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  • Writer's pictureDamian Brzeski

Falowiec Gdańsk Przymorze - No. 3, the longest building in Europe

Have you ever wondered what it's like to live in a building that is a true architectural giant and a witness of eras? What is it like to live in a building where you have to take a bus to see your friend from the block and a walk with your dog around the block takes half an hour.


Falowiec in Gdańsk Przymorze is just such a place. It not only dominates the landscape thanks to its impressive length of 860 meters, but also creates a unique microclimate with its overwhelming shape.


Its history, full of innovations and adaptations to the needs of residents, reflects the spirit of the times in which it was created, at the same time being a testimony to social and technological changes.


In this article, we will look not only at the fascinating history of Gdański Falowiec, but also at its unique architecture, which makes it one of the most recognizable residential buildings in Poland, as well as the third longest in Europe.


I invite you to travel on the waves of Gdańsk's history and architecture, where Falowiec is not just a building, it is a whole microworld, full of history, innovation and community, which continues to evolve, delighting and inspiring subsequent generations.



Design of the Gdańsk wave carrier

The history of Falowiec in Gdańsk Przymorze


When we talk about Falowiec in Gdańsk Przymorze, we cannot ignore the facts that make it not only an architectural giant, but also a true witness of epochs.


This is an idea that was born in the 1970s, becoming a response to the growing housing needs of those times. Interestingly, Falowiec was not just a project intended to meet the need for living space. It is also a symbol of modernity and progress, which, thanks to its unique form resembling a sea wave, quickly became an icon of Gdańsk.


Tadeusz Różański, Danuta Olędzka and Janusz Morek are responsible for this extraordinary project, whose vision went beyond the boundaries of typical housing construction, creating something that will integrate residents not only spatially, but also socially, while maintaining their privacy and comfort.


What are wavelets?


The term "wave machines" is not only the name given to the Gdańsk giant. This term refers to an entire category of apartment blocks from the 1960s and 1970s, whose characteristic "undulating" shape and arrangement of balconies are associated with waves.


These architectural gems, with entrances to apartments in galleries, were built not only in Poland, but also in Italy, and their largest concentration can be found in Gdańsk-Przymorze.


When we talk about Falowiec in Gdańsk, we are talking about a building that is itself a "city" within a city. Imagine: 11 floors, stretching for 860 meters, with 16 staircases and almost 1,800 apartments , where life goes on in full swing for almost six thousand people.


This makes it not only one of the longest buildings in Poland, but also third on the list of the longest residential buildings in Europe . And all this thanks to the work of Różański, Olędzka and Moreka.


The modernist apartment block, located at Obrońców Wybrzeża Street, is a work that emerged from the SARP competition in 1952. However, its implementation, thanks to the winning design of our three designers, began only in the 1970s.


Built of prefabricated elements, Falowiec quickly became a symbol of modern Gdańsk, and its segments, slightly arched, resembling a sea wave, are today not only an example of unique architecture, but also a testimony to an innovative approach to housing construction.


Residents enjoy not only the beautiful sea views from the highest floors, but also the unique way of life that Falowiec offers them. Isn't it fascinating how a building can become such an integral part of so many people's lives?


Waveboat under construction

Falowiec as the third longest building in Europe


It might seem that Falowiec is just another large apartment block. But does an ordinary apartment building offer the possibility of changing to a bus to get from one staircase to another?


In Gdańsk, at Obrońców Wybrzeża Street, there is a building whose length - an impressive 860 meters - takes us to a completely different dimension of city life. Moving inside this giant brings to mind a train journey, except that instead of subsequent stations, we pass bus stops.


Yes, you read that right! To get from one end of the wave to the other, the best way is to use the local bus service.


Despite its impressive length, the Gdańsk falowiec is not the longest residential building in Europe.


The first place is taken by another super-unit, namely the Viennese Karl-Marx-Hof, stretching to a length of 1,100 meters, followed closely by the Roman Corviale, almost a kilometer long (980 meters) .


Nevertheless, Falowiec in Gdańsk Przymorze is the largest residential building in Poland and the third longest in Europe, which makes it unique not only on a national scale.


Gdańsk can boast of having as many as eight wave ships, seven of which are located in the Przymorze region and one in Nowy Port. However, it is the one at Obrońców Wybrzeża Street that breaks all records.


This phenomenon means that residents may experience different weather conditions depending on the side of the building.


On the southern side, where the balconies are located, the conditions are reminiscent of those in Italy - a lot of sun, warmth, and the residents even try to grow grapes or cherry tomatoes, enjoying a kind of privacy.


In turn, on the northern side, where the galleries are located, the climate is reminiscent of Scandinavia - it is colder, snow lasts longer, and the lawns are often covered with frost.


Therefore, Falowiec is not just a building - it is an entire ecosystem that surprises with its diversity and affects the everyday life of its inhabitants. Doesn't this sound like a place taken out of a story about a future city? Living here is an extraordinary adventure that provides countless stories to tell every day.


Construction of a super unit

How the Gdańsk super-unit is changing


The history of Falowiec in Gdańsk Przymorze is a fascinating testimony of the times in which it was born. Initially, built on the site of the former airport in Zaspa, it was intended to be a symbol of the modernist aspirations of Poland in the 1970s.


Despite its monumental character, today it is sometimes referred to as "the architect's bad dream", although the original intentions of Tadeusz Różański, Józef Chmiel, Danuta Olędzka, and Janusz Morek were full of optimism and innovation.


Designers, striving to create a social estate, decided on solutions that were to reduce construction costs while introducing elements of fantasy into the project.


The idea for external galleries, which were to replace internal corridors, is an example of such an innovation that, in addition to saving money, brought a new quality to the lives of the residents of Falowiec.


These covered passages became not only a shelter from the rain, but also a meeting place, a place for children to play and, unfortunately, an easy target for thieves in the first years of Falowiec's existence.


The residents' influence on the shape and functioning of Falowiec cannot be overestimated. In response to needs and expectations, changes were made to increase privacy and security. Adding doors, building galleries, or creating the so-called "aquariums" are just some of the initiatives that show how dynamically Falowiec adapted to the needs of its inhabitants.


In the background of all these changes, there is also an important mission to protect Falowiec as a monument. Efforts to include it on the list of monuments are aimed not only at preserving its unique architecture, but also the history it carries - the history of Poland in the 1970s, martial law, and decades of everyday life of thousands of its inhabitants.


A wave ship near the coast defenders moments after being handed over

Upcoming changes


However, what the future will bring may be the greatest transformation of the wave ship at Obrońców Wybrzeża. The planned comprehensive renovation, which is to restore the traffic flow in the galleries by demolishing unauthorized construction, as well as changing the color of the facade to white, heralds a new era in the history of this extraordinary building.


It is worth noting that nearby, at Rzeczypospolita 1 and Kołobrzeska 42, there are already renovated wave structures, which can serve as a visualization of future changes.


This transformation can not only refresh the image of Falowiec, but also restore its original, modernist assumptions, adapting them to contemporary standards and the needs of residents.


Such changes will not only increase the value and attractiveness of Falowiec as a place to live, but will also put it back in the spotlight as an important element of Gdańsk and even European architectural heritage.

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