Zachwatowicz, Jan

views updated

Zachwatowicz, Jan (1900–83). Polish architect and architectural historian, a graduate of the School of Architecture, Warsaw (1930). In 1939 he became Director of the Department of Architecture, teaching students clandestinely throughout the Nazi occupation and terror, always in great personal danger. In 1945 he was nominated General Conservator of Historical Monuments, and appointed to the Chair of Polish Architecture, Warsaw Polytechnic. Not only did he organize a national conservation structure, but evolved a strategy for the reconstitution of buildings and historic town-centres that had been reduced to rubble, all the more difficult when Nazi barbarism had been replaced by Stalinist repression.

The ‘Polish School of Conservation’ (a term for which he did not care), of which, nevertheless, he was the leading light, held that reconstruction should be based as much as possible on reliable historical evidence, documentary, architectural, and archaeological. Under Zachwatowicz's guidance the impressive achievements of reconstruction in Poland began to be internationally recognized. The entire Old Town of Warsaw was painstakingly and brilliantly reconstructed, together with its churches, and the rebuilding of the Royal Palace (completed 1981—with others, including Professor Stanisław Lorentz (1899–1991) ) can only be regarded as a triumph (especially as the Communist authorities proposed erecting a large Modernist building on the site to obliterate all historical references). Other historic centres (e.g. Gdańsk, Poznań, and Wrocław) were also repaired and rebuilt according to principles established by Zachwatowicz and his team. Among his other achievements was the rebuilding of St John's Cathedral, Warsaw (1960). He was an outstanding scholar, with over 200 major publications to his credit.


Puget (ed.) (1994);
Zachwatowicz; et al. (1952);