Vistula Boulevard is situated on one of the most attractive parts of the central Warsaw stretching between historical and new urban areas. The proximity of those touristic places created opportunities for the high-quality outdoor mixed-use and leisure destination that would not only return the river back to the city but also link disjointed uses and functions. When addressing the site of the disconnected Vistula river, RS Landscape Architects concentrated on few major design aspects: to create unique and ’accessible to all’ public space, form an urban continuity by improved communication, allow the site to be floodable and to offer recreational and social functions bringing community and visitors together all year round. The design process included the program of local community engagement.
Proposed landscape of Vistula Boulevard is the outcome of the winning competition organised by the public authorities of Warsaw (‘Urban and architectural competition for the designing of the Vistula west facing riverfront’). The entry was done along with the ‘Architecture’ company responsible for the architecture. This new 2km long boulevard is formed by the linear walkway and associated activity pockets that are carefully integrated with the existing openings in the urban fabric between two areas: Powiśle and Podzamcze. The linearity is defined by bike lane set along the riverside and vertical elements (trees, pavilions, pergolas) establishing a clear circulation strategy and use of the site. The unique character of the site was an important matter during the design process in creating major community destination, a true meeting place where locals and visitors interact, relax and are entertained. The boulevard offers different functions and can be divided into the three areas. The area opposite the Old Town, celebrates historic setting and responds to the classical layout which includes walkway with docking deck, green zone and relaxation hub with floating cafes. Another strip located near commercial development offers catering services from the sequence of ‘floating’ pavilions that are designed to deal with occasional flooding. The last strip evolved to accommodate recreation and educational type of functions and become the main destination of the boulevard and its heart. It consists of the park with podiums, beach with pavilions, amenity lawns, educational zone and expo pavilions. There are also more playful elements like trampolines, ‘splash pool’, sculpted objects. The majority of the site is under the flood risk zone with expectancy to be flooded every couple of years. This strong constraint set the design foundation with its response in the layout that avoids barriers and cultivates the permeability of the structures, linear layout of the trees , fixing method of pavilions and durable, anti-corrosive materials. The simplicity in the selection of the materials (concrete, timber, stone and steal) enhance the harmony and high quality of the design.
Along the designed area, especially in the part of Starzyński Boulevard some historical fragments that were build still before the war have been partially retained.
The high frequency is a positive outcome of the designed space. The Boulevard creates a great opportunity for a direct interaction between visitors and the river, especially that the riverfront previously didn’t exist as a public space in the common awareness of city dwellers. The riverside area that before has been unattractive space, excluded from the cities’ social life has changed completely. The Vistula Boulevard has become one of the favourite destination sites in Warsaw creating a new relationship between city and river, and what was formerly a back-side is turned into a new, highly attractive front.
Project name: “Vistula Boulevards” – Warsaw waterfront on the distance from Boleść St. to Tamka St.
Location: Warsaw, Poland
Client: The Capital City of Warsaw
Landscape architect & site plan designer: RS Architektura Krajobrazu
Scale: 8,7 hectares
Year: 2013-2015 (1 stage), 2016-2017 (2 stage)
Photography: RS Architektura Krajobrazu, UM Warszawa
Awards: The Architectural Prize of the Mayor of Warsaw – Best Public Space of 2015,
Grupa Sztuka Krajobrazu Prize – Polish Landscape 2015 – level 1 award in the category of public space