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How will Cieszyn change its market? Project stirs up controversy

17 of June '22

A few days ago, the Municipal Road Administration in Cieszyn published a visualization of the reconstruction of the market square. The project caused quite an outcry, and was immediately hailed as an example of concrete and Polish public space pathology. To what extent is this true?

idea for space

The reconstruction of Cieszyn's market square is part of a larger initiative, which is the project "Szlakiem Cieszyńskiego Tramway - development of cross-border tourism." As part of the reconstruction, according to Cieszyn City Hall, the pavement and small architecture will be unified, restoration work will be carried out, which will include the Saint Florian fountain, and new greenery will appear in the ground, as well as in pots.

Above all, the local government is keen to improve the infrastructure for cultural, social and sports events. New installations will allow the introduction of streetcar rails, in honor of the streetcar route running here. On the facade of Cieszyn's City Hall, the local government will use mapping to tell the story of the city's streetcars. The entire project cost PLN 11,381,000.

The authors of the project are the Palmett landscape architecture studio from Warsaw. The visualizations show the space of the market without major interference. The changes mainly concern the reduction of car traffic, the introduction of new benches near the trees and small additional plantings.

Wizualizacja rynku w Cieszynie

Visualization of Cieszyn's market square

© Cieszyn City Hall

storm in a teacup

The redevelopment of Cieszyn's market square has stirred up a lot of controversy and started an online discussion. Among those speaking out were reporter and photographer Filip Springer, who deemed the project a "fat joke," and activist Jan Spiewak, who described the office as "another pathos government."

Standing in opposition to the critical voices was Pawel Mrozek, an architect and urban planner, but also the author of the Facebook page "One Hundred Years of Planning." Famous for his sneers at the so-called Polish Urbanist Thought, the author pointed out that there was no degradation of greenery due to concreting, because it was not there, and now it will appear. Mrozek also stresses the uniqueness of this space, which does not need far-reaching changes, because it is still real and used by residents.

Rynek w Cieszynie

Cieszyn market square

Photo: Silar, © CC BY-SA 4.0

looking for a compromise

Regardless of which opinion on the visualization of the redevelopment of the market one leans towards, one can feel a slight insufficiency in terms of greenery and biologically active area. Why was it not decided to connect the space between the trees with flower beds? Was climate change and the need to improve natural retention taken into account?

Today this space can serve properly, but it is difficult to assess how this will change in the next few years or even decades. The assessment should be left for the future, but the reaction to the project, whether right or wrong, is a positive aspect of social change in Poland. Concrete thinking is crumbling faster than we think, and the senseless "revitalizations" proposed by some equally concrete authorities will come under greater criticism.

Wizualizacja rynku w Cieszynie

Visualization of Cieszyn's market square

© Cieszyn City Hall

Mateusz Zmyślony wrote about the Cieszyn phenomenon in the April issue of Architektura&Biznes magazine. A&B is available for free in digital form on our portal(see here).

compiled by Wiktor Bochenek

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