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Warsaw. Plac Teatralny – concepts of changes, visualizations

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Two islands of greenery, a fountain in the middle, branching into ponds. There is no possibility to travel along the east-west axis. Parking moved to the underground car park, with the entrance from Wierzbowa (only under the western part). This is the initial concept of Plac Teatralny, developed by residents and experts. It’s a long way from idea to implementation. This is not the first visualization of changes in this place.

Plac Teatralny, Iron Gate, Constitution. They are all located in Śródmieście. The discussion about transforming these sad, concrete parking lots into real city squares has been going on for years. In the fifth year of his presidency, Rafał Trzaskowski took up the topic, announcing public consultations. At the beginning, the first of these locations was taken as wallpapers. The area between the grand building of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera and the rebuilt Jabłonowski Palace is the most striking example of the unused potential of the place.

It will take at least a few years from concept to implementation

– We design a better-living Warsaw together with the inhabitants of Warsaw. That is why we organized design workshops to look for optimal solutions for the concept of the new development of Plac Teatralny. Residents want more greenery, places to relax, facilities for pedestrians and cyclistssays Bartosz Rozbiewski, deputy director at the Office of Architecture and Spatial Planning, quoted in the communiqué of the town hall. But real changes, as he puts it, in the “triad of squares” of Teatralny, Żelazna Brama and Bankowy, are a thing of the future. – We need several years from developing the concept to its implementation. Reconstruction of Powstańców Warszawy Square, Central Square in front of the Palace of Culture and Science is already underway, this year changes will also begin on Chmielna Street, Rozbiewski continues.

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The city wanted to involve the widest possible group of participants in the process of creating the concept of Plac Teatralny: residents, experts, entrepreneurs and officials from various offices and institutions. That is why it decided to organize charrette-type design workshops. It was conducted by a team from the MAU Architecture & Urbanism studio. Earlier, in a similar way, changes for Pole Mokotowskie or Plac Powstańców Warszawy, which are being implemented.

Workshops with residentsCity Hall of Warsaw

The design workshops were preceded by a walk around Plac Teatralny and its surroundings. A survey on expected changes has been launched. Nearly 300 people filled it. Then, two open workshop meetings were held: on June 14 and 19, during which the residents, together with experts, worked live on the postulates and main assumptions for the new Teatralny Square.

Suggestions, workshops, discussions. That’s how the concept was forged

On June 14, workshop participants indicated what should be preserved, changed or eliminated. “They drew on maps, added functions that are missing on the square. This is how several initial concepts were created. Children had a separate table, who prepared bold ideas for this space with a water facility and playgrounds” – the city hall said in a statement.

The second meeting with the residents took place on June 19. Experts presented how to mitigate the effects of climate change with the help of greenery and water, and how to calm traffic. Three concepts were presented, meeting the demands of the residents. After working in groups, residents could point out the strengths and weaknesses of each concept. These tips were used to develop the final workshop concept, which will be used to develop the final concept for the development of the square.

Workshop concept of Plac TeatralnyCity Hall of Warsaw

Residents want big changes in Plac Teatralny. They agreed that trees should be planted and other greenery should be added, a fountain or other water facility should be arranged. They pointed to the lack of places to relax and rest, for children, space for art and outdoor events.

Residents expect: liquidation of above-ground parking (they want an alternative to it), traffic slowdown, more convenient and safer pedestrian crossings, convenient passage for cyclists. Experts predict that an underground car park could be built in the western part of the square (on the side of the National Theatre) with an exit ramp from Wierzbowa Street. So it wouldn’t be as huge as planned years ago.

They propose two green spaces and a round fountain in the middle

On Thursday, June 22, the team from the MAU studio presented the final concept. It takes into account the various demands of residents, it is a synthesis of workshop work, but also recommendations of offices that will ultimately give opinions or approve the project.

– Now, greenery is just over three percent of the square’s area. After the change on Plac Teatralny, greenery and water-permeable surfaces would account for 30 to 50 percent. We propose two green areas with organic shapes in the eastern and western parts of the square next to the Grand Theatre. They were similar before World War II – described Maciej Mycielski from the MAU studio, quoted in the release.

The final concept of Plac TeatralnyCity Hall of Warsaw

In the square, exactly on the axis of the main entrance to the Teatr Wielki, the architects propose a large and round fountain called the “water theater”. It would circulate through “tongues”, tubules to the side greens, the so-called urban oases. There it would go to small ponds of water. The whole would be an attractive water play zone for children, and a resting place for adults among trees, bushes and flowers.

The whole assumption would operate on the basis of intercepted, collected and treated rainwater. Experts have estimated that up to 26,000 cubic meters of rainwater per year can be collected from Plac Teatralny and the roof of the Grand Theatre..

According to officials, already during the work on this still working concept, preliminary talks were held with institutions located in the immediate vicinity of the square and with experts in the field of communication, greenery and monuments.

Main photo source: City Hall of Warsaw

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