Examples of revitalization
Łódź is a pioneer of regeneration efforts in Poland. By taking advantage of its valuable historical heritage, unique on a domestic and European scale, the city strives to reinvigorate run-down inner city quarters and give new functions to deserted post-industrial structures.
As a result of the transformation of the country’s political system and the economic changes in the early 1990s, the city found itself in a long-term economic and social crisis. The condition of valuable architectural assets deteriorated and the collapse of large textile plants led to a rise in the rate of unemployment and other social issues. For many years, no integrated strategy of dealing with these issues was implemented, however, the last decade saw the initiation of large-scale regeneration programs, which put the city in the position of leader of this process in Poland and Europe. The urban regeneration act adopted in 2015 gave local governments even more efficient tools to carry out comprehensive social and infrastructural renewal processes, which allowed regeneration efforts in Łódź to gather further steam.
Księży Młyn (1 July 2010 – 1 August 2011)
The first integrated regeneration project in Łódź was implemented in the Księży Młyn district – a former worker’s quarter, constructed in the second half of the 19th century by industrialist Karol Scheibler. Actions taken as part of the project focused on conserving this valuable historical area, which required urgent conservation and modernisation work. Another aim of the program was to ensure the district’s future development and adapting it to the current needs of local citizens and visitors.
Regeneration efforts were planned in a comprehensive manner and included the following components:
• Spatial component, involving the renovation and modernisation of buildings and development of the areas around them,
• Economic component, involving the conversion of some residential units into commercial units,
• Social component, involving the creation of the Social Integration Club in the area and encouraging social, artistic and cultural initiatives.
As a result, the area underwent a positive transformation, Księży Młyn became not only a great place to live, but also a location attractive to other inhabitants of Łódź and tourists.
The Integrated Księży Młyn Regeneration Program involved public consultations, where members of the public were able to submit their proposals, comments and opinions using dedicated forms. Many events aimed at integrating the local community were also organised, such as film screenings as part of the ‘Polówka 2012’ festival, organised by the ‘Cytryna’ cinema, workshops for children, an architectural competition for the concept of a new playground, auctions of donated items to fund the construction of the playground and a handmade goods fair.
City of Tenements - Mia100 Kamienic (2011 – 2014)
A huge collection of richly-decorated tenement houses from the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century is Łódź’s fantastic asset. Many years of neglect led to a serious deterioration of the condition of these buildings. Any renovation efforts were provisional and uncoordinated.
2011 saw the launch of the City of Tenements project, a municipal renovation program which originated an area-based regeneration of the inner city in Łódź.
• The program encompassed 100 tenement houses in the inner city, forming part of its historical tissue.
• The program’s objective was to raise the quality of living and living conditions of the residents and improve the aesthetic values of the cityscape.
• Works performed as part of the project included remodelling flats to adapt them to standards required from residential units, renovation or restoration of facades, renovation of roof surfaces, development of courtyards.
The program resulted in:
• an increase in the appeal of the inner city as a place to live and work in;
• adaptation of more than 650 council flats to house tenants from tenement houses undergoing renovations;
• initiation of the ‘Flats for Young People’ project, aimed at enticing young people to accomplish their career and family plans in;
• improvement in the quality of air in the centre of Łódź (by doing away with individual sources of heating).
The ‘Premises for the Creatives’ competition (since 2014)
‘Premises for the Creatives’ is a competition organised by the City of Łódź Office for enterprising people who want to rent a commercial unit to run their business in.
To rent a commercial space under the program, potential tenants must propose an amount that they would pay in rent and submit an interesting idea for a business. If a participant can convince the evaluators to back their plan, they can rent the space on preferential terms: rent shouldn’t exceed a dozen or so PLN per square metre.
So far, more than 80 commercial spaces were rented over 14 editions of the competition.
Ideas submitted as part of the program include:
• a workshop manufacturing materials using 3D printing techniques,
• an online radio broadcasting studio,
• a school for children gifted in mathematics, computer science and computer use,
• a showroom combined with a café and creative space used for workshops.
New Centre of Łódź
The concept of the New Centre of Łódź (NCŁ) entered the minds of the citizens of Łódź in 2005, thanks to two ideas – resurrection of the historical former EC1 power plant complex and the conversion of the Łódź Fabryczna station from a terminal to a pass-through station. The scope of this concept was soon expanded to encompass the remodelling of almost 100 hectares of land in the very heart of Łódź, encompassing the area adjacent to the railway line which had always been barren. Although this was where the old Łódź Fabryczna station was located, it was never an important enough place on the map of the city due to the fact that the railway lines terminated there.
The initiative was given official backing in 2007, when the City Council of Łódź adopted a resolution to implement the NCŁ Program in the city block surrounded by Narutowicza, Kopcińskiego, Tuwima and Piotrkowska streets. Since then, efforts have been made to create a fully functional inner city area in this location, combining business, commerce, culture and transport.
• The communication infrastructure in the NCŁ will be focused around the Łódź Fabryczna station. Cultural and educational functions of the area will be concentrated around the historical EC1 power plant. Regeneration processes will result in the construction of the Centre of Film Art and the Interactive Centre of Science and Technology. The EC1 East building will mostly be used for cultural and art purposes, with space available for workshops, seminars and creative projects of young artists (a program named Art Incubator).
• As part of the NCŁ program, municipal authorities will define specific areas where commercial buildings will be located (construction of the City Gate will be the first commercial project).
• Regeneration of the post-industrial former EC-1 power plant complex, of significant architectural and historical value, is one of the most recognisable parts of the project. In 2013, the EC-1 East building was awarded the title of ‘Structure of the Year’ in an online vote among users of the Bryla.com website.
• Preparatory work included broad public consultations of various municipal projects implemented in the NCŁ area between 2011 and 2014.