THE CITY CONCEPT
In 1949 a team of designers was formed, led by Tadeusz Ptaszycki and including : Adam Fołtyn, Tadeusz Janowski, Stanisław Juchnowicz, Tadeusz Rembiesa and -Bolesław Skrzybalski. The architectural town-planning idea adapted a wide range of solutions. Some specialists can even spot resemblances to St. Peter's Square, the Vendôme Square and Hausmann`s work in Paris. The most striking feature of Nowa Huta' s "old town" is its very specific layout and composition: compact, orderly arranged, harmonious and giving an irresistible impression of designer's profound vision. Nowa Huta was built on a so-called "tabula rasa". There was no other town here earlier to impose a particular solution on the designer's plans. For this reason, their vision could be realised from scratch.
The city plan is based on a half of a classical Renaissance city. The streets run radially out of one centre - the Central Square situated on the brink of the Vistula embankment and are linked together forming a web. Such a layout was imposed by the natural relief of the ground. The plans preserved the historical road network. All the building rules of social realist were realized in Nowa Huta. It is this fact that is always stressed by specialists and it is this very fact that distinguishes this town from the other achievements of that period that are incomplete and hence less attractive. The most characteristic feature is the axial composition - referring to the baroque town planning.
The city layout is based upon the Anglo-Saxon concept of "neighbourhood units" - dating back to the 1920s when the regional plan for New York was being developed . These units assemble 5000 - 6000 residents, further forming districts of 15 -20 thousand residents. Neighbourhood units were generally equipped with infrastructure indispensable for the functioning of their communities including: catering, shops, kindergartens and schools situated within a certain district. Children didn't have to cross busy roads and the adults didn't have to move too far for daily business. The peripheral districts in the eastern and western parts, with their loose composition, were influenced by worker`s estates from the early 20th century.
Low, detached buildings covered with hip roofs stand among lush greenery. These are so-called "standard buildings", resembling those built at that time throughout Poland, similar but not identical. They were constructed when the thorough plan was not completely worked out or approved. The districts closest to the centre have a more compact composition and dominate the peripheral developments of streets. The units are closed quarters with the gates leading within . The space between the blocks is smaller but also filled with greenery. In some quarters the corner buildings are higher than the others creating a kind of tower that makes the developments look like fortresses. These ideas are closer to the rules of socialist realism, giving priorities to compact arrangements, both intelligible and univocal. Similar principles (but rejecting thick layer of ideology) dominate postmodernist town planning today. Such kind of building development was not only much more economical but also had a utilitarian significance: it facilitated the supervision of children, as well as mutual control of the residents which was of great importance in the Stalin era . The architecture itself follows standards of the Renaissance, baroque and classicism, which are visible in a great number of historic forms and abundant detail.
As one can see the city designers have done their best to make residents live comfortably, to create a friendly atmosphere and provide for all their needs. That was the reason why the green spaces were considered so omportant . Nowa Huta is built according to the idea of a garden city. Greenery was planted together with the construction of housing . Even today, it is the greenest district of Cracow.
NOWA HUTA - an unfinished work
The present view of the old part of Nowa Huta does not fully match its designers' plans and is incomplete. The original plans were abandoned in the mid 1950s. The side surfaces of the projections in the Central Square were to be decorated with ceramic reliefs representing women workers and harvesters.These carvings and bas-reliefs never appeared on the facades. There were also plans to decorate the facades of the buildings situated on the main avenues with stone facing along the full length of the artery.
A monumental and exceptional theatre that was meant as a striking closure for the southern part of the Central was not erected either. On both sides of the theatre namely in those areas where nowadays one can see the housing development Centrum E and the Nowa Huta Cultural Center (NCK),other buildings were to have been constructed.
In the middle part of Rose Avenue a Town Hall was planned ,with a design influenced by some typical Polish Renaissance town halls. After the incorporation of Nowa Huta into Cracow these plans became redundant. Symmetrically on both its sides were to stand ostentatious seats of various party and state organizations. Right in the middle of the Central Square was to have been erected a high spire thus forming a vertical dominant and an optical counterpoise to the town hall tower.