Szymon Syrkus – Helena Syrkus | A housing project (1956)


Szymon Syrkus – Helena Syrkus | Bibliography – books and articles

Szymon Syrkus – Helena Syrkus | Timeline




Warszawa Funkcjonalna / Functional Warsaw
Jan Chmielewski – Szymon Syrkus


Szymon Syrkus
Born: June 24, 1893, Warsaw, Poland
Died: June 8, 1964, Warsaw, Poland
Helena Syrkus
Born: May 14, 1900, Warsaw, Poland
Died: November 19, 1982, Warsaw, Poland





Szymon Syrkus ‘Architecture Opens up Volume’
Machine Age Exposition New York 1927


are based on a heroic composition of communi-
cating passages, and neither place volumes on
top of each other nor side by side. THEY






CIAM 7 – Bergamo 1945, Helena Syrkus
Architecture, You and Me: The Diary of a Development, Sigfried Giedion, 1958

Helena Syrkus: We wish to see the transformation of man of the human conscience and of the architect himself … We lack a fair attitude toward the people. Art belongs to the people and must be understandable by the people… I am in entire agreement with Luis Sert that we lack civic centers. The Greek Agora had its function; the medieval piazza at Bergamo has its function; but open places have been deliberately degraded by the capitalist system in order that people should not have the opportunity to unite against the system. We need art, but an art which responds to human needs and uplifts the spirit of the people. The words written on Corbusier’s Pavilion of the New Spirit were “Understanding: Decision: Assertion.” Unfortunately, people have not yet the understanding. This is the reason why it is realized in the U.S.S.R. that we have fallen into a formalism. Formalism is born from the abyss created by the capitalists between art and reality, between Dichtung und Wahrheit. Artists detached themselves from life and started to create art for art’s sake. Real artistic revolutions have always been swept forward by social revolutions. Goya changed the whole of his technique and palette in order to portray the disasters of war. The aim of a socialist realism is to raise the status of man, but there are many sorts of realism. The work of Picasso is realistic in the sense that he has developed a method of showing the rottenness of capitalist society. For this reason his works are considered valuable in the people’s democracies. In the East, where the people have reached a positive phase of development, the works of Picasso have no mean- ing and are forbidden. The “formalism” of CIAM was positive in the early days it was a revolt. It made use of analytical methods, which were also socialist methods. Functionalism discovered many good things (orientation, and so on), but its importance has gradually grown less and less… Construction is but a skeleton. It has great interest for the anatomist, but for the rest it only becomes beautiful when it is covered with fine muscles and a lovely skin. We had nothing else to offer at the time when CIAM began, and so we made a fetish of the skeleton. The countries of the East have come to the conclusion that we should have a greater respect for the past. We do not need to fall into the eclecticism of drawing our mate- rial directly from the forms of the past but we should havea greater respect for the spirit of the past… The new Warsaw will conserve its link with the past that is to say, it will preserve all that is good in the lines of roads, open places, the connections with the Vistula, and with all remaining evidences of its ancient culture. In defending and preserving our national culture we defend and preserve international culture. We of CIAM must revise our attitude. [Looking through the large windows toward Scamozzi’s palace, Helena Syrkus concluded]: The Bauhaus is as far behind us as Scamozzi.