The Architecture of the Convent of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Lobzowska Street in Cracow
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The convent of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Lobzowska Street in Cracow was built in the years 1903-1905. Its founders, expelled from Poznan in the 'Kulturkampf' period, at first took up residence in a villa temporarily adapted for this purpose, and soon afterwards made an attempt to extend it (plans by Antoni Luszczkiewicz of 1875 and by Józef Ochmanski of 1877), but finally decided to erect a new convent according to Stefan Zoldani's designs (1890-1891). However, lack of sufficient funds thwarted the implementation of the idea. It was resumed in 1900, a new design being entrusted to Tadeusz Stryjenski and Franciszek Maczynski. Their concept developed step by step, as is documented by four successive drawn versions of 1900-1903. The spatial disposition of the layout proposed by the two architects referred to Zoldani's design (modelled on the plan of the convent of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Brussels), but with somewhat different proportions of its particular parts and with a slightly altered plan of the interior.The architecture of the convent oscillates between the picturesque of Late Historicism and cubistic tendencies of the early 20th century. The stylistic expression of the convent is determined by the forms of a transitional style, though interpreted in a very free manner (avoidance of explicit historical references; abandonment of Romanesque-Gothic detail, introduction of decoration based on Art Nouveau and folk motifs), this being responsible for a definitely novel character of the structure as seen against a background of the contemporary sacred architecture. A conspicuous departure in the convent form from a dogmatic treatment of the past was undoubtedly inspired by the then popular theoretical writings of John Ruskin (Seven Lamps of Architecture) and Otto Wagner (Moderne Architektur). The spatial and functional arrangement of the edifice was decided by the requirement of observance of the Carmelite rule and the binding conventual regulations. The history of the construction of the convent testifies to the founder's considerable influence on the architectural form of the building.
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