The Social Architecture of High-rise Apartment Blocks. Jerzy Gruza's 'A Forty-Year Old' and Stanislaw Bareja's '4, Alternatywy Street'
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A block of flats is part of Poland's cultural context. In the 1970s and 1980s it appears in the press, newsreels, on photographs, postcards and becomes the hero of films. The authoress examines two film series of the late People's Poland, set in Warsaw's blocks of flats; at the housing estate of Panska Street and at the newly-constructed dormitory suburb of Ursynów (Jerzy Gruza's 'A Forty-year-Old' and Stanislaw Bareja's '4, Alternatywy Street'). The two series kindly sneer at the modernisation-social project high-rise apartment blocs were to realize. The Socialist block of flats is both an architectural and social project. Therefore, the space of the housing estate is depicted as the way in which life and community are organized. 'A block of flats' cancels the traditional definition of at-homeness, family and privacy, and introduces a new category of luxury, big-citiness, emancipation and modernity. Changes in the system of concepts are shown mockingly - luxury is 'not exactly' provided while housing estate residents do not always act in harmony and solidarity. Our attention is drawn to details of the film set, a document of the material culture of People's Poland.
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