Revitalization of Powstańców & Sobieskiego St. / 2012
Old routes and new needs
With the development of motorization and mass media, roads have ceased to be seen as channels guaranteeing an easy flow of goods and information. Until recently, direct access to the communication route was a determinant of high social status. With this assessment of the road as an attractor, you can still be found in small towns, located “far from the road”. However, in the general social assessment, circular and even pedestrian traffic is perceived as a nuisance. Approximately half of the applications for the interpretation of the zoning plan postulate changes in the course of roads and traffic organization. Nobody wants collective roads, let alone transit, to be too close to his property. For this, everyone would like to quickly, easily and safely reach the widest possible range of services. Shopping centers and the Internet meet the need for the “door to door” relationship between the place of residence and material goods and services. Access to information is carried out by the mass media. Unfortunately, it draws consumers away from city centers. This is a process known not only in Poland. The countries of Western Europe have been passing through it for a long time. Once, shops were built on the ground floors of houses belonging to wealthy burghers. These tenement houses were built at the main squares and city streets. Today, the same stores are failing to withstand competition with alternative forms of trade. “Go shopping” today to the shopping mall, and do not walk along the streets exposing yourself to changing weather conditions and car traffic. “Goes” to the restaurant, to the club, to a specialist store or service, that is for a specific purpose. It is irreversible how irreversible the progress is and entails the need for changes in the way of thinking about the threatened areas. Not only on the part of local governments but also, and perhaps above all on the part of those directly interested. The concept of Revitalization of Powstańców Śląskich, Sobieskiego and Jana Pawła II Streets, which was established in 2012 in our studio, is an attempt to oppose the outflow of consumers from the area once considered the center of Rybnik. The study was created in close cooperation with the Road and Communication Departments of Rybnik Municipal Office and Rybnik Municipal Services. Its purpose is to inhibit the degradation processes of the discussed area and to set the rules of conduct aimed at its re-activation.
In the Middle Ages, Rybnik was a fishing settlement located at the intersection of important trade routes from Wrocław and Racibórz through Oświęcim towards Kraków and from the Czech Republic through the Moravian Gate into the interior of the country. After years, the east-west direction, at which the Market Square was established, changed into Raciborska, Sobieskiego, Powstańców Śląskich and Mikołowska streets, and the north-south route running slightly east from the Market Square into Gliwicka, Łony and 3 Maja Streets. On the historical maps of Rybnik, it is not difficult to notice that the strongest was the eastern direction. The section between the market and the fork of ul. Powstańców and Mikołowska were tightly encapsulated in the early stages of the city’s development. This is where most of the shops and services were located that did not fit the market.
The climax for the constitution of the urban layout of the center was the construction in the years 1903 – 1906 at the aforementioned fork of the streets, the largest church in Upper Silesia, the neo-Gothic St. Peter’s Basilica. Antoni and marking out the representative street of Tadeusz Kościuszko.
Until the opening in 2007 of two shopping malls on the eastern and southern sides of the market, Sobieskiego and Powstańców Śląskich streets they still deserved to be called the main trade route of the city. Over the past five years, as a result of the transfer of buyers’ interest to the Fokus – Plaza line, there has been an acceleration of the escape process of traders from the discussed area. In recent years, the phenomenon has become so strong that the city authorities concerned about it decided to oppose it.
Purpose of study
Developing a strategy that would result in attracting as many inhabitants as possible to the revitalized part of the city, visitors and private investors again interested in this area.
After an initial analysis, it was decided to include St. Jana with access to the Campus and the square at Plac Jana Pawła II.
Planned actions can be divided into a so-called “hard part”, including reconstruction of the communication system in the discussed part of the city, replacement of the Sobieskiego – Powstańców street route, reconstruction of the John Paul II Square, renovation and strengthening of the infrastructure and modernization of the square near the Basilica, and for the “soft part” consisting in organizing a series of events and events that attract the largest number of participants. This part of the strategy is to be implemented with the support of non-governmental organizations and parts of municipal institutions. According to experience from other revitalization programs without extensive social participation and active inclusion of residents and interested business entities in comprehensive activities in the area being developed, even the most expensive activities in the “hard part” may not bring the expected results, and the residents’ habits around the city do not change.
Changes in the communication system
The new communication system has been subordinated to the principle favoring pedestrian, bicycle and public transport in the city center with the admission of limited individual road transport and the elimination of transit traffic.
The most important decision was to change the direction of traffic on the section of Mikołowska Street running on the northern side of the Basilica of St. Antoni and the restoration of two-way traffic on the street of Former Political Prisoners. As a result, vehicles from Na Górnia and Mikołowska St. heading towards the center and towards Żory were directed directly to Powstańców Śląskich street. On the streets of Św. Jana, Sobieskiego, Powstańców and Jana Pawła II square, the traffic is to be allowed, at certain times, only for delivery vehicles and as a necessary access to the property.
In this way, the square and square next to the Basilica will be included in the area of pedestrian traffic covering the Market Square and adjacent streets..
At the intersections of Former Political prisoners – Powstańców Śl. and Kościuszki – Hutnicza additional lanes and traffic lights were designed. At the intersection of Mikołowska, Piast – compact roundabout.
The quarters north and south of Powstańców Street are to have limited traffic zones with complete elimination of transit journeys. It is assumed here to introduce elements that slow down car traffic and increase the number of parking spaces.
The concept also provides for the construction of two multi-level car parks, modernization of public transport stops and redirection of some bus lines from the northern part of the city, so that on the way to Plac Wolności they run around the John Paul II Square.
Traffic lights on the route of Powstańców Śląskich, Kościuszki are to be equipped with sensors that facilitate the movement of public transport buses. As a result of adjustments in times of waiting at traffic lights, the private car traffic will gradually move to a new road leading through the former RYFAMA areas, and in the future, after closing the beltway, towards the Chwałowicki roundabout.
The new communication system organizes the traffic in the north-west of the city center and enables the creation of an attractive pedestrian route beginning in the west with the Market Square and the Campus, and ending with the east St. Peter’s Basilica. Antoni.
The modernized John Paul II Square and the square adjacent to it, together with the parking complexes located next to them and public transport stops, constitute a strong pedestrian traffic generator powering the promenade and the center.
Sobieskiego and Powstańców Śląskich streets are approximately 10 m wide. The promenade was divided into three bands.
The first one, 4m wide, is a pedestrian route with an occasional unidirectional movement of delivery vans, municipal services vehicles and rescue vehicles. The central band, also 4-meter wide, is the so-called activity zone. At this place, summer gardens for catering establishments on both sides of the promenade are to be built. Here are organized events and events, such as fairs, occasional exhibitions, etc., aimed at attracting as many people as possible to the promenade. The southern band with a width of 2 m is intended only for pedestrians. The division into strips is to be visible in the drawing of the floor.
At the border of the active zone and the southern band, a string of specially designed street lamps with a height of about 5.5m, fixed seats and junction boxes with media necessary to power the activity belt are located. A project to build a heat pipeline has been started, to which premises located at the pedestrian zone can be connected.
In five places the drawing of the floor will change the rhythm by designating “squares” with a function and character different from the rest of the sequence. These are successively the Entry Square, the Square of Light, the Transition Square, the Opowieści Square and the Water Square. Names have no administrative significance but only reflect the functional and compositional features of these spaces.
The square in front of the church of Our Lady of Sorrows is the second point next to the Market, supplying the promenade from the west. In the future, it is planned to extend the square’s area towards the campus.
Around the monument of Saint. Jan Nepomucen was designed oval bench, on which can gather academic youth and other residents.
Square of Lights
The square at the junction of Sobieskiego St. and St. Jana St. during the day is illuminated from three directions: east, south and west, through the rays of sunlight falling between the high tenement houses surrounding it.
This gives variable and extremely interesting lighting systems. In a place clearly visible from all directions, a spatial composition is to be created here from transparent and reflective materials transmitting and reflecting the sun’s rays. After nightfall, laser lights coupled with motion sensors will be activated. It is possible to use different sequences of lights, and even provide control over them via the Internet.
The north-south route (Gliwice, Łony) crosses the planned promenade at Przeździeście Square.
Extending the pedestrian stretch to the entire intersection and elevating it in relation to the road surface, in combination with the correction of traffic lights, ensure first and foremost the safety of people moving along the pedestrian zone. It should also mentally connect the eastern and western sections of the route.
Square of stories
Halfway between the square of the passage and the basilica, narrowing the street Powstańców does not allow the separation of a wide enough activity belt. This place is to be used for the needs of an experiment spread over many years.
A multimedia device is to be installed in the central part, through which pedestrians will be able to familiarize themselves with short, spoken literary, radio and multimedia forms about the widely understood Rybnik themes. This may be the history of the city, districts, professional and national groups, home stories, customs, tradition and dialect, archival recordings of people, music, etc. Choosing subject matter, age group of the recipient and form (from factual, popular science form to chatting and anecdote) will be using the appropriate key or randomly. The range of topics would be constantly expanded and supplemented. “Opowieści Rybnickie,” told directly on the street, in an attractive and casual way, to create an interesting and dynamic image of the city.
Plac Jana Pawła II, which is currently a large intersection due to the change of traffic organization, will become one of the most attractive places in Rybnik, and together with the modernized, adjoining square, it should be a destination for walks for residents and tourists. The project uses and highlights the advantages of this place: a monumental basilica with a lookout tower, a staircase with a great view of the city and a characteristic slope of the surface.
The outline of the square from the south was settled and closed with a transparent, enfilade surrounding the park.
At the intersection of the square and the park, a nearly 60-meter bench was designed.
In the center, the computer-controlled fountain is located in the lowering of the floor. About 50 nozzles in different sequences emit water jets. Motion sensors will turn off the jets in the event that someone would like to cross the fountain. Each stream should be backlit, and the whole should be complemented by an appropriate sound system.
Development of geometric trace
Parametric design tools have been developed to accelerate the design process and provide maximum control over complex geometry.
The new geometry of the surface had to integrate the functional divisions of the route with the technical requirements of the city floor. The most difficult point was the Water Square, in which four directions cross, creating a surface with a considerable saucer. This is where the interactive water installation is located. The very form of the fountain was to be integrated with the surface in such a way that the beginning and the end of the object would be unnoticeable.
Flattening the surface of the fountain, allowing for a closed fountain water circulation and control of rainwater, forced the creation of new slopes of the surface. However, the ease and safety of moving people required the elimination of strong declines.
Mockup of designed terrain
A tool was developed for the needs of the project, which, with any resolution, could describe the directions and degrees of dip in the two-surface area. In addition, the tool showed the difference between the old and the planned square surface. Every change in geometry generated automatically all drawings describing the features of the designed surface. Thanks to this, it was possible to meet these two seemingly mutually exclusive conditions.
establishment of the drop design
The basic divisions resulting from the configuration were at the same time the frames for the floor dividing the grid. The difference between the sections of squares and tracts was emphasized by the density and dilution of the division of fields. The distribution density was controlled using the function graph. However, this variable division had to be adapted to two guidelines: integrating floor variability with the regularity of dividing the fountain boards and the size of the module of the basic slabs forming the surface. Irregularities resulting from the non-rectangular contour and division were designed from small-sized elements allowing the development of irregular shapes. However, the cost of the surface finished with a small-sized element was larger than the cost with large-size elements. Therefore, the challenge was to find such a function that controls the division of the grid, which would minimize the number of small size elements and thus reduce the cost of surface construction.
The problem can be reduced to the problem of entering the largest rectangle in a quadrangle. In addition, it was important to ensure minimum and maximum gaps between fields. Different types of algorithm that fulfilled these conditions were tested. The algorithm was modified, which implied a change in the pattern of the whole surface. This problem is unusual for the architect’s workshop, but it translates directly into the materiality of the project. Although all aspects of the formula could be parameterized, only the general assumptions of the formula were described in this way. Drawings that were easier to do in the classic way were not generated.
From a tool’s point of view, the project is struggling with problems characteristic of architecture created by processes, not direct decisions. The designer, defining the principles of the process, is surprised by the result of his decisions. Knowledge related to the knowledge of knitting the process makes it difficult to assess the aesthetic of the product. Possible changes within the adopted parameters are very easy, however, the change in the principle is much more labor-intensive than in the case of direct drawing.
The square adjacent to the square is to be enlarged and completely modernized. A series of functions related to the park will be located under the glass enclave: a cafe, a toddler’s club, public toilets, seats, chess tables, a water screen, etc.
The interior of the park is to be a great green carpet for sitting and playing. Most of the stand will be preserved.
A playground for the little ones was designed next to the toddler’s club. After these treatments, the number of people using the park will significantly increase, and he and the water square will become the destination of walks on the promenade.
Activities on the promenade should be supported by the gradual modernization of the entire area. Alternative passages and passages, such as, for example, the Walkway of Professor Ligury and the backyard and alleys at the main course should be renovated. It is in the interest of the owners of the tenement houses to finish any renovation works before putting the string into use. Until then, it is worth launching a tax exemption program for renovations.
The program of the “hard” part of the project presented here is a target vision. The main part is to be implemented in 2013 – 2014. Works on executive projects have already begun. So far, PLN 17 million has been secured in the city budget for the implementation of the task.
Even the most expensive modernization will not ensure success in the form of the return of fishermen to the old trade route. There is a need to change the structure of trade and services. Stores with a traditional offer are unlikely to be able to withstand competition. Good restaurants and specialized shops with a non-standard offer seem to be a good direction. Trade hours must be extended. Many passers-by only after sunset, will go towards the Square of Water for spectacles light and sound.
On the side of merchant and non-governmental organizations, as well as some municipal institutions lies the development of possibilities offered by the band of activity on the promenade. From the ideas that the concept suggests, it is worth mentioning seasonal flower exhibitions, flea markets, books, local agricultural and confectionery products, night light shopping, ice sculpture contests etc. Examples can be multiplied.
Only comprehensive and multithreaded activities can ensure success, which is why it is so important to participate in the revitalization program of as many people and institutions as possible. The first meetings presenting the concept have already taken place. Some of the ideas reported, such as the map of shops and services located on the promenade, seem to be promising.
Opening the promenade was a spectacular success. The attendance at the evening screenings of the fountain and the participants of the programs “pimp up on the promenade” positively surprised everyone. From that moment on, many new premises were built. At the same time, it should be noted that only a part of the assumptions of the revitalization concept has been implemented. Some elements were implemented by independent designers who, unfortunately, were not familiarized with the idea for all revitalization activities. The quality of construction works is often far from the design assumptions. The schedule for further activities in this area is unknown.
However, children running around the fountain as soon as the sun shines and the people who sit at the fountain, when the rest of the city is empty, let you think that it might have been worth it.