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Polish town offers free house designs based on famous 19th century style

A Polish town has launched a scheme providing those seeking to build new homes with free architectural designs based on a famous style that developed in the area in the 19th century.

Jarosław Margielski, the mayor of Otwock, a town of 45,000 that sits alongside the capital Warsaw, announced the scheme as part of a campaign to promote the architectural heritage of the town, which is famous for its wooden “Świdermajer” style.

“This architectural design is original and unique on the national level, which significantly increases the aesthetic value of the buildings,” said Margielski. “We should try to incorporate elements of it as often as possible, not only in public spaces, but we should also encourage residents to take inspiration from this style.”

The plan was first announced by Margielski in July, and this month the municipal authorities published free, downloadable construction and design plans for Świdermajer-style houses on the town’s website.

Residents can choose from three designs – entitled Classic, Modern and Natur – which were created by an architecture studio selected through a competition and paid for by municipal funds. The city then obtained the copyright to all three designs and made them available to use free of charge.

The design plans are intended for the construction of two-storey, single-family houses up to 70 square meters, in the hope that the Świdermajer style will be “revived in our town and be an inspiration to residents”, reads the town’s website.

The Świdermajer style marries traditional elements of local wooden architecture with Swiss-style wide roofs and wooden porches with large windows of the type commonly seen in rural Russian houses.

It was first created by 19th-century Polish illustrator and architect Michał Elwiro Andriolli, who is also known for his illustrations of Adam Mickiewicz’s epic poem Pan Tadeusz, published in 1834.

The name Świdermajer is a combination of the terms “Biedermeier” – a decorative movement that was created by and for the middle class between 1815 and 1848 – and “Świder”, the name of both a river along which a number of villas were built and a village between Warsaw and Otwock that was home to many Świdermajer houses.


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