Revitalization is not only about renovations. Improvement of space must be accompanied by enhancement of living conditions and solving social problems. The introduced changes must be based on a dialogue with residents and on seeking solutions to social problems.
The economic and social situation of Łódź for a long time depended on textile industry to finally find itself in crises resulting from system and economic changes at the beginning of 1990s. Precious architecture resources were degraded and the collapse of big textile manufactories caused unemployment and other social problems. No integrated strategy for fighting these matters was developed for years. However the last decade brought vast revitalization programmes making the city a revitalization leader in Poland and Europe. The Act on Revitalization passed in 2015 gave local governments even more effective tools to perform comprehensive social and infrastructural renewal. It made it possible for revitalization works in Łódź to gain pace, which effects are visible today in the form of beautifully renovated urban areas.
Łódź Fabryczna railway station, which has been located in the centre of the city for decades, was moved underground in 2016. The regained public space on the surface holds totally new cultural, commercial and residential sites. The central, 100 ha big area of the city is to become the New Centre of Łódź within next years.
The Heat and Power Plant for Łódź EC-1 complex is one on the mayor sites in the New Centre of Łódź. The beautifully revitalized and extended EC-1 East complex performs cultural, artistic and social functions. National Centre for Film Culture, Planetarium and Centre for Science and Technology have been created there. At the same time it constitutes an important element of the New Centre of Łódź combining architectural tendencies of the beginning of the 20th century and modern, post-industrial style.
Residents of Łódź became aware the notion of creating the New Centre of Łódź in 2005 due to two ideas – reviving the out-of-service historic heat and power plant EC1 and redevelopment of Łódź Fabryczna railway station changing its character from head to through station. Soon the concept was extended and covered the vision of rebuilding the area of almost 100 hectares along the railway, which had always been a lifeless zone right in the heart of Łódź.
The project gained institutional dimension in 2007 when the City Council in Łódź adopted a resolution to execute the New Centre of Łódź Programme covering the urban block limited by Narutowicza, Kopcińskiego, Tuwima and Piotrkowska streets. Since then a number of actions have been undertaken to turn this site into fully functional inner-city area for business, commerce, culture and transport. – There is no other so spectacular urban area in Poland right now. Nothing else can be compared to the New Centre of Łódź. The fact that it has become internationally recognized is proved by intensified inflow of companies willing to open their centers here – said Hanna Zdanowska, Mayor of the city of Łódź. Many events have already been held in the New Centre of Łódź – creation of beautifully revitalized woonerf at Traugutta St, revival of the previously mentioned Łódź Fabryczna Railway station and construction of MBank Stop, which has become the headquarters of the bank in Łódź.
Priest’s Mill is another great example of revitalization, and it is worth mentioning that it was the first integrated project of this type in Łódź. A residential area built for workers in the second part of the 19th century was turned not only into a place where people live in better way but also into one attracting other residents of Łódź and tourists. It includes artists’ workshops and beautiful lofts in the old Scheibler’s factory. Priest’s Mill also holds Art._Inkubator – a place for development of art and entrepreneurship of artists, widely known among residents of Łódź. In June 2017 Priest’s Mill was awarded for its comprehensive approach towards the issue of revitalization. The site was granted the distinction for the perfect cooperation within the frames of revitalization and the prize for “The best urban practice”. – Here in Priest’s Mill we meet needs, not caprices – said Arkadiusz Bogusławski, head of the project of revitalization of Priest’s Mill. The distinction granted by URBACT was surely inspired by the social aspect of revitalization - cooperation and solving various problems of people.
Łódź holds another incredible potential – a large number of ornately decorated tenement houses from the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. Long-lasting negligence caused serious degradation of these buildings. In 2011 a city renovation programme called Mia100 Kamienic was initiated, which started the area revitalization of the centre of Łódź. The programme resulted in the increase of attractiveness of the city centre as a place to live and conduct business activity. More than 650 premises were converted into council flats for tenants of renovated tenement houses. “Premises for Young” project was launched encouraging young people to pursue their career and family plans in Łódź. Furthermore liquidation of individual sources of heating vastly improved the air quality in Łódź.
While mentioning good revitalization practices it is a must to highlight the renovation of Piotrkowska St. More than 43,000 sqm of new surface of granite slabs, 178 streetlights, about 300 elements of so called small architecture and 80 trees are among the effects of the renovation of the most representative street in Łódź. Piotrkowska St. is adjoined by other, also splendidly revitalized sites: tenancy houses from the above mentioned “Mia100 Kamienic”, Woonerfs at 6 sierpnia St. and Traugutta St., OFF Piotrkowska – well known among the youth, or Premises for the Creatives proving craftsmanship of designers working in the centre of Łódź.
But that’s not all! The last eighth contract for financing the investments within the frames of area revitalization in Łódź has just been signed. Next four years will bring implementation of investment projects in the centre of the city. They will change Łódź and influence life quality of its residents.