Research on the use of urban space in the Old Town of Szczecin led to limitations on car traffic and increased accessibility for pedestrians.
CARS DOMINATE THE OLD TOWN
This project has contributed to the transformation of Orla Bialego Square, the largest public space in Szczecin’s old town, as well as the adjacent streets. For decades, the area has been dominated by road infrastructure and car parks. An architectural competition was held in 2019 to redevelop it, however the outcomes were not well received by the locals. They objected because they believed the designers were attempting to keep people reliant on cars. The local government responded by cancelling the competition and announcing that instead the concept of urban prototyping will be adopted.
RESEARCH INTO LIMITING TRAFFIC
Research on transport and social use of spaces was carried out, informing a plan to limit car traffic which was prepared together with district residents and local entrepreneurs. A temporary traffic scheme was implemented for a period of testing.During the test-phase, interviews and transport research were repeated, which allowed for a comparative analysis of the initial and tested solutions. This enabled the assessment of how, and to what extent, the adopted urban idea facilitated or hindered people’s daily functioning. On the basis of the collected data, a concept of targeted transformation within the entire Old Town was prepared.
GREENER, MORE ACCESSIBLE PUBLIC SPACE
The plan focused on increasing the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, creating additional space for restaurants and opening public space for cultural activities. The project led to a reform of the paid parking zone, implementation of permanent car traffic restrictions within the city centre and improvement of walking and cycling accessibility in the Old Town. During the test phase, residents built movable vegetation pots that emerged in the reclaimed public space of Orla Bialego Square, which now has fresh grass plantings. This area will be supplemented with additional trees and a rain garden after permanent repair (which will begin in 2022). The components will reduce the heat island effect and improve the district’s rainwater management system.