/ 1st prize in open competition
/ August, 2017 TEAM:
WXCA – Szczepan Wroński,
Małgorzata Dembowska, Monika Lemańska
The main objective of the planning concept at Środkowa Street is creating a woonerf, a pedestrian and traffic path with pedestrian and bicycle traffic priority.
A woonerf is a “living street”, a public realm, an urban courtyard, where pedestrians, cyclists and road users can peacefully coexist. The townhouse inner courtyards that are so typical of the Praga district of Warsaw resemble wells that are often lacking in or divest of any light or greenery. The design therefore aims to create an inner courtyard that would fulfil the function of a garden, with ample foliage conducive to typical yard leisure activities. The creation of an area on Środkowa Street that would harmoniously be shared by pedestrian, bicycle and car traffic carries with it the potential of being an resident-friendly area that is fully accessible to all kinds of social groups, offering an attractive and diverse use programme while retaining full transport and throughfare continuity.
The presented design concept was built around improving the conditions for the incubation of social relations in and around the street. The Praga district is currently one of the few places where neighbourly life takes active place in the public space – mainly in courtyard gates and inner courtyards. Extending the area of shared use by the residents and locals to the whole street can also facilitate the further integration of the residents, which is of particular importance considering the regeneration process of the Praga district currently under way. Improving the quality of the space and the image of Praga is also linked to the influx of new residents who should forge a cohesive community with the locals.
THE MAIN OBJECTIVES OF THE ŚRODKOWA STREET CONCEPT:
A strip of tall greenery forming two rows of trees on the western part of Środkowa Street in an area where the distance between the underground utilities is the greatest allows the costs of the plantings to be reduced to a minimum.
The low greenery area full of blooming shrubs and tall grasses was positioned on the side of the street with ground floor apartments. The garden strip was set close to the building to raise the comfort and wellbeing of the ground-floor residents, exposing and accentuating the opposite side of the street with street level retail frontage.
The specific distribution of tall and low greenery also highlights the historic town houses with the most ornate facades, most of which house retail units – bringing out the best in the Street and allowing it to be perceived as an attractive area with balanced greenery complementing the unique character of pre-War tenements.
The proposed spatial plan showcases the publicly accessible ground floors and the historic frontage on the street, while the new location of the low greenery strip exerts a calming effect on the traffic.
THE PARKING BAYS:
Transforming the streets into pedestrian and cycle-friendly thoroughfares is intrinsically linked with the difficult process of reducing the number of parking places, which is usually met with the concern and hostility of the motorised portion of the local residents. Hence, a flexible solution has been proposed where the number of parking places can be adjusted accordingly. The concept envisages 29 parking bays (5 for disabled parking), where the parking area surrounded by greenery is permanent with the bays on the retail side being temporary. The plan is for the number of parking bays to be gradually reduced, transforming them into cafe gardens, parklets or an exhibition area for artisans and artists, steadily enlivening the ground floor and new service point openings.
*The base 29 parking bays that was adopted is the number recommended to ensure the street is as user friendly as possible; the design functions can be adjusted to the individual needs and requirements of the residents over time by transforming the greenery area into additional parking bays.
The concept assumes introducing one-way traffic on Środkowa Street, running from Stalowa Street to Strzelecka Street.
A 5-metre-wide pedestrian and vehicle traffic throughfare has been designed. The planned dimensions for parallel parking are 2.5m x 6m, 2.5m x 5m for perpendicular parking, with 3.6m x 6m and 3.6m x 5m for the disabled parking bays. This has maximised the functionality of the street ensuring that it is exceptionally aesthetic and full of character. Traffic calming solutions have also been envisaged throughout the New Praga District between Targowa, Aleja Solidarności, and 11 Listopada Streets and the planned inner city ring road by introducing a 30 km per hour speed limit and physical speed-reducing measures (tapering the street, emphasising pedestrian priority and introducing ample greenery).