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Ruda Slaska - Landscape of a Post-Industrial Conurbation. Strategies for rehabilitation. Centre of New Product in Nowy Bytom

Part 2 Project 2002
Piotr Bujas
Cracow University of Technology Krakow Poland
The project is an attempt to valorise and revitalise the post-industrial cityscape of the central districts of the Silesian city of Ruda Slaska in a different scale. The chosen five transformation areas that represent various cityscapes have been valorised on the basis of the formulated method.

The valorisation decisions take into consideration the effects of the last decade’s revision of industrial aesthetics and focus on the preservation of the identity of the site and its cultural artefacts.

The degree of intervention, and the depth of the reviewed cultural layers in the cityscape, are conditioned by the scale. The areas which illustrate the typology of the cityscape form the framework for a new structure in the dispersed conurbation and have centre-creating attributes. The most general directions concern the areas of urban catalysis – centrally situated post-production site of ‘Walenty-Wawel’ coal mine and coking plant are the subjects of the project in the architectural scale

The designed Centre of New Product is an institution that supports the development of widely understood product from its intellectual and innovative stage up to research. The Centre also provides the cultural background for the city, which is additionally determined by its central position. The monumental relics of the coking plant surrounding wastelands and slag heaps are adapted in the project as a landmark and an important feature of the city’s visual character. The choice of materials and the application of the functions have been influenced by the continuation of aesthetics of destruction.

Two zones: the green one – inside of the site, where the ground has been decontaminated, and the surrounding one – slag heaps of stone, intersect in the line of main Centre buildings (library and administration offices built on the former coking plant batteries, and the Museum of Silesian Technologies in the former coal mine tower, situated in-between). The intersection of new and old structures is connected with the exploitation of the existing technological openings and shows the possibilities of the adaptation of the ruins, which do not offer functional flexibility. Similar institution is to be created in Silesia in the future. Its position in Ruda Œl¹ska is justified by the necessity to change the character of the city, and to create alternatives and background for cultural transformation. It should not be conducted without paying attention to the preservation of the cityscape and the places important for the identity of the city, as it has been proved by the survey conducted as a part of the project among the inhabitants.

Piotr Bujas

Ruda Slaska is a place of strong identity, characteristic of the Upper Silesia Industrial Region (South Central Poland). Coal mining and metallurgy developed rapidly here since the 19th century. This process, paralleled by uncontrolled growth of population and towns, has led to severe ecological problems and environmental degradation through the years, especially during the communist regime after 1945. Closing down of many large industrial plants after 1989 resulted in the growth of unemployment, and left severe ground pollution, and often imposing, useless but certainly remarkable, structures.

The design project is nominated for:

1. Accurate choice of the subject, relevant to the problems of economic and spatial transformations of, not only Upper Silesia, but many European regions in general.
2. Appropriate choice of the place, where an extraordinary conglomerate of cultures, intertwined by turns of German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Polish history, meets the Nature - rich in resources, varied in morphology - a landscape of many beauties, today suffering much devastation.
3. Broadened systematic approach to the solution, study of design methodology and topical literature, which resulted in carrying out of a deep historical, sociological and town planning analysis, supported by a questionnaire for the inhabitants.
4. Cautious and careful approach to design of new elements. Modesty and moderation in operation with architectural form and detail. Realistic design proposal, low budget demand. Careful treatment of the found substance of quality and its sincere exposition.
5. Architectural value of the new buildings in context of identified industrial architecture landmarks.

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