I compose and design every single aspect of my life because I am
Before I explain – according to the wish of the authors of the project
of “Architect beyond Architecture” – why I gave up my architectural
profession sensu stricto, let me say why I became an architect
in the first place.
I was born in Krakow in 1960 as a son of Witold Donimirski and
Renata Donimirska, née Stablewska. After passing my A levels at the
King John III Sobieski Lyceum in Krakow in the early 1980’s, like many
young people of my generation who were dejected by the gloominess
of the communist regime, I planned to leave Poland for ever. I
chose architecture because I considered it an „international” career,
moreover without the necessity to master a foreign language. I was
really fed up with studying mathematics, physics and other school
subjects. When it turned out that I had a gift for drawing I did not
hesitate. I studied at the Krakow University of Technology and then at
the Faculty of Architecture in Aachen. Later, I worked at the architectural
firms in Germany (for one year) and in Los Angeles (two
years). In the USA I designed golf courses and a house, which I am
proud to note has survived a major earthquake.
To begin the proper story of my career shift I must go back in time.
When I was 16, owing to a completely unusual Polish People’s Republic
court’s decision, I inherited – though only nominally at that
time –half of the Puget Palace with adjoining buildings in Staro wiślna
street (former Bohaterów Stalingradu) in Krakow. I had the deeds of
the palace but at that time it had no real significance as it was the
communist government that decided who is allowed to own the property
and where people are allowed to live.
I came back to Poland in 1989 with 12 thousand US dollars in my
pocket. I also borrowed 100 thousand German marks from friends. I
decided that the change of political system and a shock economic
transformation provided me with an opportunity which was much
more exciting than a routine career that awaited me in the USA. The
palace was a challenge I could not give up. I took the deeds in my
name from the court and went to live in the ruined building. I hired
labourers and worked with them on site. The renovation of the palace
gave me a chance of putting my knowledge as an architect into practice
and not only that. The subject of my overdue diploma design at
the Faculty of Architecture in 1991 was “The Renovation of the Puget
Palace, Starowiślna Street 13 and 15”.
In 1990 I set up “Donimirski Puget Palace Business Center ”, a real
estate firm which has been on the market ever since.
In 1992 I married Anna, née Tarnowska, giving rise to the offspring
of three sons: Stefan, Władysław and Jan; and two daughters Helena
and Maria. Restoring the ruined and dilapidated historic buildings
for the benefit of the present and the future, has become my lifelong
passion. In the last 20 years I have taken up many challenges such
as restoring the castle in Korzkiew (it partly opened to the public in
2004), establishing the Hotel Maltański (2000), the Hotel Pugetów
(2002), the hotel „Na Gródku” (2005) and restoring from ruins the
Dwór Kościuszko (Kościuszko Manor) Hotel (2008). All these splendid
buildings in turn became the apple of my eye, but I must say that
I have the greatest sentiment for the castle in Korzkiew. The restoring
of the Gothic and Renaissance “Eagle’s nest” [as the castles in the
whereabouts of Krakow Jura are called] was a challenge that required
an innovative approach.
I am always happy to be able to come up with a good design solution.
Let me mention one concerning the Gródek hotel – the replacing
of the old wooden walkways, which now run along the
courtyard elevation. They enlarge the usable space of the rooms; and
because they were previously located in another place, such a solution
helped to save them from demolition.
Obviously, I employ architects and expect them to come up with
their individual, appropriate and correct design solution. I always
have my own ideas but never persevere if they do not work. I act as
a project manager, architectural aspect being only one among my
other concerns. My knowledge of the subject is more complete than
an architect’s one, enabling me to supervise the whole and intervene
if necessary. However, I guess that one can collaborate with me quite
agreeably. In my debates with an architect I often raise the level and
standard of the investment. I can afford to increase the budget!
Architecture has provided me with a capability and need to assess
the form and function of everything I do in life. My composing and
designing based on analysis, knowledge, independent thinking and
sensitivity I am trying to apply to every aspect of my life.
My main motivation is not economy but the joy of “architectural
composition”. This is how I try to run my business and – what is important
– to choose my collaborators; this is also how the Donimirski
Boutique Hotels come into existence.
Krakow, June 2010
More at www.donimirski.com