The Vistula River Boulevards in Warsaw are one of the most attractive and most frequented public spaces in the city. The section between Świętokrzyski Bridge and the Czerniakowski Headland is buzzing with life on summer evenings and weekends thanks to the increasingly growing entertainment and cultural offering on the boulevard. The Kahl Square region, however, remains partly cut off by the Wisłostrada tunnel entrances and the railway embankment of the cross-city line, forming a kind of barrier between the city and the river, preventing the full potential of this unique location on the banks of the Vistula from being harnessed. Despite the significant outlays on the construction of the Wisłostrada tunnel, the urban functions remain sectioned off from the riverfront, failing to support and facilitate any water activities.
This design concept wants to bring the city closer to the riverfront by creating varied-function facilities with easily accessible ground-floor services, creating the perfect backdrop for the riverfront gardens – the green belt between the Copernicus Science Centre and the rail cross-city bridge. The particular zones of the garden – the “Skwer Sportów Miejskich” – an urban spot for sports, the “Polana Sztuki” clearing for the arts, and the “Park Odkrywców” discovery park are an extension of the functions of the buildings surrounding it – the Copernicus Science Museum, the Academy of Fine Arts, and the planned sports facilities located on the southern side of the rail bridge. The facilities in the garden belt incorporating a food pavilion and urban roof will allow the riverfront recreational season to be extended and their greenery structure to emphasise the nature of the green urban oasis along its entire length.
The balanced spatial layout will allow optimal use of this space both in economic and social terms. The creation of a public access square along the riverfront, rich in new functions and covered activity areas, will stimulate and inspirit this part of the embankments at different times of the day throughout the year. The creation of new spaces that can be built-up not only under urban but also commercial investments can make the entire process more feasible through the sharing of the investment expenses linked to extending the Wisłostrada tunnel.
THE GREEN SPACE DISPUTE VS. CITY URBANITY
Warsaw’s space is full of contradictions and is exposed to the conflicts existing between particular social groups. Investment pressure combined with the difficulties inherent to the planning process raise increasingly new disputes, usually in the context of the depleting city stocks of greenery. The need to come into contact with nature and the presence of greenery in the city centre is one of the most common issues cropping up in urban community discussions. On the one hand, the rational construction of a compact city is one of the foundations of sustainable development, although this often contradicts the dreams of living amidst parks of many city dwellers. This concept aims to strike a balance between the urbanised environment and the natural landscape, which can assist reducing the sphere of disputes and building the right concept for the Vistula riverfront in agreement with the varied stakeholder groups.