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The Urban Botanical Garden

…was not some designer's idea, but an inscription we encountered at one of the

backyards, during our first visit. This inscription became an inspiration for creating the urban garden which came to life at the junction of Słowiańska, Ołbińska and Kręta Streets in Wrocław. The first stage of the design process were picnic table meetings with the residents of the neighbourhood, abundant with cookies and genuine neighbourly conversation. We were surprised by the number of people who attended these meetings. Almost 30 people came by during the mere two hours that we spent there. Generally, the residents asked for more greenery — especially the kind that would climb the building walls covering unsightly inscriptions, peeling plaster or old childish paintings of the now 40-year-olds. Another prevailing wish was a children's playground and a sports field for the same now 40-yearold soccer enthusiasts. The parents also called for a clear separation between recreational and parking space.

There were also complaints about the presence of dog pooh, feeding pigeons, excessive drinking, as well as inadequate lighting during the pitch black evenings. One of the older ladies claimed that only a minipolice station installed in the middle of the backyard would keep the neighbourhood in peace during the night. However, what stood out the most was the character and the atmosphere of the backyard. A truly inner city one, with its own unwritten rules, where everyone knows each other and kids still spend most their time outside, basically raising each other up. They would play all day pretending to sell colourful stones, leaves or flowers in their own shops, or making little mosaics out of them. The older kids would take care of the smallest girl, ‘Doll’, whenever her mother had to work late. There was also the caretaker — Adrian. He owns a construction company, but also tends to any maintenance of the backyard. He even planted some trees and shrubs there, as did another resident, the winner of the award for best tram driver in Wrocław, the ‘Tram Lady’. Together with some others neighbours she made a mini-garden with luxuriant mallows and a row of yews.

Together with architect Tomek Bojęć and the landscape architect Agnieszka Bocheńska we decided to use the undiscovered botanical potential of the residents.

We began by eliminating some of the parking spaces and substituting them with diy benches and flower pots. We planted a hornbeam hedge, which served as a separation of the playground, as well as an improvement of the aesthetics of the continuously devastated fence. Ugly walls, outbuildings and walls that separate the backyard from the fire brigade building will eventually be covered by a creeper.

Because all plants were chosen to be resistant to extreme weather conditions the garden is designed to look its best all-year round. A fragment of the empty ‘recreational’ space was hardened, and turned into a basketball court. There were also smaller installations, fun and games not only for children. A minimalistic mural by artist Patryk Stolarz served as a complementary touch to the whole project. The choice of colours in the backyard is also of great importance — it refers to the hues of Wrocław's football team (Śląsk Wrocław), as the majority of the inhabitants of the backyard were great fans. We wanted to ensure our projects longevityso we compromised with the residents whenever possible. Almost all tools: wheelbarrows, screwdrivers, hammers and the like, were provided to us by the residents.

 


Place: Ptasia street and Kręta street

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