Study competition for Św. Mikołaja Square - results and post-competition discussion
Date: 24.10, Tuesday, 17.00
Place: Museum of Architecture in Wrocław, 5 Bernardyńska St.
The competition for preparing a conception of development for the area delimited by the streets Legnicka, Szczepińska, Św. Mikołaja square, Zachodnia, Rybacka and Środkowa in Wrocław – post-competition discussion
The development of a city is never a finite process. Thus it will never be possible to attain the ultimate aim, the perfect arrangement of structures and spaces. There only exist intermediary states that meet the users’ expectations to a greater or lesser extent. These expectations also change, depending on the changes in a social group and their needs.
Another subject is the process, or rather the effects of the process resulting from the expectations of different groups of people using a given space. It leads to the emergence of a problem – which expectations should be met first, and to what extent, and which of them are more difficult and should therefore be put off? A car or a bench in front of the block? My car or my neighbour’s car? Because we can both share the bench.
The area that was the focus of the competition (and of previously held student design workshop) was chosen precisely because of its unspecified character and role in the urban fabric. Who should be using it and how? The title of the competition, “Between an Artery and a Promenade,” highlights and defines two kinds of public space with clear functions, situated on the edges of a housing estate. The selected area comprises three very different parts, all of which should meet the expectations and needs of the future residents.
During the post-competition discussion, but not only then, the following questions will be important: How to organise a public space with “green” genes, situated in close proximity of a major traffic route? How to satisfy the needs of the locals, who are exposed to the negative effects stemming from the nearby artery – pollution, noise, and its very appearance, which is incompatible with the soothing character of greenery? What should be the form and size of this borderline zone? What elements and facilities would strengthen the positive features connected with the offer for the inhabitants while decreasing the negative ones, resulting from the closeness of the expressway?
Other aspects will be analysed by observing the meeting point between the publicly available promenade and the green areas adjacent to the housing estate. Irrespective of the fact that these zones are separated by a street, it is clear that both of them have unambiguously positive features. The promenade-boulevard is an excellent supplement or extension to the range of activities available for the people living not only in the closest proximity. In this case, questions should be asked not about how to divide, but how to connect zones with positive influence. However, one reservation ought to be emphasised – a public space may sometimes be too “threatening” to the peace and quiet of a private or semi-private space of a housing estate.
The third area is most important and challenging due to its unspecified character. It is a green area, but it is hard to identify its users – the city or the housing estate. It is devoid of any major negative features, perhaps with the exception of its location, resembling a somewhat isolated island surrounded by roads. Due to this insular character of the site it is hard to identify its clearly positive features either. Thus an assessment of actions concerning the site’s attractiveness for the housing estate and the city, taking into account the expectations of the future users, will provide an interesting answer to the question about the role of such “no man’s land” for the functioning of urban areas lying “in-between.”
Because the aim of the competition is to choose the best urban development conception for the entire area between the Odra river (the promenade) and Legnicka Street (the artery), and to gain knowledge about the possible scenarios for urban transformation of this zone, the entries should address issues connected with the scope of action, the role of the individual parts, including their spatial, functional, economic and social aspects, and the purposefulness of a stage-based approach to the implementation of a given scenario. The most important question pertains to the appearance of the fragment to be developed by the Urban Greenery Authority during the first stage.
All answers to the questions above, provided both by the competition participants and by the discussants, will be used in the preparation of the future Local Spatial Management Plan and will provide a basis for the specification of the parameters of the building permits.
Answers to more general questions will contribute to our knowledge about the development of green areas while creating other projects, not only in Wrocław.