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Abstract and Figures

Cities often owe their existence to rivers; however, when cities begin to develop, the river turns into a barrier whose crossing becomes one of the more important engineering issues in municipal infrastructure. As a part of nature, a river significantly influences the form of a city. Its development can, in turn, also impact the shape of the river. It becomes an element of urban composition. This mutual dependency is a key problem in spatial planning. Finding the right balance between the natural character of the river, and the introduction of city structures into its course, leads to the creation of a balanced space, naturally utilized by city dwellers. The article analyses examples, which illustrate the relationship between a river and the city, with a particular look at Warsaw, where this relationship has undergone a huge transformation since the beginning of the 21st century.
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The river as an element of urban composition
Adam Rybka1,*, Rafał Mazur2
1Department of Town Planning and Architecture, The Faculty of Civil and Environmental
Engineering and Architecture, Rzeszów University of Technology, al. Powstańców Warszawy 12,
35-959 Rzeszów, Poland
2Department of Town Planning and Architecture, The Faculty of Civil and Environmental
Engineering and Architecture, Rzeszów University of Technology, al. Powstańców Warszawy 12,
35-959 Rzeszów, Poland
Abstract. Cities often owe their existence to rivers; however, when cities
begin to develop, the river turns into a barrier whose crossing becomes one
of the more important engineering issues in municipal infrastructure. As a
part of nature, a river significantly influences the form of a city. Its
development can, in turn, also impact the shape of the river. It becomes an
element of urban composition. This mutual dependency is a key problem in
spatial planning. Finding the right balance between the natural character of
the river, and the introduction of city structures into its course, leads to the
creation of a balanced space, naturally utilized by city dwellers.
The article analyses examples, which illustrate the relationship between a
river and the city, with a particular look at Warsaw, where this relationship
has undergone a huge transformation since the beginning of the 21st
century.
1 Introduction
1.1 Analysis of the problem
The affect of a river on urban space constitutes a contradiction. For many obvious reasons a
river can be the main reason for the creation of a city, while at the same time acting as a
powerful borderline within its structures. Building crossings, drying areas for development,
regulating its course, as well as protection against flooding are huge engineering
endeavours. The incongruity of man versus nature always accompanies architectural space.
When building a house, a person tries to isolate themselves from nature, while at the same
time trying to remain close to it for the purpose of survival. A similar scenario concerns a
city that is developing on a river, although the scale is much larger. The city needs the river
to function, but also has to deal with all the consequences of its presence.
The ambivalent character under which rivers function in cities can also be seen within
their urban composition. Excluding aspects of nature’s utility, such as access to water,
natural fortifications and convenient communication and transport, it is worth noting that
the presence of water in the landscape provides people with a lot of positive emotion. A
* Corresponding author: akbyr@prz.edu.pl
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution License 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
E3S Web of Conferences 45, 00077 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/20184500077
INFRAEKO 2018
river, as well as other water bodies, are places where people want to spend time. The
creation of recreational areas was often connected to the presence of water in the landscape.
Despite the fact that the aesthetic question has not seen an unequivocal answer over the last
few hundred years, a space with a body of water, and an abundance of surrounding nature,
constitutes an area, which acts positively on the people who reside there. According to
American philosopher Dennis Dutton, universal aesthetic criteria were shaped by the
Pleistocene epoch [1]. Their main goal is to guarantee survival of the species. Research
entitled “The people’s choice. Most wanted & most unwanted,” carried out by Vitaly
Komar and Alex Melamid, clearly shows that irrespective of the geographical latitude,
people prefer a green environment with a river or lake.
Fig. 1. United States: Most wanted painting. Authors: Vitaly Komar, Alex Melamid (source:
www.artnet.com).
The basic necessities which man requires to survive, and the resulting aesthetic needs,
have led to the building of settlements in the vicinity of rivers. A river usually becomes an
important element, which cements the city plan. If correctly utilized, the river - a barrier
that has to be crossed - is also an element of urban composition that is shaped depending on
the needs of city dwellers. As with any natural building material, a flowing water system
can also be used to create architectural space [2].
1.2 The condition of analysis
A lot of literature exists on the role a river plays in the city. Analyses of its influence on
urban structures accompany nearly every publication which concerns urban space. The
river often figures in literature as an element of the city. Ancient and Renaissance
architectural treatise saw it as a fundamental element of nature, which allowed for the
development of cities. The assumption that a city should lie beside a river was one of the
most important aspects of an ideal city. Wojciech Kosiński analyzed the aesthetic value of
rivers in historical cities in his article entitled "Preliminary research upon the problem:
beauty of the city" [3].
When dealing with the city-river relationship as an element of urban composition, one
must also mention a work entitled "Elementy kompozycji urbanistycznej" [Ed. Elements of
urban composition] by Kazimierz Wejchert. [4] For him the river was primarily a beautiful
floor” for the urban interior. It is also worth drawing on the work of Juliusz Żórawski,
entitled "Siatka prostych" [Ed. The network of straight (lines)], published a few dozen
years after his death. His final thoughts focused on the relationship of architectural space
with the world of nature [5].
In order to look at the wider issue, it is also necessary to research publications on
aesthetics. The aforementioned author Dennis Dutton links mankind’s aesthetic tastes with
the theory of evolution in his revealing book entitled "The Art Instinct."
There are also many sociological publications concerning rivers in cities. The tendency
for cities to open up to rivers in the post-industrial era means that the question of how the
river functions within a city is now becoming an interdisciplinary issue.
At Warsaw universities, a large amount of studies on the Vistula and its significance
for the city have been made in recent years by Janusz Skalski [6].
1.3 Methods of analysis
The river can be studied as an element of urban composition via a presentation and analysis
of specific processes, which the city undergoes in relation to it. Constant changes seen in
the city are often connected to the functioning of its river. The processes that we will
present in this article are universal and concern many cities. A great example that can be
used to illustrate this issue is the city of Warsaw, which has seen a massive transformation
of the relationship with its river since the beginning of the 21 century.
2 River and City – processes
2.1 Forming the riverbank
Changing the course of the river Turia in Valencia is an interesting example of the river as
an element of urban composition. One that can be transformed to suit the needs of its users,
or for aesthetic value just as former fortifications or blocked traffic ways have been
changed in the past. A flood, which took place in 1957, caused massive damage to the city.
This led city authorities to carry out an engineering project, according to which the river
course was moved outside of the city centre. The old course of the Turia river constituted
the main compositional axis for the city. The utilization of the former water course for park
space meant that the city gained a lot of recreational space in its centre.
A similar feat, although much smaller in scale, was carried out in Poznan in the 1960s.
A floodplain called the Chwaliszewski meander was filled in causing the Warta river to
bypass the city centre. The project was drawn up in the first half of the 20th century.
Changing the water course of a river is not a new phenomenon in engineering. Such a
project was ordered by the Florentine Republic, for example, at the start of the 16th
century. It was drawn up with the help of Leonardo da Vinci. The need for it was dictated
by strategic and political issues. It was not realized however. Although, if the Arno river
had changed its course, history would also be significantly changed. In the 19th century a
pioneering endeavour took place in the US, where the course of the Chicago River was
reversed to avoid waste, which was poisoning the inhabitants of this dynamically
developing metropolis, being washed into Lake Michigan. The project involved the
construction of a canal leading to the Des Pleines River.
2
E3S Web of Conferences 45, 00077 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/20184500077
INFRAEKO 2018
river, as well as other water bodies, are places where people want to spend time. The
creation of recreational areas was often connected to the presence of water in the landscape.
Despite the fact that the aesthetic question has not seen an unequivocal answer over the last
few hundred years, a space with a body of water, and an abundance of surrounding nature,
constitutes an area, which acts positively on the people who reside there. According to
American philosopher Dennis Dutton, universal aesthetic criteria were shaped by the
Pleistocene epoch [1]. Their main goal is to guarantee survival of the species. Research
entitled “The people’s choice. Most wanted & most unwanted,” carried out by Vitaly
Komar and Alex Melamid, clearly shows that irrespective of the geographical latitude,
people prefer a green environment with a river or lake.
Fig. 1. United States: Most wanted painting. Authors: Vitaly Komar, Alex Melamid (source:
www.artnet.com).
The basic necessities which man requires to survive, and the resulting aesthetic needs,
have led to the building of settlements in the vicinity of rivers. A river usually becomes an
important element, which cements the city plan. If correctly utilized, the river - a barrier
that has to be crossed - is also an element of urban composition that is shaped depending on
the needs of city dwellers. As with any natural building material, a flowing water system
can also be used to create architectural space [2].
1.2 The condition of analysis
A lot of literature exists on the role a river plays in the city. Analyses of its influence on
urban structures accompany nearly every publication which concerns urban space. The
river often figures in literature as an element of the city. Ancient and Renaissance
architectural treatise saw it as a fundamental element of nature, which allowed for the
development of cities. The assumption that a city should lie beside a river was one of the
most important aspects of an ideal city. Wojciech Kosiński analyzed the aesthetic value of
rivers in historical cities in his article entitled "Preliminary research upon the problem:
beauty of the city" [3].
When dealing with the city-river relationship as an element of urban composition, one
must also mention a work entitled "Elementy kompozycji urbanistycznej" [Ed. Elements of
urban composition] by Kazimierz Wejchert. [4] For him the river was primarily a beautiful
floor” for the urban interior. It is also worth drawing on the work of Juliusz Żórawski,
entitled "Siatka prostych" [Ed. The network of straight (lines)], published a few dozen
years after his death. His final thoughts focused on the relationship of architectural space
with the world of nature [5].
In order to look at the wider issue, it is also necessary to research publications on
aesthetics. The aforementioned author Dennis Dutton links mankind’s aesthetic tastes with
the theory of evolution in his revealing book entitled "The Art Instinct."
There are also many sociological publications concerning rivers in cities. The tendency
for cities to open up to rivers in the post-industrial era means that the question of how the
river functions within a city is now becoming an interdisciplinary issue.
At Warsaw universities, a large amount of studies on the Vistula and its significance
for the city have been made in recent years by Janusz Skalski [6].
1.3 Methods of analysis
The river can be studied as an element of urban composition via a presentation and analysis
of specific processes, which the city undergoes in relation to it. Constant changes seen in
the city are often connected to the functioning of its river. The processes that we will
present in this article are universal and concern many cities. A great example that can be
used to illustrate this issue is the city of Warsaw, which has seen a massive transformation
of the relationship with its river since the beginning of the 21 century.
2 River and City – processes
2.1 Forming the riverbank
Changing the course of the river Turia in Valencia is an interesting example of the river as
an element of urban composition. One that can be transformed to suit the needs of its users,
or for aesthetic value just as former fortifications or blocked traffic ways have been
changed in the past. A flood, which took place in 1957, caused massive damage to the city.
This led city authorities to carry out an engineering project, according to which the river
course was moved outside of the city centre. The old course of the Turia river constituted
the main compositional axis for the city. The utilization of the former water course for park
space meant that the city gained a lot of recreational space in its centre.
A similar feat, although much smaller in scale, was carried out in Poznan in the 1960s.
A floodplain called the Chwaliszewski meander was filled in causing the Warta river to
bypass the city centre. The project was drawn up in the first half of the 20th century.
Changing the water course of a river is not a new phenomenon in engineering. Such a
project was ordered by the Florentine Republic, for example, at the start of the 16th
century. It was drawn up with the help of Leonardo da Vinci. The need for it was dictated
by strategic and political issues. It was not realized however. Although, if the Arno river
had changed its course, history would also be significantly changed. In the 19th century a
pioneering endeavour took place in the US, where the course of the Chicago River was
reversed to avoid waste, which was poisoning the inhabitants of this dynamically
developing metropolis, being washed into Lake Michigan. The project involved the
construction of a canal leading to the Des Pleines River.
3
E3S Web of Conferences 45, 00077 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/20184500077
INFRAEKO 2018
Fig. 2. Development of the Turia watercourse in Valencia (photo. A. Rybka).
Changing the watercourse of rivers was also key to the development of Warsaw. In the
18th century the city had a dense network of rivers and lakes. Warsaw’s modern form is the
result of manmade changes, as well as its historical hydrographical network. The streets
that lead from the embankment to the Vistula river are usually located on the site of former
watercourses, which were channelled in order to protect against flooding and to clear new
areas for development. In a research project about Warsaw squares, carried out for the
Warszawa w Budowie [Ed. Warsaw under construction] festival in 2017, Paw Brylski
talks about the shape of Three Crosses Square in Warsaw. The square owes its form to the
Zurawka river, which flowed into Warsaw. A statue of St. John Nepomuk, the patron saint
that protects against flooding and drowning, is a lasting reminder of the problems once
caused by the Zurawka river. The erection of many statues glorifying this saint indicate his
cult status and the enormous danger posed by rivers in the past [6].
2.2 Overcoming the borderline
In most cities the river constitutes a significant borderline. Depending on the number of
crossings, it can, however, be assimilated into city structures. Wrocław constitutes such an
example. Here, a large number of bridges guarantee efficient communication, thus
integrating different parts of the city. In the case of rivers with wide courses such
integration is not possible. This is due to the large distances which need to be covered in
order to cross it. Cities are usually divided into two parts, which are defined by the largest
river. Each part of the city usually has a specific identity and history. An example of this
can be seen in Buda and Pest, Bielsko and Biała, and in Paris and London, where there is a
clear north-south divide. Such a significant divide can also be seen in Warsaw, where the
east bank of the river, called Praga, constituted a separate city. The Vistula river, together
with adjoining flood land, creates a wide borderline. Crossing this area by car, tram or train
takes a long time making the crossing noticeable for the passenger. The size of the river
means that it cannot disappear from the consciousness of residents who utilize both parts of
the city.
A part-research part-artistic project called “Tuning Warsaw”, put together by Dutch
architect Monnik and architect and artist Michał Jońca in 2014, identified a specific
phenomenon that would be seen in Warsaw after the opening of the second underground
line, which required the construction of a tunnel under the Vistula River. The authors of a
book entitled, “The Make Yourself at Home Guide to Warsaw,” published after the opening
of the underground line across the river, wrote: “since the second underground line was
built, a groundbreaking possibility has appeared to walk on both sides of the city without
seeing the river […].” Jońca envisioned the creation of a plan of Warsaw without the
Vistula River, as a new method of perceiving the city [7].
Fig. 3. Riverless Warsaw – author: Michał Jońca (archive of Michal Jońca).
A map without the Vistula River awakens much emotion in people who know and love
the city. Without the river it loses its identity. Jońca’s work shows that the borderline,
which is the river, is an inseparable element of Warsaw. This is despite the fact that
crossing it requires a certain financial burden and that according to this new vision, the city
would be better communicated. However, erasing the river would cause the loss of one of
the most important elements of urban composition.
2.3 Facing the river
The cities of western Poland and Europe have regulated rivers, which means that they have
been integrated to suit the development in a given area. Rivers create city interiors
reminiscent of representational streets. Many crossings are built across small rivers. They
are no longer real barriers and enrich the urban landscape. However, cities in central Poland
were mostly built at a safe distance from large rivers in order to safeguard inhabitants
against flooding. A characteristic of many Polish cities including Sandomierz, Płock and
Warsaw was that they were built on an embankment. This meant that for a few hundred
years they were turned away from the river.
In the second half of the 20th century the Vistula was a separate space. It was
practically cut off from Warsaw. Architects and Warsaw residents looked upon other
European cities, where rivers were the centre of urban life, with envy. Ideas to develop the
banks of the river were not realized. Although such plans were already being drawn up in
1945 by Maciej Nowicki in the Biuro Odbudowy Stolicy [ed. Office for the Redevelopment
of Warsaw]. The Vistula and its natural surroundings remained practically untouched until
the 21st century. This is especially the case for the west bank of the river. There is an
anecdote, according to which a delegation of Japanese urban planners, when presented with
a view of the west bank of the river, asked their hosts who designed such a lovely river
bank. Years of neglect created a perverse effect, which saw the capital of a European
country cut in half by huge areas of unique natural and environmental value. This
phenomenon was highlighted by film director, Andrzej Wajda, who urged spatial planners
to preserve the natural form of the west bank of the river, while at the same time urging
4
E3S Web of Conferences 45, 00077 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/20184500077
INFRAEKO 2018
Fig. 2. Development of the Turia watercourse in Valencia (photo. A. Rybka).
Changing the watercourse of rivers was also key to the development of Warsaw. In the
18th century the city had a dense network of rivers and lakes. Warsaw’s modern form is the
result of manmade changes, as well as its historical hydrographical network. The streets
that lead from the embankment to the Vistula river are usually located on the site of former
watercourses, which were channelled in order to protect against flooding and to clear new
areas for development. In a research project about Warsaw squares, carried out for the
Warszawa w Budowie [Ed. Warsaw under construction] festival in 2017, Paw Brylski
talks about the shape of Three Crosses Square in Warsaw. The square owes its form to the
Zurawka river, which flowed into Warsaw. A statue of St. John Nepomuk, the patron saint
that protects against flooding and drowning, is a lasting reminder of the problems once
caused by the Zurawka river. The erection of many statues glorifying this saint indicate his
cult status and the enormous danger posed by rivers in the past [6].
2.2 Overcoming the borderline
In most cities the river constitutes a significant borderline. Depending on the number of
crossings, it can, however, be assimilated into city structures. Wrocław constitutes such an
example. Here, a large number of bridges guarantee efficient communication, thus
integrating different parts of the city. In the case of rivers with wide courses such
integration is not possible. This is due to the large distances which need to be covered in
order to cross it. Cities are usually divided into two parts, which are defined by the largest
river. Each part of the city usually has a specific identity and history. An example of this
can be seen in Buda and Pest, Bielsko and Biała, and in Paris and London, where there is a
clear north-south divide. Such a significant divide can also be seen in Warsaw, where the
east bank of the river, called Praga, constituted a separate city. The Vistula river, together
with adjoining flood land, creates a wide borderline. Crossing this area by car, tram or train
takes a long time making the crossing noticeable for the passenger. The size of the river
means that it cannot disappear from the consciousness of residents who utilize both parts of
the city.
A part-research part-artistic project called “Tuning Warsaw”, put together by Dutch
architect Monnik and architect and artist Michał Jońca in 2014, identified a specific
phenomenon that would be seen in Warsaw after the opening of the second underground
line, which required the construction of a tunnel under the Vistula River. The authors of a
book entitled, “The Make Yourself at Home Guide to Warsaw,” published after the opening
of the underground line across the river, wrote: “since the second underground line was
built, a groundbreaking possibility has appeared to walk on both sides of the city without
seeing the river […].” Jońca envisioned the creation of a plan of Warsaw without the
Vistula River, as a new method of perceiving the city [7].
Fig. 3. Riverless Warsaw – author: Michał Jońca (archive of Michal Jońca).
A map without the Vistula River awakens much emotion in people who know and love
the city. Without the river it loses its identity. Jońca’s work shows that the borderline,
which is the river, is an inseparable element of Warsaw. This is despite the fact that
crossing it requires a certain financial burden and that according to this new vision, the city
would be better communicated. However, erasing the river would cause the loss of one of
the most important elements of urban composition.
2.3 Facing the river
The cities of western Poland and Europe have regulated rivers, which means that they have
been integrated to suit the development in a given area. Rivers create city interiors
reminiscent of representational streets. Many crossings are built across small rivers. They
are no longer real barriers and enrich the urban landscape. However, cities in central Poland
were mostly built at a safe distance from large rivers in order to safeguard inhabitants
against flooding. A characteristic of many Polish cities including Sandomierz, Płock and
Warsaw was that they were built on an embankment. This meant that for a few hundred
years they were turned away from the river.
In the second half of the 20th century the Vistula was a separate space. It was
practically cut off from Warsaw. Architects and Warsaw residents looked upon other
European cities, where rivers were the centre of urban life, with envy. Ideas to develop the
banks of the river were not realized. Although such plans were already being drawn up in
1945 by Maciej Nowicki in the Biuro Odbudowy Stolicy [ed. Office for the Redevelopment
of Warsaw]. The Vistula and its natural surroundings remained practically untouched until
the 21st century. This is especially the case for the west bank of the river. There is an
anecdote, according to which a delegation of Japanese urban planners, when presented with
a view of the west bank of the river, asked their hosts who designed such a lovely river
bank. Years of neglect created a perverse effect, which saw the capital of a European
country cut in half by huge areas of unique natural and environmental value. This
phenomenon was highlighted by film director, Andrzej Wajda, who urged spatial planners
to preserve the natural form of the west bank of the river, while at the same time urging
5
E3S Web of Conferences 45, 00077 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/20184500077
INFRAEKO 2018
investments that would integrate residents with the Vistula’s easterly shores. This was
congruent with ideas tabled by urban planners at the turn of the 20th and 21st century.
The first significant step to bringing the Vistula river – at that time cut off by a dual
carriageway - closer to Warsaw’s residents, was the construction of a tunnel in the central
part of the city, and the building of the Świętokrzyski bridge (an extension of Tamka
street), launched in 2001. The tunnel would run alongside the river. It was to be 900m long.
The bridge on the other hand, did not play an important role in the city’s communications
network, but it brought the other side of the river closer for cyclists and pedestrians. The
realization of the tunnel, even though controversial at the time, meant that residents could,
for the first time since the appearance of mass automotive transport, freely reach the Vistula
River. The investment coincided with the opening of the Warsaw University Library
designed by Marek Budzyński. This unique building became a catalyst for changes in the
whole area. The Copernicus Science Centre was built on top of the tunnel. Measures were
also taken to set up temporary HQs for the Museum of Modern Art and the Academy of
Fine Arts in the vicinity of the new investments. City authorities held a competition to
develop the west bank of the Vistula. At the same time, the river bank, which up till now
had remained neglected, started being visited by an increasing number of people. It finally
saw many temporary high quality grassroots investments. Finally, Warsaw’s cultural life
moved to the riverbank. Theatre plays, concerts and lectures were held there. In 2017, local
authorities completed the Vistula boulevards in Warsaw directly below the Old Town and
Krakowskie Przedmiescie, thus creating a cohesive structure with a representative part of
the city.
Simultaneously to investments, which drew inhabitants to Vistula’s west bank, the east
bank of the river was cleaned up. Its beaches were cleared and tourist trails created within
the woodlands near the riverbank. Residents and tourists started to visit the other side of the
river more often. National Geographic rated the Warsaw beach on the east bank of the river
as one of the best urban beaches in the world. After a mere 20 years of investment and
grassroots initiatives by city activists, one can conclude that the city has turned back
towards the river and is utilizing its natural potential with increasing success.
2.4 Inhabiting the river
Water basins are an area, which can be party settled. Functioning residential complexes
made up of floating homes in Amsterdam, Hamburg and Copenhagen prove this can be an
alternative to traditional habitation on land. Most of the time, these are housing complexes
located in cities with large canal networks or access to the sea. Rivers of an appropriate size
can also serve as living space.
Floating homes are realized in Poland on a smaller scale, although a large water surface
in many cities means that the these types of projects may increase in number. The first
floating home was built in Wrocław in 2013. Similar projects have since appeared in
Gdańsk, Bydgoszcz and Warsaw. Interest in the subject means that cities are preparing
infrastructure to suit floating objects. A good example of this is Czerniakowski Port in
Warsaw. It is located near the city centre and is an attractive area to move to. An increasing
number of people are deciding to live there. In the last few years specially prepared spots in
the port have filled up with floating homes. This is a clear signal for city authorities that
such living conditions should be facilitated for people.
Fig. 4. A floating home in Port Czerniakowski in Warsaw – project by Mai Bui and Rafał Mazur
(photo. M. Czerski).
Developers are also becoming interested in this alternative way of living. A residential
complex made up of floating homes is planned for construction in Parski Port. It is worth
noting that this is not a new idea. Floating objects filled the river in 18th century Warsaw.
Fig. 5. Fragment panoramy Warszawy z 1770 roku – Bernardo Bellotto Canaletto (source:
commons.wikimedia.org).
3 Conclusion
The processes presented in the article, pertaining to the river-city relationship, show various
planning issues connected to the development of rivers and the areas surrounding them. The
first deals with influencing the natural aspects of a river and the possibility of changing its
course. Depending on its role and requirement, the river can become a tool, which correctly
shaped, may better serve city inhabitants. The second process is connected with the river as
a barrier and the need to overcome it. It is worth noting, however, that despite the fact that
rivers constitute borderlines in cities, their total elimination from everyday life would result
in a worsening of the quality of life experienced by city dwellers. The third process presents
the gradual return of the city to the river in the 21st century. The utilization of the natural
potential of the Vistula River and neglect of previous decades, have led to the retention of a
unique space in a city with more than one million inhabitants. The last process discussed
indicates the possibilities of the river as an untapped source for the construction of floating
6
E3S Web of Conferences 45, 00077 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/20184500077
INFRAEKO 2018
investments that would integrate residents with the Vistula’s easterly shores. This was
congruent with ideas tabled by urban planners at the turn of the 20th and 21st century.
The first significant step to bringing the Vistula river – at that time cut off by a dual
carriageway - closer to Warsaw’s residents, was the construction of a tunnel in the central
part of the city, and the building of the Świętokrzyski bridge (an extension of Tamka
street), launched in 2001. The tunnel would run alongside the river. It was to be 900m long.
The bridge on the other hand, did not play an important role in the city’s communications
network, but it brought the other side of the river closer for cyclists and pedestrians. The
realization of the tunnel, even though controversial at the time, meant that residents could,
for the first time since the appearance of mass automotive transport, freely reach the Vistula
River. The investment coincided with the opening of the Warsaw University Library
designed by Marek Budzyński. This unique building became a catalyst for changes in the
whole area. The Copernicus Science Centre was built on top of the tunnel. Measures were
also taken to set up temporary HQs for the Museum of Modern Art and the Academy of
Fine Arts in the vicinity of the new investments. City authorities held a competition to
develop the west bank of the Vistula. At the same time, the river bank, which up till now
had remained neglected, started being visited by an increasing number of people. It finally
saw many temporary high quality grassroots investments. Finally, Warsaw’s cultural life
moved to the riverbank. Theatre plays, concerts and lectures were held there. In 2017, local
authorities completed the Vistula boulevards in Warsaw directly below the Old Town and
Krakowskie Przedmiescie, thus creating a cohesive structure with a representative part of
the city.
Simultaneously to investments, which drew inhabitants to Vistula’s west bank, the east
bank of the river was cleaned up. Its beaches were cleared and tourist trails created within
the woodlands near the riverbank. Residents and tourists started to visit the other side of the
river more often. National Geographic rated the Warsaw beach on the east bank of the river
as one of the best urban beaches in the world. After a mere 20 years of investment and
grassroots initiatives by city activists, one can conclude that the city has turned back
towards the river and is utilizing its natural potential with increasing success.
2.4 Inhabiting the river
Water basins are an area, which can be party settled. Functioning residential complexes
made up of floating homes in Amsterdam, Hamburg and Copenhagen prove this can be an
alternative to traditional habitation on land. Most of the time, these are housing complexes
located in cities with large canal networks or access to the sea. Rivers of an appropriate size
can also serve as living space.
Floating homes are realized in Poland on a smaller scale, although a large water surface
in many cities means that the these types of projects may increase in number. The first
floating home was built in Wrocław in 2013. Similar projects have since appeared in
Gdańsk, Bydgoszcz and Warsaw. Interest in the subject means that cities are preparing
infrastructure to suit floating objects. A good example of this is Czerniakowski Port in
Warsaw. It is located near the city centre and is an attractive area to move to. An increasing
number of people are deciding to live there. In the last few years specially prepared spots in
the port have filled up with floating homes. This is a clear signal for city authorities that
such living conditions should be facilitated for people.
Fig. 4. A floating home in Port Czerniakowski in Warsaw – project by Mai Bui and Rafał Mazur
(photo. M. Czerski).
Developers are also becoming interested in this alternative way of living. A residential
complex made up of floating homes is planned for construction in Parski Port. It is worth
noting that this is not a new idea. Floating objects filled the river in 18th century Warsaw.
Fig. 5. Fragment panoramy Warszawy z 1770 roku – Bernardo Bellotto Canaletto (source:
commons.wikimedia.org).
3 Conclusion
The processes presented in the article, pertaining to the river-city relationship, show various
planning issues connected to the development of rivers and the areas surrounding them. The
first deals with influencing the natural aspects of a river and the possibility of changing its
course. Depending on its role and requirement, the river can become a tool, which correctly
shaped, may better serve city inhabitants. The second process is connected with the river as
a barrier and the need to overcome it. It is worth noting, however, that despite the fact that
rivers constitute borderlines in cities, their total elimination from everyday life would result
in a worsening of the quality of life experienced by city dwellers. The third process presents
the gradual return of the city to the river in the 21st century. The utilization of the natural
potential of the Vistula River and neglect of previous decades, have led to the retention of a
unique space in a city with more than one million inhabitants. The last process discussed
indicates the possibilities of the river as an untapped source for the construction of floating
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E3S Web of Conferences 45, 00077 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/20184500077
INFRAEKO 2018
objects. The location of rivers in city centres guarantees a very attractive additional space to
live in, as well as other functions needed in the city.
All the processes discussed in the article show that rivers should not be treated solely as
fragments of attractive scenery, but that they are elements of urban composition, which
should be appropriately taken into consideration when putting together spatial planning
projects. The incongruity, which lies at the basis of the city-river relationship, indicates that
an appropriate balance should be found between the needs of nature and mankind. The river
cannot impede in the everyday functioning of life in a city. However, excessive interference
in the functioning of a river may bring losses to the city. As the example of Warsaw shows,
a lack of intervention in the river’s form may led to the creation of a unique space, which is
able to fulfil the recreational needs of every city dweller.
References
1. D. Dutton, The art instinct (Oxford 2009) p. 19
2. B. Twaróg, Z. Kęsek, JCEFA, 32 (2015) p. 554
3. W. Kosiński, Przestrzeń i FORMA, 10 (2008)
4. K. Wejchert, Elementy kompozycji urbanistycznej (Warsaw, 2016)
5. J. Żórawski, Siatka prostych (Krakow, 2014)
6. J. Skalski, Ocena walorów krajobrazu w procesie postrzegania na podstawie
krajobrazu doliny Wisły w Warszawie (Warsaw, 2011)
7. https://placewarszawy.pl/pl/plac-trzech-krzyzy/plac/22
8. Monnik, The Make Yourself at Home Guide to Warsaw (Warsaw, 2015) p. 254
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E3S Web of Conferences 45, 00077 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/20184500077
INFRAEKO 2018
... Visualization of the proto-city in Pułtusk prepared by ASK, Faculty of Architecture, Warsaw University of Technology; source: KOWAL [2015]There are a lot of examples of floating houses in Warsaw's history. Canaletto's painting, which depicts an 18 th century panorama of the city seen from the eastern riverbank (Photo 2), shows floating objects which were hybrids of boats and houses[RYBKA, MAZUR 2018]. Buildings that are reminiscent of traditional houses with gabled roofs positioned on their shell, generally seem to be a veryPhoto 2. A fragment of Warsaw's panorama from 1770 -Bernardo Bellotto Canaletto; source: JUSZCZAK and MAŁACHOWICZ [2007] Photo 3. A fragment of Aleksander Gierymski's painting "The Feast of Trumpets" (1884); source: wolnelektury.pl ...
Article
Full-text available
The article discusses the architectural expression of houses built on water, based on the design process of the floating house in the Czerniakowski Port in Warsaw, designed by Mai Bui Ngoc and Rafał Mazur. The question of the form of the floating house was the starting point of the work on this project. Usually buildings are designed in a specific location, which gives architects an inspiration for the design of the new form. In the case of the floating houses the goal was to make a universal artefact as a car or a phone. This artefact should be more connected to the owner than to the landscape. This artefact should be also neutral to the landscape and it should not be destructive for the surroundings. The answer lays between two archetypes; a typical house and a boat. Analysis of the existing floating houses gave the conclusion that authors of these houses were usually very close to one of these two archetypes. It is a need to put a lot of effort to design an object which does not remind a real house and a yacht design.
Book
The Dinka have a connoisseur's appreciation of the patterns and colours of the markings on their cattle. The Japanese tea ceremony is regarded as a performance art. Some cultures produce carving but no drawing; others specialize in poetry. Yet despite the rich variety of artistic expression to be found across many cultures, we all share a deep sense of aesthetic pleasure. The need to create art of some form is found in every human society. In this book, the author explores the idea that this need has an evolutionary basis: how the feelings that we all share when we see a wonderful landscape or a beautiful sunset evolved as a useful adaptation in our hunter-gather ancestors, and have been passed on to us today, manifest in our artistic natures. Why do people indulge in displaying their artistic skills? How can we understand artistic genius? Why do we value art, and what is it for? These questions have long been asked by scholars in the humanities and in literature, but this is the first book to consider the biological basis of this deep human need. This book looks at these deep and fundamental questions, and combines the science of evolutionary psychology with aesthetics, to shed new light on longstanding questions about the nature of art.
The Make Yourself at Home Guide to Warsaw
  • Monnik
Monnik, The Make Yourself at Home Guide to Warsaw (Warsaw, 2015) p. 254
  • B Twaróg
B. Twaróg, Z. Kęsek, JCEFA, 32 (2015) p. 554
  • W Kosiński
W. Kosiński, Przestrzeń i FORMA, 10 (2008)