Adam Przywara is a PhD Candidate in the Manchester Architecture Research Group at the University of Manchester. His doctoral project investigates the history of the material transformation of rubble and ruins into postwar architecture during the socialist reconstruction of Polish cities in the late 1940s. More broadly, Adam’s research engages with the changes in the materiality of architecture in the history of modernity.
Adam holds a Bachelor’s degree in art history from Warsaw University and a Master’s degree in architectural history from The Bartlett, University College London. He was awarded research fellowships at the Deutsches Historisches Institut Warschau (2020) and Bauhaus Foundation in Dessau (2018). He worked as a curator of urban and architectural history exhibitions “Rubble Uprising: Warsaw, 1945-1949” (upcoming) and “See You After the Revolution. 100 years of Bauhaus” (2019). He co-edited a volume “The Art of Joining: Designing the Universal Connector” (Spector Books, 2018).
Tentative Title: "Rubble Europe: Trans-National History of Rubble Utilisation in the Immediate Postwar Period"
Supervisors: Dr. Łukasz Stanek and Dr. Leandro Minuchin
My dissertation investigates the materiality of architecture in Warsaw as a historical register of the transitional postwar period of the late 1940s. It does so by accounting for the material transformation in architecture which became a foundational experience of the postwar condition in Europe: reconstruction from the rubble of World War II. Drawing on the original archival sources the work traces the transformation of rubble into the materiality of the postwar city, differentiating between architectural articulations of that process: rubble detritus, salvaged bricks, and rubble concrete. This allows the narrative to account for an overlooked field of reconstruction politics, the politics of materiality, tracing agencies and struggles which shaped them, as well as their influence on postwar urban and architectural culture.
In recent years an interdisciplinary body of knowledge emerged in academia responding to the environmental ruination, unfolding today on a planetary scale. In this context, one of the central concerns of contemporary humanities became a possibility of change in the established relations between humans and the material world. This dissertation contributes to this growing body of knowledge by examining a historical example of change in architectural materiality enacted in response to material outcomes of the wartime ruination in Warsaw. Each chapter of the dissertation looks at different groups of historical actors — inhabitants, socialist state, architecture professionals — as they actively transform rubble and their relation to that novel, yet defining material feature of the postwar city. In the process, rubble shifts between tangible and symbolic, traversing modalities of matter, material, materiality and revealing its active role in that process of transformation.
The resulting argument of the thesis underlines the decisive role of building and architecture in the process of materializing the politics and culture of the transitional postwar period of the late 1940s. The materiality of architecture is identified here as a historical register of changes in the relation between humans and the material world; changes which, in the postwar period, contributed to the formation of urban subjectivity, socialist political economy, and the modern architectural profession.