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Brutalist Treasures of Poland

By Phoenix Kaspian — 4th March, 2023

A biologist considering an apple

For the last few weeks I have been exploring the brutalist architecture of Krakow, Poland. There is no official, or even unofficial, guide to these buildings. Most are not documented on the internet and the only way to locate them is to actually walk the streets and seek them out.

The architecture of downtown Krakow, in general, could be best described as "Sugar Plum Fairy," which is how my friend put it, and sighed. I can relate to her disenchantment. I have never enjoyed medieval-castle type design and it may be useful for the reader to remember that much of Krakow's twirly, icing-cake, Freemason-evil-grunge architecture emerged from within the pseudo-religion of Catholicism and the city (lovely though the people are) is still polluted by wandering priests (pedophiles) and nuns (pedophiles), and the architecture that was built for them to abuse children in.

You can sense the general resentment most Krakow residents feel towards those creatures in black and white costumes, creeping in and out of various 'churches' around the city, but still, shouldn't someone just tell the pedos to leave?

Despite real-life phantoms wandering the streets, there is, I suppose, a sort of creepy-Disney conflict-tourism vibe to Krakow's architecture which is interesting, although not endearing. It feels like Krakow originally inspired Disneyland, and now Disneyland inspires Krakow. It's hard to know what is real or not. Many of the 'oldest' buildings seem to have the cleanest masonry work. Maybe it doesn't matter.

Fortunately, there are at least two major, beautiful, brutalist structures which counterbalance the Disney-Krakow-Disney ouroboros of the Old Town. The first is this amazing spaceship, connected to a semi-circular block of apartments, at the intersection of the streets Monte Cassino and Kapelanka:

A biologist considering an apple

This building is pure sci-fi and will delight fans of Star Wars — the original 1977 edition of course, not the modern Disney-trash — and Blade Runner. You can easily imagine hunting down replicants in this structure (or nuns, metaphorically). The main circular building is connected by a wide bridging-section to the semi-circular apartment block to the rear. There is more than a passageway between the two structures, the bridge-section is a building in itself, although I could not discern its occupants.

The main circular-building has been squatted by a bank, but the legacy-financial-system's days are numbered, and it seems inevitable that something cool — like an 80s coin-op video-arcade and plant-based-burger restaurant will install itself there soon. Certainly, the current occupancy (by the bank) has wrecked the facade of the building and, for your viewing pleasure, I have made some strategic edits to the photograph so that you don't have to look at the ruins of late-stage phoney-capitalism.

Finally, there is the better-known 'Hotel Forum', which is currently almost completely empty. I made some inquiries about setting up a branch-department of our company there, but I got a dreary, Freemason-cult vibe from the 'landlords' which, as always, is perfectly embodied in the decay of the structure. The abandoned 'Hotel Forum' is Krakow's most extraordinary, beautitful and surreal building and, from a purely architectural perspective, is the best reason to visit.

Hopefully someone with vision and capital will re-energize the giant and magical space in the 'Hotel Forum'. Incidentally, the alleged reason why the building can't simply be turned back into a hotel is because someone in 'government' decided that hotel-room ceiling heights now have to be taller than those in the 'Hotel Forum'. What a brilliant excuse for destroying great architecture.

So that you don't have to look at the neglect the 'Hotel Forum' has been subjected to, I have made a few edits to the photo above to give the reader a sense of the potential in the building.

Maybe if Krakow could get rid of its Old Town ghouls, there would be more time, money, and energy left to restore its architectural jewels. Currently, it feels like there is too much focus on making Disneyland (which they call the 'Krakow Old Town') look palatable despite the obvious problem with the priests and nuns, and not enough focus on the future. The potential here is incredible. Krakow could be world-renowned for its architecture, if it only tried.


About Phoenix Kaspian
Phoenix Kaspian is an industrialist. He works in hydrogen-automotive manufacture and urban structures. Phoenix's early graphics work included a collaboration with Steve Jobs. Phoenix's book designs have been described by The New York Times as "fabulously surreal", "beautiful" and "stunningly imaginative". While Susan Orlean at The New Yorker called Phoenix's graphics work "amazing". As a journalist, Phoenix wrote for The Telegraph, and The Times in London. Today, Phoenix works internationally for Cinescopic, a manufacturing and visualization firm.