The Conference on Sustainable City held in Warsaw closed the course of three meetings under the project Ecology Constructively. The previous ones were held in Wrocław and Gdańsk respectively. They were attended by architects, representatives of public administration as well as investors (typically, the owners of small property development companies)
On 17 December 2015, day one of the Conference, 64 participants had a chance to watch eight educational films on best practices in terms of sustainable development from Denmark, Sweden, Croatia and Italy. They tackled the issues of urban regeneration, also in social and cultural contexts. We could learn about effective approach to waste management or a futuristic example of a vertical city greenhouse. The details can be guessed by the film titles:
- Energy production in the closed waste management process. Heat supply for the city and biogas supply for the public transport. Sweden, Linkoping.
- Material and immaterial regeneration of the historic building Lazareti. The significance of local tradition and culture. Croatia, Dubrovnik.
- Renewal of former docks areas. Public space as a link between three districts in fortification area. Malta, Cotonera.
- Regeneration of the Arsenal. Inclusion of the former military areas into the tourist structure of the city. Italy, Venice.
- Vertical plant growing in cities. Sweden, Stockholm.
- Regeneration of urban areas by the passenger ferry harbor. Connection with the city center by the vertical transport. Malta, La Valetta.
- The role of selective waste collection in the development of local tourist industry. Italy, Benevento.
- Social inclusion of the disabled by the green water transport – Gondolas4All. Italy, Venice.
The formula of films presented alternately with lectures effectively eliminated possible weariness and facilitated to retain the focus of the participants until the very end. The experts addressed such issues as monitoring city life and development, new instruments and urban development directions, integrated investment strategies of the holistic approach, innovative urban activities in terms of sustainable development, sustainable cities after 2015, the city for all – inclusion, social capital in urban planning.
Despite intensive agenda – until 6 p.m. – participants eagerly commented on the project, lectures and films, thus the experts who sat on the panel were able to deepen their reflections and draw conclusions.
After the panel discussion, the participants walked to a near-by Gallery 18A where in the scenery of the Paper wall street art exhibit, they could see the effects of the architectural workshops for school children, held earlier that day. The children made surprisingly mature three models of sustainable cities. The workshop coaches shared their reflections on teaching the young and reaching the final effects and solutions.
After the presentation, the conference participants could see the street art exhibit which was meant to be a review of originally illegal actions of the street voice which turned into an acknowledged urban artistic activity. What surprised everyone, was a chance to experience “virtual reality” by high-tech equipment. Virtual helmets and controllers allow to expand the city space by an illusion of exploring a museum, other buildings or going by metro. The examples increased cognitive abilities which can apply not only to entertainment but also help in treating visual perception disorders.
The other day of the conference had a working mode. The workshops turned out to be a great opportunity for constructive and inspiring experience. While switching roles in the “decision-making process”, the participants discovered new solutions, possible compromises and synergies, depending on the viewpoint. After breaking mental barriers and feeling comfortable in the new shoes, everybody enjoyed the exercise and were more than reluctant to finish the session and leave the room. There was a constant need to talk something over, to check another solution, to ask about one more thing… For the organizers it was extremely rewarding. 61 people took part in the workshop session. There was a display of best practices in the conference room from all over Europe. Some of the posters had been presented in Wrocław and Gdańsk, while some were newly prepared especially for the Warsaw participants. The exhibition comprises 40 posters with a concise description of best sustainable development practices in Europe. The Ecology Constructively project has been addressed to those who take part in the process of urban space creation. Educational activities are to shape sustainable development attitudes, promote cooperation, dialogue and social participation. Effective solutions shown in an accessible and attractive movie format together with interesting lectures allow to draw a wider context: cultural, economic or even political, which in turn can inspire architects, officials and investors to take sustainable development principles as something approachable, friendly, profitable and possible in their professional practice.
The conferences were organized with the support of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, the Polish Chamber of Architects and the Institute for Regional Development. We would like to finish off with a word of thanks to Ms. Anna Wielgopolan, the project supervisor, whose great insight, accurate monitoring and professional remarks were highly valuable and useful.