»Form follows feminine.«

Oscar Niemeyer

Blog Lens

Hidden in Plain Sight

Filip Springer’s photographs of Polish public spaces

  • All photos: Filip Springer 1 / 20  All photos: Filip Springer
  • 2 / 20
  • 3 / 20
  • 4 / 20
  • 5 / 20
  • 6 / 20
  • 7 / 20
  • 8 / 20
  • 9 / 20
  • 10 / 20
  • 11 / 20
  • 12 / 20
  • 13 / 20
  • 14 / 20
  • 15 / 20
  • 16 / 20
  • 17 / 20
  • 18 / 20
  • 19 / 20
  • 20 / 20

Public space in Poland is often a bit of an overlooked terrain it seems – even for those who live there. During communism it was state-run and tainted, something to be shut outside. Today it is something for which many people do not feel responsible, leaving it to lie unkempt and unregarded, or to be gradually privatised between anonymous new developments. However, this public space has not been overlooked by photojournalist and writer Filip Springer, who here introduces his powerful series of images of the streets, playing fields, parking lots and in-between zones of Polish cities.

Over the 50 years of communism in Poland, there was no such thing as public space. Poles shut themselves in their homes because everything outside belonged to the oppressive state. It was not their property and so they did not look after it. The explosion of freedom in 1989 did not change much – there are still few people who care for public space. In a 2008 survey, Poles were asked who, in their opinion, should be responsible for the aesthetics of their surroundings. Over 47 percent of respondents answered that it should be the local authorities of any given location; nearly 24 percent believed that it was the task of architects and town planners; barely 12 percent thought the responsibility should be that of homeowners or the residents of apartment complexes and housing estates. Among the remaining answers, two catch the eye: a ministry specially set up for it! (almost 6 percent); and the government and prime minister (over 1.5 percent). In another survey in 2013, 67 percent of Poles also said they believed that there is too much advertising in Polish towns, yet at the same time 77 percent declared that they would have an advertisement on their home if they were paid to do so.

Not surprisingly the result is that there is less and less public space in Poland. Courtyards and spaces, which were until recently public, have become shopping malls, while ever more parks and green squares are being destroyed and lost under new housing developments. 

– Filip Springer is a photojournalist and reportage writer, based in Warsaw, Poland. Springer currently works with the Reportage Institute in Warsaw.




Recent Magazines

25 Apr 2016

Magazine No. 43

  • essay

    From the Bottom and the Top

    Powering Athens through collectivity and informal initiatives by Cristina Ampatzidou

  • photo essay

    Nowhere Now Here

    A photo essay by Yiorgis Yerolymbos

  • Essay

    Back to the Garden

    Athens and opportunities for new urban strategies by Aristide Antonas

  • Interview

    Point Supreme

    An interview by Ellie Stathaki


03 Mar 2016

Magazine No. 42
Walk the Line

  • Essay

    The Line Connects

    An essay on drawing and architectural education by Wes Jones

  • Essay

    Drawing Attention

    Phineas Harper sketches out new narrative paths with pencil power

  • Essay


    Elvia Wilk on a city of shadows as architectural fiction

  • Interview

    The (Not So) Fine Line

    A conversation thread between Sophie Lovell and architecture cartoonist Klaus


28 Jan 2016

Magazine No. 41
Zvi Hecker

  • essay

    Space Packers

    Zvi Hecker’s career-defining partnership with Eldar Sharon and Alfred Neumann by Rafi Segal

  • Interview

    Essentially I am a Medieval Architect

    An interview with Zvi Hecker by Vladimir Belogolovsky

  • viewpoint

    The Technion Affair

    Breaking and entering in the name of architectural integrity by Zvi Hecker

  • Photo Essay

    Revisiting Yesterday’s Future

    A photo essay by Gili Merin


17 Dec 2015

Magazine No. 40

  • Viewpoint

    Wish You Were Here

    Arna Mathiesen asks: Refinancing Iceland with tourism – but at what cost?

  • Photo Essay

    Spaces Create Bodies, Bodies Create Space

    An essay by Ólafur Elíasson

  • Focus

    Icelandic Domestic

    Focus on post-independence houses by George Kafka

  • Essay

    The Harp That Sang

    The saga of Reykjavík's Concert Hall by Sophie Lovell & Fiona Shipwright




Uncube is brandnew and wants to look good.
For best performance please update your browser.
Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer 10 (or higher), Safari, Chrome, Opera