ('The Wave...

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      Renata, Patrycja and Dominika Werner in the bedroom...

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      Children playing shooting games with toy guns inside...

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      Hanna, an interior designer and painter, at her flat...

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      A sewing machine and dummy inside a tailor's shop in...

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      An elderly woman holds flowers she has just cut in...

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      An elderly woman with a dog sitting in a grassy area...

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      Jurand, mathematician and chemist, and his wife...

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      Pawel (right with beard) and his family and friends...

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      Two women outside the 'Falowiec' ('The Wave...

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      A young boy looking at the fish in an aquarium at a...

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      A woman walks her dog across a road junction.

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      A woman walking on one of the walkways that lead to...

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      Pigeons on a balcony fence outside an apartment in...

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      Piotr Markiewicz, photographer and video maker, on...

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      A woman reading a book on a bench outside the...

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      People walking outside the 'Falowiec' ('The Wave...

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      Sebastian (8) playing computer games in his room on...

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      Circling birds and leafless trees outside the...

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      A wintery view from the window of an apartment in the...

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      A wintery view from the window of an apartment in the...

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