Date: 25.10, Wednesday, 17.00

Place: Museum of Architecture in Wrocław, 5 Bernardyńska St.

Moderator: Mateusz Kokoszkiewicz

The triptych DISCUSSION – DEBATE – SEMINAR is the quintessence of the events devoted to reflection on the phenomena encapsulated by the motto of the 2017 Lower Silesian Festival of Architecture – City in Green.

The DISCUSSION following the competition consists of in-depth examination of concrete cases submitted to the competition. The DEBATE offers a broader approach to the same notion analysed within the context of the city or region. Finally, the SEMINAR includes an overvew of best practices in other cities or countries.

For quite some time cities have been struggling to meet the challenges connected with their growth. A limited budget means that only the essential tasks can be performed. They include: the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, networks, or the essential facilities such as water purification or treatment plants. The soft infrastructure, including greenery – the lungs of the city, is left till last. After all, the “patient” will not die of insufficient greenery, whereas the lack of hard infrastructure painfully affects the functioning of the city and the comfort of the residents. Against this backdrop, insisting on more sophisticated functions of green areas, such as water retention, food production, or green rooftops and walls, is out of the question.

Thus it all depends on those who actually build cities. Each of them assumes responsibility for their contribution to the development. Each of them should take into account not just the cubic capacity or the usable floor area of the buildings (which is the top priority because this is the product that is sold or used by the investor), but also the space in which the object is embedded. This space belongs to all, irrespective of who actually owns the land.

The debate about the conscious involvement in city construction, from the idea to implementation to use, comprises three parts: PLANNER – BUILDER – USER. Using this division makes it possible to discuss all aspects connected with developing green areas in cities, from public to private, from those used by all city-dwellers to those situated in individual housing estates, from what is expected from the developer to what is required from the future users.

The debate about the conscious PLANNER includes a group of issues revolving around the wise choice of the location, which should be driven by the wellbeing of the future inhabitants rather than the price of the plot. As such, it should take into account a number of factors, such as accessibility by public transport or proximity of recreational areas. This part also concerns a number of more abstract issues connected with planning the compact city, especially the hugely important dilemma: should a given patch of land be allocated to recreation, or should the development be made more dense, even at the expense of greenery?

The debate about the conscious BUILDER focuses on deliberations about the best use of land, about the superiority of soft landscaping over the usable floor area (irrespective of the urban plan specifications), about the rules of creating greeneries in front of and at the back of the building, and about the purposefulness of fencing off “my space” already at the stage of design.

The debate about the conscious USER is an attempt to think about the necessity of regulating how to use common spaces – the soft and hard ones, private and public, active and isolated. It is a reflection on the role of individual citizens in raising the standards of green areas, both in common spaces (which are also mine, so I should take care of them) and private ones (which belong to me, such as balconies, terraces, windowsills or rooftops). It is an analysis of different ways of using greenery and making it available to other users of the local habitat, including non-human ones, e.g. bees.

Planned in this way, the DEBATE requires the participation of people belonging to each of the three groups: PLANNERS (city authorities and developers, because only coordinated actions can be successful), BUILDERS (different kinds of individual and institutional developers and designers, including mainly landscape architects and representatives of associations) and USERS (bloggers, members of formal and informal social groups trying to change the current conditions). It is easy to identify who should represent the first two groups, but the third one should include people who are already involved in efforts for the wellbeing of the local community.

We sincerely hope that, as always, the debate will attract those who truly believe in the significance of this year’s motto – City in Green.