EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK is the European Commission’s flagship awareness-raising campaign on sustainable urban mobility. Nearly 3,000 towns and cities from over 50 countries participated in the 2022 edition. Some 1,456 MOBILITYACTIONS were registered by businesses, civil society organisations and more, to promote behavioural shifts toward sustainable urban mobility.

Of all the participants, the Portuguese city of Braga won the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK award 2022, whilst the first-ever MOBILITYACTION award went to Metropolia GZM from Silesia in southern Poland.

The MOBILITYACTION jury selected Metropolia GZM for involving experimental urbanism and place-making approach to transform a car park within the local University of Silesia’s (Uniwersytet Śląski) campus into a green, pedestrian-friendly space. Engaging professionals from the public transport, sustainable mobility, urban design, landscape architecture, the Polish metropolis co-created this prototype car-park transformation that would raise awareness about the social responsibility for the presence of automobile in the public realm as well as the role of green infrastructure as a multifunctional breakout space supporting the local wildlife.

The prototype space was designed, coordinated and built by Ola Hantkiewicz-Lejman, an architect and Project Designer from Metropolia GZM; Paweł Jaworski, an experimental urban designer and philosopher; and Michał Zarzecki, a landscape architect and SAK Poland’s delegate to IFLA Europe. No professional contractors were involved in the build and the entire intervention was put together during the summer holidays 2022 by a group of passionate volunteers who dedicated their free time and worked tirelessly to make the prototype ready for the new academic year starting October 2022.

Street furniture and super-sized planting troughs - featuring trees, pollinator-supporting flowering plants and turf grass - were installed to invite the academic community as well as the local residents to take a break from their everyday routines. To fit within the tight budget and make the implementation DIY-friendly, the designers decided to go with simple and efficient shapes and affordable materials, such as construction wood and OSB. The colour scheme for the street furniture was based on the colours of the nearby river Rawa. It would be seen as nothing unusual if not for the fact that today’s Rawa is an open sewer flowing through the campus in a concrete channel. The colour scheme was a tribute to the abused river - to raise awareness of the potential of this forgotten gem of the local blue-green infrastructure .

Interviews are being currently undertaken to study the users’ attitudes and the scope of engagement with the space. Their feedback will inform the feasibility of complete removal of all ground-level parking areas and help to identify optimal mobility solutions across the campus.

Photo: Ola Hantkiewicz-Lejman

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