Mixed-use is a topic that is increasingly coming up in the context of developing spatial plans for Polish cities. It is impossible not to notice that in the last dozen years or so, investments in mixed-use facilities have gained momentum, and today, there is probably no large city in Poland that has not realized its “mixed-use”. Monopolis, OFF-Piotrkowska, Manufaktura in Lodz or Norblin Factory and Warsaw Breweries have become symbols and landmarks of modern cities.
The main idea of multifunctional investments is that life should go on in them throughout the day and evening. Combining various functions in a single project is a clear reversal of the decades-old concept of shaping cities of large distances – homogeneous and dispersed. The clear division of cities into central zones with commerce and services and neighbourhoods that are citizens’ bedrooms is no longer the reference model.
Today, we are closer to the idea of a compact, 15-minute city, i.e., a layout of space that provides residents with access to essential everyday places, such as stores, restaurants, service and educational facilities within 15 minutes on foot or by bicycle from their residence. Well-prepared mixed-use projects ideally respond to the needs of the present day by fitting into the new trends shaping urban space.
Lodz’s multifunctionality appeals not only to residents
Łódź has become a pioneer in the implementation of mixed-use projects. Exceptional mixed-use projects have been developed on the sites of former 19th-century red-brick factories, creating a unique value on the map of Lodz. It is worth citing the example of Manufaktura, a shopping and entertainment centre built in 2006 on the grounds of the former Izrael Poznański factories and today serves as a kind of marketplace for the city.
Another example is Monopolis, a revitalized complex left over from the former 1902 Vodka Monopoly plant, recognized by residents as one of the symbols of Lodz. Monopolis also won a prestigious award in the international MIPIM Awards 2020 competition, with the Virako Company’s project being named the world’s best in the mixed-use development category.
– A mixed-use area such as Monopolis is alive from early morning to late evening, and some companies carry out their tasks here even at night. It’s a workplace for several hundred employees of corporations that have decided to open their offices here. During the day, they are the ones who give the place its energy. Afternoons and evenings, on the other hand, belong to the citizens of Łódź, who throng our restaurants, use the available services and stores, and participate in numerous cultural events – says Krzysztof Witkowski, president of Virako, Monopolis’ investor.
Mixed-use is modern thinking about the city
Combining post-industrial architecture with modern architecture introduces a new quality much desired by younger generations. Bold and thoughtful solutions appeal to both residents and tourists. The role of “mixes” is primarily the concentration of several functions in a small area, which carries a lot of social and economic value. Offices, retail, services, entertainment and culture intermingle and complement each other. Such an action gives many tangible benefits to residents and makes multifunctionality today considered one of the most important trends in thinking about modern urban planning of cities. It provides a high level of living comfort and makes it possible to dispense with travelling by car or public transportation to run daily errands. This is especially important in cities spread out in the area, such as Lodz, which extends over almost 30,000 hectares (about 300 square kilometres). Mixed-use developments are precisely one way of densifying central areas of cities to prevent them from spilling over into the suburbs. New schools, streetcar lines, roads, and maintenance all increase the cost of city operations and living for residents. It consumes millions that could be put to more efficient use.
The business also appreciates the advantages of mixed-use investments
Mixed-use projects often play a key role in the revitalization of city centres. For local governments, this is an ideal opportunity to breathe new life into post-industrial areas of the city, for example. Lodz’s best-known mixed-use projects, including Monopolis or Manufaktura, have been carried out on former factory complexes, fitting in perfectly with the existing historical buildings.
Revitalization of entire quarters of streets has a positive impact on the city’s image. It increases its attractiveness not only in the eyes of residents but also in the eyes of businesses. Businesses like and prefer to invest in places with a high quality of life. That’s why developers are getting bolder in creating projects that require an out-of-the-box approach and providing the market with high-quality offerings that meet the needs of modern businesses. The key factors are a good central location and an exceptional character – qualities particularly highly valued by businesses, which choose places attractive in the opinion of employees and contractors for their headquarters.
The local governments of the largest Polish agglomerations are also doing a lot today to improve the quality of life. This broad term refers not only to the aesthetics of space, the creation of new recreational and sports areas, and the creation of attractive leisure activities but also to a sense of security and environmental quality. Everything that makes residents’ lives better. Therefore, the development of mixed-use projects fits this trend perfectly and, by the way, can become one of the important factors that positively influence the development of our cities.
Virako, a developer with more than 20 years of experience in the market, is the investor of Monopolis, an innovative, post-industrial mixed-use complex located in the heart of Lodz.