Industrial Heritage Tourism: a Regional Perspective (Warsaw)
When touring a region, one of the things previous generations certainly overlooked were the industrial areas. With the exception of the old saltmine "Wieliczka" in the south of Poland, industrial heritage was mainly unknown. Industrial landscape (mills, factories with chimneys emitting all-blackening smoke, poverty-stricken workers' houses) have been regarded with dislike and considered grim.
Using the example of Warsaw's industrial heritage revitalization projects, we examined already modernized historic buildings, which sought to respond to tourist and leisure needs (museums, art galleries, cultural centres). We were interested in their new functions and meanings for urban space quality. We wanted to consider how much revitalized architecture help to change (socially, culturally, economically) declining areas and their painful "inner-city" image (Thorns 2001). Our research (carried out in 2005-2006) covered nine historic industrial compounds, already converted and having new functions. Results of our inquiry polls (taken in 2005-2006) confirmed the thesis, that revitalized historic industrial architecture might enrich urban space with values visible in many dimensions: social, historical, aesthetical and economic (Evans 2005). Although selected and studied cases in Warsaw were not completed equally successfully, due to the objective barriers or carelessness in the planning process, all show good results in space quality and cultural services improvement, appreciated by the local community members and visitors relevantly.
Once neglected run-down Warsaw districts (Wola, Praga) now draw benefits from new identities, attracting tourists and enhancing the local community's sense of belonging and well-being. Similar cases were described by scholars after studies in other European cities (Jones 2006).
Urban greens and sustainable land policy management (case study in Warsaw)
This paper examines the changes of meaning of public greens in the contemporary urban landscape. Although the value and preservation of green areas have become important land use policy topics, still little attention is paid to family gardens and their tenants. As a part of tradition and history, allotments have been present on the European landscape for over one hundred years. At first, they were located in the suburbs during the nineteenth century, scattered on the fringes of towns. However, as the gardens are now located on sites found close to city centres, they have recently come under the threat of being overtaken by developers. In Poland, local authorities are responsible by law for the provision and management of allotments, yet there are usually long waiting lists, at least several years in Warsaw. If there is shortage of allotments why not create more ‘family gardens’? What role do allotments play in official spatial planning policy? What is the statistical picture of allotments in Poland? This paper not only examines the tradition of urban allotments and their contemporary picture as a public green space, it juxtaposes two sub-themes: the story of allotment gardens in Poland and the story of a single Warsaw allotment site, where our field studies were carried out. The empirical results of our field surveys show that urban inhabitants are very interested in gardening. First, these gardens represent important source of recreational activity to males and females, regardless of their age and social status. Second, these gardens represent urban and family tradition, as contemporary tenants are often representatives of the third or even the fourth generation of the users of a particular plot. Third, for thousands of low-income families, allotments are both essential as a source of fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) and also as an opportunity to enjoy holidays free of charge. All in all our research results suggest that allotment gardens in the contemporary built environment not only improve the urban climate but also play an important role in strengthening family and community connections. Moreover, by providing the opportunity for various recreational, outdoor activities such as gardening, sports and games considerably help to promote ‘healthy life style’. This paper is based on the author’s field experience and on empirical studies, both of which strongly support the notion that contemporary urban allotments play a crucial role in town green systems and provide a significant contribution to life quality of urban inhabitants, especially for the elderly and low income citizens. It seems that a growing interest in urban ecology and sustainable planning policy should lead to the idea of saving allotments (along with other urban green spaces). The paper concludes that, when considering the future of urban allotments, the main problems can be seen in the present institutional context of urban planning policy, land use concepts, and attitudes of the local authorities towards allotments. The allotments, which often occupy the city’s prime locations, are accused of limiting urban development possibilities and are criticised for ugliness and poor management. However, as it seems, as the leisure value of allotments has increased in recent decades, their role in urban space, new plot layouts and garden design should consequently be revised.
Recently, changes to our pace of living and to our quality of life (including demands of our leisure possibilities) have been rapid. We now expect higher standards of living filled with goods, services, and recreation activities unimaginable some decades ago. In the last two decades, there have been massive changes in work, communication, and travel resulting in what could be described as “leisure revolution.” The opportunities have increased in terms of both the time available and the variety of ways in which we can spend this time. Several aspects of physical exercise benefits are well recognized: we know that active recreation is especially stimulating and rewarding and that it helps to achieve sharper mental awareness and heightened consciousness. To be able to enjoy everyday outdoor active recreation and sports (netball, badminton, etc.), there has to be a network of recreation grounds and a supply of facilities that respond to the needs and expectations of society.
The study of contemporary trends of leisure provision could be an essential spatial planning tool when contemporary housing estates functional programs are considered. Our research study (conducted on the basis of grants ds-114 and ds-144 AWF JP Warsaw; 2008-2012, supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education) aimed to provide information on present trends in the area of active recreation that could impinge on leisure facilities expected at urban housing estates (outdoor recreation grounds).
The general objective of this paper is to present and discuss the factors that need to be taken into account to ensure that the development and management of religious tourism at rural sites was sustainable from an economic, environmental and socio-cultural point of view. Among other issues, sustainable religious tourism means accessibility to the sanctuaries, protection of cultural and heritage values of the local community, benefits for the local residents and meaningful experience for visitors. Authors were especially interested in the less popular, more remotely located holy sites in Mazovia Region (Poland) and two concerns: readiness to respond the needs of persons with different disabilities and local community opinion on tourists. As was documented by our research outcomes despite the recent numerous improvements, the most popular rural sanctuaries in Mazovia Region, remain only partially accessible for persons with disabilities. As masses of pilgrims have a significant effect on wellbeing and everyday life quality of residents (contributing both to positive and to negative effects), those who accept that tourists are important for economic development, benefit from it, creating ‘smart host area’. These rural communities which are not knowledgeable about positive impacts – see only negative consequences.
Contemporary rural museums perform not only the traditional tasks but are also the places where both the visitors and the local community members have chances for entertainment and attractive leisure time. Consequently one can find in museums numerous catering offers such as cafes, bistros, snack bars, restaurants, pubs and wine bars. The material presented is the result of theoretical and field studies carried out in the selected open air museums in Poland and focused on newly introduced commercial activities (as catering). Our research results show that the development of sustainable cultural tourism as a generator of income in the open air rural museums is important in the challenging economic time. Museums having catering services of different character could easier overcome financial struggle. Moreover there is no doubt that the introduction of an interesting and ambitious cuisine in the restaurants located in the rural open air museum is of great importance also in other terms: popularization of the food culture, rural tradition of region, healthy diet and lifestyle, chance to increase the museum attractiveness, important economic support to the museum and the local community and the improvement of living quality.
Outdoor gyms are becoming increasingly popular in the European cities. They are built in urban parks, in neighbourhoods (housing estates) and school sports grounds. Recently outdoor gyms are increasingly being built in non–urban recreation areas (such as beaches, lake promenades, forest parks). Among them there are gyms dedicated specifically to the elderly or disabled. The aim of the research is to analyze the use of outdoor gyms in Warsaw and selected surrounding settlements.