Polonisation and boxes

Poznań welcomed the independence of Poland with a large number of post-German schools. Therefore, for a short time the city did not have to struggle with the shortage of space. Its population, however, was increasing fast and the city was growing bigger, adding new districts to its area. Therefore, some new, good primary schools had to be built in them. In the older parts of the city, on the other hand, middle schools and technical schools were being established.

At first, the design of the new buildings referred to the old architectural styles, which reminded people of the Polish identity from the times before the Partitions. This was consistent with the national trend of ‘polonising’ architecture. In the late 1920s, however, a new trend began to emerge. What mattered most was functionality, hygiene and simplicity. The so-called ‘box’ schools began to be established. These represented the spirit of Modernism.


illustration: Dariusz Zych

Main photo - Polonisation and boxes

Secondary School No. 25

Originally: a seven-year primary school for girls
Design: Kazimierz Ruciński and Jerzy Tuszowski
Construction year: 1929

Winiary was incorporated as part of the city in 1925. At ul. Widna a model design of a school was created for the new district. It fit the architectural trends referring to the national tradition, which was typical at the time. Thus, the massive building features a steep roof with two towers, corner buttresses and a cloister leading to a gym.

The existing school is only part of the complex that was originally designed. There was supposed to be another building, a school for boys, located opposite the existing one and designed as its mirror reflection. The design also included a kindergarten, houses for teachers, separate fields for boys and girls as well as gardens: a French garden and vegetable gardens for environmental education.

Interesting facts:

  • After the school was constructed, it served for several months as a hotel for the guests visiting the Polish General Exhibition.

photos: Łukasz Gdak

Secondary School No. 6

Originally: Schiller German Middle School (during the interwar period)
Design: Albert Krüger
Year of the extension of the building: 1932

During the interwar period this popular school called ‘Paderek’ housed Schiller German Middle School. The building at ul. Krakowska was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1930s it was extended and rebuilt in the way which combined the innovativeness of Modernism with more traditional solutions. It gained modern wings which housed a gym and an assembly hall above it. However, it was the numerous details that were the true testimony to the quality of architecture: sgraffiti, clinker finish, paintings and the light roof resting on thin stands, which ran along the whole ground floor of the building.

Even though the body of the building survived till today, the original details do not exist any more or are covered by layers of plaster and paint. The building needs to be renovated so that at least some of its original spirit can be brought back.

photos: Łukasz Gdak

Primary School No. 46

Originally: seven-year Marshal Piłsudski Primary School
Design: Jerzy Tuszowski
Construction year: 1936

The most innovative school in the city. This is what people said before the war about the rather modest, but kept in the new ‘box’ style, school at os. Warszawskie. It clearly stood out from the surrounding villas whose architecture was rather traditional, even though they were newly-built. The school building, on the other hand, was made of straight blocks. The main building was a long rectangular prism. In the corner there was a taller block with a staircase, which fit nicely into the whole structure. The design placed importance on simple, bright walls and large windows. To enrich the construction, clinker finish was added to the building, for example, on the ground floor which housed rooms for scouts and for teaching household skills.

The gym was built in 1977 – the contractors did not manage to build it before the war. Over the years the building lost many of the beautiful elements included in the pre-war design. They were reintroduced in 2018 when the school building was slightly extended.

Interesting fact:

The building was erected thanks to the initiative of the Poznań Chamber of Crafts, which bought parcels from the city and asked the officials to use the money to build a new school.

phtos: Łukasz Gdak