Based in Poland, Zupagrafika is a creative publisher and design studio run by Hispanic-Polish duo, David Navarro and Martyna Sobecka. Since 2012, Zupagrafika have published award-winning “build your own” architectural books showcasing their favorite Modernist and Brutalist buildings from the former Eastern Bloc and beyond. For half a decade, the design duo have been working on a photo series—titled The Tenants—which documents inhabitants outside of their post-war Modernist estates, proudly holding miniature, illustrated paper models of their buildings.
The pair traveled to various housing estates—in locations including Berlin, Chisinau, Halle Neustadt, Katowice, London, Paris, Poznan, Rostock, St. Petersburg, Wroclaw, and Warsaw. The subjects were asked to stand in front of their building and hold a miniature paper version, complete with finite details such as tiny windows, satellite dishes, and graffiti tags. In some cases, the portraits were taken at a time when the residents were unclear about the future of their homes due to demolition plans. “They will eventually make us move out…I’m not afraid of changes, I just hope I can afford them,” says Shamim, who lived on the third floor of Robin Hood Gardens, an iconic Brutalist building in London. Sadly, today the building no longer stands.
Other images capture dwellers who have lived in the same building for most of their life, and still reside there to this day, such as Eduardo, who has lived in Paris’ Orgues de Flandre high-rise building for the past 30 years. He says he wouldn’t move to any other flat in the city, even though “the neighborhood changed considerably in the ‘90s and isn’t that safe anymore” and “the new neighbors are sometimes noisy after 10 p.m.” Another example is Wiesław, from the star-shaped Gwiazdy estate in Poland who still remembers the first day he entered his new home in late ‘70s. As soon as he saw the panorama of Katowice city from his top floor flat he knew it was home. “I will never forget this view, we had all the facilities, it felt so modern,” he said.
Discover more of Zupagrafika’s work on the website, where you can also purchase the DIY paper model kits from their collection.