Water Chamber

Autor: Zdzisław Smoliński    

Water Chamber

The Water Chamber, also known as the House Under the Columns, is close to the Praga side of the Vistula bank, at the crossroads of Rev. Ignacy Kłopotowski Street and Wybrzeże Szczecińskie. The structure has 18 columns and the building looks like a small classical-style palace. It was built between 1842 and 1825 to a design by the Italian architect Antoni Corazzi. In the first half of the 19th century he had designed and constructed more than 50 projects, including the modernization in Warsaw of the Theatre and Bank Squares and designed the Staszic Palace. The Water Chamber building was built for the Municipal Bridge Division. It housed the staff who controlled the water level on the Vistula River and who charged a fee for the use of the timber pontoon bridge, which was used to cross the river from spring to autumn. It was dismantled in winter to avoid damage from ice floe in spring.

A pontoon bridge is a temporary passage. The construction is based on flat- bottomed boats. The first and last boat is anchored to the riverbank.

The object is decorated with Tomasso di Accardi’s relief, which depicts a Greek sea god, protector of sailors and fishermen. Poseidon is riding on water waves in a chariot pulled by four horses, which have fish tails.

An embedded iron water meter at the foot of the building shows record levels of water in the Vistula River. For example, on 28 August 1839 the level of water was level with the area where the Chamber is located, on 29 August 1813 the water level was about 10 cm higher than in 1839, and in 1844 the water level was the highest at 62 cm above that in 1839.

After the iron bridge, named Aleksandrowski, was opened on 11 November 1864, the Water Chamber lost its significance. The bridge was later renamed to Kerbedzia Bridge.

The Water Chamber is a heritage listed object. In 1975-1980 conservation workshops conducted the reconstruction and adaptation of the structure according to architect Bolesław Świderski’s plans. Currently, the palace is occupied by the Warsaw municipal offices engaged in the registration of birth, deaths and marriages, as well as by Civil Marriages Offices, known as Palace of Marriages.

The project ‘Protecting the habitats of priority bird species of the Vistula Valley under conditions of intensive pressure of the Warsaw agglomeration’ (wislawarszawska.pl) has received a grant from the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE+) and from the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.