Linear spatial structures and systems, linear urban layouts, natural linear systems, linear towns and settlements, linear structures, regions, rows, models, linear transportation / road / rail tracks, linear corridors, waterfronts, systems of continuous public spaces, linear tourism facilities, and linear compositions have been already described and analyzed in many scientific publications. However, to the author’s knowledge the term „linear revitalization” has not yet been used, either in the Polish, or in the English literature, to define a set of activities intended to repair and revitalize various neglected linear structures with the aim of connecting urban tissue1.
The article presented here fills this gap. Its aim is to consider the purposefulness of defining, describing and implementing linear revitalization as well as presenting the concept, its specific character and its potential benefits. The general deliberations concerning revitalization have served as the basis for proposing a draft systematization of linear revitalization, its tasks and potential effects. In the first part, the theoretical exploration is presented, based upon studies of the literature and the author’s knowledge and practice. The fields for further additional scientific research are indicated. The second part presents chosen examples from Poland and abroad, followed by a presentation of the benefits from the implementation of various types of linear revitalization. In order to define and systematize the new notion, as well as to present its significance for the contemporary city, the following research and analysis methods have been applied: field studies, a photographic documentation, an analysis of available surveys and, finally, an assessment of chosen case studies.
The concept of linear revitalization presented here does not explore the whole subject. It is a first attempt to systematize the most important aspects; therefore, this topic will be a field for further research by the author.
Various aspects of revitalization
Revitalization has many aspects. Many of them have been described in literature for years and discussed during various and multiple conferences. They referred to the reasons for revitalization, the evolution of its scope and purposes, the typology of areas undergoing revitalization, its scale, complexity, diversity, comprehensiveness of actions planned to be implemented, spatial scope, timing and financing. The most common typology refers to dominating aspects: spatial (including technical, architectonic, urban and aesthetic), economic, social, cultural and environmental. Most authors discussing revitalization underline the need for simultaneous implementation of social, economic, spatial and environmental actions. The long list of various aspects proves that the necessity of revitalization is common, and can be observed in every city and at any time. Thus the problem of revitalization always seems to be a topical one.
One of the issues regarding urgent and comprehensive renewal is the problem of the division and fragmentation of urban tissue in the physical, functional and environmental context, and the decrease of cities’ socio-economic cohesion. This implies that there is a need for specific action related to linear structures and systems. This has been noted by many authors in scientific research and by practitioners.
For example, the term „linear model” has been used in relation to the revitalization of the city of Radomsko in Poland (Koncepcja urbanistyczno-architektoniczna rewitalizacji centrum miasta Radomska Etap – I wariant 1/KUA (2015: 1, 3). A vision was presented of „multi-directional linear connections” between the two most important central areas of the city. In consequence, these connections will enlarge the area of public space in the city’s central zone.
The other type of revitalization of linear structures has been described by D. Załuski (2009). He indicates the need to implement new city functions on various linear systems, like railway tracks, green areas, allotments, abandoned areas or warehouse / storage facility zones. He presents the opportunities for their development and use as pedestrian paths and bike tracks, ecological systems, and recreational areas.
Indisputably, natural systems are good examples of structures of a linear character. The theoretical grounds, with some examples as case studies, have been described by M. Przewoźniak (2007). He used the term „integrated revitalization” in relation to the comprehensive urban, architectonic, technical, social, cultural, aesthetic and environmental renewal of urban structures. He underlined the need to ensure that the city’s ecological network is developed in a satisfactory manner, enhancing the potential of natural areas in cities and improving the efficiency with which natural systems in cities and their surroundings function. He indicated linear urbannatural systems, like rivers, waterfronts, and waterside areas, apart from industrial, housing and central zones, as the most important types of urban structures with regards to revitalization, including environmental revitalization. He stressed that the crucial aim of revitalization is the improvement of human well-being in cities; and he recognized the improvement of ecological conditions as being an integral part of this.
Another kind of linear structure, named a “net”, has been defined by Z. Zuziak (2007) when he presented various types of city structure undergoing revitalization. Apart from city nodes and urban tissue he distinguished and described the „urban skeleton” as fabric connecting urban areas. This „skeleton” includes streets, green corridors, functional connections, public spaces and the layout of directions characteristic of a city’s spatial composition. Z. Zuziak (2007: 164) emphasizes that the „geometrical characteristics of this layout are the most significant elements of cultural genetic city code”. Thus, the linear systems indicated by this author are crucial elements not only of a city’s functioning, but also of its identity.
In the context of revitalization, the issue of complete and non-fragmented public spaces in small and medium-sized Polish towns has been described by J. M. Chmielewski (2007). He underlined that revitalization which focuses on public spaces in central areas, or historic areas, in the city has a bigger chance of being successful. Socio-economic development is supported by mixed land use and well organized public spaces. Public spaces should create a continuous system which connects the city and is diverse with regards to landscaping. The author calls this a skeleton-crystallizing city plan.
A. Muzioł-Węcławowicz (2009: 66) stresses that „projects of modernization of technical infrastructure and organization of public spaces”2 play a crucial role in all examples of revitalization programs”. This statement is justified by the author through specific elements like the responsibility and competencies of local authorities, inherited conditions, appearance of new opportunities to invest in surrounding properties, simulation of local entrepreneurship, and improvement of public safety. In summary she notes that image enhancement has an influence by improving people’s opinion, not only on the district under revitalization, but also on the whole town.
The problem of the improvement of city cohesion with the use of “the network of connections” is also discussed by Z. Zuziak (2007: 163), who writes: „the integration of the spatial structure of the city and its metropolitan area is one of the main goals of the policy of developing sustainable urban structures”. He recognizes that the enhancement of connections between city centers and metropolitan centers „is an important element of policy aimed at improving the cohesion of metropolitan structure”. He states that the revitalization of a city center should contain not only the protection of its cultural heritage, but also activities focused on the improvement of its accessibility. He underlines the need to create a network of connections between the areas with large potential (like diverse city centers) and the improvement of these connections through the use of a public transport system, such as railways. He pays attention to the necessity of designing a network of public spaces within areas having the potential to create such centers.
The above-mentioned references to various kinds of linear structure considered during revitalization processes (one should remember that only a few have been quoted) prove that the problems with division, fragmentation and the lack of cohesion of cities in various contexts are being considered as serious with regards to revitalization. There is, therefore, a need to describe the linear structures causing the city fragmentation more precisely, as well as the problems which may result from it.
Challenges for revitalization – overcoming barriers in the city
The integration of city structures and the overcoming of various kinds of barriers have for years been the subject of theoretical deliberations and practical activities.
The problem of overcoming city barriers, focused on the creation and renewal of public spaces with the aim of connecting urban tissue with green areas which play an important recreational, sport and therapeutic role, has been described by A. Sas-Bojarska and M. Rembeza (2016b). They paid special attention to the way the transport system creates technical barriers between the city structure and leisure areas. They stressed the need to combine a technical and humanistic approach in solving such problems, especially enhancing social relations thanks to well-designed and maintained public spaces, constituting the essence of any city. They should be accessible, safe, attractive and multifunctional. Art in public space should be treated as an effective tool for its revitalization and for stimulating public involvement, thereby provoking new activities. Thanks to art, areas surrounding corridors of technical infrastructure and roads can also be revitalized. The authors stated that a growing role of public leisure/recreational spaces, even the most attractive, will not be possible without adequate connection between them and the urban tissue with the use of accessible, attractive public spaces.
A similar approach is presented by K. Janas and W. Jarczewski (2010: 129), who treat well-designed street art as an important revitalization activity in areas highly degraded or without their own identity. They may be supported by performances or artistic events in public areas. The role of public spaces in revitalization is also described by K. Skalski, who underlines that their high quality influence on inhabitants and users attracts investors, mainly in the services sphere, enabling economic development, and consequently they determine the success of revitalization (Skalski 2010).
K. Janas and W. Jarczewski (2010) list a few linear barriers: underdevelopment of technical infrastructure (sewage systems, energy supply systems), degraded roads, lack of access to fibre-optics, and weak accessibility to surrounding areas. They underline that overcoming such barriers „often determines the further course of the revitalization process”.
The statements cited above, although referring only to a small amount of literature and being incomplete, are consistent with the idea of linear revitalization. A thesis may thereby be formulated, that overcoming the barriers of growing quantity and scale which occur in cities is becoming one of the crucial tasks in the revitalization processes.
We may define various types of linear structures requiring revitalization: infrastructural, urban, those related to a specific type of land use, and natural.
Within transportation systems there are, for example:
- Roads of different classes as barriers cutting between urban structures;
- Roads as sources of threats, being the ecological barrier for the free flow of living matter, causing a lack of ecological connectivity;
- Abandoned, extensively developed and non-operational railway tracks, often of large width;
- Fragmented and improperly arranged public spaces, walking routes, pavements.
- The obstacle to development in former ports and post-industrial areas of a linear character is the existing infrastructure and industrial land use. Former port and post-shipyard waterfront areas may create impassable barriers preventing the city’s inhabitants from getting access to water.
- Some ecological systems of natural or anthropogenic origins may also be assessed as barriers. They are, for example:
- Fragmented and not properly developed and utilized areas along rivers, streams, lakes and sea shores which prevent access to these water systems, thus being a barrier for people and fauna;
- Not properly developed and utilized linear green areas in cities and suburban areas, with poor recreational infrastructure and difficult access;
- Polluted rivers;
- Rivers causing flood risk;
- Neglected fortification systems.
The systems presented so far do not complete the full list; that requires further investigations, corrections and completions. It presents just the general scope of linear revitalization. Each of the areas indicated may be degraded and become, therefore, a problem which is always the basic condition to undertake the revitalization process. I. Mironowicz (2010: 25) underlines that „the statement of degradation is the first step of the revitalization process”, and its proper definition and description is the condition of a successful process. Therefore, problems that are the result of the degradation of various linear structures should first be defined and systematized.
City fragmentation – reasons, problems, vision
The problems of city degradation have been discussed in the literature, with regard to their spatial, ecological and socio-economic contexts. Nevertheless, the linear structures still require more thoughtful and penetrating analysis. The reasons for city fragmentation, problems to solve and the vision to overcome barriers should thus be discussed in a more comprehensive manner.
There are many various reasons for unintended city fragmentation in Poland. A. Sas-Bojarska and M. Rembeza (2016a: 165) indicate among others:
- „Uncoordinated investment pressure related to the implementation of various building and infrastructural projects;
- Growing and often unjustified development of the transportation network;
- Increasing speed of transformation of cities, facilitated, inter alia, by funds for infrastructure from the European Union, provoking, in some cases, fast and uncoordinated development;
- The lack of a hierarchy of priorities in spatial policy;
- Low effectiveness of existing planning and design tools;
- Low public awareness of the consequences of cutting urban structures”.
Each of the problems specified above may be described more precisely. For example, the low efficiency of planning tools is an effect of complicated, often modified, law, ambiguity and the vagueness of legal statements, the arbitrariness of interpretation, and a multiplicity of incoherent legal acts and orders. Some other factors may be added, like the gap between the former infrastructure and development standards and current standards, the poor technical condition of the infrastructure, and negligence in the creation of walking connections between different areas of the city.
B. Domański and K. Gwosdz (2010) write about the sources of degradation of city space in the context of revitalization. As an example, they point to the economic and political transformation in Poland as the main reason for the rapid growth of areas excluded from industrial and railway transport usage. This has often resulted in an ambiguous legal status for many properties. Abandoned industrial and railway areas (many of them linear structures) may lead to city fragmentation.
The above-mentioned reasons for city fragmentation should be the basis for discussing the problems resulting from the barriers.
Some authors describe the problems occurring in linear structures in the context of revitalization. T. Parteka (2007) recognizes the quality of space as one of the basic factors in a city’s competitiveness, which depends on revitalization. The abandoned, degraded, non-operational fragments of infrastructure, mainly railway tracks or suburban areas along roads, do not in his opinion fulfill the requirement for high quality space. M. Przewoźniak (2007) defines the reasons for „environmental” revitalization. They are: a high degree of transformation of the natural environment; unfavorable conditions of city life (air pollution, unsuitable bio-climatic conditions, low quality of natural recreational areas); flood risk; fragmentation of ecosystems (which does not ensure either flora and fauna migrations or growth in biodiversity); creating the technical character of water systems and their surroundings; and stream regulations, which transform them into artificial underground pipes which prevent the processes of self-cleansing. Many of the problems indicated take place within linear systems.
Other scientists present a more holistic approach in relation to revitalization processes, discussing a general overview of city problems. For example, I. Mironowicz (2010: 29) defines four categories of degradation of specific city areas, which require revitalization of the urban context, also with consideration of an economic and environmental context:
- Material degradation, including the technical state of buildings and the kind of technical equipment of the terrain (this can be expressed in objective, measurable quantities);
- Functional degradation, including the transformation processes appearing in a specific area (one should assess the level of inadequacy of development forms and land use as well as relations with the surroundings; both criteria have strong conditions and economic consequences);
- Moral degradation, connected with the place’s image and social acceptance of further functioning of existing development (this is a subjective criterion, related to impressions, connotations, emotions and opinions about the place, often not related to economic aspects, assessed differently by various individuals and groups, although investigated with the use of objective sociological tools);
- Compositional degradation of spatial character, including the level of evolving compositional structures; the need to abandon the classical definition of the elements creating space has been indicated (like the Kevin Lynch analysis), and to develop the theory of communication between the sender and user of the specific concepts and means.
According to I. Mironowicz, the criteria of degradation mentioned above, which can influence each other, facilitate an adequate definition of real existing problems and the undertaking of effective revitalization for solving these actual problems.
A. Sas-Bojarska and M. Rembeza (2016a: 165) focused their investigations on linear structures. They classified the problems which are the result of barriers in the city into four groups:
- “Spatial and functional: fragmentation of the urban tissue (e.g. caused by new road connections), functional disconnections, chaotic and uncoordinated development, reduction of the quality of public space, reduction of the density and compactness of cities, and wrong functioning of neighboring areas playing a different role;
- Environmental: destruction of natural values, pollution of soil, water and air, noise and light pollution, vibrations, interruption of natural links, terrain-consuming activities, occupying valuable undeveloped areas of cities that are often the last areas of natural beauty, valuable landscape and visual values, the growing congestion in roads causing subsequent negative effects;
- Visual and compositional: disconnection of compositional links, visual and functional chaos, ugliness, transformation of an urban landscape into a technical one. The New Charter of Athens 2003, adding to this the creation of barriers, fragmentation of urban structures, and transformations of landscape and visual changes;
- Social: human health risk, the lack of security at “inbetween” spaces, growing social problems, and the lack of continuity of public spaces”.
This list can be completed with one more factor – economic problems, for example, economic stagnation, the withdrawal of investors and lack of employment opportunities. Within the previously-mentioned groups, for example, spatial and functional problems, some specific barriers may be defined. They may occur on a local scale (various architectonical barriers, like high kerbstones, lack of ramps and slides, narrow pavements, destroyed and crooked surfaces, the lack of resting places, all of which enable social interactions); or on a city-wide scale, like inadequately arranged and abandoned areas, spreading out mainly along city transit routes; excessive width of roads; lack of public spaces creating a continuous system; lack of bike paths; lack of well-arranged buffer zones between fragmented areas; and tram and bus stops not adapted for the disabled and for people with limited mobility. The specific types of physical, functional, but also social barriers are gated communities, creating disadvantageous fragmentation of the city spatial structure, usurpation of public space, and social segregation. Some of these are fenced off, not only from surrounding areas, but also inside, lessening the amount of accessible recreational areas. Such processes are dangerous for one more reason, which often is connected with the usurping of valuable natural areas, which creates new ecological barriers; examples may be found in the sea shore belt of Gdansk (Sas-Bojarska 2015).
All the above-mentioned problems are threats to the city structure, image and functioning, lessening its cohesion (Sas-Bojarska, Rembeza 2016b). The need to solve them becomes an urgent challenge for planners. Many actions and initiatives have already been undertaken.
For example, one of the most important European planning documents, The New Charter of Athens (2003), proposed by The European Council of Town Planners, presents a Vision for Cities in the 21st Century. The document focuses on the idea of the Connected City and underlines the need for efforts at different scales. Lack of connectivity has been defined there as a basic problem. The Connected City refers to physical, functional and visual connections, the infrastructure network, plus information and communication technologies (The New Charter… 2003: 2).
Connectivity has been considered from five aspects (The New Charter… 2003: 2–9):
- In relation to time; this means continuity of character in the built environment and continuity in city identity which is an important value which should be fostered. In future the idea of a network of cities which transcend boundaries within the European Union should be stressed;
- Social connectivity relates to social balance (solving problems of unemployment, poverty, exclusion, criminality; providing security, sense of freedom, economic opportunities, access to education / health / other facilities), social involvement (new systems of participation, easier access to information, citizens’ networks); multi-cultural richness (encouraging groups to retain their own social and cultural characteristics); connections between generations (city networks and infrastructure to support interaction among all age groups); social identity (exchange and communication among cultures, giving city life richness and diversity); movement and mobility (integration of transportation and town planning policy, interchangeable facilities between the various transportation modes); and facilities and services (accessibility);
- Economic connectivity relates to the balance between globalization and regionalization (increased diversity and opportunity, full employment, prosperity); competitive advantage (utilizing the best existing attributes: cultural, natural, historical character, uniqueness, diversity, attractiveness); city networking (polycentric networks of European cities connected physically or virtually in various ways, supporting distribution, growth and strength of economic activities); and economic diversity (a collaborative system encouraging specialization and diversity of each city, based on its own competitive advantages and own balance);
- Environmental connectivity relates to a city as a self-sufficient connected system (wise use of resources, especially non-renewable like space and water, energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, protecting cities from pollution and disasters, access to cultural and natural heritage, landscape and open spaces, creation of new areas of open space which connect the urban fabric);
- Spatial synthesis relates to the need to improve the essential functions of city centers and other key nodes by enhancing spatial networks in and around cities (communication and transportation networks); maintaining and enhancing the attractiveness of cities; breaking down the isolation between parts of the city; and protecting the continuity of city character. Urban design is indicated as a key element of the renaissance of cities. Diversity of polices and interventions should include for example: protecting and enhancing public spaces as key linkages in the urban fabric; rehabilitation of degraded structures; facilitating personal contacts and leisure opportunities; guaranteeing security and well-being; creating unique urban environments derived from the genius loci; cultivation of aesthetic attractiveness; and protection of natural and cultural heritage and open spaces.
Ignoring this strategy means a lack of city cohesion, which creates various problems, referring to functional, spatial, socio-economic and environmental aspects. They destroy the connectivity of city structure, its functioning, and the environmental and social unity, thereby destroying landscape values. As the magnitude of physical barriers in cities grows, they create a ‘no man’s land’ between different structures. Not properly developed and arranged, they lessen the value of city space, disturb and deform the city image and the way it functions.
To sum up, there are many reasons for the emergence of barriers in a city, many types of them with a wide variety of problems of different magnitude and significance arising as a result. It is impossible to solve them through individual non-coordinated actions. A complex, comprehensive, interdisciplinary and integrated approach is necessary. It seems that it is the linear revitalization which may effectively minimize these threats and problems, and help to achieve the goal, which has been named in The New Charter of Athens 2003 as the Connected City.
Linear revitalization. A proposed definition
Revitalization can be defined in different ways, but always as a process (with a special stress on its long-term character) containing various spatial, socio-economic and environmental activities (highlighting the comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach), undertaken with the aim of renewing city centers and housing districts, including housing estates from the 1960s and 1970s, post-industrial areas, railway and military areas, and the city landscape (which indicates the different types of area under crisis). The aim of revitalization is the enhancement of the quality of city life, the creation of factors encouraging development, stimulation of economic development, an increase of public involvement, enhancement of spatial harmony and order, and the protection and enhancement of natural resources, cultural heritage and landscape values (these tasks underline the multitude and diversity of aims to be achieved). Groups of different stakeholders participate in revitalization procedures, e.g. local authorities, specialists and experts, district dwellers, city dwellers, and non-governmental organizations. Many scientists also discuss the main features of revitalization in relation to process, comprehensiveness, integration, and renewal.
Apart from general definitions, some specific types of revitalization have been defined, like „classical revitalization” which refers to historic city districts degraded in a technical, social and economic context (Skalski 2007: 78) and „crisis area revitalization” (Skalski 2010: 59). T. Markowski (2007) defines „social revitalization” and „economic revitalization” as being focused on functional revitalization, which should stimulate permanent investment activities and the development of social capital. He also defines „integrated city revitalization” (Markowski 2007: 322, 323, 325). „Integrated revitalization”, such as in the example of Szczecin, a Polish port town, is described by Z. Paszkowski (2007: 106). A. Czyżewska (2010b: 1) writes about the process of „socio-economic revitalization” of urban space. Other authors write about strategies of „polycentric development as a specific type of revitalization” (Zuziak 2007: 165), and about „revitalization of metropolitan structures” and „selective revitalizations” as related to skeleton structures (Parteka 2007: 176), or „environmental revitalization” (Przewoźniak 2007: 192). Z. Ziobrowski (2010: 9) distinguishes a few types of revitalization: the revitalization of historic centers, historic housing estates, post-industrial / post railways / post military areas, housing estates from the 1960s and 1970s, and „city landscape revitalization” with a public space system and a city greenery system. In the guidance he gives concerning revitalized areas, he mentions, in relation to linear structures, the development and arrangement of streets and squares with accompanying technical infrastructure, street furniture with greenery (landscaping), and the arrangement and development of recreational infrastructure (which is also often composed of linear structures).
In reference to the above deliberations, it seems natural to relate revitalization to other issues, for example spatial issues. Establishing dialogue with the theory of a Linear Continuous System [LSC] by O. Hansen (2005) initiated in 1967 and which continued for years, we may define linear revitalization3. O. Hansen created the theoretical model for the development of the Polish Settlement System, in the form of four parallel and linear zones corresponding with each other and spreading between the Baltic Sea in the north of Poland and the mountains to the south. LSC consisted of: multi-functional housing structure and service zones with complementary light industry; farming and forestry with a historical settlement system and mining industry; and heavy industry located at the edge of forests and agricultural areas. All of these belts should be linked together by a transverse collision-free transport system. This system of spatial development had been planned to be complementary with existing settlement systems and to be implemented progressively, „including a harmonious transition from the existing system to a new one” (Hansen 2005: 27). This system resulted from making linkages between very important aspects: spatial and functional (specific linear zones of housing, services and industrial functions); economic (balance of the number of jobs and the working population, good access to workplaces, flexible choice of employment); social (new society, high quality civilization, egalitarianism, egalitarian access to culture and the achievements of civilization, free choice of life style); environmental (ventilation, climate, access to nature, to clean air, water and forests, recreation, tourism); transport (innovative solutions for their time); and cultural (protection of cultural heritage). The aim was, as O. Hansen said, the alignment of people’s life levels (Springer 2013: 162). The model, which has never been implemented, was proposed to solve problems of uncontrolled urbanization. It turned out to be a utopian concept. But, as stated by K. Kucza-Kuczyński, who was cited by F. Springer, nowadays we in fact observe the rapid development of linear urban structures, which unfortunately are chaotic and imperfect, while O. Hansen wanted to plan and to create a coherent system. K. Kucza-Kuczyński said that „up until today we haven’t managed the problems which Hansen had noticed at that time. They have become even bigger” (Springer 2013: 166). LSC had been planned to solve the most important problems, inter alia, „the growth of spatially incorrect quantitative and qualitative changes in centric settlements” (Hansen 2005: 23). By the end of his life O. Hansen stressed the role of the ecological aspect of the LSC model, participating in the trend for sustainable development. He wrote: „one such attempt, a voice in the debate on ‘enchanting’ the society of a united Europe, could be a proposal to develop a new, ecological LSC settlement system alongside existing systems”. And he adds: „The proposal itself is not as important as the question of why it has been made in the first place” (Hansen 2005: 22). The reasons for this theory’s rise became more important than the theory itself.
Following the approach described, the author recognized that contemporary problems concerning development, and regarding solutions, relate mostly to various neglected, badly functioning linear structures on different scales, from local to city and further to the regional scale. Therefore, she decided to distinguish, define and describe linear revitalization among various renewal activities within broadly understood types of revitalization. The basic criterion which helps to distinguish linear revitalization from other kinds of revitalization is the linear character of the degraded structure under the renewal process, and activities of a continuous character resulting from this. But this continuity does not refer only to spatial aspects, but also to functional ones. The effects should also be seen in a socio-economic context in a broad spatial scope. Therefore the term „linear revitalization” refers to activities within linear systems in a technical sense, but its character is not only technical. It includes broader socio-economic and ecological aspects. Thus, in this approach linear revitalization becomes a catalyst influencing wider urban areas, although its source is located within relatively narrow degraded strips.
The power of linear revitalization is that it affects areas of great spatial scope, because even small changes may have a crosswise influence on long-distance linear bands. Linear revitalization may renew a city by connecting it and facilitating the flow of people, living matter, energy and information. It may be compared to a well functioning technical and road infrastructure which serves a city through linear „flow belts”, like the bloodstream sustaining a living organism, or to an ecological system which literally revitalizes a city through a natural linkage network. The areas of such interventions may be compared to the network which revitalizes a city, bringing new values and improving the functioning of wider urban areas and their image. Therefore, distinguishing linear revitalization was recognized as justified and proper. The concentration of attention and effort within a linear, strictly defined urban belt, facilitates the identification of barriers and problems they create, simplifies proper diagnosis, and enables the concentration of actions and means in chosen linear structures. Such an approach may have a more effective influence on whole city structures.
It should be stated that there is a loose connection between linear revitalization and Hansen’s theory. This comparison is based on similar spatial scope, that is, on linear structures; moreover, their continuity is important in both contexts. However, linear revitalization refers not to the construction of new cities as urban belts, but to the repair and renewal of linear structures existing as various barriers in contemporary cities (regions). In both definitions, the common feature is referral to ecological and social ideas, focusing on lines, not points, and connecting areas with the use of various strips/belts/lines. It can be said that the ideas which appeared on the cover of the catalogue of G. Kowalski, from the exhibition of 1967, presenting the LCS: security, culture, water, air, civilization, recreation, nature – all perfectly fit into the message of linear revitalization.
In relation to the ideas and theories described above, linear revitalization is defined here as a system of socioeconomic, physical, environmental, cultural and artistic activities undertaken in various types of linear structures in city or metropolitan areas, from the local to the regional scale. Their aim is to renew and revitalize degraded linear structures and barriers, and consequently larger urban areas, through the creation of spatial, functional, natural, compositional, visual and mental connections between fragmented structures.
We may define three general spatial types of linear revitalization:
- Actions aimed at crossing existing barriers of a linear character;
- Actions aimed at connecting fragmented city structures, making use of modernized or new linear connections;
- Actions of a linear character aimed at connecting the city with its surroundings.The diversity of actions within the above types of linear revitalization may be considered and undertaken by:
- Connecting fragmented urban structures through activities within the barriers and their immediate surroundings, including modernization which only includes the crucial places (points), most important for the functioning of surrounding areas;
- Connecting the city to neglected districts and degraded suburban zones by new or modernized public transport systems, public spaces and natural networks;
- Connecting the different revitalized areas with each other and with other city districts and connecting fragmented city centers;
- Regeneration of urban waterfronts including new development and land-use on post-industrial and former port areas, and creating new linear connections of fragmented elements of waterfronts into a continuous system along the water;
- New development, functional revitalization and the connecting of linear buffer zones with the city, especially in the neighborhood of protected/valuable natural areas;
- Connecting the city with the metropolitan area through new transportation systems, especially public transport systems.
This short list of possibilities sketched out above proves that there is a need to formulate a more comprehensive typology based on further investigations.
Attention should be paid to the need for a comprehensive approach in relation to linear revitalization, despite the name „linear” relating directly only to spatial structures. Linear revitalization may bring various potential benefits. It requires an interdisciplinary approach, thanks to the variety of problems occurring within areas creating physical, functional, environmental, visual or mental barriers. Experts from different fields of science and practice should be involved, e.g. urban engineers, road engineers, spatial planners, urban planners, architects, landscape architects, environmentalists, geographers, sociologists, socio-psychologists, economists, and lawyers. Technical, humanistic and pro-ecological approaches should be combined, with the use of integrated tools from various fields of science and practice.
Within linear revitalization (as it operates within general revitalization), investment and socio-economic activities may be recognized (they may be also named as hard and soft projects).
Physical activities may refer to whole linear structures or their fragments. Among them, activities related to anthropogenic or natural elements may be recognized. The first group refers to infrastructure (its modernization, development, new technologies, public transport development and the improvement of its accessibility) and to the architectural and urban fabric (progression in standards, filling the gaps in urban fabric, modernization of buildings, renewal, activities enhancing aesthetic excellence, demolition of degraded buildings, introducing new land-uses, protection of cultural heritage, creating and arranging new public spaces, connecting fragmented areas, introducing small architectural elements and landscaping, lighting improvement for security). These architectural and urban projects mentioned here may be – taking each of them individually – focused on specific places on a city map. But if a set of them appears as a linear structure, or as one of its crucial fragments, this should be treated as a group, enhancing the quality and functioning of the linear system as a whole. Therefore, they are part of a linear revitalization. There is a need to distinguish activities focused on these linear structures, because physical and functional continuity (different in each case) must be sustained when linear revitalization is being implemented. Comprehensive architectural and urban activities in degraded linear structures should be combined with infrastructure modernization and development which has a linear character, including green infrastructure; this underlines the linear character of interventions. This means that linear revitalization can’t be replaced by individual projects separated from each other because they might not ensure the expected continuity of influence on the barrier under revitalization, and on its wider surroundings.
Contrary to revitalization focused on a specific object, expressed e.g. by the realization of flagship investments, linear revitalization will not drain important services from surrounding areas. For example, K. Janas and W. Jarczewski (2010: 125–126) claim that the huge shopping centre „Manufaktura” in Łódź, a big Polish city, although serving as a good example of post-industrial revitalization, may result in the degradation of Piotrkowska Street, a major public space in this city. On the contrary, linear revitalization would stimulate new functions in renewed, attractive and heavily used linear structures (streets, pedestrian paths, recreational routes). They will connect various parts of the city along lines of accessibility. In such a manner linear revitalization may perfectly support „acupunctural” revitalization. This thesis is possibly endorsed by the conclusions of T. Markowski (2007: 324), who stated, on the basis of experiences from programs stimulating local economic development, that an adequate activity is „the strategy of creating competitive advantage in a revitalized zone, focused on creating nodes of economic activity and networks of connections”. Revitalized linear structures within linear revitalization could be those „networks of connections”.
Activities related to natural systems are associated with protection of the environment, including its specific elements, re-naturalization of degraded ecological systems, the use of green and blue infrastructure, reclaiming degraded areas and other activities. They all relate to linear systems, because such is the nature of ecological systems. The accomplishments of landscape architecture should always be used in differing situations.
The soft activities relate to the economic and social sphere. Economic activities include stimulation of development, like trade and service activities, creation of new workplaces, including work for the unemployed (e.g. introducing public works), creating new investment possibilities, enhancing entrepreneurship, investment incentives, and attracting new investors and activities. Social activities refer to encouraging public involvement in the revitalization processes, implementation of educational programs, influencing the growth of public participation, social care, and activation of excluded groups. Some of the actions listed mesh together and penetrate into each other, so it is impossible to classify them unambiguously. The diversity of types of action within revitalization processes is being described widely in literature. For example, there are activities referring to three levels: spatial/functional, investing/construction and socio-economic, and they have been identified in the Podręcznik rewitalizacji (2003) (Manual of Revitalization) written into the program TRANSFORM. W. Wańkowicz (2010: 22) also specifies a public intervention into the material sphere (in specified parts of a city) and public intervention into the socio-economic sphere. K. Janas and W. Jarczewski (2010: 117) distinguish five levels of revitalization action: social and economic within the social system, urban fabric and natural systems within the urban system, and identity/visage level, including at the same time social and urban elements. It seems that all the activities listed above, regardless of the type of classification, can be implemented into linear revitalization if they can be used in linear structures or can influence them according to needs.
Planning the strategy of linear revitalization should include many actions, as it does in each revitalization process. The diagnosis of the degradation of the linear structure and its surroundings should start the process. Then, the causes of specific problems occurring in the linear structure and its surroundings should be analyzed. The next step is classification and description of the problems, assessment of their significance and defining their hierarchy. The following step is to define precisely the aims of the linear revitalization (with respect to the city development strategy), distinguishing priority aims in order to focus activities on crucial issues. It is necessary to define the spatial scope and identify the groups of beneficiaries. In the end, it is necessary to define ways for realizing the activities within the revitalization in relation to other programs, detailed plans, reports and planning documents as necessary. Indication of the sources of financing sources and planning the public participation process are also necessary. In addition to the typical rules, the specific character of linear structures and the spatial scope of their potential influence should be considered during the implementation of linear revitalization.
Benefits of linear revitalization
Linear revitalization can bring many benefits to the city and its dwellers. They may be classified into several groups:
- Spatial, relating to architecture and the urban fabric, and technical, for example: connecting fragmented city structures through transforming barriers into strips of land connecting the structures; the improvement of city spatial cohesion; creating continuous open space systems, comfortable passages and crossings; improvement of spatial connectivity in the city, creating continuous open space systems, comfortable passages, facilities for the disabled (lower pavements, new passages, crossings, ramps and slides, lifts); development of public transport, connecting fragmented city districts; improvement of the quality and security of public spaces; integration of various city elements; overcoming functional and mental barriers; and supporting mixed land use;
- Economic, such as: better functioning of fragmented structures, enabling the emergence of factors for development, economic development, new workplaces, rising property values, especially in areas which are not properly used or are neglected;
- Social and cultural, e.g.: the creation of a friendly city, social integration, humanization of the built environment with the help of landscape architecture and greenery; providing equal chances for everybody and preventing social exclusion of the disabled or people with limited mobility, incorporating them into the labor market, thanks to better accessibility; activation of various social groups in previously abandoned or marginalized areas, providing security and comfort in previously neglected „in-between” areas; enabling better access to city centers, recreational areas and water thanks to waterfront revitalization and as a consequence a better quality of life;
- Ecological: providing continuity of natural systems, which will facilitate their better functioning; protection of natural resources and values, creating new natural resources; integration of the built environment with the natural environment; improvement of climatic conditions thanks to renovated/new linear features facilitating better air exchange and ventilation; introducing various pro-ecological solutions, like re-use and better use of terrain, green and blue infrastructure, enhancing the quality of the elements of the environment, and improving acoustic comfort;
- Landscape and visual: enhancing the role of landscape in city planning and in city development processes, renewal and presentation of degraded landscapes, arrangement and aesthetization of space, providing formal and stylistic continuity, and creating new landscape values.
The visual and landscape benefits are of course integrally connected with space, therefore they could be covered in the first point. But the author decided to distinguish them in a separate category because of their indisputable role in creating the image of the city, while at the same time their role is regular depreciated in real development processes in Poland. This means that landscape and visual problems should be always exposed and distinguished as an important, separate issue. They are covered in the last place in the list because landscape is a reflection of all previously mentioned considerations.
As can be seen, it is difficult to unequivocally qualify some benefits. For example, the integration of the built and natural environment also brings profits to society; humanization of the built environment positively affects not only society, but also the quality of public spaces, the environment and landscape; facilitating a mixed land-use is profitable for the inhabitants.
The beneficiary of linear revitalization will be city society – the dwellers and neighbors of the areas around revitalized linear structures, and the different excluded groups not always having access to many city goods and facilities. Linear revitalization may revitalize not only neglected barriers and the edges of cities, but also a broad band of neighboring urban areas. Dysfunctional, neglected and disruptive for the neighborhood „in-between” areas may become well-developed and attractive belts of territory for the circulation of people, goods, energy and information. These kinds of action may become tools enabling the success of renewal programs and strategies, because, contrary to „acupunctural” revitalization, they can influence wider city structures. They may prevent city fragmentation not only in the simplest physical (often connected with ecological) terms, but also, importantly, in social terms, preventing social exclusion and segregation. Specific „belts of accessibility” to workplaces, facilities, services, culture and recreational areas may be created thanks to linear revitalization, which in consequence may limit or even eliminate the separation of various social groups, fostering social balance in the city. This aspect has been indicated inter alia by K. Skalski (2007: 70). Belts of accessibility will be fundamental especially to weaker groups, like children, elderly people, as well as the disabled and people with limited mobility (travelling with baggage, baby carriage…).
The linear revitalization concept is consistent with important European documents, like the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities (2007), and The Charter of Public Spaces (2009), prepared and accepted during the III Polish Urban Congress in 2009.
The revitalization of city transport systems and natural systems in cities can be recognized as activities recommended in the Leipzig Charter as part of a program of integrated development of the city as a whole. Such projects ensure territorial connectivity as recommended in the reports. The strategy for creating and ensuring high-quality public spaces has been underlined as particularly important. These have been identified as soft locational factors, which „are important for attracting knowledge-based industry businesses, a qualified and creative workforce and for tourism” (Leipzig Charter… 2007: 3). We may read that „the interaction of architecture, infrastructure planning and urban planning must be increased in order to create attractive, user-oriented public spaces” (Leipzig Charter… 2007: 3). This may be achieved thanks to linear revitalization, thus connecting all the topics mentioned. Then, the Charter document refers to the problem of city connectivity, underlining that „an important basis for efficient and sustainable use of resources is a compact settlement structure” (Leipzig Charter… 2007: 4). It helps prevent social exclusion and creates equal chances for the dwellers of deprived urban neighborhoods regarding mobility and accessibility. It recommends the facilitation of access to public transport to ensure better integration of such neighborhoods into the city and the region. It seems that linear revitalization could support all these aims.
The Charter of Public Spaces (2009: 3) underlines the role of public spaces in the „transmission of various material and immaterial products, fulfilling different needs”. This statement justifies the necessity for continuity of public spaces, which relates to the idea of linear revitalization. According to this document, the mixing of socio-economic groups, the prevention of isolation and segregation, support for weaker social groups and „treating public space and its transformations as areas of sustainable development policy” (areas where resource use is optimized, e.g. efficient use of water and energy, supporting biodiversity) (The Charter of Public Spaces 2009: 5), is the duty of public authorities. Such tasks may be, in the author’s opinion, realized by the use of linear revitalization.
In summary, linear revitalization could be accepted as one of the tools of sustainable planning and design, especially when it comes to overcoming barriers. In fact, it is one of the methods of urban revitalization, supplementing the various strategic activities being constructed in chosen places, however, by definition, relating to linear structures on a city map, not to points.
The list presented above detailing potential benefits which may be achieved thanks to linear revitalization is open. Further long-term theoretical studies are necessary as well as the gathering of experience gained during the implementation of revitalization processes. Therefore, it is worth analyzing the few case studies described below, presenting the benefits gained thanks to the revitalization of various linear structures.
Case studies – linear revitalization
A great number of examples of the revitalization of linear structures can be found all over the world. Many of them are waterfronts transformed into multifunctional districts in such cities as Lisbon, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Montreal, New York, Boston, and Sydney. All these waterfronts play important roles in cities, as representative areas of different functions. Their most important elements are well-organized, attractive public spaces.
An interesting case, due to the functional program and the method of project financing, is the Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City. This post-industrial waterfront site situated along Brooklyn’s East River shoreline has been transformed into a long and narrow park (Photos 1, 2). The public green areas stretch from Manhattan Bridge, passing by Brooklyn Bridge and covering six piers which have been totally remodeled and provided with supplementary new functions. The former post-industrial area with stores and warehouses now serves as a sport and recreation area. It has been supplemented by new commercial development, intended to ensure the economic self-sufficiency of the maintenance of the park and operations within it. The planning and construction of the park has lasted nearly 20 years, and has still not been finished. It has been opened to the public pier by pier since 2010. New playing fields, playgrounds and sports courts, e.g. for basketball, have been built on piers, some under old industrial roofs, some as open air courts. The public open space connecting the piers has been equipped with amenities for active and passive uses, like lawns, picnic tables, a roller rink, a green way, fitness equipment, playgrounds for children, information boards, art in public spaces and lighting. The concept became a success not only because of its great functional and visual attractiveness and popularity, but also due to the financial strategy that was adopted which enabled the park to be planned, built, maintained and operated.
Shoreline linear parks may be recognized as linear natural systems, like those in San Francisco, Lisbon, Copenhagen, Dubai, Brisbane, and Cairns. A typical example of a revitalized green area along the water is Crispy Field in San Francisco. This terrain, which served for years as a military area, was restored to its previous status as a natural area during 1998–2001 with the help of thousands of volunteers. The project was financed in large part from social funds. Complex land reclamation took place on the brownfield site. Hard surfaces and dangerous materials were removed. Native vegetation was planted. An artificial water reservoir was constructed and new dams were created and planted green. New sport and recreational functions were introduced, with such equipment as pedestrian and bicycle paths, interpretive tracks, presenting not only the history of the site, but also general pro-ecological information, street furniture, picnic and leisure places, tourist information points, medical care locations, rest rooms, telephone points, information boards with regulations, and beaches. The city returned to the water. One million people visit the park each year (see more:Sas-Bojarska 2015).
A famous example of the revitalization of a linear railway structure is the High Line in New York City (Photos 3, 4). The transformation of an abandoned elevated freight railway line, stretching 2.5 km along a steel viaduct, into an extremely attractive walking path with greenery, small architectural features, art in public space, recreational and cultural functions and food services, has been assessed as a great success not only for the post-industrial district of Manhattan, but also for the whole city. Many commercial sites like office buildings, apartment buildings, art galleries, trade, service, and catering facilities have revitalized a district of former factories, warehouses and storage yards surrounding the viaduct, which have been, and still are being, constructed. A great railway node, West Side Rail Yards, located at the end of the High Line, is now under construction. The High Line with its new arrangement is noted as one of the most recognizable features of NYC. Many characteristic elements of railway infrastructure, such as fragments of former railway track, points, transmissions, have been preserved, in addition to the viaduct structure itself. Thanks to this, both the post-industrial identity and the individual character of the place have been maintained. Consecutive fragments constructed step by step, differ from each other preventing monotony and taking into account not only the surroundings and the outward views, but also the shaping, greenery, equipment and surface. All along the viaduct a great variety of happenings, artistic entertainments, and shows take place, attracting spectators. Many non-formal spectacles, concerts, artistic events are being organized. The amazing views of the Hudson River and the surrounding post-industrial district of Manhattan, under revitalization, can be admired from the 10 meterhigh elevated viaduct. The High Line has become one of most popular public open spaces in Manhattan, attracting crowds of NYC dwellers and tourists every day. Five million people visit the park each year. The viaduct plays not only a recreational, but also an educational role. Information boards presenting the history of the place, the story of its revitalization and also its ecological aspects are located in a few places, catching the interest of many users. The project has been financed partly by the city authorities and partly by the inhabitants, which was the result of the establishment of a non-profit organization, „Friends of the High Line”.
The revitalization of street verges is becoming a necessity in many towns due to the problems of fragmentation of the city by transport systems and a related set of negative effects. The example of the specific revitalization of a street system, conducted with the aim of ensuring better usage of a park separated from a city structure by a road, is the renewal of Storrow Drive adjoining the Charles River Esplanade in Boston, Massachusetts (Photo 5, 6). This 4.8 km long park is part of a bigger linear water-side natural system in Boston, stretching 27.4 km along the Charles River. The Charles River Esplanade is equipped with many amenities: pedestrian and bicycle paths, benches, playgrounds for children, playing fields and playgrounds, picnic areas, lagoons, mooring berths for boats, a concert hall, a swimming pool, sport clubs, cafes and public art. It is a place for a variety of activities for pedestrians, runners, bikers, roller-skaters, sailors, canoeists and people enjoying picnics. Unfortunately, the park is separated from several districts of Boston by Storrow Drive, a by-pass through the city. The decision to restructure the street was undertaken to minimize the effect of this barrier and to reduce the negative environmental impacts on the city and the park, like air pollution, noise, and light pollution. Heavy transit traffic and bus traffic have been excluded. Some parts of the road have been equipped with noise barriers. New and varied connections between the park and the city have been built, like viaducts for pedestrians, runners, bikers and rollers, with comfortable ramps and driveways, enabling the barrier to be easily overcome. This way the park has been connected with the city. Moreover, better climatic and acoustic conditions have been assured, as well as environmental quality. Therefore, better living conditions for the inhabitants of Boston – the main users of the park – were the final output (see more: Sas-Bojarska, Rembeza 2016b). From the park and from the wooden terraces at the riverbank, it is possible to admire views of the Charles River and Cambridge, the site of two famous universities, Harvard and the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which can be reached in a few minutes by passing over the bridge.
There are also good Polish examples of street revitalization. These include: Piotrkowska Street in Łódź, Wajdeloty Street in Gdansk, Tumska Street in Płock, and Krakowskie Przedmieście Street in Warsaw. The actions undertaken mainly had a spatial and visual character, but they were also related to social and economic aspects, and contributed to a better functioning and improved image of the districts and towns. Unfortunately, some negative examples can also be noted. The post-war history of transformations of Grunwaldzka Street, the main transportation artery in Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz, is a specific example of anti-revitalization. E. Ratajczyk-Piątkowska (2007) presented the changing ways that the project was planned, step by step, and the development of Grunwaldzka Street from 1945 until 2006.
Many plans have been prepared for development of the central strip of Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz, surrounding Grunwaldzka Street, since the end of World War II when the majority of buildings were totally destroyed. The first plan was for Gdańska Dzielnica Mieszkaniowa (Gdansk Housing District), which was only partly completed. A housing and services zone had been planned along Grunwaldzka Street – the main artery connecting the ‘Tri-city’ (Gdańsk, Sopot, and Gdynia). Various plans aimed at solving the problems of transit traffic on Grunwaldzka Street, and plans to build services around it, had been proposed. E. Ratajczyk-Piątkowska states that the final result of this evolution was a spatial and functional degradation of the existing public space. This was an effect of the piece by piece realization of land use plans and piece by piece changes in land use plans caused by the changing business situation, as well as taking into account short-term interests rather than the long-term perspective. This situation was supported by imprecise land use plan records, resulting in an unrestricted interpretation of them, and a badly conducted and belated public participation process. Large shopping centers blocked out small shops located along the street, which were then replaced by bank headquarters. To sum up this history, it should be stated that dangerous new threats had recently appeared. A few pedestrian crossings had been closed which significantly hindered accessibility to important services. Furthermore, the costly renovation of the tram track was not carried out satisfactorily. Instead of setting the tram rails into the street surface, enabling special vehicles, such as emergency vehicles, and even buses, to use it when needed, as it happens in many towns all over the world, the tram track was fenced and widened (Photo 7).
Grunwaldzka Street became a wide physical barrier with limited pedestrian crossings. Bus stops were situated far from tram stops making multimodal travel more complicated. Pedestrians get the strong feeling that cars are prioritized. As a consequence a previously lively commercial street in the central part of the Wrzeszcz district became empty. Public space with a linear structure became transit space. Such examples should be remembered, especially when compared to good examples. The need for the revitalization of such strip-barriers will arise sooner or later but will be costly and complicated. It is better therefore not to allow such problems to arise.
Another specific example of linear revitalization, due to its unusual history, is the new development along the former Berlin Wall which for political reasons cut this European metropolis in half for nearly three decades. The terrain surrounding the Wall became a barrier in many contexts: spatial, social, economic, environmental, but primarily political. It is therefore a specific linear structure, which is not easily systematized. The activities connected with this new development may be called, taking account of its special character, linear „political” revitalization, which became possible only after the political changes of 1989 with the unification of Germany and the demolition of the Wall. The areas spreading out alongside the demolished Wall were located right in the center of the greater Berlin metropolis and became very attractive to new investment. The revitalization of this strip consisted of many individual buildings, located in a wide band on both sides of the former wall, as well as some linear projects like green areas and public open spaces. The aim of all these projects was to re-connect the city. One of the first complexes was the new development on Potsdamer Platz. New buildings like business centers, administration buildings, offices, and cultural and leisure buildings have been constructed. The other complex – Band des Bundes in the Spree Bogen – consists of government buildings constructed in an axis connecting the previous East and West Berlin. They functionally and visually connect the parts of Berlin that were previously separated by the Wall. The symbolic message of the place, reminding one of the sad story of the division of the city, is underlined. Beautifully arranged public spaces connect people and encourage everyone to be together. The remnants of the Wall, which may be seen in some parts of the ground surface, serve as a reminder.
Many other examples of linear revitalization may be found worldwide. However, there is one more aspect which deserves attention, in a wider context. Linear revitalization, according to Hansen’s theory of LSC, could be also used on a regional scale, contributing to a country’s development. For example, the Eastern Strip of Poland could undergo linear revitalization to enhance its socio-economic development, with the aim of improving the quality of life in eastern Poland, which is the poorest region in country.
Linear revitalization also relates to river systems. A good example is the revitalization of the Bydgoski Water Node, which restored the economic significance of a water route consisting of the Bydgoski Canal, the Brda River and the Vistula River (see more: Czyżewska, 2010a). The Bydgoski Water Node is a fragment of international water route E-70 from Berlin to Kaliningrad. This emphasizes that the linear revitalization of the part of the river that crosses the city also has a meaning in an international context. The Rhine River renaturation is in turn a good example of environmental revitalization in a macro-regional context, covering several countries. Crossing borders is, in such cases, the only solution to preventing the flood risk which may be induced by a regulated river.
Case studies – summary
The case studies outlined show that there are many possible ways to transform city barriers into connecting elements. The activities within linear revitalization should always be focused on solving problems that are the most important at a specific place and time. This conviction was the basis for the choice of these cases. Linear revitalization can cover activities on many scales, as demonstrated by practical experience, from technical ones inside buildings, through the building’s neighborhood, the building complex, urban districts, whole cities and specific elements like the transport system, and up to a regional scale. Many spatial, technical, architectonic, urban, aesthetic, economic, social and environmental problems should be solved. They are defined and exposed in programs prepared in response to the needs of specific places and societies. Linear revitalization, as any other kind of revitalization, requires the bringing together of many topics, and involves many institutional and individual participants (authority representatives, society, pressure groups, investors) in the process. Achieving consensus and acceptance is recommended. The conclusions from many revitalization processes indicate that the spatial scope of revitalization should be limited to selected and strictly defined areas under crisis. This helps to concentrate financial resources and to encourage investors in a more convincing way. In such a context linear revitalization seems to be an effective tool supporting other city programs and strategies.
Finally, it should be stated that linear revitalization becomes especially important with regard to overall unification. As presented in the case studies, it should refer to a place’s context (urban, architectural, historic, social), which assists in exposing its individual, unique features. It gives the chance to stress the place’s otherness and to maintain and expose place identity.
The examples presented show that the revitalization process never ends; only its image changes.
Linear revitalization, described in this article as one of the methods of urban revitalization, is in fact not a new phenomenon. There are many examples from Poland and abroad, presenting the use of the concept, its course, and the results achieved. It may relate to various types of linear spatial structures (technical, urban, natural), cover many aspects (spatial, economic, social and environmental) and activities typical of all revitalization processes. But until now, linear revitalization has not been analyzed in a complex and comprehensive manner as a separate phenomenon. Its definition and the idea behind it have not yet been presented. The question may be asked whether it really is needed. Is there a need to identify and define linear revitalization? Does the introduction of a new term „linear revitalization” have any sense? Arguments „for” have been discussed when the benefits were presented. Apart from that, the ordering of the concepts and discussions on a new approach may help to achieve a better understanding of all the processes, including those leading to the disintegration of cities and to their reconnection, with the help of – among other processes – linear revitalization.
The arguments „against” may be that it unnecessarily creates new concepts, that there is a lack of checked criteria helping to define this type of revitalization, and a lack of a comprehensive typology of linear revitalization. Maybe it would be desirable to differentiate more precisely linear revitalization from revitalization itself and to systematize the new concept. The questions which were not answered in a satisfactory way in this article open new fields for further investigation. The formal, legal and organizational conditions seem difficult to overcome in cases of structures passing the borders of jurisdictions. But this problem may be solved in the future by changes in legal procedures, because there is no doubt that revitalization should cover the whole degraded linear structure, no matter to how many administrative units it belongs. The most important substantive argument is to doubt whether the renovation of technical infrastructure and roads and their adjacent badly-developed surroundings may be treated as linear revitalization. The author thinks that it depends on the spatial and substantive scope of the action carried out. If it is not limited to solely technical activities and includes additional socio-economic elements, and their influence spreads out to a wider area, they should be treated as linear revitalization.
Preliminary investigations indicate that any doubts related to the specificity of linear structures, the problems occurring there, and the opportunities to solve them with the use of linear revitalization, should be discussed and highlighted. The effectiveness of results should be monitored. This knowledge should give the answer as to whether connecting cities with the help of linear revitalization ensures better functioning, enhances city cohesion, rationalizes land use, and ensures effective environmental and landscape protection. What is most important, however, is that it should answer the question as to whether it brings benefits to society, like ensuring a feeling of security, improving the comfort of use of public space and enhancing the quality of life in cities.
The benefits of linear revitalization may result in the focusing of action in some selected linear structures important to the city, structures which are of a wide spatial scope. Their task would be to connect the major parts of a city. It may determine the main benefits of carrying out linear revitalization for the city as a whole. The choice of the area to be changed should depend on the needs of specific places and society.
A preliminary typology and ordering of the issues related to linear revitalization, presented in this article, aims to facilitate discussion about this specific type of revitalization action related to linear structures. The author’s purpose is to encourage a deepening of the research related to the topic presented. In her opinion, it may contribute to a wider use of linear revitalization, and in consequence – probably – to a more effective connecting and renewal of cities.
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