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Urban farming in Katowice. A project for a self-sustaining eco-settlement in Stara Ligota.

31 of May '23

{tag:studenci}, this year's graduate of the Silesian University of Technology's Faculty of Architecture, attempted to design a self-sustainable, ecological settlement that could become a role model. For its location he proposed the area of the Stara Ligota district in Katowice. As part of the project, he envisioned using the idea of urban farming, increasing green areas and creating an „urban anchor,” among other things.

The aim of the master's thesis, carried out under the direction of Tomasz Bradecki, PhD, was to design a model of an ecological estate that would encourage the use of ecological solutions and promote the idea of sustainable development among residents and investors.

Lokalizacja projektowanego osiedla w Katowicach

Location of the designed housing estate in Katowice

© Jakub Furmaniak

Modern cities are increasingly congested, polluted and dependent on imports of energy and raw materials, which has an impact on health, social and economic problems. It is necessary to develop solutions to create self-sufficient and sustainable settlements that meet the needs of residents, do not negatively impact the environment and with minimal consumption of natural resources. Katowice, as one of the largest cities in Poland, has a rich industrial history, and is a perfect location for such a project. Stara Ligota is a district that is in close proximity to the city center, while having green areas and good transportation links, making it an ideal place to propose an innovative housing estate project, explains Jakub Furmaniak.

Analizy terenów zielonych w Katowicach

analysis of green areas in Katowice

© Jakub Furmaniak

to the rescue of urban greenery

The PŚ graduate conducted an analysis of surveys from the Central Statistical Office from 2006 to 2020 on urban green areas before starting his design work, which allowed him to compare various Polish provinces and cities, focusing on Silesia. The comparative analysis showed a decrease in the area of green areas in Silesia by about a thousand hectares. The architect also noted a decrease of about 400 hectares in the area of land designated for greenery, parks, green areas, estate green areas and walking parks in Katowice.

Zagospodarowanie terenu osiedla

estate landscaping

© Jakub Furmaniak

The author therefore felt that the design of the green estate should not only take into account the needs of the residents, but also compensate for the decrease in green areas. On a plot covering 9.86 hectares, he planned a variety of solutions that will contribute to the growth of green areas in Katowice. Meanwhile, the existing tall greenery, he used for an educational park and recreation.

Część mieszkaniowa oraz rekreacyjna osiedla

residential and recreational part of the estate

© Jakub Furmaniak

Eco-neighborhood in Katowice

The project assumes a departure from the classical paradigm customarily used in designing estates. The concept of the estate aims to bring residents closer to the surrounding nature. Elements of greenery and urban agriculture are integrated into residential, service and educational developments, explains Jakub Furmaniak.

The eco-neighborhood is designed to meet the needs of most residents. Both the young, middle-aged, seniors and people with disabilities can find space to live, develop and spend their leisure time. In the area, the young architect designed four spaces that work together to provide comfort for residents, employees, as well as neighboring quarters. These spaces are: residential/service, educational/recreational, greenery/park, agriculture/cultivation.

Eko-osiedle w Katowicach, schemat funkcjonalny

Eco-neighborhood in Katowice, functional diagram

© Jakub Furmaniak

division into functional zones

The functional zones (residential-service, recreational-educational, urban agriculture) have been located so that they fit into the development. Their purpose is to increase development potential and spatial balance.

The residential and commercial buildings with a frame structure consist of four floors above ground and a greenhouse on the roof. Inside the residential development, the author designed pedestrian areas and other spaces that meet the needs of residents, such as a graduation tower, squares, a playground, service, educational, cultural and sports spaces.

Widok z balkonu jednego z mieszkań na część rekreacyjną

view from the balcony of one of the apartments to the recreation area

© Jakub Furmaniak

The recreationaland educational part with a green utility roof acts as an „urban anchor,” a spatial solution to integrate the new buildings into the existing urban fabric. The forest on the southwest side has been enhanced with educational paths. In the central part of the area are such services as a city market, restaurants, cafes, bistros, bookstores, educational halls, gymnasiums, a cultural center, a school, and a sports hall. Accompanying spaces have also been introduced between the zones.

Widok z góry na farmę miejską

aerial view of the urban farm

© Jakub Furmaniak

urban farming

The agricultural part of the estate consists of the following infrastructure: greenhouses, warehouses, fermentation buildings, an animal barn and a biogas plant. The biogas plant and barn have been fenced off and screened from the north by greenery overgrowing the project plot, providing comfort for park users and workers. The greenhouses and storage facilities were located directly on the access road on the south side, which is a pedestrian road.

Zagospodarowanie przestrzeni farmy miejskiej

urban farm space development

© Jakub Furmaniak

The author also divided the plot into agricultural quarters, which include a berry plantation, a vegetable garden, a fruit orchard, leguminous crops, among others. Meanwhile, plants requiring direct access to water and fertile soil were located on the south side, adjacent to the Kokociniec stream.

Urban agriculture, working together with commercial, educational and recreational spaces, acts as an urban anchor and constitutes the identity of the entire neighborhood. The proposed urban planning solutions contribute to building social ties and promoting sustainable development and an ecological approach, the author adds.

Schemat funkcjonalny zabudowy mieszkaniowej

functional scheme of the residential development

© Jakub Furmaniak

ecological solutions

The project uses ecological solutions for energy acquisition and storage. Photovoltaic panels were used in the buildings, and the entire housing development has additional energy storage, which allows flexible management of electricity in the facilities and allows for increased efficiency. To save water, rainwater tanks have been installed to filter coarse pollutants. The treated rainwater can be used to irrigate green roofs and crops. Another solution is local water retention (green roofs, rain gardens, ponds).

Schemat funkcjonalny części rekreacyjno-edukacyjnej

functional diagram of the recreational and educational part

© Jakub Furmaniak

The school building has large window areas that allow optimal use of natural light and provide adequate lighting conditions for the classrooms. The architect also proposed a system of automatic control of blinds to protect against the sun and noise. It allows to adjust the lighting and temperature in the rooms to the current weather conditions and time of day. Such measures reduce the need for artificial lighting, leading to energy savings and reduced carbon emissions.

Teren urban farmingu i szklarnie

urban farming area and greenhouses

© Jakub Furmaniak

The greenhouses have been equipped with an air recirculation system, which minimizes the loss of heat and heating energy. The parking lots include charging stations for electric vehicles and stations for city bicycles. Car-sharing is also envisioned.

The subject matter of the work is important and timely from the point of view of the development of urban planning thought in the design of residential complexes [...]. A self-sufficient, healthy housing complex, offering conditions for establishing social ties and leading an active and ecological lifestyle, is no longer just an idea for a housing complex of the future, but a present-day answer to the contemporary challenges of civilization," Jakub Furmaniak concludes.

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