The end of the great parking lot. The mending of the city begins

Kuba Głaz
02 of March '23

Once soldiers and horses, then cars, now—a part of a normal city. The huge parking lot serving the Poznań Fair is being consigned to history. In its place will be built apartments, offices and services that will stitch together two fragments of the Grunwald district.

The former western periphery of Poznań was dominated by the Prussian army—with its barracks, warehouses, stables and exercise yards. Some of the buildings (on Bukowska and Marcelińska Streets) are still used by the military today. Other buildings, near Grunwaldzka Street, have either been demolished or transformed into an exclusive residential enclave (City Park, designed by Slawomir Rosolski, 2006).

City Park przy ul. Ułańskiej, proj. Sławomir Rosolski

City Park on Ulanska Street, proj. Slawomir Rosolski

photo: Jakub Głaz

A portion of the former cavalry barracks between Grunwaldzka, Ulanska and Matejki Streets has instead served for several decades as the largest parking lot serving the nearby fairgrounds. The 5.5 hectares were not only dominated by cars. Five post-military buildings remembering the Prussian army and the XV Poznañ Cavalry Regiment have survived there to this day.

Teren dawnych koszar od strony ul. Grunwaldzkiej

The area of the former barracks from the side of Grunwaldzka street—Buildings: quartermaster's and utility buildings with a kitchen

photo: Jakub Głaz

This spatial sub-standard lasted until 2020, when the MTP Group (Międzynarodowe Targi Poznańskie) sold the entire property and built a new multi-story parking lot on the Fairgrounds along Glogowska Street (we wrote about it here). The former barracks are now owned by BPI Real Estate (and still serve as a parking lot).

Teren dawnych koszar od strony ul. Grunwaldzkiej, były parking Targów

The site of the former barracks from Grunwaldzka Street, the former parking lot of the Fair

photo: Jakub Glaz

first the plan and preliminary design

Prior to the sale, councilors passed a local development plan in 2019 for the entire area, which may be dominated mainly by five-story residential (with point ups) and service buildings—using historic buildings.

Obszar inwestycji Cavallia pokrywający się z mpzp uchwalonym w 2019 r.

The Cavallia development area overlapping with the mpzp adopted in 2019.

Source: Urban Planning Studio

Before the Fair sold its land, the Poznan-based CDF Architekci studio prepared a fairly advanced concept for the plan-compliant development. The forms proposed by the designers were reminiscent of barracks brick architecture. However, the new owner did not use this design and commissioned SUD Architekt Polska, a division of the French design consortium SUD Architectes. BPI Real Estate will run the investment together with Revive Polska, a company specializing in, among other things, the revaluation of post-industrial spaces ( BPI's special purpose vehicle Revive Matejki). The investment is named Cavallia, referring to the location's lancer traditions.

Cavallia przy ul. Matejki i Ułańskiej w Poznaniu, poglądowa tablica informacyjna

Cavallia at Matejki and Ulanska streets in Poznan, overview information board

photo: Jakub Glaz

More than two years after the purchase, we got to know the assumptions of the current project and—in part—the appearance of the new residential and office buildings. The target completion date for the entire project is 2029 (the first stage will start soon and will be completed in almost three years). The whole project is roughly divided into three parts: office and business on the side of Grunwaldzka Street, residential closer to Matejko Street, and services in historic buildings on Ulanska Street. It will consist of 17 buildings (12 new and five historic). The developer plans to build 857 apartments. Nearly 15 thousand sq. m. of office space is also envisaged—mainly in new buildings of original form exposed on the side of Grunwaldzka Street and, next to it, in three historic buildings: the former headquarters of the quartermaster's office and the utility and squadron buildings. Provision has also been made for 8,000 square meters of service space in two revalued buildings: an indoor riding school and stables located on Ulanska Street.

Cavallia przy ul. Matejki i Ułańskiej w Poznaniu, wizualizacja zabudowy mieszkaniowej

Cavallia at Matejki and Ulanska Streets in Poznan, visualization of residential development

© proj. SUD Architekt Polska

an unfortunate combination

And what about the greenery? The investor announces that 35 percent of the entire development will be occupied by green areas and plans to plant about 300 trees (but without indicating their size or species). Old mature chestnut trees are also to be protected. The entire premise will be sensibly integrated into the network of neighboring streets by means of, among other things, pedestrian passages and bicycle paths (a requirement of the mpzp). However, the unfortunate connection with more than a century-old development on neighboring Skryta Street is a mistake. The back blind wall of a very interesting urban complex built by a German cooperative before World War I has not been connected to the new buildings. In the space of the new enclave, it will therefore constitute an obvious spatial and aesthetic clash. Unfortunately, we did not receive a visualization of the entire premise shown from a bird's eye view. It is partially available—as an illustrative material for the sale of apartments in the first stage—on the project's website.

Cavallia przy ul. Matejki i Ułańskiej w Poznaniu, wizualizacja terenu wzduż ulicy Grunwaldzkiej

Cavallia at Matejki and Ulańska streets in Poznan,

visualization of the office part of the site up Grunwaldzka Street, fragment of the blind wall visible on the left, top; screenshot from the investment's website

@ SUD Architekt Polska

premium? not quite

The architecture of the residential buildings already shown is—from the outside—of a decent standard, with designers playing mainly with different facade claddings and rather large balconies diversifying the simple blocks. It's a pity, however, that the forms of the buildings abstract from the character of the place; the brick red facades by CDF Architects seemed more to the point. The floor plans of the apartments, on the other hand, deviate somewhat from the advertised "premium standard." The lack of separable kitchens with a separate window, as well as the sizable square meters illuminated on one side, can hardly be considered a high-end solution. Future users are probably to be compensated for by the very good location: close to the center, parks, services and stately townhouses of the Lazarus district. The place is also well served by a streetcar line. Close by are the Central Station and the Fair.

Cavallia przy ul. Matejki i Ułańskiej w Poznaniu, wizualizacja zabudowy mieszkaniowej

Cavallia at Matejki and Ulańska streets in Poznan, visualization of residential development

© SUD Architekt Polska

The "obliteration" of the spatial breach will also benefit the fabric of the city. It is very good that public services will appear in the historic buildings, thanks to which Cavallia will not become a rather inbred enclave serving only its residents. It's just a pity that at the sale stage, more diversity in the forms of residential development was not taken care of. The MTP Group, being a wholly city-owned company in 2020, could have set aside part of the area for municipal housing, among other things.

Jakub Głaz

The vote has already been cast

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