Energetic, not to say egotistical, Studio E founder Cezary Bednarski is building an international reputation for his young practice. But how does he still find time to write poetry?
Ebullience, erudition, eloquence, energy. Of the collection of E-words that form architect Studio E's logo, these four seem to best describe founder Cezary Bednarski.

Another, although it does not feature on the business card, might be egotist. Which is probably a virtue in the director of an up-and-coming, 30-strong West London-based practice striving to fulfil its potential.

One gets the impression that Bednarski's ego has developed in defiance of those who have stood in the way of his ambitions since he left Poland for the UK in 1981 – from the immigration officials who tried to deport him three times, to the housing association that would not trust him to design a bioclimatic house because he had not done one before.

But driven by unshakeable self-belief and a passion for architecture, 47-year-old Bednarski has made a successful career as an architect, lecturer and writer in the UK. His international outlook has also won him commissions and audiences as far afield as Rome, Havana, Bucharest and India.

It paid off again last month when Studio E was named one of three winners of an international competition to design a system of £700 000-a-piece pedestrian bridges in Rome. The bridges are intended to link Rome's most popular monuments for the 35 million tourists and pilgrims expected in the millennium year.

Bednarski says the Roman pedestrian bridges embody the firm's design philosophy of synergy between form, function and economy in the use of materials. "Ninety per cent of architecture is totally frivolous. Because technology has developed so far and you can calculate virtually anything, frivolity of appearance is taking over structural logic. We design structures that are logical and poetic and economic and have a meaning, other than just visual gimmickry." Bednarski uses the word "poetic" with some authority. He is as proud of his third prize in the president of Poland's international poetry competition last year as of any architectural success. "Architecture is about poetry – light and space and poetry. It's about rhythm. And poetry is about rhythm as well, so I think there is an affinity there," he says.

Bednarski knows about rhythm, too. He used to coach the Warsaw kendo team and is said to dance a mean salsa with his Cuban wife.

We design structures that are logical and poetic and economic and have a meaning other than visual gimmickry

The speed at which Bednarski talks, in thickly accented but perfect English, and the sweep of his frame of reference indicate a restless, questioning mind. When he is not working on real commissions, he is inventing his own schemes, vehicles for his theoretical and political ideas, such as his plan for a garden bridge across Rome's River Tiber, which would link Christianity (the Vatican) and Islam (the Roman Mosque).

Little wonder, then, that he sometimes feels hemmed in by the conventions of the UK architectural scene: "What I find objectionable about architecture in the UK is that architects are pigeonholed, both in terms of the subject of design work and the stylistics." He objects to the dominance of the brand-led architecture of Lord Rogers or Sir Norman Foster, or Robert Adam. "Any other architect does not get much of a hearing because people like the special hi-tec, which is totally meaningless but shiny. Or the special neoclassical, which is totally meaningless but looks like an old palace." Despite these reservations, Bednarski did a dazzling job of showcasing "creative Britain" at a Department of Trade and Industry pavilion in an international trade fair in Havana, a project he dreamed up and helped raise the funding for.

With a budget of only £18 000, Bednarski created a spectacular, hi-tec effect by lining a timber-framed structure with a shimmering metallic fabric and swathing the entrance with bands of technicolour silk to create a riot of colour and texture.

The fact that the pavilion was destroyed by Hurricane Mitch after only 24 hours of existence does not dampen Bednarski's enthusiasm for working in Cuba. When he heard that the Cuban government intended to double its 27 000 hotel rooms by the year 2000, he saw it as an opportunity to promote sustainable, low-energy hotel design.

Since 1997, he has made eight trips to the island, conducting workshops on bioclimatic hotel design at Havana's Instituto Superior José Antonio Echeverria, where he is visiting professor of architecture. And last year, three government ministries produced a letter of intent commissioning Studio E to design a bioclimatic hotel. Now Bednarski is hoping to raise £160 000 sponsorship to get the project off the ground.