Dilapidated former bus depot named second best green space in ALL Europe
A dilapidated former bus depot in Kraków’s Czyżyny Park has been named the second best green space in the whole of Europe.
Edged out only by a project in Alkmaar in the Netherlands, the Kraków park was praised at the third edition of the Green Cities Europe awards for its innovative value, overall design, biodiversity as well as the positive impact it has had on the environment.
Officially awarded at a ceremony held in Paris in mid-December, the coveted award is not the first accolade that the park has had, but it is the most prestigious.
Moreover, it has been cited as further proof as to the success of the city’s Civic Budget.
Costing a hefty PLN 10.9 million, the project was first submitted to the city’s authorities in 2016 but it wasn’t until May of 2019 that construction began.
Taking around 15-months in total, it was officially opened on August 15th, 2020.
Covering a three hectare space near to the densely populated Avia housing estate, it has, in the process, reinvigorated a patch of wasteland that had once served not only as an MPK bus depot, but also as a concrete-encased airport runway.
Given this history, the park’s walkways have been decorated with stencil-like art depicting planes and buses. Among other things, leftover runways were incorporated into the space to create wide thoroughfares and running tracks.
Born as a community project, the investment has placed an emphasis on recreation and usability and was built to include Kraków’s first ‘vertical playground’, a basketball court, gym, boules facilities and a state-of-the-art parkour track that’s been hailed as one of the most modern in the country.
Designed also to favour disabled users with its gentle descents and curb-less avenues, the rich recreational offer has been counter-balanced by the scheme’s commitment to greenery.
Once concrete-heavy, 252 large trees were planted, as well as 14,000 smaller shrubs and plants. Including black pines and Swedish rowan trees, this much-needed injection of greenery took two forms.
Partially arranged in a well-ordered ‘English style’, this was offset by a mass of less-ordered greenery so as to purposefully create the organic, unruly feel of a rural meadow.
Previously named Poland’s “best public space” in 2020, Czyżyny Park has since become a vital part of the district with social facilities such as its picnic area drawing local residents in their droves.
Ecologically, it has also been praised for the manner in which it has sought to cultivate forms of urban wildlife – plants were selected for their pollinating abilities, whilst trees and shrubs have been placed to provide not just shelter for hares and foxes, but also to provide a source of food for birds.
As much a place of silence and refuge as it is a place of recreation, the park’s multiple uses have made it a calling card for similar urban regenerations. Likewise, it has pushed Kraków’s credentials as one of Poland’s most forward-thinking cities.
At a time when numerous municipalities have come under fire for encasing their public spaces in concrete, Kraków City Hall has, on the other hand, sought to “re-green” the city by regenerating forgotten corners and unlikely locations.
Among other initiatives, this has included an outbreak of so-called pocket parks. Regarded as a form of “urban acupuncture”, these have become havens of biodiversity whilst also providing much-needed pops of energizing nature.
These, though, have not been the only non-standard environmentally aware projects, and as things stand the city’s residents can also look forward to a new park that will emerge in the derelict space underneath a central railway flyover.