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What about the rankings? Urban planners appreciate, users - puzzled. Verdicts need to be more precise!

Kuba Głaz
20 of October '22

The redeveloped Lazarski Market in Poznań has won an award in the TUP competition. Some users do not share this enthusiasm. President Jaskowiak is therefore pleased with the trophy and rebukes any criticism. Setting "experts" and "haters" in opposition is a favorite ploy of city authorities lately. The TUP verdict has only exacerbated the dispute.

Confronting "calm professionals" and "amateur-haters" with each other is a simple (even simplistic) procedure, but misguided in the case of such an ambiguous project as the Lazarski Market. After all, the square, which was put into use after its reconstruction last December, is receiving both praise and criticism - for its form as well as its functionality. Last Friday came the time for praise. The realization received an award from the Society of Polish Urban Planners in the competition for the Best Developed Public Space 2022, It took first place in the "revitalized public space" category (full results of the competition on the TUP website). Until recently, Lazarski was a decapitated square with a marketplace. It was rebuilt according to a design that won in a two-stage competition decided in 2016. The author of the work is the Poznan office of Jacek Bulat's Autorska Pracownia Architektoniczna. ( We described the details of the transformation earlier this year).

In the justification of this year's TUP award - the superlatives themselves, among others:

The traditional market purpose was combined with social and cultural functions. It's a place that demonstrates the modern role of the market: on the one hand, allowing the historic, fair purpose to be maintained and various public events to be initiated (paved area), and on the other hand, allowing individual meetings to take place in an environment of arranged low and high greenery.

The jurors also appreciated the use of a two-stage competition formula (so-called Flemish) combined with consultations. With this and many sentences of the verdict one can agree. The market today looks much better than before the renovation, more trees (still small) are growing on it, it has gained an even, accessible surface, and - which is very important here - it does not shine with emptiness. It is frequented by seniors, children, traders and their customers. There is room for outdoor events. And this is despite insufficient shade and a partially too heavily paved surface.

lazrski poznan tup award lazarski market tup award funnel playground

Lazarski Market in Poznań after reconstruction, September 2022. - design by APA Jacek Bulat, green island by the market; playground and greenery in the so-called Lazarski funnel connecting the Market with Glogowska Street

photo: Jakub Głaz

wheel with dysfunction

The effect of TUP's unequivocally positive verdict, however, was another wave of criticism. Commentators - both community activists, neighborhood councilors and anonymous individuals - confronted the justification for the award with facts that diverge from the jury's uncritical opinion. The biggest subject of controversy is the extensive circular canopy over the market. The bold and well-embedded form gets mixed reviews, but its functionality is already mostly criticized.

Rynek Łazarski w Poznaniu po przebudowie, wrześień 2022 r.

Lazarski Market in Poznań after reconstruction, September 2022. - design by APA Jacek Bułat; market under a canopy of pumped artificial membrane

Photo: Jakub Głaz

Vendors, above all, are complaining. They criticize the large vent in the middle of the canopy, through which - it rains or snows on a certain part of the stalls. On the other hand, in the summer they shielded their stalls with additional tents, because the partially transparent roof let too much heat and sun through. There are also some vertical covers - to protect against side winds. The market also lacks a toilet, which is located in the ground floor of one of the market's townhouses.

Rynek Łazarski w Poznaniu po przebudowie, wrześień 2022 r.

Lazarski Market in Poznan after reconstruction, September 2022. - proj. APA Jacek Bułat; vendors set up additional stall covers

Photo: Jakub Głaz

more precisely with awards!

So should such a realization have received an award? Especially since the justification also reads that it was awarded for

space created with great culture and respect for future users.

After such a jury verdict, a doubt arises: did the jury members have a chance to personally and sufficiently experience the nominated spaces? If so, why did they not address the shortcomings, which can hardly be considered insignificant, in the verdict? TUP's award to Lazarski is another reason to rethink better the criteria and the way such awards are given in year-end summaries or plebiscites. Perhaps - giving even the first award - one should not be afraid to point out flaws or shortcomings.

łazarski granite poznań tup betonoza lazar market hole tup competition

Lazarski Market in Poznań after reconstruction, September 2022. - proj. APA Jacek Bułat; 1. the space by the fountain needs to be supplemented with greenery, 2. the opening in the canopy, which traders complain about

photo: Jakub Glaz

After all, competitions and rankings also have an educational value. Presenting expert concerns can be useful in public discussions, which have become increasingly polarized lately. Some shout about "concretism" regardless of context and deeper analysis. Others praise indiscriminately, involving local government portals or city company websites in promotion.

Enemies in one bag

Such an "exchange of views" makes it very difficult to conduct a substantive discussion and possible corrections of shortcomings. This is because residents also sometimes react to promotional incantations with exaggeration. In the verbal ping-pong the voices of those who take an analytical approach to the issue are lost. In order to depreciate these substantive opinions, some authorities, as Jacek Jaskowiak has been doing for a long time, later lump critics together with the word "haters." Here is a fairly representative sample of the style in which the Poznań mayor has been communicating recently:

On no investment in recent years has so much heathenism been poured out in the traditional and social media space as on the Lazarski Market. At one point, I myself began to wonder if it was a good project, despite the competition, numerous consultations. Unlike the online hecklers, the experts think it was (...).

Apparently, Jaskowiak fails to see that among the critics there are also substantive councilors, community members or architects. In doing so, he forgets that, first - he came to power largely thanks to social activists who "invented" him as a politician in 2010 (Jaśkowiak, now in the PO, ran then from the list of the We Poznanians Association). And secondly - thanks to substantive activists, it was possible to save many valuable areas in Poznań, such as the site for the massive Rataje park (already completed), to raise the level of bicycle infrastructure to a higher level, and - in the case of the Lazarski Market - to add a wedge with trees and shrubs instead of the stone paving already provided for during the reconstruction.

Rynek Łazarski w Poznaniu po przebudowie, wrzesień 2022 r.

Lazarski Market in Poznań after reconstruction, September 2022. - designed by APA Jacek Bulat; additional green wedge with trees introduced after public and media intervention

photo: Jakub Głaz

In the face of such behavior (not only Poznan's, but also Wroclaw's mayor Jacek Sutryk is famous for short-circuits with commenting residents), the importance of very thoughtful awarding of prizes, creation of rankings and in-depth study of the awarded objects or places increases. Why use superficial judgments to provide fuel for increasingly self-satisfied politicians?

Jakub Głaz

The vote has already been cast

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