Obituary: Jan-Krzysztof (Krys) Buczinski; talented and good-humoured architect and planner whose childhood was torn apart by the Soviet invasion of Poland
Born: 21 September, 1927, in Wilno, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania). Died: 9 June, 2012, in Edinburgh, aged 84.
Jan-Krzysztof (Krys) Buczinski was the son of a Marian Buczinski, a doctor and landowner. The family was aware of being at risk after the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, and in June 1941 Krys’s family was arrested, his father shot, and Krys with his mother and sister transported 4,000km to western Siberia. In 1941, following the invasion of Russia by Nazi Germany, the Soviets granted an amnesty to the Poles, and so in 1942 Krys was freed.
Travelling with a friend, Krys, aged 15, journeyed 2,500km to Tashkent and joined 120,000 Polish survivors of the some 2 million who had been transported by the Soviets. An agreement with the Allies allowed for the few survivors well enough to travel to be sent to Teheran – another 1,700km – where, amazingly, Krys was reunited with his mother and his sister.
Being too young to be enlisted, Krys was sent to the Polish Military School in Gaza and spent five years in Palestine studying engineering.
For whatever reason, Krys was then sent to Norwich, stateless and homeless in a military camp, but after demobilisation in 1947 went to London to study architecture at the Polish Faculty of London University.
After his graduation he joined the London County Council working for Robert Matthew (later Sir Robert), architect of, among other landmarks, the Festival Hall and New Zealand House. Krys at this time took a further qualification in town planning.
When Robert Matthew moved to Edinburgh and founded Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners (now RMJM) he invited Krys to join him, and so in 1960 Krys moved to Edinburgh. Two years later he joined Percy Johnson-Marshall as planning consultant, working on major university projects in Scotland.
His restless feet got the better of him and he then spent some years in Brazil planning projects in Brazilia and Sao Paulo before returning briefly to Edinburgh, – and then working for a while in Egypt.
Returning to Edinburgh in the late 1970s he helped establish the office of J Seymour Harris and later joined Glasgow City Planning Office. After his retirement from Leech Developers, he lectured in planning at Edinburgh College of Art.
It is not mere for his early and professional life that he is to be remembered. He is also to be remembered for his eternal youthfulness, his appetite for new things and his unfailing energy.
He was a great skier, known as much for his patience, good humour and enthusiasm as for his fine skiing (his ability in his late 60s to ski backwards while shouting encouragement and using a video camera was a sight to behold) but also for his hollow ski-poles, one marked B the other W. No, not the Polish for left and right, but the English for Brandy and Whisky.
Krys was remarkable in that the horrors and privations of his youth seemed to give him strength, optimism, commitment and sensitivity and affection to all his tasks and to all who knew him.
He rarely talked about his early life, preferring to look forward, not back. His laugh was infectious, and his commitment to the practise of architecture and planning, and to the encouragement of young talent by teaching, was equally memorable.
Krys is so fondly remembered by his friends and professional colleagues. He is survived by his partner, Christine.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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