In this thesis, architecture situates between extremes. The dichotomies of destruction and construction, mobility and fixity, performance and reality, inside and outside, and form and time frame architecture and the processes through which it is made. The context is Poland in the fallout of the year 1945, when Warsaw’s unique, nearly total destruction and the ascendence of a new communist regime raised the political stakes of architecture. The thesis focuses on a cast of characters in architecture and related artistic disciplines—individuals haunted by the traumas of their own pasts, negotiating a Polish state that created oppressive limitations through artistic mandates but also created opportunities by commissioning artists and architects, and participating as agents of a discipline that wielded incredible political power but was also revealed by the war to produce objects that were ephemeral and destroyable.
The thesis then moves beyond the predominance of total destruction and totalitarianism, highlighting stories of improvisation, innovation, and self-becoming within a high-pressure political milieu. Just as the extreme conditions of Poland in 1945 preceded multiple spatial and conceptual approaches to form, the thesis itself takes the form of group biography, describing a fluid situation through glimpses of shared yet elusive realities in which architecture and architects try to intervene.