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Nadodrze Special



Nadodrze District - present and future. Nadodrze awaits its future with the key objectives to deal with its social, physical and economic problems and to change its image into an arts and handicrafts area. Photos: (top 2) and Germán Rodríguez Páez

Throughout the last half-century, the residential district of Nadodrze has stood as a reminder of fine pre-war architecture and the days of freedom in Wrocław. Once Germans moved out after World War II, Polish people started living in the only district which had survived the bombs, but the place began a path to degradation due to lack of care; building instability, poverty, alcoholism and social tensions became common in the area. Nevertheless, today Nadodrze is awake once again. As Berlin’s Friedrichshain or New York’s

Brooklyn did in the past, this district wants to become a cultural and artistic alternative to the city centre (aka Rynek). A walk around is enough to feel the change that is going on: artists, galleries, craftsmen, workshops, renovated facades… After silent years of work by nongovernmental organisations and cultural institutions, this new creative energy has been channelled into an official revitalisation plan sponsored by the EU and the Wrocław City Council which aims to change Nadodrze for 2013. The Wrocław International

September 2011

12 Nadodrze Special

Creating an Alternative Place for Artists Joaquin Cubero The municipality of Wrocław has been working in the Nadodrze area to transform this district into an interactive, artistic and cultural place. Acco rd in g to the lo cal government, they will spend more than 60 million zł, to revitalize old buildings, making the neighborhood more attractive for all inhabitants of Wrocław, but especially for artists with the goal of opening workshops, stores and galleries.

MAP: Main projects of regeneration of public spaces to be implemented in the years 2009-2013 from ROP (EU funds).

This project started in 2009, and since then, the municipality has focused on renting stores to artists for a low price so they can settle down in Nadodrze, helping this region transform into an alternative place for entertainment. One of the main intentions is also to stimulate the economy in this area, which has had a history of social problems such as low income and criminal activity.

Furthermore, the municipality is also going to revitalise three parks, six backyards, 1 occupational training center, 1 social services center and 200 tenements. But what do the people really think about these plans? The economic development office (EDO) reports that people are very happy with the idea of r evitalizatio n, es sentia ll y because the route connecting old town to Nadodrze Railway Station will be completely restored, but as always there is


the other side of the coin. In the end, flats’ exteriors will be nicer than before, but the interiors will remain the same due to the EU regulations that allows the City to renovate only common space buildings. The project is sponsored by EU funds. Then, the value of buildings will increase, and there is the danger of life becoming more expensive because of the new prestigious shopping areas. It’s at this point


What do you think about this project?

Jerzy Sznerch

First of all, informing people about what’s happening in the district. Also, I organize meetings with the local The Wrocław International

“Poor people won’t have enough money to live there. The whole process of gentrification will last 20 to 30 years. People are overaged there, so it will be a natural process, the structure of inhabitants will change because there will be young people,” stated Katarzyna ChrobakEilmes, Specialist EDO involved

Nadodrze. Another important point is that we are taking care of the commercial stores that will be rented to the artists. We don’t manage the place, but we can determine which artist is correct for a specific space.

When the words luxury, revitalization, alternative and high cost of living come to mind, we usually think it can be dangerous because it seems to be a menace to our lifestyle. However for Jerzy Sznerch, who has been the President of Nadodrze District Council for 21 years, all these elements could be an opportunity for the inhabitants of this region. How are you involved in the N a do d r ze re v i t a l iza t io n project?

where everyone wonders what is going to happen to the Nadodrze community.

President Nadodrze District Council

community. In the next months we are having eight meetings, and our main topic will be the reconstruction of the buildings because we have 1.5 hectares in

September 2011

It’s very important and also necessary. I’m sure it will be good for the place. Inhabitants are very happy because it’s the first major project in the area. Actually, people are very excited because since 1945 nobody has made a big effort to transform the image of Nadodrze. In the past we tried to make some

Photo: Economic Development Office


As of now, 140 buildings have been already renovated, but the aim is to revitalize all 900 apartments in the area. “Our deadline is 2013 but the program won’t finish in that year because we will continue to renovate 100 buildings per year until we have finished all of them,” stated Sebastian Wolszczak, Municipality Project Manager.

with the project.

social issues.

Some good news for the inhabitants of Nadodrze is that the local government is genuinely interested in the social aspect of development, and have therefore planned a major project involving the Romany. The city is planning to invest 2.5 million euros just to develop different kinds of skills among the community as a measure of ending poverty, vandalism and

Currently, the local government is looking for sponsors than can help improve infrastructure, with the purpose of fighting other social problems over the next five years. One of the main goals is to make Nadodrze a beautiful and welcoming area for 2016 when Wrocław will be the European Capital of Culture.

changes; for instance in 2009, we worked with 96 children in a social center.

Can you tell us the main objective for Nadodrze?

What are the consequences of developing this program? To be honest, I’m worried about money because the financial help will not be enough, especially after 2013 which is the deadline for European Union funds. However, we are looking for sponsors to continue with this social project. Furthermore, the non governmental organisations that are involved with us are not working properly. However, Łotkietka 5, an organisation, is really doing an amazing job.

Nowadays this is a place for craftsmen, so we want to change the image by attracting more artists. Our aim is that people buy everything they need here and not in the Rynek or the main square. I’m sure that with hard work it can be a reality. Are you working on any social projects with the inhabitants? I’m working on a huge project in order to build an endangered youth social service center. Imagine if we could rescue 20 out of 100 people, it would be fantastic for us.

Nadodrze Special 13

Nadodrze Revitalisation: Gauging the Germán Rodríguez Páez

One of the main problems faced by these organizations is the lack of funding for the continuity of the projects, which gets delayed easily. House of Peace is partially sponsored by the municipality and EU funds, but that is not the case for every foundation placed here. This could be the story of Ian Debski, who, with his wife, is

developing a foundation to make Nadodrze a viable alternative to the Rynek (the city centre). He explains how they do “specific programs, events and trainings” to raise money, although funds inevitably come from their own pockets as well. “Such a large, pre-war neighborhood preserved in its entirety is very rare. It’s very important to keep it,” states Ian, who sees the arrival of artists to Nadodrze as the first step towards the diversification of the neighbourhood. “When a lot of people live together with the same problems, it is hard to find the way out. If they see new people, they will try to improve their own lives.” Everyone in the neighbourhood talks about Centrum Reanimacji Kultury (CRK). “Nadodrze, without CRK is nothing,” says a waitress in a fashionable local café. CRK is a legendary squatter’s domain settled in Nadodrze 11 years ago that functions as a social and cultural centre. Much of the current cultural movement in Nadodrze is because of this place and is a melting pot of concerts, exhibitions, movies, plays and all kinds of events conducted without any outside sponsorship. Unfortunately, its members didn’t seem keen to share their experience with The Wroclaw International Newspaper. Additionally, the Nadodrze’s socalled process of gentrification (referring to the changes that result when wealthier people or "gentry" acquire property in low income and working class

communities) could result in something like the situation in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) today. “It is a relatively richer place, today and everybody wants to live there,” explains Ian Debski about the New York district. “Before, it was an urban desert, but once artists moved in and revitalized the neighbourhood, it became attractive for wealthier, non-artistic people.” A direct consequence of the gentrification process is an increase in the cost of living for the area. If this happened in Nadodrze, neither the artists nor the current neighbours could afford it. “They can’t come here to make a very artistic and alternative place while pushing these people away from their neighbourhood,” states Anna Galih from the local NGO Nomada, noting the other side of the gentrification coin. The main danger for the residents regards maintaining the current rental rates. At this point, they are paying very low rates as they live in buildings owned by the City, which could change in the future. In addition, the City Hall ownership of these buildings has been called into question since former owners have started reclaiming them. The city took over and managed them after the fall o f Communism, but there are legal subtleties which could muddy the issue. If these buildings end up in private hands, the new owners could shift rental prices to the market rate, ten times higher than what most residents

Photo: Germán Rodríguez Páez

Beyond the municipal projects planned for Nadodrze, the cultural revitalization is a vital process being handled by several foundations, Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) and other institutions within the community. One of these places is Fundacja Dom Pokoju (House of Peace), which has aimed to become a meeting point for Nadodrze revitalization since its opening in 2005. “We try to build bridges between people and council”, explains Majka Zabokrzycka, director of the foundation. Every summer, they receive a crew of international volunteers from the European Volunteering Service (EVS) who help with several projects in which the Fundacja is involved, as well as creating new projects of their own, such as hosting meetings about social and housing problems with the local population, organizing workshops and providing English lessons. Last summer, French volunteer (Lorette Guillou) held a photo workshop about Nadodrze that succeeded in making people aware of the potential beauty of the district.

The colourful, evoking, and artistic entrance of the squat CRK (Centrum Reanimacji Kultury) are currently paying. Aside from these issues, local inhabitants seem enthusiastic about the district revitalization process. “It’s very important for the place. It’s the first major project here in Nadodrze,” says Jerzy Sznerch, President of the

Nadodrze District Council. Throughout his 20 years of living in Nadodrze, he has witnessed so many changes that it “would take two hours to talk about it.” he doesn’t raise any objections. “This has traditionally been a place for craftsmen. Artists are welcome.”

Nadodrze Neighbours Speak Up

Christopher, 17, Student “Nothing has changed in the last years. I don’t know anything about a revitalization project in Nadodrze. It was supposed that they (municipality) were going to reconstruct my building 2 years ago, but my neighbours are still waiting for that. I think this district will change maybe in 10 years or 12 years, but not


are going to be better here.”


Viola, 38, Employee

Paulina, 24, Employee

Natalia, 25, Artist

Patryk, 33, Cafe Owner

“For the last 8 years, I lived in England. When I returned to Nadodrze this year, I can barely see anything different than when I left this district. I mean, it’s a little bit frustrating when you realize there are no important changes, but anyway I believe that in the 5 next years, things

“This is a zone where very poor people are living. You can feel there have been small changes, but I really don’t believe the local government is doing anything important at all! It seems to be a little bit an artistic zone, mainly because here you can find a special school for

“There is no place where you can really show your work in Wroclaw. This place (Nadodrze) is restricted to the artist who want to create real art. I can see and feel now it is turning into a very cultural area; I mean this neighbourhood has its own color.”

“When I was trying to open something here, the Council said it was not a good idea but I believed it should work. There are some changes and I am a part of this change, but it needs a lot of work. The place has a big potential if the Council knows how to manage it, to build

The Wrocław International September 2011

14 Nadodrze Special

Artists in Nadodrze Zuzana Ochodnická

The first question to ask is: how to attract artists and craftsmen to Nadodrze? The city is trying to do so by offering low rents at 4 zł per m2. However, this offer is available only for commercial spaces, and the artist must either be well known, have a degree in Arts or must apply with a good idea for a shop or space with social and educational aspects, according to Katarzyna Chrobak -Eilmes, the head of the economical development department (EDO). The same rules apply for craftsmen; they have to prove some experience in their field. One of the actions already taken by the EDO to change the look of the streets and to help the local shop owners to attract clients was a contest to design the most beautiful Christmas window. Another project involved students from the local Academy of Fine Arts. The students were asked to prepare projects to renovate certain places which they chose from a list of shop owners who signed up for a change. Organizing a professional development centre, as well as a cultural and training centre, is next on the list for the neighborhood. The problem with renovations of private spaces, in general, is that most of the places are privately

owned, and the municipal office cannot press the owners to redesign. All of these projects are focused on fundamentally changing Nadodrze, to motivate and show people what they could do with their own shops and homes. Natalia Gruszecka is a ceramic designer who has just finished her studies. Recently, she and two of her friends decided to open a design gallery to sell and show work by young people and students. This idea was based on the premise that people who finish art school usually have no place to show their work. As a result, they have major problems finding positions in their field, so most of them turn to graphic design. Natalia’s gallery will only be for ceramic and glass works of art, and will also have a workshop showing how to make those kind of pieces. For this, they basically need two rooms: a workshop and a place to sell. However, the process of getting a place here is not that simple; you need to present your project to the city, and finding available places is like an auction. First, you have to look at the council webpage to see which places are free. Natalia and her friends wanted a place in Łokietka Street, but bids were very high, so they could not afford it. When they found their current space, they were worried

Natalia Gruszecka , the ceramic artist

Places to Visit in Nadodrze

The Wrocław International September 2011

Photo: Zuzana Ochodnická

Apart from reconstructing the buildings, the Nadodrze renovation project is also supposed to help turn this area into an artistic place. Because of Nadodrze’s closeness to the city centre, this part of Wrocław could ideally become an alternative to the Rynek square, which will attract investors and tourists. This area will hopefully become known as an area of "unusual jobs", such as shoe makers, ceramic artists, etc. and also an area of prestigious shopping places and small workshops that sell unique quality goods. Of course, change does not happen overnight.

Famous street art at the entrance of Nadodrze neighbourhood. about the price, but it turned out that they were the only buyers. After getting a place, other problems occurred. They had (and still have) to renovate it, and renovations are not cheap. Moreover, because most of the buildings are part of an old cultural heritage area, there are problems with changing anything in the building, as well as complicated paperwork and a long wait for approval. Natalia’s major renovating problem at the moment is electricity. They must install a special pottery kiln that requires high voltage, but the building only has old and dangerous cables. They have been trying to talk the people in the building into renovating the system because they need the agreement of all the residents to proceed. Unfortunately, the neighbours are sceptical and afraid that Natalia will burn the city down

with her kiln. Apart from this, however, they have no problems with their neighbours. Everyone knows everyone; they talk on the streets and are close to each other. Another artist, Anka Mierzejewska, started working in her atelier in Nadodzre five years ago, before the renovation projects started. She wanted to change the area. According to her, most people in the neighbourhood are still used to the communistic times, relying on the city to take care of them. Once, she tried to organize a summer camp for the neighbourhood children who had nothing to do. She found a cheap place lead by nuns, but the parents refused because they did not want to send their children to a religious camp. She also wanted to have a small garden, but somebody kept destroying the flowers, so she gave that up.

She sees many problems with Nadodrze becoming an artistic place, and also with being an artist at all. The City should realize that artists need big space, and time for working, which they do not have if they have to spend all day just going for meetings and trying to sell. Creating art is a job just like any other, and you cannot do anything else. You cannot be a doctor and a lawyer at the same time, not because you do not have skills for that, but because the day has only 24 hours. Anka also does not think that new small galleries are sustainable in this area. There are some new galleries in Wrocław, but they all are owned by bigger gallery companies and are significant competition. However, she thinks that this project could help if people see others in the neighborhood rebuilding. If the city gives artists more support, it might work out.

House of Peace ul. Łokietka 5/1 50-243 Wrocław

Nomada NGO ul. Paulińska 4/8 50-247 Wrocław

Galeria EMDES ul.Chrobrego 24 50-254 Wrocław

Cafe Rozrusznik ul. Cybulskiego 15 50-205 Wrocław

CRK ul. Jagiellończyka 10c/d 50-240 Wrocław

Park Stanisława Staszica Pl. S. Staszica 50-223, Wrocław



Nadodrze special  
Nadodrze special  

article about Nadodrze district of Wroclaw, revitalisation