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From California to Warsaw. UC Berkeley students test PPP projects

12 of April '23

The Office of Architecture and Urban Planning invited Masters of Real Estate Development and Design (MREDD) students from the University of California at Berkeley to Warsaw. The group of fifteen toured Warsaw from March 26 to 31, conducting a site visit, meeting with experts and testing projects dedicated to public-private partnerships in the field of housing and mixed-use. The initiator and coordinator of the entire project is Kuba Snopek—an urban planner and urban researcher, and the results of the visit and the students' work, will be known in May.

Studenci i studentki zwiedzili Warszawę

University of California students toured Warsaw, where they were shown around by, among others, Kuba Snopek

Photo: Margo Didichenko

The University of California, Berkeley is considered one of the best public schools in the United States—known primarily for its social sciences and community engagement. Since 2017, it has offered a Masters of Real Estate Development and Design, educating future developers who are sensitive to social and urban issues. Combining elements of architectural and financial design, the course emphasizes responsible urban design. All this in cooperation with public authorities and local communities. One of the most important tools that MREDD equips its graduates with is the ability to create public-private partnerships (PPP).

Po Ursynowie gości oprowadził Hubert Trammer

The guests were shown around Ursynów by Hubert Trammer

Photo: Margo Didichenko

student project

Every year we organize a foreign project to give students the opportunity to face urban challenges outside the country. The international context allows for a fresh perspective, which in turn allows for a better understanding of the nature of housing and urban problems and the creation of long-term solutions. We have previously organized such projects in Mumbai and London, and this year we considered Mexico City. We chose Warsaw because only here could we organize a truly interdisciplinary project: taking into account economic, spatial and social dimensions. The input from the Office of Architecture allowed our students to understand the city's planning policies and the ambitions of the municipal government," says Eric Harrison, UC Berkeley lecturer and vice president of Signature Development.

The MREDD staff also became interested in Warsaw because of its recent history, the changes it has undergone over the past three decades, and the combination of different ideas about the city: modernist and postmodernist, socialist and capitalist.

Inicjatorem projektu jest Kuba Snopek. Na zdjęciu z Erikiem Harrisonem

Kuba Snopek is the initiator of the project. Pictured here with Erik Harrison

Photo: Margo Didichenko

international cooperation

The semester-long student project coincides with the completion of work by the Bureau of Architecture and Spatial Planning on the new Study of Conditions and Directions of Spatial Development of Warsaw. Student projects, created in collaboration with BAiPP staff, will explore the possibilities offered by the new Study. Students are studying two urban parcels of land, where they will propose possibilities for transforming them in such a way as to create additional social value. The results of their work will be announced in May.

Maciej Frąckowiak oprowadza po Woli

Maciej Frąckowiak gives a tour of Wola

photo: Margo Didichenko

The idea for the project between UC Berkeley and Warsaw was born organically. Warsaw is currently the most interesting city in Europe—dynamic, full of culture and increasingly international. UC Berkeley, on the other hand, is an exceptional university, famous for its social sciences, support for minorities and democratic movements. Being a UC Berkeley graduate and a Varsovian, I see great value in creating a platform for this collaboration. The joint design studio is a great opportunity to share experiences and inspire each other. Berkeley students are studying our excellent public transportation, network of urban cultural institutions and green system. These are exactly the elements that are lacking in American cities and are currently the focus of American planners. On the other hand, the UC Berkeley studio is an opportunity for us to look at the American approach to social value creation by the private sector. Tools such as complex public-private partnerships have been helping to expand the public housing stock and build and maintain public spaces for years, says Kuba Snopek, project initiator and coordinator.

Hubert Trammer oprowadza gości

Hubert Trammer

Photo: Margo Didichenko

The MREDD program presents a globally unique approach to educating developers. I am glad that selected Warsaw locations are being tested by Berkeley students. This is an educational process. We are not looking for ready-to-implement solutions, but a contribution to conversation and inspiration. The students worked at the ZODIAK Warsaw Architecture Pavilion, which was established precisely to exchange views there and look for new ideas for the city," added Monika Komorowska, head of the department at the Office of Architecture and Spatial Planning.

A walk around Warsaw

During their visit, the Berkeley students visited various public spaces in Warsaw, with Hubert Trammer showing them around Ursynów, and Maciej Frąckowiak, a sociologist from Poznan, showing them around Wola.

Po Woli oprowadził Maciej Frąckowiak

Wola was shown around by Maciej Frąckowiak

Photo: Margo Didichenko

During these expert meetings and tours, the guests analyzed different types of planning policies: from modernist housing complexes to new development estates. They also met with varsavians, officials, architects and sociologists, and visited ZODIAK, where they took part in workshops and a meeting about public-private partnerships, where Eric Harrison gave a lecture.

Spotkanie w ZODIAKU

meeting at ZODIAK

Photo: Margo Didichenko

American PPP models cannot be literally transferred to Polish soil. Nevertheless, it is worth learning about these experiences. For years, California cities have been struggling with challenges that we also face in Poland: building public housing or financing and maintaining public spaces. The goal of the cooperation between UC Berkeley and Warsaw is to exchange experiences and inspire each other," concludes Kuba Snopek.

elaborated: Dobrawa Bies

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