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A learning urban unit. The design of a circular housing estate in Wilanow

Dobrawa Bies
28 of May '21

The principles of closed-loop economics and urban metabolism were used by Marta Kubasinska to develop the author's fine-tuning method. It is an attempt to answer the question of how to modify the record of planning regulations so that residents have the ability to adapt to changing society, environment or economic conditions. The project was based on the example of a residential area in Wilanow.

Marta Kubasinska's project is a master's thesis done under the supervision of Dr. Artur Filip. Her concept concerns the dynamically urbanizing Wilanów district in Warsaw. The district is growing to the south, however, there are still significant amounts of undeveloped land where, according to the findings of the current study of conditions (SUiKZP), housing estates will be built. The intensive development of the area was an opportunity for the PW student to propose an alternative to the current way of planning and space development.

Osiedle cyrkularne
w Wilanowie, analizy terenu

The author conducted numerous analyses of the area

© Marta Kubasińska

circular economy

The alternative development direction of the district is based on the idea of closed-circle economics - circular economy. Development planning in this spirit requires the use of complex and comprehensive measurements (qualitative criteria are necessary). Measures like the development intensity index are not necessarily the best indicator of successful urban planning, as they only measure quantity or size. In addition, despite attempts to plan mix-use neighborhoods, we remain constrained by the framework provided by planning tools - including the need for unambiguous demarcation lines, which promote rigidity and zoning, says Marta Kubasinska.

Osiedle cyrkularne
w Wilanowie, legenda Osiedle cyrkularne
w Wilanowie, środowiska

The city has been treated as a system and divided into three environments

© Marta Kubasinska

holistic development of the city

The project of the young architect tells how to modify the way of creating planning regulations to improve the quality of life of residents, so that they have the opportunity to adapt to the changes taking place. Therefore, the author proposed a method of flexible fine-tuning, which could enable a process of self-regulation - urban evolution by blurring boundaries and interlocking elements of the urban system. This experimental approach to formulating planning regulations was illustrated by the author with a proposal for a new type of plan for a section of Wilanów. According to the architect, this is an attempt to take a holistic view of urban development in all the complexity of natural, social, economic issues.

The self-regulatory abilities of the ecosystem are based on diversity, networking and development over time. Based on these three elements, I have formed a theoretical holistic model of the city. I treat the city as a system and divide it into three environments - built, natural and socio-cultural (diversity). They are interconnected and interact with each other (networking)," the author explains.

Strefa, struktura,
pole manewru

Each of the environments is divided into: Zone, Structure and Maneuver Field

© Marta Kubasinska

model settlement

In order for a city to develop, it is important to properly identify problems and set goals for the future. This gives the opportunity to prevent the negative effects of existing phenomena and allows planning for the long term. Accordingly, Marta Kubasinska defined environmental goals (development over time). She used the adopted model to create a regulatory plan for the settlement in the selected area of Wilanow.

I conductedsite analyses for the built, natural and socio-cultural environment. I took into account the supra-local and local scale. I focused on: defining the character and structure of the local ecosystem, examining the directions of development and inventorying the current state, and analyzing places of activity," says the PW graduate.

Osiedle cyrkularne
w Wilanowie, plan regulacyjny

By combining all the layers, the Regulatory Plan is created

© Marta Kubasinska

Regulatory Plan

In order to make the regulation more flexible, based on the analyses, the author identified the elements that should be considered unchangeable and those that can become a field for fine-tuning. These are: Zone (fixed), Structure (flexible) and Maneuver Field (which defines the extent of flexibility of the structure). These elements are described separately for each environment - built, natural and socio-cultural. The elements of Zone, Structure and Maneuver Field are components of each layer of regulation, and each corresponds to one of the studied areas of the environments. By combining all the layers, a Regulatory Plan is formed. It defines the necessary structure of the settlement without a clear definition of its form.

Osiedle cyrkularne
w Wilanowie, aksonometria

The designed settlement is to be a learning urban unit

© Marta Kubasinska

The Regulatory Plan is intended to ensure that all the necessary elements will be created, but it does not determine the final state, which will take shape over time. An estate that will be created on the basis of such assumptions can be called circular, as its regulatory structure allows the creation of adjusted forms by tuning to changing needs and conditions, creating a learning urban unit, the author concludes.

The work titled Circular Estate Using the Principles of Closed Circuit Economics. A development project for a section of the Wilanów district was awarded in the Competition for the best master's thesis on urban policies, organized by the Urban Policy Congress.

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