Look at the Przymorze district of Gdańsk on Google Earth. See the long caterpillar crawling towards the sea along the Obrońców Wybrzeża street? That’s the longest of eight wavy apartment blocks in Gdańsk, known as falowiec (from the Polish fala – wave).
The falowiec kind of apartment blocks remind of the times of the Polish People’s Republic. Eight of them were built in Gdańsk in the 60’s and 70’s. Later, in the 80’s, nine of them were built in Łódź and five in Poznań. The idea was to erect residential buildings that would offer accommodation to as many people as possible at a relatively low cost. Instead of typical corridors, they have galleries on one side, from which you enter the apartments.
But when we speak of falowiec, we usually have the one at Obrońców Wybrzeża street in Gdańsk on our mind. It is 2821,5 feet long and has 11 floors. Its wavy shape is supposed to make reference to the sea. It takes three bus stops to travel from one end to the other. This enormous structure has 1792 apartments (which for the most are quite small, the tiniest ones being only 183 square feet) and is home to nearly 6000 people. Isn’t this a city within a city?
Falowiec is perpendicular to the coastline in order to prevent the impact of strong winds colliding with the concrete walls. However, the passageways are difficult to walk through because of the draft, so you have to hold your coat and umbrella tight. And this enormous building has an influence on the local microclimate just as if it were a mountain.
You can either love it or hate it. Some people consider it to be an architectural nightmare from the past, others would like it to become a protected historical monument. No matter which side you’re on, living there surely is an adventure.