SC - Gdynia Poland

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Gdynia meeting IFHP Working Party MILU:
4–6 June 2003 Gdynia - Poland

The IFHP Working Party MILU is an international network of professionals in the field of multifunctional and intensive landuse.

This document reports the results of the study visit of the IFHP Working Party MILU to the Polish harbour city of Gdynia in June 2003.

The subject matter is the development of a new city centre close to the New Maritime Forum connecting the new city centre  to the waterfront that has become avialable since the Harbour was given a more public function.

In the workshop attended by several local stakeholders a number of alternatives were developed.
Apart form this case the workshop also focussed on a second case: how to recreate a multifunctional and intensive land use programme for a obsolete shunting emplacement yard. "Port City Development Zone".





English Final Report (2003 June 4-6 MILU meeting report GDYNIA.pdf; 6MB)





The MILU Gdynia meeting was held in keeping with the format of previous meetings and the group’s theoretical framework established during the working party’s founding meeting held May 2000 in Amsterdam.
A year later (June 2001), the first hosted meeting was held at the invitation of the City of Oslo. The following year’s sessions (June 2002) were hosted by the City of Vienna.

The two problem sites identified for detailed study were:
the Gdynia Maritime Forum and the city’s Port-City Development Zone.

In selecting both The Gdynia Maritime Forum and the Port-City Development Zone projects for consideration, the City of Gdynia considered five issues of common concern (a recurring theme in MILU working sessions) to both projects.
Manifesting themselves differently for each site, these five issues provided the means to both orient participants to the preferred nature of debate (as indicated in the invitation to attend), as well as be a basis for organizing the Gdynia meeting’s panel discussions.

The five issues considered were:
Do the project areas have their own identity? How can each be enhanced and improved upon? Are there local aspirations that can be built upon to do this? How can the components of future development be combined to strengthen a desired identity?

Critical mass
Does each site have enough development, infrastructure and resident population to maintain a coherent community? What elements are needed to support desired critical mass? How do the interim phases of large projects maintain critical mass?

What links does each site have with its surrounding natural and man-made environment? How can these connections be further enhanced and developed? What land uses and infrastructure are required to integrate the sites into the surrounding urban and natural fabric?

Better Human Scale
How should desirable and diverse human scale activities be maintained and encouraged as new development occurs? Do the scale and relationship of public spaces support and attract their use? What adjustments can be made to support better social interaction between various uses within each project environment?

Promotion & Marketing
How are existing and diverse uses on each site promoted? How effective are these efforts and what types of promotion would be useful, necessary or possible to improve (or to create) community image or a better sense of place? By what means can local decision-makers and/or policymakers be encouraged to lend their support to additional planning efforts?


The Maritime Forum is located in the very heart of Gdynia’s city centre.
Only recently folded back into city control, this area was considered a part of the Eastern Port up until early 2003. It surrounds one of the port’s basins known as President Basin, and is bounded by two parallel piers at each end. The first pier is known as the South Mole (a public walking pier) is an extension of Gdynia’s main axis as defined by 10-Lutego Street and Kościuszki Square.
The second pier is known as the Fishery Mole and is presently the home of the Dalmor Company, which uses it as its deep-sea fishing base. Including Kościuszki Square, the Maritime Forum encompasses an area of over 35 hectares of land.


As planned, the two study teams exchanged sites on the second day. Moderators summarized the first group’s findings and asked the new group to suggest additional recommendations and offer practical solutions for each site. The second group generally agreed with the statements of the previous participants. The final findings of both groups are summarized as follows:

Water as city Infrastructure
The Maritime Forum area should be defined to include the inner part of the President’s Basin. Its water surface with surrounding quays should be thought of as a main square and primary organizing element of the city.

This approach suggests the use of maritime elements such as the berthing of historically significant and museum ships (such as the Dar Pomorza and Błyskawica) along existing or newly built piers in the basin. Strategically placed to allow their silhouettes to be visible from a distance, the maritime character of the site would properly provide city identity and visual reference.

Further, Pomorskie Quay, could be adapted to become a short-term berthing wharf for cruise ships. Creating additional infrastructure to encourage increased visits from coastal tourist ships was also suggested. Along the quay opportunities for recreational use should be enhanced. Enlarging and extending the yacht harbour to the end of South Pier was also suggested. Public access to the marina should be improved by removal of the existing Cricoland "fun-city".

Scaled Development & Adaptive Reuse
To maintain scale and appeal, the main square should be framed by carefully designed urban fabric. Selected areas along the South Mole and the Fishery Pier, as well as the open space behind the President’s Quay should be intensified with buildings and structures. To better frame space, the height of some existing buildings should be increased where appropriate. Valuable architectural structures (i.e. existing warehouses and refrigerator plants), representative of the maritime or industrial heritage, should be preserved and adaptively re-used. A large building dominating the basin at the end of Fishery Pier is proposed as a landmark structure.

Both new and adaptively re-used buildings need careful programming of uses to maintain the larger objectives of the area. Preliminary ideas included:

  •  Along the fishery mole: mixed use development that integrates residential uses, shops, restaurants and offices.
  •  At the end of fishery mole: a multifunctional hall of visual prominence and compatible, high architectural quality. Uses may combine a variety of high profile uses such as a congress hall, festival hall or hotel.
  •  Behind President's quay: A large fish market hall with easy access to the water.
  •  At North quay of fishery mole: clean port functions such as, safe general cargo handling or passenger ferry terminal operations supported by flexible and adaptive use architecture.

Connections and Visual Prominence
The South Mole should retain its unique role as the main visual axis connecting the city with the sea. This axis (including the end of the mole) should not be compromised by any visual obstructions. To make the end of the mole attractive and a desired destination, the creation of a space for organised events was suggested. The importance of an over-the-water connection between the South and Fishery Moles was underscored. Solutions such as a “movable bridge” connecting both piers were considered but this remains an area for further study and creativity.

The idea of marking the city’s coast line to make it visually significant was considered through extension of the city’s existing beach and a new boulevard to the north. Such a connection would open views to the marina and President’s Basin while connecting all associated public places such as: the square in the front of the proposed new Gdynia Town Hall (at the south developed edge of Kościuszki Square), the square in the front of Musical Theatre and the City Museum

and the square around President’s Basin. This boulevard could be also extended further north in the future, allowing better connections between the Maritime Forum and the Port-City Development Zone.

Finally, both groups agreed that it was essential that the whole area remain publicly accessible with a pedestrian priority. This suggested strategically placed underground parking structures (e.g. behind the fish market and under Kościuszki Square). The importance of clear links between the area and railway and bus stations was also expressed.

Draft Maritime Forum

Draft of the Maritime Forum


The Port-City Development Zone is located on approximately 100 hectares of land along the northern edge of Gdynia’s city centre. The site is bounded from the north by the port’s General Cargo Terminal extending to Polskie Quay, and from the east by the Bulk Terminal, the Nauta Ship-Repair Yard and an ensemble of institutional buildings containing related maritime activities.

The western edge of the area is defined by railway tracks and Gdynia’s main railway station serving the inhabitants of the entire Tri-City area.


Generally, the site is surrounded by four streets: Jana z Kolna, Wiśniewskiego, Polska, and Wendy (with its extension on Chrzanowskiego Street). The last two streets are currently unable to maintain any reliable or comprehensive transportation links. The surface of the Port-City Development Area itself has very poor road and circulation infrastructure. Much of the area is covered by extensively used railway tracks, some of which serve the port’s terminals.

The Port-City Development Zone should be considered by both the Port and the City as a land bank for future city strategic investments over a time horizon of about 20 years. This implies that the Port should consider more strategically its use of lands so as to better preserve long term economic value.

This includes careful location of existing and short or near term uses such as handling and storage of environmentally toxic goods and materials. If poorly managed, such practices might undermine future Port development area land value. Over the long term the Port should expect its land values to increase in parallel with increases in the land value of surrounding urban infrastructure and adjacent city lands.

Consequently, to prepare the area for such complex future transition, a comprehensive background analysis should be considered to better define the area’s "fixed" and "flexible" elements (as referred in the action plan below). Emphasis needs to be placed on developing strategies for the preservation of the existing valuable urban fabric, architecturally significant structures and visual connection all of which (if properly managed) are area assets that are likely to increase the value of redeveloping land. To further preserve such opportunities and gains a development plan that establishes a sensitive hierarchy of mixed land uses is required.

The current development strategy of Gdynia Port includes the development of a new passenger-ferry terminal along the Polskie Quay. The future terminal for this use intends to incorporate the historical Maritime Station building. Given both the timing and prominence of this facility, it is suggested that this facility be considered as the starting phase of a longer more elaborate redevelopment plan for the area. The early opening of a major public amenity will activate this part of the existing waterfront and provide the area (and city) with a noticeable destination.

Relying on a phased development plan will allow staged growth that builds on financial success and social benefits. Further considerations that need to be incorporated into this strategy include the creation of the north-south connection to the area, maintaining an attractive environment for pedestrians as well as reliable transportation access that connect the city centre with its port. Such a connection should be extended to connect to the Oksywie district with particular care to its character.

All the various public, private and community entities involved in this area’s process of redevelopment should be sensitive to potential revenues or losses in land value as dependant on the quality and timing of its connections. With proper connections to the city center, the new terminal will increase the presence of residents and tourists, while exposing them to the "area in between the tracks" (as this area is known).

Further, to retain future use of Port infrastructure, the rail yards may be considered for air-rights development. The timing and financial feasibility of this development alternative must respond to increases in land value. In the long term, such air rights development will allow much better integration of city uses with the waterfront without negatively affecting Port needs. Finally, the group recommended better ongoing co-operation and joint strategic planning between the Port and the City to achieve these mutually beneficial goals.

In consideration of the importance of this area’s development for the future of Gdynia, the final group decided to emphasize the need for an Action Plan to better realize the above recommendations.

Key components of such a plan would include:

  • Creation of inter-agency an Action plan
  • Creation of inter-agency and public partnerships to develop and implement the Action Plan.
  • Establishing information channels with public.
  • Development of background studies (using existing data) on regional, Tri-City and local levels on:
    • Strategic Markets
    • The Maritime Region’s functions
    • Tourist Potential (including Major Cultural and Entertainment Potential)
    • Traffic and Transportation infrastructure
    • Sustainable Systems and the Environment
    • Jobs and Employment
  • Initiate a public visioning process
  • Identifying preferred short and long term development goals
  • Developing short and long term implementation strategies (fiscal, phasing, alternatives)
  • Identifying short and long term elements as part of a phasing plan.