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What can be the tools to solve the problems of Polish space

05 of October '23

Urban spaces in Poland have appeared in public discourse mainly on the occasion of the popularization of the term "concretosis." However, there are many more problems, and still not enough solutions.

As part of our #ReportThursday series, we present documents, reports and guides on architecture, cities and local government that are certainly worth publicizing and promoting. This week we look at the report "Markets, squares and pedestrian areas - the quality of investment in public space after 2015," compiled by Aleksandra Mroz, Pawel Pistelok and Piotr Salata-Kochanowski (IRMiR Urban Policy Observatory).

The aim of the research group was to look at the issue of the quality of public space from the perspective of identifying standards for the creation of public spaces, assessing their quality in revitalization areas, and identifying optimal solutions for improving the processes.

The authors revolved around the topic of creating and using standards for creating public spaces - a type of document still used extremely rarely in Polish cities. Does the creation of standards translate into a better quality of public space? What should be done for cities in Poland to improve the quality of common places?

raport „Rynki, place i deptaki -jakość inwestycji w przestrzeni publicznej po 2015 roku” opracowany został przez zespół IRMiR

The report "Markets, squares and promenades - quality of investments in public space after 2015" was prepared by the IRMiR team

© IRMiR Urban Policy Observatory

The report is available on the website of the Institute for Urban and Regional Development.

no signposts

At the end of August this year, we published an article in the #ReportThursday series about the document "Strengthening the social and substantive factor in the shaping of urban space" . - which emphasized the value of relevant institutions, such as the role of the city's architects, the city's urban planning and architectural commissions, or proper participatory planning.

The IRMiR report points to a completely different, underestimated solution - standards for shaping public spaces. The study indicated that only 22 cities out of 577 surveyed declared such a document.

tylko 22 miasta w Polsce wprowadziły standardy kształtowania przestrzeni publicznych

Only 22 cities in Poland have introduced standards for shaping public spaces

© IRMiR Urban Policy Observatory

Standards as a set of guidelines can be considered a signpost reinforcing the direction to better public spaces. Researchers pointed out that standards can help redesign lighting, eliminate barriers or architectural obstacles. They also make it possible, without excessive bureaucratization, to indicate appropriately adapted pavement solutions, the location of bicycle infrastructure or the proper placement of parking spaces for people with disabilities.

The categories adopted in the document show how checklists in the form of standards can facilitate design, as well as technical acceptance of implementation.

matryca zestawiająca rozwiązania wskazywane w standardach

A matrix compiling the solutions indicated in the standards

© IRMiR Urban Policy Observatory

Are standards a panacea for all evils in poorly designed spaces? No.

The researchers indicated that the quality of the surveyed investments in cities, regardless of the standards introduced, was similar. Nonetheless, standards can become a good starting point for proper investment preparation. Solutions also pointed to architectural competitions, which were considered a much better formula than tenders.

badania uzupełnione zostały o wizje terenowe, które zostały opisane w raporcie

The research was supplemented by field visits, which were described in the report

© IRMiR Urban Policy Observatory

creating better places

In addition to the quantitative research and identification of the most important factors, the report also includes a number of recommendations.

Foremost among these are the inclusion of all stakeholders, more frequent use of prototyping, and the organization of architectural competitions. The report also includes recommendations for authorities at the central level in the form of creating an overview of best practices in urban planning and creating a sample set of standards.

miasta w których przeprowadzono wizje terenowe z uwzględnieniem wprowadzenia standardów

Cities in which field visits were carried out with the introduction of standards

© IRMiR Urban Policy Observatory

In order to create better places , political will, public push and education of decision-makers are first needed, but properly tailored documents can also contribute to improvements - they are worth considering.

The report is available on the website of the Institute for Urban and Regional Development.

compiled by Wiktor Bochenek

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