Not only millennium schools

The time of the Polish People’s Republic is associated mostly with the so-called ‘millennium schools’ (Polish: ‘tysiąclatki’). These were built as part of the project ’A thousand schools for the Millennium’. However, they are only a small part of Poznań buildings erected at the time. The designs of the majority of post-war schools did not stand out. Only several buildings from the 1950s are an exception – they have more traditional designs in accordance with the imposed doctrine of socialist realism.

The designs of Modernist schools were changing over time (beginning with functional but cramped buildings and ending with vast school complexes). Nevertheless, most of the schools are surrounded by spacious recreational and sports grounds. Finally, what is very important, these schools are very close to residential areas. Some of them are even located within the housing estates so that children do not have to cross busy streets to reach them.


illustration: Dariusz Zych

Main photo - Not only millennium schools

Adam Mickiewicz University

Originally: Primary School, Secondary School and Pedagogical Secondary School of the Children’s Friends Society
Design: Władysław Czarnecki
Construction year: 1948

Three years after the war, a simple Modernist school was built in Poznań. It was just before the authorities imposed a decorative, socialist realism style in architecture. This school was one of the few erected in the city in the first decade after the war. It was designed by a renowned architect and urban planner Władysław Czarnecki. This is how a vast and functional school complex was built on the western outskirts of the city at the time.

It comprised of several simple blocks surrounding a spacious yard. In the 1970s the complex was taken over by sociologists from the Adam Mickiewicz University and adapted to serve new purposes. After 1990 new buildings were, quite smoothly, added: a library and then an assembly hall (Collegium Znaniecki).

Interesting facts:

  • The school appeared in the Polish Film Chronicle in 1950 (ep. 22). ‘Almost 90 per cent of students are children of workers and peasant farmers’ – said the narrator when the camera showed for example well-equipped classrooms for teaching geography, biology and physics.
  • The memory of the building’s original function has become blurred due to a stronger association with one of the Adam Mickiewicz University’s buildings, which today is colloquially called ‘Szamarzewo’.

photos: Łukasz Gdak

Primary School No. 45

Design: Zenon Śron, Henryk Nowakowski, Władysław Jankowski
Construction year: 1963

One of the fourteen Poznań millennium schools. Even though its design was not exceptional, the school was very important because it was not built in the new part of the city but in a rather underfunded district with an old and overpopulated school.

The millennium school at ul. Główna was built thanks to the support of the nearby Pomet plant and the huge community involvement in raising the funds.

Thus, a modern, even though a bit plain, building was erected. Its architecture was different from that of the surrounding buildings. Despite that, the main school building did not stand out – it was hidden at the back of the older and lower buildings. The district gained not only an educational institution, but also a place for community integration.

photos: Łukasz Gdak


Primary School No. 6

Design: Teresa Mycko-Golec
Construction year: 1983

The exhilaration caused by building millennial schools on a massive scale did not last long. These rather cramp buildings soon became overcrowded. They often lacked space where students could spend their free time. In order to avoid these problems, in the 1970s designs for school buildings became more imaginative. They were modelled after schools in western Europe, which abounded with well-organised shared spaces. This is how the primary school at os. Rusa was built. Its characteristic feature was a very wide, bright and two-storey-high hall. What is more, there were separate spaces for children of different ages. Just like the residential areas around them, this and other schools from the turn of the 1970s and 1980s were made of huge prefabricated units.

Despite the economic crisis which arose when the construction of the school was near completion, a lot of attention was paid to details. The walls of the hall and sports rooms were covered with clinker, whereas the hall’s ceiling was given a unique finish.

Interesting facts:

  • In 2016 the vast grounds around the school were turned into sports fields as well as recreational and relaxation areas – the so-called ‘Orlik Open’. It is an interesting place where two worlds, the school’s and the local community’s, meet.

photos: Łukasz Gdak