Two new green investments are finally taking off in Poznań: the castle courtyard and the market arcade. This is very good news. At the same time, however, there is a battle over allotment gardens earmarked for development, and trees are disappearing from the downtown redevelopment project. Is anyone in control of all the city's greenery?
The redevelopment of the public spaces of Poznan's downtown is far from over, and more developments are starting. Both with a large share of greenery and great city-forming potential. Both have been announced for quite a long time. The first is the semi-open courtyard of the Imperial Castle on Święty Marcin Street. The second is the "green river," a walkway that will finally connect areas previously cut apart by the Poznań Fair grounds.
bay of culture
The courtyard promises to be the most interesting. For the past decades it has served as a parking lot, and now it will be a year-round public space. Until now there was no greenery on it. Now there will be twenty-eight trees, numerous shrubs, perennials and climbers. Among them—diverse small architecture and a pond. On the street side there will also be a low intimate pavilion with a green roof, which is to be a cafe-like point of first contact between CK Zamek and passers-by. After all, the castle's rich array of activities is not readily visible outside this massive and in its own way fortified building.
The courtyard in front of the CK Zamek in Poznan—arrangement design by proj. Aleksander Wadas Studio and Pracownia Architektury Krajobrazu, view from the new pavilion
© Aleksander Wadas Studio
Warsaw-based Aleksander W adas Studio in cooperation with Pracownia Architektury Krajobrazu (Marta Tomasiak) is responsible for the design of the courtyard. Their work was selected in an architectural competition arranged by the Castle Cultural Center in 2019 ( we presented the latest version saturated with even more greenery in January). Financial and organizational problems, however, did not allow the City to coordinate the transformation of the courtyard together with the ongoing redevelopment of Swiety Marcin Street as part of the so-called Center Project (the next stage of the 2015 competition entry for the transformation of downtown public spaces, designed by Studio ADS). Following the recent award of a tender for a contractor for the work, the investment will start in the second half of July. It is expected to be completed only after eighteen months, which is quite a distant deadline if one takes into account the relatively small scale of the project.
The courtyard in front of CK Zamek in Poznan—arrangement design by Aleksander Wadas Studio and Pracownia Architektury Krajobrazu, view of the entrance to the Museum of Poznan June 1956
© Aleksander Wadas Studio
courtyard later, river in autumn
Nevertheless, if the courtyard, a kind of St. Martin's "bay" next to the Castle, looks as designed, it will certainly raise the attractiveness of this part of the center and compensate to some extent for the mistakes of the Center Project. Next to the Castle, the intersection of Saint Martin's and Al. Niepodległości—a scaled-down sea of asphalt serving mainly cars, with erroneously delineated routes for cyclists, arranged contrary to the formally adopted policy of limiting traffic in the center.
The new green arcade at Poznań Fair—a friendly shortcut in the Lazarz district, visualization—middle part of the establishment at the level of the congress center (left)
© MTP Group
"Green River", also announced by us in winter, is in turn a very long-awaited walkway, thanks to which the space of the Fair, closed today, will finally be integrated into the urban fabric. Its route will run between the West Railway Station, through the Pewuka Square on the Fairgrounds, which was decorated last autumn, and Wilson Park (that is, the entrances from Glogowska and Sniadeckich Streets), without having to go around the Fair. The picturesque walkway, on a sloping slope descending toward the center, will be planted with trees and shrubs, and significant portions of the sidewalk will be "unpaved." A separate route for bicycles will also be created. Planned completion of the work: autumn of this year.
New green arcade at Poznań Fair—a friendly shortcut in the Lazarz district, visualization—arcade from the side of Sniadeckich Street
© MTP Group
about green quietly and loudly
City Mayor Jacek Jaskowiak boasts a lot about these projects on his Facebook fanpage, probably preparing the ground for his election campaign. However, he is silent on other greenery issues that electrify some city residents today. One concerns the aforementioned redevelopment of downtown public spaces as part of the so-called Center Project. One of the rows of trees that were envisioned along 27 Grudnia Street near the famous Okrąglak disappeared from the project, (while the work was in progress!). This is a continuation of the issue of Turkish hazel trees, already described by us, whose preservation was successfully fought for by naturalists and social activists from the Freedom Square Association and the Zazieleń Poznań Coalition. The hazel trees, previously earmarked for cutting, survived, so the City commissioned the designers to update the project, and they... removed one of the rows of trees they had planned earlier, explaining this by the need to provide access for the fire department and underground installations (previously this had not been a problem). Instead of trees, there could be either lawn or pavement. Tertium non datur. Socialists announced their opposition, and the Old Town neighborhood council was also to express its position.
Changes in the municipal project for 27 Grudnia Street in Poznan
© presentation by PIM company, author of the project; Studio ADS
The second „hot” issue relates to a much larger area, namely the Energetyk Family Allotment Gardens located on the north of Ostrow Tumski, behind the railroad tracks dividing the island into two parts: the first—the historical one, with the cathedral and other monuments, and the second—with the ROD, the concrete plant and the former thermal power plant. In the coming years, the site of the latter is to be transformed into a densely built-up developer 's estate—in accordance with the city's plans and the investor's advanced intentions. The current battle is to prevent equally intensive development from taking place on the eastern side of Ostrow occupied by the plots. Not only for natural reasons, but also for functional reasons. After all, traffic service for two such large residential areas promises to be very inefficient.
Thousands of comments for the trash
Allotment holders and naturalists are fighting for the area while updating the Study of Conditions and Directions of Spatial Development (the current study allows investment, but the protesters want the function to be changed to green areas). Ahead of the vote planned for next Tuesday, residents and community activists also protested Wednesday in the courtyard of the City Hall over several other green areas: a community garden on Pulaski Street plots, a green area in Górczyn, and a forest in Antoninek, which is to make way for an expanded Volkswagen factory. Probably the authorities will ignore this protest, just as they have previously rejected comments to the Study on the areas listed here (along with three thousand other comments!). We will write about the decisions on this matter next week.
Thus, the actions of the Poznań authorities constantly arouse considerable cognitive dissonance, and it is difficult to figure out what the City's policy on greenery really is, and whether anyone is coordinating it across Poznań. Projects and realizations that deserve recognition are accompanied at the same time by actions or intentions contrary to them. By the way, the City itself depreciates the provisions of its own documents. Suffice it to say that in the case of the hazel trees on 27 Grudnia Street, officially the builders are not bound by the tree protection standards adopted a year ago. The Poznan Municipal Investments Company, which oversees the work, explains that the standards do not apply to contractors, because... they were introduced after construction work began.