Silesia By Nature | Urban Design Studio

Urban Design Studio: Urbanism After Extraction — Housing, Landscape, and Infrastructure in the Katowice Agglomeration, Poland

Associate Professors Rafi Segal and Marie Law Adams

Spring 2017


Amidst Silesia’s fragmented urban and natural landscape, in a region as stripped of certainty about the future as it will soon be of coal- the resource which sustained it throughout modern history- we look to natural processes as our inspiration and pro pose an open-ended approach to the development of what comes next.
The project explores multiple evolutionary paths towards the same goal: a richer urban ecosystem which benefits from the tension between the city and nature. We recognize the power of nature to provide social as well as commercial value, becoming a catalyst for community-building and creative ideas. Both visions include new forms of urban living (through temporary housing, the refurbishment and retrofitting of historic spaces, and support for live/work and co-housing collectives) as well as new contexts in which nature may thrive (amongst industrial relics or in urban forests, overgrown suburban wildflower gardens, and leftover spaces that may now flourish in the care of temporary users.)

Operationalizing these concepts means strengthening existing networks and supporting diversity, confrontation, and competition across them. We first propose to create coherent connections via a regional greenway and transit corridor which infills the disparate urban and natural cores. These connections re-establish the relationships between currently isolated nodes of human and ecological activity, facilitate flows, and support all types of movement across the network. Diversity, of both condition and timescale, is an essential component of the project and promotes urban sustainability through constant reinvention. Sometimes, there is a conscious abstention from intervening.

While urban succession proposes a pathway forward, the destination of this pathway is unknown. Our attitude is hopeful, but acknowledges that not every town in Silesia can or will survive. Selective preservation, temporary activity and tactical remediation are the parts provided: the result is in the hands of people,
and the story of Silesia’s future is theirs to make.