The town of Katowice is the site of the only two residential complexes in Poland designed by Bruno Taut, one of the leading architects and authors of German modernistic residential housing. Both complexes, the so-called 'Städtische Kolonie Oheimgrube' (designed in 1915-1916) and 'Werksiedlung Oheim-grube' or 'Kolonie Zalenderhalde' (designed in 1915, built in 1918-1920) are workers' estates commissioned by Hohnelohe Werke A.G. (today: the property of the Wujek mine), at the time part of a group of the largest industrial enterprises in Upper Silesia. With the passage of time, the two premises, up to this day outside the range of conservation protection, succumbed to assorted transformations connected with additions, an exchange of the original outfitting or plaster, etc., which meant that to a considerable extent they lost their uniqueness; at present, it might appear that they are doomed to further degradation. The German example of the conservation of another housing estate designed by Taut – the 'Berlin Onkel-Toms-Hütte' in the district of Steglitz-Zehlendorf - shows that there is a chance for restoring the buildings' exceptional character and original form. A thorough examination of the value of the premise, the process of ensuring conservation protection, the performance of historical, conservation and architectural studies and, subsequently, a consistent restoration of the original appearance, corresponding to the artistic will of the architect, and a simultaneous moulding of the awareness of the estate residents, made it possible in the course of more than ten years to save the historical residential estate from destruction and further transformations as well as to draw forth its most valuables assets. Both complexes are only an example of a problem that affects numerous preserved modernistic housing estates, today threatened with irreversible changes or devastation, connected with, i.a. the initiatives of the investors. Keeping in mind this type of a menace, and in view of the fact that in 2008 six modernistic estates in Berlin have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, it is recommended to immediately start devising a suitable conservation strategy for the endangered and as yet insufficiently studied modernistic architectural moments.
mgr, Olczyk, absolwentka Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika w Toruniu, jest pracownikiem Regionalnego Ośrodka Badań i Dokumentacji Zabytków w Katowicach. Interesuje się problematyką ochrony konserwatorskiej architektury modernistycznej.
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