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The former stadium will be a park? Important urban planning competition in Poznan

Kuba Głaz
25 of October '22

A very important study urban planning competition is announced by the authorities of Poznan. It concerns the former Edmund Szyc stadium and its extensive surroundings. The degraded area lies on the outskirts of the inner city and has been waiting for a sensible development concept for years. Residents hope for lots of greenery, and the authorities hope for ideas from architects and urban planners.

The Szyc Stadium used to be the city's main sports and performance arena. Superbly located - at the junction of two historic districts: downtown and Wilda, in the southern wedge of greenery - it attracted crowds mainly during the communist era, when it was called July 22. In the 1990s it belonged to the Warta sports club. Then the sportsmen sold the facility, which has fallen into disrepair over the past 25 years: the stands have managed to turn into a sizable and picturesque grove. Exceptionally chaotic and largely neglected is also the immediate surroundings, led by a huge space after the marketplace next to the stadium, which was established in the early 1990s and was liquidated two years ago.

dawny Stadion im. Szyca w Poznaniu, październik 2022 r.

The former Szyc Stadium in Poznań, October 2022, view of the wooded stands; in the background - office buildings on Andersa Square

photo: Jakub Glaz

first the philharmonic, then silence

The city of Poznań has finally decided to hold a study competition for the stadium and the surrounding area bounded by Królowej Jadwigi, Droga Dębińska, Father M. Żelazka and Dolna Wilda streets. Representatives of the authorities announced this on Friday, and tomorrow (Wednesday, 26.10) they intend to publish an announcement of the competition and its regulations. With this, they are putting the area in the hands of specialists, after previous rather chaotic concepts. Two years ago, for example, the construction of a philharmonic hall and a so-called music center were considered. This idea was abandoned (the philharmonic is to stand on the Fairgrounds). Recently, however, there has been some talk of a "park of silence" in the stands and on the stadium's apron.

dawny Stadion im. Szyca w Poznaniu,

The former Szyc Stadium in Poznan, view from the south

photo source:

The competition will be in two stages, the prize pool will be 190 thousand zlotys. The first place will be 100 thousand zlotys, followed by 25 and 15 thousand zlotys. For participants in the second stage there will be a reimbursement (called "prize") of PLN 10 thousand. The official portal of the Poznań authorities quotes the director of the Department of Urban Planning and Architecture, Piotr Sobczak:

Preparations for the competition took nearly two years. Its announcement was preceded by numerous meetings. We gathered a lot of voices from different circles about how they imagine the place. The competition jury will be headed by landscape architect Izabela Malachowska-Coqui. She is an internationally renowned expert who will certainly be able to lead the work of this court with a cool eye.

In addition to landscape architects, architects and urban planners, the jury will also include representatives of the AWF, the City Council and the Wilda Estate Council, among others.

difficult history, not easy terrain

The challenge is attractive, but also difficult - for historical, spatial, natural and social reasons. The very history of the stadium provides many challenges. The first facility (designed by Sylwester Pajzderski) was built here in 1929 on the occasion of the General National Exhibition. The first and very unlucky. The faulty reinforced concrete stands began to crack already on the opening day (spectators and President Moscicki had to be evacuated). Thus, in the 1930s only the arena - without stands - was essentially in use. In 1941-43, Jews were imprisoned in the stadium, first forced into slave labor and then - exterminated. Bartosz Guss, deputy mayor of Poznań, announces that:

"we will expect the participants of the competition to symbolically commemorate that period.

After the war - in the 1950s - the stadium was expanded, this time the stands were earthen, and the capacity - much larger. The facility underwent another modernization in 1974 before the central harvest festival held in Poznan. It was enriched with the superstructure of the western grandstand with a volume with rooms for the press, officials and sheltered lodges. A new, largest passage in the east grandstand was also made. Instead, a rich sports and recreational program in the immediate vicinity was not realized.

dawny Stadion im. Szyca w Poznaniu, październik 2022 r.

The former Szyc Stadium in Poznań, October 2022, undeveloped foreground of the stadium on the east side

Photo: Jakub Głaz

In its 1970s form, the stadium survived until it was sold in 1998 to the Danish company TK Development. Since then there have been attempts to turn the stadium into a shopping center, residential buildings and even skyscrapers. After protests from community activists, naturalists and architects, the city held a deliberative poll in 2012 . In it, residents strongly supported the recreational and green character of the area, which - as part of the southern green wedge - should not be intensively developed. The city succeeded in acquiring the stadium only in 2018, and a year earlier councilors passed a local development plan.

szyca stadium stands 2022 szyca stadium korona 2022

Former Szyc Stadium in Poznań, October 2022, remnants of benches on the stands; crown of the stadium, view of the AWF buildings

photo: Jakub Głaz

sports, science, offices, games

The competition covers the area covered by two mpzp (the second of 2018 - for the area east of the stadium). The boundaries delineated by the organizers will include the campus of the Academy of Physical Education, the grounds and facilities of the Poznań Sports and Recreation Centers (POSiR): a swimming pool and bathing area, an office building and an indoor ice rink, KS Warta facilities, an enclave of residential buildings from 15 years ago, the Multikino building, the Marathon office building, green areas and a vast square after the largest market in recent decades (the so-called Bema market). The whole area can be seen in a video published by the City of Poznan.

With the exception of the well-kept square and buildings on Królowej Jadwigi Street and the as-yet-untidy AWF grounds, the area is extremely chaotic, neglected and decapitated. It will therefore not be easy to work out how the former stadium and adjoining areas will function, but also how to combine all the elements into a coherent whole. When will we know the results? Probably in the second quarter of next year. Applications for participation in the competition will be accepted until December 9, and we will post information about the regulations and the announcement of the competition tomorrow after the City of Poznań publishes it.

Jakub Głaz

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