EUROPEAN PRIZE FOR URBAN PUBLIC SPACE 2012 / NOMINATION
Goclaw is the largest apartment block complex, built in Warsaw between 1975 and 1990. It is currently inhabited by more than fifty thousand people. In recent years neglected urban area in the central part of the complex was designated for the recreational park. The area was what remained of an old construction site with piles of garbage and concrete waste. The rubble surrounded an artificial water reservoir. It was ironically called “Balaton” by the local residents, as the Balaton lake in Hungary once was an popular holiday destination in Poland.
The main goal of this intervention was the creation of an recreational park opened to the public. On all stages of the design and development process, public consultations with the community were made. A survey was carried out by the local administration. Results of that survey ware the basis of a list of features and functions of the future park prepared for the open architectural competition. In 2008 the architectural concept of Piotr Hardecki Architect studio was chosen.
In the selected design the architectural studio followed several rules: - Reintroduction of diversified vegetation, which would allow the ecosystem to be restored. - Sustaining the different natural ambiance of different parts of park. Separating them with blurred boundaries and using them for different forms of recreation and rest. - Following an aesthetic concept of the studio, drawed for this project from the distinct street culture of Polish tower block complexes. This youth subculture was an important cultural factor of the turn of the XXI century, from which the complexes derive their local identity.
The water reservoir and the surrounding grounds create an open to the public clearing on a unique scale in a urban environment. One of the goals of the project was to preserve the integrity of this space, by etching the boundaries of the park with trees. The natural diversified ambiance of the park created by different insolation was emphasized with matching plants. Also functions of all the parts of the park were adapted to that unique small environments.
These different types of vegetation, and facilities created smooth division of the park into several parts: - Water : On the northern shore, a café with an wooden terrace was build. One can hire there pedalo boats and the local community can organize model boat contests. Also on this shore several piers and wooden walkways were constructed. On the opposite shore a calm space for fising was created. For walks, running and strolling, a long promenade around the reservoir was made, joined by footbridges on both ends of the lake. - Sports : Exercise equipment was provided for the visitors on upper terrace, located on a escarpment. Down below, a beach volleyball field is a central feature. For running and bicycling main routes were designed with soft turns and left unpaved. - Festive : The broad meadow beside the reservoir was planed for festivals and other events for the community. For the rest of the year it is open for picnics, flying kites, and sunbathing. - Play : Several playground toys are scattered around the park. Aside from them, a big and spacious playground was created on a flat headland. The equipment of the playground fits the natural in this context theme of an harbor. Toys in shapes of ships and piers were created and selected with the help of local parents. - Repose : The walkways and promenade, were prepared for walks and late night strolls. The avenues are planed preserving the simple layout the trodden paths, which existed around the reservoir for years.
The basis for the vegetation was the existing foliage. All planted plant types, were selected for their resilience to the difficult urban conditions. Both in terms of soil and climate. To maintain the natural character of the park, most of the walkways were left graveled but unpaved. A glass pavilion was build on the northern shore, and designated for a café. The pavilion was created for all-year usage. The design integrates with its natural surrounding with Siberian larch lower siding and turf roof. In this pavilion are also located public lavatories for the park. One of the unique attraction of the park is a specially designed, interactive water cascade. By turning the huge colorful valve handles, one can change the way water falls between moving parts.
At every stage of the design and development process, extensive public consultation were carried out. This valuable input and cooperation contributed to a full acceptance of the park modernization project by the local community. The shared commitment of the administration, designers and residents, enabled the creation of this exceptional public space. The park is now the most popular park in Goclaw, strengthening the sense of community in the district.