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Street for six, parking for one - strange cases of space in front of Poznan schools

29 of March '24

A new friendly space in front of the old school and a scaled-down parking lot - in front of the new one. In Poznan, projects are being implemented according to extremely contradictory guidelines. Which proves that the City has not done its homework on the consistent management of its space.

For starters - a good example of how to shape an aesthetically pleasing and safe school entrance area. The space in front of the elementary school on Słowackiego Street in the historic district of Jeżyce has just undergone a successful metamorphosis. At the level of SP no. 36, the street has essentially transformed into a slightly elevated square, through which cars can pass along a narrow lane delineated by posts, having previously overcome the difference in level of the roadway.

ulica Słowackiego przed SP 36 w Poznaniu

Słowackiego Street in front of SP 36 in Poznań - a car slows down before entering the elevated square, in the foreground you can see the new sidewalk and green belt

photo: Jakub Glaz

The entire section of Slow ackiego Street between Kraszewskiego and Wawrzyniaka streets has also changed. The diagonal parking of cars entering the sidewalk has ended. Now the cars stand parallel on the street, and the space previously occupied by them has been taken up by strips of low greenery and several new trees. The sidewalks are also new, even and aesthetically pleasing. Such action is part of the systematic and sensible transformation of the streets of the historic districts in Poznań described by us a year and a half ago.

ulica Słowackiego przed SP 36 w Poznaniu

Słowackiego street in front of SP 36 in Poznań - view of Słowackiego street before renovation

© ZDM Poznań

from shore to shore

The space itself in front of the Slowackiego elementary school, however, is a novelty in the City's operations. It has been paved with old clinker bricks across the entire width of the street: from the school walls to the opposite property fences. New trees have been planted, and existing ones have been surrounded by larger areas of land. There is also more low greenery, and there are benches and bike racks. There are no parking spaces, except for an envelope for people with disabilities.

ulica Słowackiego przed SP 36 w Poznaniu

Słowackiego Street in front of SP 36 in Poznań - general view of the school and the newly created square,

photo: Jakub Głaz

In a few weeks, long benches made less than a year ago during the Mood for Wood workshops we described last year are to be placed in front of the school (for now they stand in the school yard). Colorful graphics are also still planned for the clinker pavement. Their final form is still being worked out. As deputy director of the City Roads Administration, Piotr Libicki, informs us, the colorful accents are to be done by June.

ulica Słowackiego przed SP 36 w Poznaniu

Słowackiego Street in front of SP 36 in Poznań - a view of the square from under the school, a car drives along a narrow path between the posts, the place in the foreground is waiting to move benches from the courtyard

Photo: Jakub Głaz

Already now, however, the space looks friendly and clearly communicates by its form that it belongs to the school, and on this section of the street the most important things are children, their comfort and safety. The character of the square has been given to this section of the street by the use of a homogeneous clinker floor. At the same time it is, in a way, "superior" to the asphalt and sidewalks on the other sections. In addition, the clinker used here blends well with the brick facades of the historic and otherwise architecturally very interesting school from the early years of the 20th century ( the main building with a tower dates from 1907). The clinker itself is not from under the needle either. It used to be the surface of the parking lot in Kolegiac Square, which was rebuilt two years ago.

not too childish!

This successful result was achieved, among other things, thanks to consultations and workshops with students and residents, which preceded the execution of the project. The initiator of the project was the Jeżyce Estate Council. Both the school and the neighborhood councilors participated in the preparatory work coordinated by the City Roads Administration. The Poznań branch of SARP provided substantive and didactic support (both during consultations and by providing benches from the Mood for Wood workshop).

How did the workshops take place? First, in 2021, students drew their visions of the space in front of the school. A year later, they created mock-ups, visualizations or compositions out of LEGO bricks (under the guidance of ZDM, the conservationist and the City Traffic Engineer). In the course of these activities it became apparent, for example, that students in the final grades did not want to be placated with overly vivid colors or childish graphics. It was therefore important to design the colorful accents in such a way that they did not give the space an infantile feel. The visualization from a year ago, therefore, shows the general, rather than the target, direction in which complementing the space with color and graphics will go.

ulica Słowackiego przed SP 36 w Poznaniu

Słowackiego Street in front of SP 36 in Poznań - visualization of changes in front of the school, 2023; colorful elements can be seen, their target form is currently being developed


school like a supermarket

After this pleasant information, it's time for a cold shower. At the same time that work was underway on Slowackiego, construction of a new elementary school with preschool departments in the Strzeszyn district (between Fieldorfa, Rostworowskiego and Karskiego streets) began. In this case, however, warm words are hard to come by. On the contrary. The designer - Biuro Projektowe i Nadzór Budowlany Marcin Bartoś, was selected in a tender, and - on the available visualizations - the school looks as clumsy as two other establishments built by the city of Poznań this century (one next door in Strzeszyn, the other in Umultow).

ulica Słowackiego przed SP 36 w Poznaniu

visualization of the school in Strzeszyn, first version, the parking lot occupies a similar area to the school, design: Design and Construction Supervision Office Marcin Bartoś

© Poznan Municipal Investments

Despite appeals by the Poznań SARP to organize competitions for new school buildings, the City is still going the old way. In Strzeszyn, by the way, the biggest problem is not the poor shape and aesthetics of the school, but its foreground. It will be a sizable parking lot worthy of a supermarket. In the first visualizations shown a few years ago, you could even see the "kiss and ride" zone clearly marked in red ! After the criticism that resounded on social media, the visualizations show a slightly more civilized version of the premise. However, this is a mostly cosmetic change. In the new graphics, parking spaces are simply overgrown with grass and no cars are shown. Instead, the large parking lot is cut by a dark strip "decorated" with bizarre irregular lines, constituting the access zone to the school.

ulica Słowackiego przed SP 36 w Poznaniu

School in Strzeszyn, newer visualization with greened parking spaces, no cars, opposite - school access zone cutting through the parking lot, design: Design and Construction Supervision Office Marcin Bartoś

© Poznan Municipal Investments

magistrate's fight?

What is surprising, then, is the inconsistency of the Poznań authorities, who are simultaneously implementing such different projects. On the one hand - a friendly space freed from parking spaces, and on the other - a huge parking lot. Jeżyce promotes traffic calming and getting to school on foot, by bicycle or by public transportation, while Strzeszyn promotes individual transportation and the transportation of children by parents. Who, by the way, is this parking lot supposed to serve for most of the day? Kindergarten and elementary school students don't have driver's licenses. It's high time, then, that the authorities in Poznań agreed with themselves on what their priorities are. For now, the situation looks as if the city is run by two competing magistrates.

Jakub Głaz

The vote has already been cast