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introduction                     personae                     thanks

He was born in 1955 in Gorlice. He studied architecture at the Krakow University of Technology in the years 1974–80 and history of art at the Department of Philosophy and History of the Jagiellonian University in 1977–82.

In 1981–90 Janusz Sepioł started to work at the Office of Development of Krakow. For his planning work he and his team were awarded ministry prizes of first and second degree and the first prize in the young architects’ competition in Veliko Tyrnowo (1982). He took an active part in the works of the Polish Association of Architects (SARP) and staging of the International Biennale of Architecture in Krakow.

In 1990 he became, firstly, the director of the Department of Spatial Planning and secondly, the head of the Regional Policy department at the Voivodship Office in Krakow (i.e. the so called “voivodship architect”). He was also the author of the Plan of Spatial Development of the Krakow Voivodship. Janusz Sepioł was awarded (team) prizes in the competitions for the city centres of Tychy, Tarnów and Starachowice, he took part in design studies for Berlin (working in R. Loegler’s team), he was the curator of the exhibition Baustelle-Polen in Berlin. In 1998 he was appointed director of the Department of Spatial Planning at the Office of Housing and Urban Development in Warsaw and chairman of the State Committee for Urban Planning Licenses. He was a councilor for the Sejmik Małopolski (voivodship self-government) of the 2nd and 3rd term.

In the years 1999–2002 Janusz Sepioł was elected the Vice- Marshal and in 2002–2006 the Marshal of the Małopolska Voivodship [the highest self-governmental voivodship function] He was the Design Principal of the Spatial Development Plan for the Małopolska Voivodship (2nd degree Ministry prize), an initiator and a member of the jury of a number of architectural competitions (Krakow Opera House, the extension of the Aviation Museum in Czyżyny, a new bridge over the Dunajec river in Stary Sącz, the premises of the Cricoteka [T. Kantor heritage museum], the centre Małopolska Garden of the Arts. He caused the extension of the open-air museums in Nowy Sącz, Wygiełzów and Zubrzyca.

During his term in office a special prize for the protection of the historic wooden architecture and the architectural prize of the Małopolska region were established. Also a special “trail of wooden architecture“ and the “Małopolska Cultural Heritage Days” were launched and promoted.

In the year 2007 Janusz Sepioł has also acted as the President of Krakow’s plenipotentiary in the field of cultural affairs. At that time he also organized and was on the jury of the competitions for the Congress Centre, Museum of Modern Art, sports club Cracovia’s new stadium and the sports hall “100th Anniversary of Cracovia”. He also coorganised the exhibition in the former “Schindler’s Factory” premises. Since October 2007 he has been a Senator of the Republic of Poland, deputy-chairman of the Self-Government and State Administration Committee and the chairman of the Polish-Russian Senate group.

Janusz Sepioł is also a member of the SKOZK – The Public Committee for the Restoration of Monuments in Krakow (since 1990), five museum boards of trustees (including the Wawel Castle and the National Museum in Krakow) and The International Cultural Centre in Krakow. Since 2001 he has been a member of the Platforma Obywatelska (Civic Platform) party and a member of its National Board. My way to architecture led through my sightseeing passion. I was never quite sure whether I wanted to become an architect or an art historian. Owing to my uncle, who was an architect, I landed at the Spatial Development Office but I soon realized that the real urbanism was made by those who made investment decisions, those who were ruling. The right to take decisions is more important than beautifully drawn boards. Hence I always understood my public activity as the “applied urbanism”.

There are very few architects among politicians. I have been the first in the re-established Senate. It seems a tad strange because architecture requires teamwork and team spirit among people of different professions, and it favours design oriented thinking, which is almost always a guarantee of effectiveness.

Modern Polish architecture is better than it is generally considered. It dramatically lacks a good promotion in the country and even more so abroad. Inasmuch as I am more and more often pleasantly surprised by the recently completed, exquisite architectural designs, as regards urban planning I am increasingly pessimistic.

Although I do not practice as an architect, I am quite passionate about architecture. I do most of my traveling with architecture in mind; it dominates my home library (which is not small) . Architecture is also the subject of my photographic endeavors which have been publicly exhibited. I enjoy every valuable building, especially if it is built in Krakow. That is why I have initiated a photographic competition for the readers of the “Gazeta Krakowska” daily, called “Krakow – My Home“, for the best completed structure of the year. It is now organised for the fourth time.

I often think of my student years. In these memories the major part is played by our professors. Some of them were amusing, some weak, but the majority of them were real personalities. The most valuable, it seems, was the mere atmosphere of the Faculty, a certain degree of tension and let us say – of chaos. At the history of art the standards were perhaps a bit higher and there was more discipline. But the enthusiasm, stir, competition and panache – not there, not an inch. Pacing up and down the Market Square in Krakow I always try to pass by the plaque commemorating Poland’s access to the European Union (placed not far from the plaque devoted to Tadeusz Kościuszko). I designed and supervised the completion of it, albeit almost at the verge of the law. I am also moved by the sight of motor rail painted – according to my idea – in the colours of the flag of the Małopolska region that is white, golden and red. This is my contribution to the landscape of the city.

My tastes are rather eclectic. As it appears, it is a problem of almost every historian who was trained to perceive beauty in diversity. And yet I cannot understand how anybody can be unmoved by the art of Tadao Ando. My most enthralling professional experiences so far were juries of architectural competitions. This is an intellectual adventure, incomparable to anything else, especially if one has the opportunity to listen to and watch great architects.

Janusz Sepioł
Krakow, June 2010

More at www.sepiol.pl

photo by Konrad Pollesch

Copyright by Konrad Glos, Rafal Zub 2010