“Spatial Inspirations” competition, safe and friendly backyards – part 1

First of all, I would like to greet you in the New Year 2014 and wish you all the best! 🙂

After a long break I’m returning to blogging. To make a good start, I will begin with a competition – design post 😀 I and my friend are taking part in the new edition of  Polish “Spatial Inspirations” competition. This time it is about friendly and safe backyards.

You can find plenty of neglected, ugly and dingy backyards in my hometown Wrocław. We chose one of them, and in this post I will show you how it looks at present. After closing of the competition I will present our solutions for this backyard and you will see how a space can change 🙂

Have a nice evening and so long! 😀

PS. You’re welcome to visit my new website CLICK!

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Ecological housing developement – project for “Spatial Inspirations” competition

A year ago I and my friend took part in “Spatial Inspirations” (“Inspiracje w Przestrzeni”) competition, organized by Polish magazine “Urban Greenery” (“Zieleń miejska”). Participants had to present their proposal for ecological housing developement and were free to choose the plot. See the description, masterplan and visualisations of our project below. I will be grateful for your comments – what you like and don’t like about our ideas, anything that comes to your head after reading and seeing it 🙂

The chosen site

For this work we chose a fragment of the Różanka housing developement in the north of Wrocław, Poland. The area is surrounded by six residential buildings (16 and 30 ms high) and at present is an empty, boring place, without any coherency. Most of its surface is covered with neglected grass. There is an artificial hill and some trees (most of all poplars and birches) in this setting.

Our proposals for ecological solutions

1. Stormwater management

Three dry bed streams collect water from one of the buildings’ gutters and lead it to some temporary water reservoirs. There grow water plants (eg. Typha latifolia, Phragmites communis, Sagittaria sagittifolia, Juncus sp., Carex sp., Acorus calamus, Iris pseudoacorus, Sparganium sp., Equisetum fluviatile) at the sides of the reservoirs, simoultaneously purifying their water.

2. Temperature reduction

The setting is exposed to the strong sun operation throughout the most of the day, and the temperature during summer reaches very high levels, therefore an attempt to reduce it is a need. Introduction of water elements and more greenery (trees, shrubs, grasses and creepers growing on the buildings elevation) could chill the air and change microclimate of this place to far more comfortable.

3. Biodiversity increase

We decided to increase the number of plant species by creating different habitats – water and meadow zones. You can find examples of plants suitable for water habitats above; for a meadow we suggest: Centaurea jacea, Cerastium holosteoides, Euphrasia rostkoviana, Plantago sp., Prunella sp., Achillea sp., Trifolium sp., Cirsium sp., Vicia sp., Phleum pratense, Poa sp., Festuca pratensis, Hypericum sp., Geranium sp., etc.

These new habitats will prove attractive for several animal species as well.

4. Ecological choice in illummination and small architecture objects

We chose LED Generation luminaires, because they allow ecological light emission.

The small architecture objects that we suggest in the project (benches, seats, dustbins) are made of natural materials (like wood).

Surfaces proposed by us (paths, recreational zone and relaxation zone surfaces) are water permeable. We decided only to leave asphalt surface on the street leading along the buildings, where residents drive and park.

Conception charasteristic – the shape

The shape of the conception, with its geometrical elements, refers to the way the buildings are arranged. The geometry is broken by the circular lines of the paths and dry stream beds, together with the greenery scheme.

Zones

The site was designed for residents of the surrounding buildings – children, young people, adults and the elderly. Because of a very diverse group of users, we proposed several zones offering varied possibilities for spending time outdoors.

1. Playscapes

This zone is covered with water permeable, ecological surface. Besides made of natural materials devices for children to play and develop their fitness, benches for parents and grandparents, you can find water reservoirs here, so the kids may have the possibility to learn to know, love and respect nature.

Playscapes are isolated from other zones and from the street with abundant greenery (shrubs and tufty grasses, like Physocarpus opulifolius, Spiraea sp., Sorbaria sorbifolia, Cornus alba, Symphoricarpos albus, Pyracantha coccinea, Miscanthus sp.).

2. Recreational zone

It is also covered with ecological, water permeable surface. There is an outdoor gym with equipment for training located in this zone.

3. Relaxation zone

This zone consists of benches and seats situated in the shadow under the crowns of the bigger trees and in niches among the shrubs. We used some elements of soundscapes to make this place more comfortable and pleasant for the people spending their time there – the sounds of water in reservoirs and rustle of wind in Miscanthus grasses will let them relax well for sure.

The criteria for choosing plant species for the area is first of all resistance to tough urban conditions (air pollution, drought) and photophilia.

             MASTERPLAN

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             VISUALISATIONS (the whole area, playscapes, relaxation zone and recreational zone)

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              A MODEL WE PREPARED FOR VISUALISATION

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Urban space for stressed people

Actually I can’t talk about my studying in Copenhagen without mentioning my biggest project I worked on there – a design I prepared for Health Design classes (I wrote about Health Design a bit in the previous post here).

The purpose of my work is to show how a potential restorative urban environment, where stressed and mentally fatigued people may find peace and restore their minds, could look like.

I selected people suffering from stress and mental fatigue as a group of users, because I think stress is a serious problem nowadays. Most of the people is influenced by it. Without doing necessary physical exercises, one cannot easily release from stress and that leads to considerable health complications. In addition, people being overloaded with unnecessary information, promptly become mentally fatigued, which unables them to work efficiently.

One of methods to help people deal with stress
and mental fatigue is to provide them properly designed environments, where they could spend their time and recover.

As for the area, my choice was the existing square at the Pomorska Street in the centre of Wrocław, Poland. The square is 290 m long and 38 m wide, 1,1 ha big. Its surroundings are noisy streets, residential building and several stores. At present the setting is an empty boring place, which does not show any coherency.

I used five theories, discussed during Health Design course:

1. ART – Attention-Restoration Theory (Kaplan&Kaplan, 1989)

Natural environment, containing little information to be transformed, enables people
to recover from mental fatigue. Kaplan&Kaplan (1998) specified following features of a good restorative setting:

– being away (recovering from mental fatigue requires that one be in some place other than the source of fatigue);
– extent (being a whole different world, that has its own rules and properties);
– fascination (deriving either from interesting places or processes like thinking and doing, eg. watching elements of nature).

2. Perceived sensory dimensions – PSD (Stigsdotter, 2009)
There are eight perceived sensory dimensions in green urban spaces:

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The results of the research show, that the most preferred dimensions are: Serene, Space, Nature and Rich in Species, ranked in order (Grahn&Stigsdotter, 2009). I applied all of them.

3. Mental Strenght Pyramid (Grahn, 1991; Ottonson&Grahn, 1998)
People, depending on their life situation and mainly on how strong their mental power is, perceive nature very differently.Image

People coming to a healing garden represent different levels of the pyramid, therefore, we planners should design a setting in a way to please all visitors.

4. The Prospect-Refuge Theory – PRT (J. Appleton, 1975)

The locations most preferred by humans are found at interfaces between prospect-dominant and refuge-dominant – meaning a landscape containing isolated trees.

5. Selected guidelines for designing restorative environments (Kaplan&Kaplan)
– quiet fascinations – features of the site permitting reflection; coming from the setting itself – eg. sound patterns, play of light or intensity of forms and colours, and from activities – eg. watching nature and gardening.
– mystery: enhancing the desire to explore a place by applying such elements as a crooked path or vegetation partially obscuring what lies behind.

6. Soundscapes – application of sound in the landscape.

The base of the project was to establish an area offering variety of rooms, where all people could feel better, being as close to nature as possible in the centre of Wrocław.

The overall design achieved by applying crooked lines : the violet for a path and a complementary yellow-green for Miscanthus grasses and shrubs (Buddleja and Carpinus betulus)

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Main division of the square and the theories implemented in the project

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Rooms 1 and 2: birch grove and marshy areaImage

Rooms 3 and 4: meadow and cafeteriaImage

Room 5 and 6: playscapes and prospect-refuge space

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 Masterplan

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Would you feel relaxed in this place? 😀 Have a nice weekend! 😀

July moments

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Japanese Garder in Wrocław#Centennial Hall#The Pergola#Japanese Garden#Set with dots#Gosań vantage point

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Międzyzdroje, by the Kikut lighthouse#The Opatowicka Island#Międzyzdroje#The Kikut lighthouse

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Renoma building#The Puppets Theater#Euonymus and Berberis/colour combination#Grasses by Renoma building#Fountain by the Puppets Theater#Wrocław from the Garnizonowy Church tower#The Peace Church in Świdnica#The Ślęża and Radunia Mountain#The living picture

The most interesting buildings of Wrocław – part 2

Today you will see my city and its buildings in a different way – from above 🙂

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Views like this one above are a reward for climbing very steep and winding stairs of the Garnizonowy Church to reach its 90 m high tower.

This is a panorama of the west side of Wrocław

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A little bit more to the north

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A panorama showing the south part of the city

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You can see two peaks on the horizon – the higher Ślęża mountain and the smaller Radunia mountain

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Wrocław Old Town

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The Old Town houses and the Town Hall

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Have a nice week! 🙂

Świdnica – a town worth sightseeing

Today I will show you a town located about 50 kms far from my home city Wrocław – Świdnica (some of you may know its German name Schweidnitz). My early childhood memories are closely connected with this town, as I visited it quite often – my grandparents lived there.

The location of Świdnica:

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Świdnica exists since year 1243 and it became a town in 1267. Its name derives from the Old-Slavic word “svida”, which means “dogwood” (Cornus sp.). It is so because the place, where the town has its origin, was overgrown with dogwood shrubs.

The most famous and most splendid monument of architecture in Świdnica is the Peace Church.

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The Peace Church was built in 1657.

In 2001 it was added to UNESCO World Heritage List.

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The Church was built in a wattle-and-daub manner, which is very popular in the apline house-building.

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The Peace Church is surrounded by the old and beautiful park, in which the old cementary is situated.

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One of the large trees growing by the Peace Church

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The old trees in the Church park

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The European Union co-funds the restoration of the historic building near the Church.

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My mum, standing near this building

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The gate leading to the Church, and the nearby cafe

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Świdnica has also a beautiful Old Town with its marvellous Town Hall.

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Benches at the Old Town Square

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A nice restaurant, where we had our dinner

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Some inspirations

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Children always are very curious of the water 😉

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And this is how the Ślęża Mountain, lying close to Świdnica, looks like from the road leading from Świdnica to Wrocław

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I wish you a nice week 🙂

Adventure Park at Wrocław Opatowicka Island

The Opatowicka Island in my home city Wrocław offers a nice opportunity for people who like excercising high above the ground. I’m a big fan of such challenges and I have been there a few times. I visited the Adventure Park past Sunday as well – and would like to show you some photos 🙂 Have fun!

The Opatowicka Island on the Odra riverImage

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A part of the Park for little kidsImage

There are 6 tracks in the Adventure Park  altogether- the Monkey and the Groundhog are the easiest, the Squirrel and the Woodpecker are medium, while the Gorilla and the Panther are the most difficult ones. Most of the obstacles are hung 3-10 m above the ground.

People, who come to the Adventure Park are provided with special equipment, like ropes and snap-hooks. Then they are carefully instructed by the professionally trained stuff, how to behave while overpassing the obstacles.

Some of the obstacles, located above 3-10 m above the groundImage

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The most difficult track is called the Panther (in Polish it’s Pantera). The highest platform is 17 m above the ground! That’s something for the bravest 😉Image

Climbing the PantherImage

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The huge oaks used in the ParkImage

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It’s really high!Image

In the treetops! 😀

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A great idea for a weekend 😀Image