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Why was the Climate Quarter created? - An interview with Lukasz Pancewicz

21 of February '22

In late January of this year, the Public Transport Authority of Krakow published a master plan for the Climate Quarter, including recommendations for changes in the public space of the Grzegórzki and Kazimierz districts. The study was commissioned to two cooperating studios, A2P2 architecture & planning and Wolanski.

Lukasz Pancewicz, one of the managers of the team preparing the report, founder of A2P2 architecture & planning studio and also a lecturer at Gdansk University of Technology, will talk about how the master plan was created, what real value it brings to residents, as well as criticism of the document.

Wiktor Bochenek: How long did the process of creating the masterplan for the Climate Quarter last?

Lukasz Pancewicz: It was six months of work.

Wiktor Bochenek: What was most important during the design work for the masterplan?

Lukasz Panacevich: The most important thing was the formulation of the task, because the ordering party defined very broadly what the masterplan should be. So we were looking for a formula that would allow us to define actions that would strengthen and improve the comfort of this part of Krakow for pedestrians, public transportation users, and also increase the quality of public. There was a need for a tool that would not necessarily fit into standard documents like a local plan, but would be able to bring together the various activities of individual city units, while allowing for proper communication of the ideas developed to residents.

mapa wdrożeniowa
Klimatycznego Kwartału

Climate Quarter implementation map

© Public Transport Authority of Krakow

Wiktor Bochenek: What was the research methodology in the masterplan?

Lukasz Pancewicz: The very idea was to analyze how the district works. We looked at how services are distributed, where the jobs are, and to what extent the district is sturified - for Kazimierz this is a significant problem. We studied the progressive disparity between areas designated for residents and tourists, how public transportation, vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic works. In addition, we held discussions with residents and activists about their expectations and needs. There is a lot of conversation going on at the moment about how the district's space is shaped.

We were primarily interested in finding out to what extent the area covered by the Climate Quarter could meet the criteria of a 15-minute city. It was about facilitating access to public spaces, along with recommending actions that could help achieve these goals. Climate change issues were an important part of the survey - we touched on the introduction of greenery and rainwater retention. These are also issues that resonate with the existing cultural values for Kazimierz.

typologia ulic na przykładzie
ulicy Augustiańskiej i Paulińskiej

Typology of streets on the example of Augustinska and Paulinska Streets

© Public Transport Authority of Krakow

Wiktor Bochenek: As part of the project, you have established typologies of streets. What do they consist of and what does this mean in practice for the mobility solution?

Lukasz Pancewicz: We looked at how local governments deal with analogous challenges. Usually there are many entities responsible for this, so it was important to create a common plan of action and a coherent policy. Hence the idea to develop a typology of streets and squares, which differ primarily on the question of the priority given to pedestrians or limiting the number of parking spaces. In many places it's a matter of making small adjustments to accommodate new elements in the space.

The main goal was to increase the safety and comfort of users, especially pedestrians. In many places in the Quarter, especially in residential sections, parking needs are high, and their excessive elimination can exacerbate the processes of "flight" of residents. Therefore, we recommended cautious measures. Such streets need to be changed carefully, because often having a car is a real need for residents.

wizualizacja przebudowanej
ulicy Józefa

Visualization of the rebuilt Józefa Street

© Public Transport Authority of Krakow

Wiktor Bochenek: Green and blue infrastructure is an important point in the whole masterplan. What will it introduce in terms of greenery and retention?

Lukasz Pancewicz: We worked withthe Waterworks of theCity of Krakow, we observed the catchment areas in the study area and how the area is paved and where water collects during rainfall. The goal was to reinforce micro-retention, which during rapid runoff will delay runoff and retain water. We wanted these solutions to be shown as a pilot blue-green infrastructure, also in the form of squares, such as those on Narrow Street and Bridge Street.

The blue-green infrastructure is distributed throughout the district, from small lawns to squares. In places where larger green areas cannot be placed, other solutions have been tried. The Dakuzo design studio for New Square created a concept that included underground reservoirs - a solution for places where greenery cannot be introduced. We tried to look for micro-retention solutions using greenery.

zagospodarowanie zbiegu ulic
Mostowej, Bocheńskiej i Bonifraterskiej

Development of the intersection of Mostowa, Bocheńska and Bonifraterska streets

© Public Transport Authority of Krakow

Wiktor Bochenek: Kazimierz is a unique space on the map of Krakow, which over the past thirty years has undergone a transformation from a dilapidated but still residential street to a tourist attraction. Another objection to the master plan is that it will result in stronger tourism of this space. How do you address this? Won't it end up in a process of gentrification, where residents will move out completely, and new hotels will grow in their place?

Lukasz Pancewicz: The question, which is the subject of the master plan - refers to public spaces. The city has very little real estate in Kazimierz. The second thing is it seems to me that a lot of the tourism process has already happened. Maybe this will be an unpopular statement, but from what we noticed during our research based on registration data and short-term rental offers, this damage has already been done, although there are fragments still untouched by these processes. In our recommendations, we divided the actions into those related to the tourist section - including the need for monitoring, improved patrols by city guards and police, or the need to treat woonerfs as non-commercial space. Additional measures concern areas that are still enclaves of Kazimierz residents - east of Krakowska Street to Starowiślna Street. These are streets that still have a local commercial, non-tourist profile, and this character must be maintained at all costs. In the core of Kazimierz itself, regardless of what we would propose in the master plan, much depends on the decisions of restaurant owners or hotel operators. Some of the anti-tourism measures are regulated by other city plans - for example, the plan to protect the Kazimierz Cultural Park with Stardom, or the issue of licenses to sell alcohol, for example. The master plan aims to improve access to public transportation and improve pedestrian comfort, so it should not exacerbate gentrification processes.

zagospodarowanie zbiegu ulic
Wąskiej i Szerokiej

Development of the intersection of Wąska and Szeroka streets

© Public Transport Authority of Krakow

Wiktor Bochenek: Often critics of the Climate Quarter have pointed out that such a plan for Grzegórzki and Kazimierz was not needed - hence my question, to what extent was this master plan needed?

Lukasz Pancewicz: At the time of commissioning thisstudy, the Center for Public Policy at Krakow University of Economics had done an analysis of what a 15-minute city is in the context of Krakow. The study indicates that the neighborhoods in the center of Krakow fulfill the function of a 15-minute city - they have full corresponding infrastructure and access to public transportation. However, operational studies - related to the management of local government activities, which talk about the practice of shaping public space in a 15-minute city - have not been produced, and this is where I see the great value of this study. It also helps change the way we think about how we treat greenery and pedestrian and bicycle routes. The environmental aspect, including issues of adaptation to climate change through the introduction of blue-green infrastructure was very important. Natalia Budnik, a landscape architect, was responsible for this part of the study. If this need was not realized for so many years, it means that there was a need for external intervention. This is the first step, for now it's a to-do list, but the effectiveness can be evaluated after implementation.

Wiktor Bochenek: What are you proud of with this project?

Lukasz Pancewicz: It was a difficult logistical and time challenge. The fact that we managed to align the work of two good planning teams: A2P2 and Wolanski We accomplished this task not only by doing it classically - analyzing data, doing it "technocratically", but also by having a dialogue with people involved in the life of the neighborhoods. I am glad that this was done with a very short deadline. I hope that in the future such studies will be conducted with more time comfort - six months is a very limited time. Cooperation with residents has given us a great deal of local knowledge. The space of Grzegórzki and Kazimierz is specific, it carries a lot of values and expectations. We know that many of our activities have been evaluated critically. This shows that residents are not indifferent to the future of the district, which I respect a lot.

Wiktor Bochenek: Thank you for the interview.

interviewed by Wiktor Bochenek

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