Twelve projects from Poland are among the 276 projects from 35 countries competing in the prestigious European Prize for Urban Public Space 2016.
A few years ago urban planners and urban activists were complaining about the quality of public spaces in Poland – only a few places were designed well, attractive and with various age groups in mind. Today we have evidence that the situation is changing for the better: twelve projects from Polish city spaces are competing in the European Prize for Urban Public Space 2016 for the honour of being the best public space in Europe.
The European Prize for Urban Public Space competition first took place in 2000, with the prize for best-designed public space awarded every two years. The initiator of the prize was the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona but today the event is co-organised by seven European institutions, including The Architecture Foundation in London and the Museums of Architecture in Frankfurt am Main, Helsinki and Ljubljana. Projects submitted for the competition are to be graded by a group of jurors who are all international experts in architecture, urban studies and design. In 2016 a Pole will be a part of the jury for the first time: Ewa P. Porębska, the managing editor of Architektura Murator magazine is going to be one of ten experts judging entries.
A total of 276 projects from 35 countries were preselected to stand in the competition this year. The character of the projects varies from small changes in office block courtyards, through to park landscapes and monuments, to street revitalisations and district changes. The Polish projects differ in the same manner. On the Polish list, we find projects strictly connected with architecture like the edifice of the International Conference Centre in Katowice (designed by JEMS Architects) which, thanks to a lowered roof integrated into a system of terrain escarpments, houses the ideal resting and meeting space.
A similar idea was proposed by Robert Konieczny in Szczecin for the Dialogue Centre ‘Przełomy’ project – a museum hidden underground with its roof serving as a city square. The long-awaited revitalisation of the train station in Rumia that changes the neglected waiting room into a common library, reading room and local culture centre (all designed by Sikora Wnętrza) was also proposed. Other popular entries are the highly-praised docks on Paprocany Lake in Tychy (designed by Pracownia RS+) and the arrangement of a market square in Siechnice (designed by Maćków Pracownia Projektowa). The projects submitted from Poland prove that an attractive and functional form can be created in large (e.g. the local activity centre 3 Three Rooms with Kitchen in Warsaw) as well as small cities (a public space in Góra Puławska) that serve both body (The All-year-round Sport and Leisure Centre on Ukiel Lake in Olsztyn) and soul (Sopoteka – a multimedia library in Sopot).
We will find out the jury’s verdict in July when the official results will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB).
All the projects can be found on the official webpage: http://www.publicspace.org/en/prize/jury-stage/2016.
Written by AC, translated by AW, April 2016.