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The woonerf that wasn't a woonerf

27 of February '24

There is something worse than bad ideas for public space solutions - these are bad ideas that use the names of good solutions to defend themselves. The price of this is then paid by all of us - the whim of marketing, lack of experts, or just plain bummer?

Wrong ideas and wrong names

Polish public spaces are rife with creations whose nomenclature attempts to distract attention from a poor solution. We are well acquainted with "estates full of joy" from the visualizations of developers, which, when realized, instead of enclaves of peace and relaxation, turn out to be compressed, unfriendly spaces with impressive playgrounds the size of micro-apartments.

Archiwashing, as this phenomenon can be called, is unfortunately something common. We encounter it at every turn - it's like the above, sold developer promises, but also public space projects that, under the guise of solutions inspired by positive role models, turn out not only to fail to meet appropriate standards, but also to lower confidence in certain solutions.

about a woonerf that was not a woonerf

A woonerf has appeared at the intersection of Krakowska and Nowy Swiat streets in Tarnów - the biggest problem with the solution implemented by the magistrate is that it is not a woonerf. The cobbled space, next to which an elevated tree pot and wooden benches surrounding it have been installed, instead of introducing a new urban planning solution into the framework of the city's old town, is starting to frighten and cry out for vengeance.

Called a woonerf by the Roads and Transportation Administration, it cannot be a woonerf, for its length reaches only a few meters. Instead of democratizing traffic, as in an idea that originated in the Netherlands in the 1970s, the square only forces drivers to make a slower right turn, while adding nothing new.

The square, known as a woonerf, neither allows one to move around safely regardless of the mode of transport chosen, nor to rest specifically - there is car traffic on Krakowska Street, which in this part of the city will continue to generate high noise levels not conducive to rest. Finally, several types of pavement with different textures and colors have been used in this area. The square, called a woonerf, stands out from the street, the problem is that it is negative.

z woonerfem na skrzyżowaniu ulicy Krakowskiej i Nowy Świat w Tarnowie jest jeden problem, nie jest woonerfem

There is one problem with the woonerf at the intersection of Krakowska and Nowy Swiat streets in Tarnów, it is not a woonerf

photo: Wiktor Bochenek

further implications?

At the same time, the example of a non-woonerf shows the problem signaled at the beginning of the text - badly named solutions can become an effective sabotage for changes in public spaces for many other interesting ideas and concepts. At the same time, it is in vain to look for standardization of solutions. The affliction of smaller localities is often not a lack of awareness or resources, but an adequate knowledge base. The cooperation of scientific institutions and organizations that bring together specialists may be helpful, as proposed, for example, in the report on greenery prepared by the OPM IRMiR - the establishment of an institution to help smaller localities from the central level. Education will be necessary if archiwashing is to be avoided, including in places that do not have the capacity to appoint appropriate services.

elaborated: Wiktor Bochenek

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