Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa

Triennale supports film on iconic work of Polish Architecture

Manhattan as we call it is a film dedicated to Polish architect Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak celebrating her 100th birthday and premiering in Portugal on 27 December 2020 at 6 p.m, with presentations on 29 and 30 December. Directed by Tomasz Piech and Filip Janerka, with script by Michał Duda and Małgorzata, it is co-funded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Polish Cultural Promotion Fund, the Lisbon Architecture Triennale is associated as a strategic partner with this film project developed by the Entre Foundation, having also the institutional support of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), the Polish Embassy in Portugal, and the Wroclaw Museum of Architecture.

Manhattan de Wroclaw

Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak is a remarkable Polish architect whose precursor work played a crucial role in the development of her post-war homeland in a context of limited resources and widespread poverty in socialist Poland. The film takes place in the city of Wrocław, where the residential and service complex, known as Manhattan of Wrocław, is located, designed by this brave and ambitious woman. Recognised as one of the most important European projects of the last century, these six skyscrapers, adorned with curvilinear prefabricated buildings, stand out for their transparent functionality and bold lines that reflect a vision of a modern and modernist city - extraordinary and open.

Manhattan of Wroclaw © Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak

The public is invited to attend its free online exhibition on Vimeo and travel remotely through this residential and service complex built by the author, and understand how associates, residents and employees speak about the “community centres" located in the superstructures above the residential floors 50 years later. With Portuguese subtitles, the premiere of the film is preceded by a short meeting with representatives of the Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw, which is part of the Future Architecture Platform network of which the Triennale is also a member.


How do you live in a "monument" of a postcard? The action of the film takes place in one of the community centres currently abandoned, serving as a pretext to meet residents who have lived in these extraordinary buildings. The film, a documentary, is told by various voices, including Chris Niedenthal, a British photographer and transformation reporter from Eastern European countries in the 1970s, as well as inhabitants of the buildings, architects, specialists, researchers of the work of Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak, exhibition curators, building administration officials and the author's family. Conditioned by the pandemic crisis, Manhattan shows empty streets, few cars and people wearing masks, instead of the initial idea of recording the busy neighbourhoods. The viewer dives into these streets of today and a question remains: What has it been like to live here for the last half century? Manhattan, as we call these residential complexes, enchants, shocks, reconciles, conflicts, and undoubtedly dominates the northern part of the city.

The community centres located above the residential floors consist of living rooms and terraces with a wide view over this flat city, for the purpose of serving those who live there: as recreational and entertainment spaces, meeting places for the local community, annexes for small flats, where - subject to prior reservation - or where a family meeting can be arranged.

In the film, Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak's testimony reveals the success of his work by "provoking discussions both in the professional environment and among the inhabitants of Wrocław. At first they were a little suspicious, following the development of the works, then for a long time watching the finished buildings. After all, they accepted them, mistrust gave way to local patriotism".  
From the discovery of this exemplary work of architecture conceived by the first woman architect trained in her alma mater, the film by the Entre Foundation thus offers a journey to Breslávia.

Watch the Film

About Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak

Known as an icon of post-war architecture, in 2020 she celebrated her 100th birthday in October, of which she survived 98 years. Courageous and independent, she was the first female architect trained in her alma mater. Despite the difficult post-war times in socialist Poland, she created an architecture that stood out on a European scale. She was the author of buildings with transparent and bold features, both in terms of plastic expression and structure. An active and ambitious woman, she realised the vision of a modern, modernist, extraordinary and open city through her projects. Manhattan of Wroclaw was recognised as one of the most important European works of the 20th century. Jadwiga was awarded with the title of one of the 100 most important architects of the last century by MoMoWo (Women's Creativity Since the Modern Movement).

Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak

Behind the scenes with the architect Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak

About Polish Architecture

At the beginning of the 20th century, before the Second World War, Wroclaw was the centre of the vanguard. The city's Academy of Fine Arts was considered one of the best art academies, known by many as the Bauhaus before the Bauhaus. The first modernists left their mark on the city, including Max Berg, who was the city's construction adviser and designed, among others, the Centennial Hall, a UNESCO world heritage site since 2006. The city was also home to the brutalist buildings of Hans Poelzig and the site of the 1929 WUWA exhibition, organised by Deutscher Werkbund.

Today, 100 years later, between wars, communism, devastating floods and permanent reconstruction, Wroclaw is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe, the city of a hundred bridges, students and revolution. The young city, full of culture (European Capital of Culture 2016), is characterized by a diversified architecture and a rich history. A city of parks, medieval churches, classical operas, Art Nouveau, modernist districts, pubs, classical music and rock festivals, bicycles, canoes and boats. A city like any other - noisy, crowded, in a hurry, between fast cafes and hasty conversations, living in the hustle and bustle of cars, on trams, bicycles and, undoubtedly, multicultural and multidimensional.

Manhattan of Wroclaw publication

Manhattan project