The post-industrialism as a tendency of urban revitalization is over. The cities become more and more rural, not only by the agrarian activities like plant cultivation but also in social terms. The emerging tendency of urban ruralization would be based on the diversification of labor within the city, as well as the dispression of more scattered and small-scale undertakings.
Being inspired by the countryside rythm of a day, people will start to approach workplaces to homes, still understanding the importance of natural cycles and flows and accepting their impact on everyday life.
Nevertheless, the workers of each type – material or immaterial – seek for the new spatial and social typologies of labor. The self-sufficient, locally based communities organised on the rules on circular economy could be the answer for the unforgiving conditions of the global market nowadays.
The Upper Silesian aglomeration is an area currently facing numerous phenomena which are a legacy of the mining industry. The rise of the empire, which emerged in the beginning of the 19th century, was based on the rich amount of coal deposits, which being exhausted today make an area in need for search of new models of labour and living. The political transformations of the 1989 were also not fortuitous for Silesia. The ineptitude of the authorities as well as the unsuccesful restructuring and privatization gradually brought about the decline of the industry. The mining used to create not only workplaces but the whole community with its own identity. The mine used to provide a center of work, friendship and celebration.
Nowadays, the cities like Bytom, which is one of the most specific and problematic of the Silesian area, faces the issue of the constantly increasing unemployment, population shrinkage and the lack of idea for the development.
In Bytom, numerous mines and steelworks used to work. This year, the last of them is planned to be decomissioned. This brings about not only a loss of income source but also a big spatial problem.The spaces remaining after the former industrial plants are usually located in the middle of the city. In case of Bytom, they literally divide the city into pieces, cutting out the heterotopic holes within the urban fabric. The industrial architectural heritage seems to be the only field of the interest of the officials. And indeed, many of these buildings are architecturally attractive and worth maintaining but they are not the main problem, rather the value. The vast areas around them are infiltrated with numerous overlping layers and meanings. These heterotopias, with their own character and rules, comprise the urban holes– in a way autonomous, entirely differing from the urban tissue. They could become the main value of the city, with their landscape potential. Unfortunatelly, for now, most of them remain forgotten and inaccessible.
These areas are not the only heterotopias of Silesian cities. Analysing the urban conditioning of Bytom, it is possible to gather that the allotment gardens typology is very popular and seems to be used as a filler for the ‘insuperable’ areas. Bytom appears as a patchwork of industrial plots, allotment gardens and labour housing settlements. Moreover, the allotment complexes, are inaccessible at all to the inhabitants not having a plot there. The reinterpratation of their typlogy – by keeping their current social and spatial values and offering an open space and a new quality for the other inhabitants of the city, could be a base for the new kind of planning.
The economical, spatial and social remodelling strategy, based on the allotment planning can lead to a transition from the carbon society to post-carbon society – where the former industrial plots come back to their autochtonic function from before the advent of mining revolution. The gradual urban ruralization brings new model of work and living where the industry is not centrally steered and concentrated aroung big plants but based on the small and mid-scale private initiatives, triggered by the local programme of development.
The model site is a so-called industrial ring in Bytom – the vast ambiguous area of former industry, surrounded by a circle of public infrastructure. The plot located very close to the city center, just on the other site of the central station, constitues a peculiar counterbalance to the historical city. The surface and shape of the industrial heart and the old city is very similar but their fabric is extremely different.
The new urban development, largely based on the inhabitants’ participation, needs a good starting point. On the model site within the industrial ring, the remnants of former Szombierki mine are located. By offering a public square and a community center arranged next to them, I create a starting point of the project.
The community building itself is planned to show the principles of the lifestyle of sustainable community which will be created around – where the industry and everyday life overlaps and where the arrangmenet of space is based on the idea of ‘alloting’. The city promotes a technological and ideological strategy of planning but these are the inhabitants who will really create the image of this growing long-term plan.