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KREATYWNA-EUROPA — Culture moves Europe

Capital's ugliest promenade closer to metamorphosis

Kacper Kępiński
24 of March '23

Chmielna Street is actually Warsaw's only pedestrian zone. Despite this, pedestrians cannot feel safe there. At the same time, years of neglect mean that the street can compete for the title of Poland's ugliest promenade. All this is set to change with the planned reconstruction, which is set to begin later in 2023.

Chmielna today is a depressing picture—crumbling small architecture, crooked lamp posts, crumbling pavement, vestigial greenery and tag-covered first floors. Lots of empty units and temporary landings of the few café gardens do not improve the situation. The recently opened Five Corners Square is also a half success. It stitched up a street torn apart by an intersection, but faced harsh criticism for diverging from greenery expectations. Chmielna, after reconstruction, is not expected to repeat this mistake. There is to be so much greenery here that it became for a while a bone of contention between City Hall and the preservation services. That's why RS Landscape Architecture and the Board of Public Lands of the City of Warsaw prepared a project to modernize the street, which won the favor of the Mazovian Provincial Conservator of Monuments. Thanks to the agreement worked out, Chmielna will gain—in a dozen months or so—a new look and the function of a green promenade planted with trees and bushes and equipped with benches.

Michał Olszewski, wiceprezydent Warszawy

Michal Olszewski, deputy mayor of the city of Warsaw.

© Szymon Pulcyn / UM Warszawa

In past years there was a theory that greenery and monuments were mutually exclusive, enemies to each other. This was a mistake. Today, introducing trees and shrubs into historic complexes is a matter of course. This is what we do in Mazovia, and this will also be the case on Chmielna Street, which—after years of destruction—needs greenery that provides a setting for monuments", says Prof. Jakub Lewicki, Mazovian Regional Monument Conservator.

Among other things, the Chmielna modernization project involves replacing the street's surface—concrete cubes will be replaced by granite slabs, but the existing substructure will be used. Elements of small architecture will be renovated: walls, flower pots with greenery, benches (at the Atlantic cinema and the Bukinistów square) and fence posts. A total of 64 pieces of various types of „furniture” elements will be placed on Chmielna Street—Urban chairs, benches and large-space benches. A small fountain will be created in the square next to the Atlantic Cinema.


Chmielna street in Warsaw

Photo: Adrian Grycuk © Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0-PL

We will introduce—almost absent currently—greenery. Along the street there will be rows of trees supplemented with shrubs. We have planned to plant 95 trees on Chmielna and—additionally—38 on Bracka. And also 9,500 shrubs and 8,500 perennials. The location of the trees has been chosen so as not to obscure important elements of the facades of the buildings and to allow the functioning of the food gardens. We will take into account climate changes in the context of retention of urban greenery—trees and shrubs on Chmielna will absorb rainwater", says Renata Niewitecka, chairwoman of the Environmental Protection Committee of the Warsaw City Council.



© ZTP Warsaw / RS Architektura Krajobrazu

The Board of Public Areas of the City of Warsaw is currently preparing a tender for the renovation of Chmielna, which will be announced in April. The employer will be selected by the end of June. The work is scheduled to begin in August at the latest, and to be completed—depending on winter conditions, which could temporarily halt the work, but also depending on the phasing of the work and the need to maintain constant communication to the property—by the end of May 2024 at the most.

Chmielna - wizualizacja


© ZTP Warsaw / RS Architektura Krajobrazu

Kacper Kępiński

The vote has already been cast

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