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City and Harbour Development of Szczecin (Poland) and the Project "Lasztownia"


City and Harbour Development of Szczecin (Poland) and the Project "Lasztownia"
Zbigniew Paszkowski
 
Because of its location at the Odra-River Szczecin early started out as a maritime trade centre with a wide hinterland. In the 13th century Szczecin  became a member of the Hanseatic League and developed into a trade and harbour city on both sides of the Odra and the Odra fortifications. This part of the city represented the core of the city, its main marketplace and its identity.
In the 17th century Szczecin became the most important harbour in Poland. At that time goods already were transshipped on feeders at the Odra estuary. The situation at the edge of the riverbanks and the bond to the water were documented by the construction of the Wały Chrobego panora­ma terraces with public buildings on the embankment around 1800.
Because of the activities of the Prussian state and dependant on the industrialization in the 19th century. Szczecin expanded its function to an important centre of shipbuilding and maritime trade. The Vulcan shipyard was built in 1851. After the demolition of the city walls in 1873 new possibilities for regular, classical city enlargements opened up.
After the severe damage of World War II, Szczecin built up its position as the capital of the province of Szczecin (since 1999 Zachodniopomorskie/ West-Pomerania) and soon became an important centre of industry, trade and culture. The harbour specialized on bulk cargo and the transshipment of Scandinavian paper products. There are two impor­tant ship-repair-yards in Szczecin (Gryfia and Parnica) and service facilities for the maritime industry. The draught in the port allows vessels with up to 9.15 m and a length of 210 m. In addition to the Port economy and industry there is a university with a maritime department. Since 1999, Szczecin has been housing the North-West-Corps of the NATO with navy units.
The port of Szczecin  is part of the joint port-complex Szczecin-Swinoujscie that allows the connection with a deep-sea harbour at the Baltic Sea. Up to now Szczecin offers the superior hinterland connections. Since 1996, both ports have been united in a cooperation of joint port man-agement. In 2002, the total gross weight of goods handled was 1596 million tons and 640 150 passengers. There is an investment program for both ports of 200 million EURO up to 2015.
The damage caused by the World War II and the post-war planning guidelines spoiled the link-up between the city and the river. Among the main goals for city development is to re-establish the functional relations to the water. First and foremost this means re-utilization and redevelopment of the derelict and extensivly used areas. To be successful several measures have to be undertaken. To begin with, the territorial allotment of the port area has to be adapted to the current demands of maritime industry. Released from the port administration it will be easier to stimulate private investments and to provide public technical infrastructure. Important prerequisites for the development are the traffic connections between the old town at the river Odra and the island and peninsula located opposite the city’s centre. The envisaged bridges are not allowed to limit the river traffic on the Odra.
The attractive housing opportunities at the waterfront of Szczecin should be enhanced. But the complexity of the problems connected to planning on these sites impede the fuli unfolding of the envisaged city planning and architectural qualities. City authorities try to take on an active role in the restructuring process and to concentrate their means on this area. The visions for a future cityscape are developed between the city authorities, architectural students from the Technical University of Szczecin and free-lance architects. The aim is to analyze comprehensively new ways of city development at the waterfront and to redefine "the heart of Szczecin" at the water.
The area of the project Lasztownia is situated on an island opposite to the city centre. It is dominated by the decline of harbour functions and its extensive land-use. Of all the warehouses, canneries and production sites only a chocolate factory and a fish-manufacture remain. The slaughterhouse closed down in 1985. The buildings need to be redeveloped. The slaughterhouse and some other buildings with brick stone architecture are listed under protection of cultural heritage. There are poor soil and water conditions in this area.
The area compromises 33 ha and is situated just oposite Old Town. Its port traditions and its function as a link between the old town and the existing harbour area will introduce important impulses to the entire city development.
The project is orientated to the ideas of sustainability with a useful mixture of urban functions. housing, opening the quays for pedestrian routes and mooring facilities for river boats and sea yachts. To support the core function of the Old Town, there are uses envisaged such as ferry terminals for tourists, a marina and hotels, recreation facilities with a leisure centre. trade and administration functions with offices and a conference centre. The planning requires meas-ures as creating new Communications links (pedestrian bridges, ferries), preserving and revealing the historie value of the cultural heritage and the orientation of new buildings to the historical character of the area and the skyline of the city. The basie direetions for the transformation process are the preservation of buildings of historical value and the his­torie urban framework. The main issue is to preserve the port character at the river banks with its port cranes, Baroque and Gothic brick warehouses and the use of historical used build-ing materials. Another important project is to create a visual relationship between the Old Town and the historie slaugh­terhouse. Part of the process is to create flexible plans as a basis for long-term realization.
There are problems in the realization because of the difficult owner structure of the area owned by port authorities and the fishery-company. Another problem, besides the missing traffic links to the city, is the noise emissions originated by the 6-way-freeway crossing the area and the ongoing port functions.
There is an existing master plan and a land-use plan is in preparation. But legal urban plans alone are not sufficient to realize urban restructuring processes. Co-operation between the community, land owners and investors together with scientists is needed to form this project a step to a modern city of science and culture.

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