Outdoor Grass Rooms Transform Historic Gdansk Public Square Into Interactive Urban Park
October 16, 2013 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
When the city of Gdansk, Poland removed parking from its historic Targ Weglowy Square, the absence of cars presented a new urban planning and design opportunity that could simultaneously test public interaction within the square.
From August 26 to September 4, the city’s main square was recreated into a temporary space formed of “urban grass rooms.”
By observing how city residents adapted to and arranged the space according to their needs, the impromptu park functioned as a sort of lab for the city to gather important usage information and for residents to offer opinions about future similar development of the public square.
Based on a principle of public participation, the main concept involved encouraging citizens into kind of a game in which they would participate from the moment they entered the square.
Visitors were encouraged to assemble their own comfortable little spaces using lightweight modular wooden cubes.
Children could themselves create their ideal playgrounds arranging the boxes into various configurations, while adults used the same cubes as tables, seats and a means of dividing the space.
Natural grass areas split up the rather large square, creating turf rooms on which individuals relaxed and around which others gathered in groups.
Designed by GDYBY Group in collaboration with the City Culture Institute, the creative solution emerged from criteria such as the temporary usage of the space as well as a relatively small budget, but also required that the space assimilate itself neutrally within its historical surroundings.
The resulting co-creative interactive space offered the citizens of Gdansk an opportunity to have breakfast together, spend the day on reading, relaxing and playing games, and in the evening watch films or attend special events.