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UPDATE – Activities in Poland

Bobrek, Cieszyn, Silesian Voivodeship, Poland, Zamek Cieszyn

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The initial situation – our remote place and its treasures

Bobrek is a former village incorporated into Cieszyn and a large housing and urban planning project of the late 1980s. Due to the political and economic changes in Poland at the turn of the 80s and 90s the estate has never been completed. Instead of a large and self-sustainable complex – two smaller housing estates were constructed – East and West Bobrek. They are located one beside the other on a hilly terrain and separated by a creek called Sarkandrowiec. Block of flats, quite dark in color and severe in appearance, are somehow contradictory to the beauty of surrounding nature. This fascinating place is of interest of Zamek Cieszyn, Poland since fall 2021 within Human Cities project. It is small and remote in the sense of lacking infrastructure: commercial, educational, cultural, social and recreational as well as poor public transport connecting it with the town center. All this turned it into a commuter housing estate or in other words a bedroom community. At the same time, Bobrek is one of the greenest residential areas in Cieszyn – its greatest asset is nature and peace from bustle of the town. In the last quarter of 2021 we organized two guided walks around Bobrek to get familiar with the area and to get to know the residents. Also surveys and interviews were held together with historical research.

The insight into the housing estate social fabric

From the beginning of the estate’s existence part of the residents faced economic challenges. Partly due to the closure of the nearby mine and surrounding industries. Also many young people and families moved in. Despite the limited infrastructure the neighborhood was bustling with life, often using the green area and the creek. Currently the original community has aged, some of them moved out and a lot of new residents have moved in. The present community is diverse and anonymous. This diversity in the social fabric also implies different needs, often contradictory. 2022 was a year of integrating the residents during various events and identifying their needs during creative workshops based on SMOTIES toolbox. During the summer, we organized the neighborhood picnic with accompanying attractions and the field game for children and youth. At the end of the year there was the Christmas wreath weaving meeting. Whereas during the creative workshops, professionals from Pronobis Studio worked with residents and students of the University of Silesia on identifying needs and challenges, as well as exploring the opportunities and solutions.

Topics, directions and plans

On the basis of workshops with residents and the use of various tools proposed by SMOTIES Partners we focused on two “Windows on the Future”: yellow for Project communities and green for Co-created ecologies. Communities because it is the greatest need – social connection and ecology because it’s Bobrek’s greatest asset, which can serve as its trademark. The research revealed the need for a physical connection between the two housing estates – East and West, which are separated by the creek. The inhabitants have trodden a path themselves, and placed stones in the stream, on which they cross to the other side towards the second housing estate. Therefore, a foot bridge seems to be the ideal solution. However because of the formal and legal conditions, it may not be possible to construct a bridge in this project. Thus together with the residents, we are planning to co-design a green recreation zone in the place of the semi-wild area with the unused football pitch. In 2023 we plan to complete the prototyping stage and create a coherent concept. Also we plan to draw up a recommendation to the authorities of the town of Cieszyn regarding the need for further works.

Contact person: Anna Sowińska

Related links–human-cities-smoties-1258