High Five! Awards got to FIVE Polish cities for their revitalisation and green spaces projects
The Society of Polish Town Planners has announced the winners and runners-up of a competition held to find the “best-managed public spaces” in the country with podium places going to a diverse spread of projects both big and small, new and old(er).
Split in two categories, awards were handed out for “revitalized public space” and “green public space” with OFF Piotrkowska in Łódź finishing first in the former ranking and Kraków’s Ogrody Krakowian claiming top spot in the latter.
Though first debuting in 2011, OFF Piotrkowska’s enduring relevance to Łódź was recognized by the jury who credited it for “stopping the degradation of a post-factory space in the city centre while contributing to the social revitalization of the place by combining grassroots initiatives of residents and local entrepreneurs.”
Praising its worth as a cultural and creative space, the jury also cited its importance in helping the city discover its tourist potential.
Speaking to TFN, Kamil Wasiuk of OFF Piotrkowska explained the centre’s evergreen appeal: “It captures both the original atmosphere and post-industrial spirit of Łódź, and the owner’s of the site, OPG Property Professionals, have given the area a second life by adding new functions whilst simultaneously retaining the soul of the old factory.
“The site’s redevelopment hasn’t replaced existing activities, but simply added new ones such as space for creative businesses and new technology firms. These vibrant new directions haven’t overshadowed the remarkable atmosphere that both locals and visitors have learned to love.”
Completed in 1889 to serve as a cotton weaving factory, the redbrick complex housing OFF Piotrkowska received a new impetus earlier in the decade when its decaying, derelict hulk was turned over to host on-edge food and drink concepts and other such independent projects.
Named last year by CNN as “the hippest neighbourhood in the whole of Europe”, the latest award is further affirmation of the sizeable contribution OFF has made to reinventing Łódź.
Following it in second place, the regeneration of Lublin’s Pl. Litewski and Krakowskie Przedmieście was lauded for its transformation into “a space encouraging creative use”.
“The regeneration has aided the creation of a new, multi-functional, open interior in the existing urban tissue which is currently used in the everyday and festive social, cultural and economic activities of the city,” read a statement by the jury.
Covering an area of 3.5 hectares, and costing approximately 66 million złoty, work on Pl. Litewski finished in 2017 and included the addition of a magnificent multimedia fountain that some have called one of the best in Europe.
Finally, the panel also awarded a distinction to Katowice’s Silesian Museum which was hailed as being “an open, attractive public space of park character, and an important element of the city’s cultural life.”
Aside from being praised for adapting a former mine to suit the purposes of the museum, the scheme earned further recognition for a spatial plan that had ensured access for those with disabilities as well as encouraged social, cultural and educational activities.
In the “green public space” category, the runners-up spot went to Jaworzno’s ‘water playground’, a stunning artificial water feature developed by reclaiming a plot once occupied by the Kościuszko mine.
Following a ribboning, naturalistic form, and built to mimic a valley, the judges were impressed by its “unique spatial form” and the fact that it’s meticulous landscaping had created “an oasis in the centre of Jaworzno.”
The first prize, however, went to Ogrody Krakowian, a bold project that saw the establishment of 14 “pocket parks” throughout the city last year. Defined by their small size, and each themed on a different leitmotif (e.g. Literature Park and Mathematical Park), their introduction was intended to give access to greenery to those living in areas with a high population density whilst giving a new lease of life to degraded spaces.
“Inspired by global trends,” say the city’s Greenery Department, “we wanted to show that sometimes a small area and a good idea that takes into account the needs of the local community are all that is needed to create a space that transforms the lives of residents.”
Commending the ingenuity of their vision, the jury’s statement eulogized the outbreak of these small parks across the city and claimed that they had become “a centre of social life that offered relaxation in greenery of a high quality.”
Now in its 13th year, adjudicators from The Society of Polish Town Planners were joined by representatives from the Ministry of Culture & National Heritage, the Ministry of Investment & Development, the National Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning and Poland’s Chamber of Architects.