KatowiceHenryk Buszko & Aleksander Franta


The Silesian city of Katowice boasts a few distinctive groups of residential tower blocks. They were designed in the 1970s by Henryk Buszko and Aleksander Franta who, from 1956, were in charge of the Polish state-owned office PPBO. Large-scale industrial housing developments, which dominate virtually all Russian and Eastern European cities, are usually labelled Plattenbau and reached an exceptionally complex and elegant apotheosis here. In the Tysia˛clecia district Buszko and Franta designed five housing blocks, commonly known as Kukurydze (corn cobs), in which a maximum number of apartments with good ventilation and daylighting are grouped around a single core. The square core is surrounded by a garland of eight smaller, square modules, each of which accommodates a two-bedroom apartment, alternated with the occasional one-bedroom apartment. The towers are conspicuous not just for their exterior and floor plan but also for the way in which they complement the ground level. The tower blocks are built on a base with a sunken car park. The first two storeys differ from the standard storeys and contain shops and other amenities. This attempt at a more precise urban fit is lacking in most Eastern European Plattenbauten, which generally sit forlorn in an undefined space…