There are very mixed feelings about Poznań's new General National Exhibition plaza . On the plus side , it was created on the grounds of the Fair, is open to the public and will share the walkway running through the previously closed MTP grounds. However, it is far from perfect, even if the arrangement and greening will be variable depending on needs.
After years of anticipation, the moment has finally arrived to open the Poznań Fair grounds to the public. Until now, the MTP area has been an enclave isolated from the city center and accessible primarily to trade show or congress attendees. Now its southern part will be included in the daily urban bloodstream, with the creation of a spacious plaza over a new multi-story parking lot (designed by Śniadek+Śniadek Architects). Councilors have just named it the General National Exhibition, to commemorate the largest exhibition event in Poland and Poznań to this day, held in 1929.
entry through dansing
The parking lot, the construction of which has been a priority for the Fair for years, was opened this past weekend. It has three floors and will accommodate 650 cars. It is located at the western entrance to the main train station, between the historic buildings of the former Fair Palace, the administrative building and Hall No. 2. Due to the difference in levels, it is partially above ground on the eastern side. The entrance is located on Glogowska Street, right next to the main entrance to the MTP grounds, on the site of the post-war Adria restaurant and dansing building, which was demolished more than a decade ago.
The entrance to the parking lot underneath the square of the Universal National Exhibition in Poznań, the new mural is visible
photo: Jakub Głaz
The plaza above the parking lot, on the other hand, will primarily serve pedestrians and cyclists, as well as arranging various mass attractions. Hence, the inauguration of this space will begin with a Christmas market, which will open here on Saturday, November 19. The square, paved with pavilions, carousels and tables, will then come to life and, presumably, show its potential. The MTP Press Office informs us that:
The General National Exhibition Square will be a flexible space in terms of its use and arrangement. This is because from the beginning we assumed that various events would be held there, requiring different arrangements of the square. So we planned the place so that it could be changed according to needs.
Some greenery and a moat
The square of the General National Exhibition in Poznań, view of the former Fair Palace
photo: Jakub Głaz
So what does the new square look like? Most of it is an open space paved with concrete and, in part, stone slabs. On the south side, however, spacious quarters with low greenery, trees and benches have been created in a much smaller area . They are a functional extension of the successful terraced greenery square realized eight years ago (designed by Studio ADS). Narrow green belts also run along the longer sides. To the east are new plantings, and to the west are tall trees in front of the facade of the former Market Palace. Today, as decapitated pavilion No. 12, it houses workshops and warehouses. It also forms the compact andvisually most important frontage of the new square, and its main portico is located at the close of the street connecting the square to the Western Station (it is through this street that residents will enter the square and the connected walkway).
The square of the General National Exhibition in Poznań, wooded quarters on the south side
Photo: Jakub Głaz
From the buildings on the eastern side (Hall No. 2 and the administrative building) the square's slab is separated, due to the difference in ground level, by a kind of moat with space for food gardens. A staircase leads to it, which will connect the restaurants and bars located in hall No. 2 with the square after its adaptation for new purposes (we wrote more about these plans here). On this side, a narrow part of the plaza lined with wood is adjacent to a greenbelt planted with new trees . Above the slab, meanwhile, protrude several volumes with elevators and equipment serving the parking lot.
The square of the Universal National Exhibition in Poznań at the level of the entrance to the parking lot (entrance behind the bench, level below)
Photo: Jakub Głaz
will mobile revitalize?
What is striking, however, is the paucity of small architecture and greenery. Only to some extent can this be excused by the flexible nature of the space and the fact that the plaza slab is the ceiling of the parking lot. At the moment, before setting up the festive attractions, the bulk of the square looks rather deserted (finishing work is also still underway on the square's floor, but its effect will not fundamentally affect the assessment of the whole). Only the long benches in front of pavilion No. 12, the aforementioned greenery and the seating on the eastern side provide variety.
The square of the General National Exhibition in Poznań, central space, in the background the main entrance to the MTP
photo: Jakub Głaz
The fair explains that
most of the urban furniture that will appear in the square will be mobile. We have already planted a lot of greenery at PWK Square , including about 20 trees. In addition, 11 mobile pots will appear there, in which trees and other plants have been planted. We have made sure that when the events are not being held, the square will allow people to sit and relax. That's why there will be plenty of places to rest including specially designed seats surrounding the tree pots.
PWK Square project, general view with mobile furniture and flower pots, visualization - proj.: Śniadek+Śniadek Architekci
© MTP Group
The Press Office adds that the seats come in various forms and gives their... total length: about 280 linear meters. It also informs that we will have to wait until next year for the opening of the walkway, which will connect Glogowska and Sniadeckich Streets by running through PWK Square, a terraced square and the foreground of the congress center and the philharmonic hall planned for the future (we wrote about it here). It will then create a convenient and scenic (level difference) shortcut for some residents of the Lazarus district. The fair calls it a "green river," but - despite the fact that several sections of it are lined with trees and squares - this name is definitely an overstatement. We still have to wait for the greenery in its full dimension, as well as for a fuller assessment of this new public space of the city, which we will review again at least a year after opening.