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Signboards in the Tri-Cities. Less is more

02 of June '20

Big ads are disappearing from Gdansk. No more free-americanism among signs - these should be aesthetically pleasing and in accordance with the city's guidelines. In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, the Gdansk Landscape Resolution has come into full effect.

Until now, the attempt to curb advertising chaos resembled a battle with windmills. Fines were ineffective, and appeals to administrative proceedings dragged on forever. In Gdansk, the landscape resolution is supposed to put an end to the mottling. Its adoption in February 2018 was only the beginning of the battle for a clean city. Just a month later, the resolution was challenged by the Pomeranian governor, invalidating it in three parts. He claimed that the provisions adopted by the city councilors violated the law, but a few months later the court agreed with the city.

This did not mean the end of problems at all, as the resolution was repeatedly challenged by advertising companies and property owners. To date, twelve cases have been pending before the courts. And all have been resolved in favor of the city.

big ads disappear from Gdansk

On April 2, 2020, the two-year adjustment period for old ads expired. For the past two years, the provisions covered only new ads, and did not apply to those that appeared in the city before April 2018.

Although the epidemic has delayed the possibility of enforcing penalties, significant improvements are already visible in Gdansk's space. The effects can be summarized by the numbers. Unscrupulous entrepreneurs were summoned by Gdansk officials to remove advertisements 876 times. To those who did not remove the carriers, they imposed a total of 69 fines amounting to PLN 208,564. The advertising cleanup was particularly evident in the last weeks of March and April. At the end of March, a giant advertisement hung on Zieleniak - one of the city's most distinctive buildings - was removed.

signboards back in place

But the provisions of the landscape resolution make not only huge billboards disappear from the streets, the regulations also apply to the rules for placing signboards. Bright colors and gigantomania - these are the main sins of signboards seen in the city. In order to make it easier for entrepreneurs to comply with the new regulations, the city has issued a guidebook on what is allowed and what is not. The list is long: there can be only one signboard, the display of banners on a building is forbidden, advertising can't overlap windows, doors or obscure cornices or bricks. It must also not glaring, flickering lighting or lighting that changes color is prohibited....

Those who do not comply face a fine. For example, for an advertisement of 1 square meter, the penalty is PLN 112.80 per day.

It is worth noting that the new local regulations on signs have taken to heart the shopping malls. In recent weeks, many of them have cleared their facades of media; the facade of Galeria Metropolia, for example, which had been flooded with tenants' signs until now, has been exposed.

For a confectionery and herb store.
Artists design signboards

The city of Gdansk deserves praise for not leaving entrepreneurs alone. A few months ago it set up the Gdansk School of Signs, its goal is to make it easier for premises owners and restaurateurs to create new signboards that comply with the Gdansk landscape resolution. The first signboards were made by the designers free of charge; in return, the entrepreneurs had to agree only to use the image of the

The coronavirus pandemic has hit many local businesses with momentum. That's why the authorities have announced that until the outbreak state is over, control of signboards will be suspended. Nevertheless, they are encouraging owners not to abandon the issue. And indeed, many requests for an opinion on signboards are arriving on the desks of officials at the Gdansk Roads and Greenery Authority.

Bright yellow color, overwhelming awning and advertising banners. This is how one of the offices located on Grunwaldzka Avenue, the city's main artery, looks. Such "décor" is contrary to the landscape resolution, not only that, it obscures the 19th-centuryPrussian brick building entered in the municipal register of monuments. How can it change?

Żółty kolor,
przytłaczająca markiza i banery reklamujące biuro przy al. Grunwaldzkiej Projekt szyldów studia
workshop91 dla biura przy al. Grunwaldzkiej

© Gdansk School of Signs

Studio workshop91 cleaned up the facade of the building with a yellow awning and two vertical coffers on either side of the entrance, recalling its beautiful original color. On the entrance arch, they proposed an iron translucent form resembling an awning, on which they placed the company's name. They also lowered the side semaphore, on which they kept the logotype in a minimized version, so that it completes the design over the entrance in form, writes Gdansk Sign School.

Another artist, Tomasz Pawluczuk, showed what a revamped signboard for the iconic W-Zpastry shop, in the Main City, could look like. The designer modernized the font, placed the date of the establishment of the confectionery under the sign. He also proposed two versions of refreshing the signboard.

Wejście do kultowej cukierni W‑Z Propozycja Tomasza Pawluczuka
dla cukierni W-Z, wersja 2

© Gdansk School of Signboard

Several proposals were prepared, among others, for the herbal-medicinestore Melisa in an old building in Lower Wrzeszcz. This is the district that has beautified after the revitalization in 2015, today like mushrooms after rain more restaurants and cafes are being built there.

One of the variants was developed by Stefan Stefaniszyn. The author left the "Herbs" sign, towering over the premises and the storefront - he designed it in white, distinguishing it from the facade. He also cleared the premises' display window of lettering and curtains, so you can easily see inside.

Sklep zielarsko‑medyczny Melisa Propozycja Stefana
Stefaniszyna dla sklepu Melisa

© Gdansk School of Signs

There are more such projects behind Gdansk School of Signage. But ultimately it is up to the entrepreneurs to choose and implement the signboard.

experiment in Gdynia

Just last year, a guide on how to design a signboard well was published by Gdynia. Although it is a valuable tip for entrepreneurs, it is still not enough to talk about improving aesthetics in the city. Unfortunately, it has been clear for a long time that Gdynia is dragging its feet on adopting a landscape resolution.

How a small change can have a big effect, however, was shown by the transformation of the clinic at 67 Legionów St. The devastated gable wall of the building was covered with chaotic signs advertising the specialists that were admitted. All it took was some white paint, unification of the signs and placing them in one place for the building to completely change its face. Also eye-catching is a mural, inspired by Gdynia's ties with the sea, depicting a fragment of a sailing ship's rigging. The renovation was carried out on the initiative of Maja Wagner, the mayor's plenipotentiary for culture in Gdynia, the project was prepared by Jacek Piątek, the city's visual artist.

Przychodnia przy ul.
Legionów 67 w Gdyni przed zmianami i po zmianach


Returning to Gdansk, the entry into force of the landscape resolution in its full scope coincided with the difficult time of the pandemic. The coronavirus, however, should not become an excuse for owners of advertisements and signs. It has been known for more than two years that the April 2 deadline will have to be complied with. The city must not slow down, because - although Gdansk already has reasons to be happy and can be a model for others - there is still much to do. Advertisements have heavily devastated the public space of our cities over the years.

Ewa Karendys

journalist for "Gazeta Wyborcza Trójmiasto"

The vote has already been cast