When new office buildings spring up like mushrooms, you can spot them straight away. However, it is also worth paying attention to the fact that those already worn-out buildings, and even entire parts of cities that we have already written off often get a second life or a total face lift.
Revitalization, as this is what we are talking about – literally means bringing something back to life, reviving it. With regard to the urban space, it’s taking degraded city areas out of a crisis state and adding new functions to them. In a word, in addition to renovations, revitalization also involves introducing changes that are to make living, working or spending time better and more pleasant in a given part of the city. The issues related to this process are detailed in the Act of October 9, 2015 on Revitalization.
Revitalization from the inside
Taking degraded areas out of a crisis state in the revitalization processes is a comprehensive plan of action. It covers not only the renovation of buildings and roads, but also social, economic, spatial-functional, technical or environmental issues. These activities are undertaken in an integrated, and, above all, well-thought-out and planned manner, carried out as part of prepared revitalization programs. This is also a long-term process conducted by entrepreneurs, real estate owners, local authorities, NGO’s or other entities in cooperation with the local community. The aim of revitalization is to maximize the potential of a given place, using all its conditions – territorial, architectural, economic and cultural. Actions are taken according to a strictly defined program. It is the revitalization plan that determines which units and in which areas will cooperate with each other and what ventures they will take on, aimed at strictly defined goals. The plan’s task is to organize all activities undertaken as part of the revitalization and give them a formal nature. In order to be approved, many specific and formalized requirements must be met, a plan of comprehensive and coordinated activities must be prepared, including the involvement of all possible institutions, economic entities, local authorities and the local community. However, the most important thing is that it must be skillfully adapted to the needs and conditions of a given area.
Old-new places with a soul
Thanks to revitalization, many urban areas are given a completely new character. Not only are new offices, commercial and service zones being built, but also public places such as parks, gardens and playgrounds are being built in place of old, collapsing buildings (or in place of wastelands). Residents not only receive new jobs, new housing opportunities, transport infrastructure, but also the possibility of recreation, rest, and a place to spend time with family and friends. We see shopping centers, housing estates, parks and mixed-use facilities emerging from the ruins of old factories, barracks and even quarries,. Many facilities that scared people in cities not so long ago now give them splendor – Manufaktura in Łódź, Garnizon in Gdańsk, Warszawska Wytórnia Wódek “Koneser”, Katowice Culture Zone, or even Krakow’s Solvay district and the vicinity of the bus station. Importantly, these places retain their most distinctive historical features that give them style and prestige. They maintain the spirit of the city, remind of its history, culture, thus increasing the attractiveness of cities. This, in turn, makes revitalized buildings and urban areas a desirable place to locate a business or purchase an apartment with this address.
The new face of office buildings
Old office buildings are also lucky. Erected in the 1960s and 1970s for the needs of specific enterprises, most often in attractive city locations, , they often turn into vacancies and decay after the collapse or termination of business activities. Revitalization is precisely their salvation, thanks to which they gain a new, extraordinary glow and functionality according to the latest standards. It’s not always an easy process, due to the technical condition of the building and the need to adapt to the conditions of the local spatial development plan, but if this is successfully implemented, it brings spectacular results. A perfect example of this is Krakow’s “Szkieletor”, i.e. the former NOT office building, which haunted the city center for several decades. At present, after modernization, it will function as a modern business center with offices of the highest standard. The revitalization of an office building doesn’t always mean a comprehensive reconstruction, sometimes it’s a more or less advanced “facelift” that improves its standard – reconstructions of the installationa, replacement of air conditioning, ventilation, renovation of the rooms and a renovation of the facade. However, it always brings benefits to both building owners and landlords.
Further revitalization processes are still ongoing in many places in Poland. We are looking forward to what gems – especially in the area of commercial real estate – will be revealed to us.