ManuFaktura in Lodz opens its doors (PL)

The new cultural and shopping center ManuFaktura in Poland, officially opend its doors on May 16. ManuFaktura is the largest urban regeneration scheme in Poland, which has helped to revitalize the countrys second city, Lodz. The developer of the project is the Apsys Group.

Around €130 million has been privately invested by Apsys, Foncière Euris and Paris-Orléans. The 110,000 m² scheme has provided major new commercial, retail, leisure and cultural space along with significant improvements to the local infrastructure and public space including the new square, terraces and fountains. More than 300 international and Polish retailers opened here on 16 May 2006.

Lodz is a fairly new city in European terms, which was founded at the beginning of the 19th century. It success came on the back of Izrael Poznanskis wealthy textile mills which opened in 1872, and now form the heart of the Manufaktura project.

Following the second world war, Poznanskis old factory became state owned. It was unable to remain competitive and the textile factories closed in 1997, creating a large and abandoned space in the city centre.

The key was how to revive this 27-hectare site, containing many imposing historic buildings and one of the biggest vacant sites in central Europe, into a thriving heart for Lodz and destination for the citizens of Poland.

Apsys became involved in 1997 and was impressed by the huge, unused industrial zone and its historical interest. It wanted to decipher the DNA of the place and to find the essential, historical and cultural values of the city while meeting future needs.

Around 300 companies were involved in the project. It was decided to demolish the buildings with no historical interest and revitalize 13 red brick historic buildings totalling 90,000 m², and a symbol of the citys industrial heritage.

Bi-cultural architect (French and Polish) André Mrowiecz suggested building a "Rynek" which is a traditional Polish market square as a natural meeting point for people to meet, shop, talk and relax. Lodz did not have a Rynek so this would play an important part in the social role of ManuFaktura and its long-term sustainability.

From the beginning, Apsys closely involved the community of Lodz to ensure that the project would meet their needs, and created an Information Centre for local people to visit on the ManuFaktura site in May 2002. Various local events were organised including the Four Cultures Festival (Jewish, Polish, Russian and German) to make the scheme an important part of the city.

Apsys has also strongly supported many local charities including the Mother Theresa Community Centre (Swietlica Srodowiskowa im. Matki Teresy) which helps the poorest families of the Baluty district where Manufaktura is located.

All the activities surrounding ManuFaktura have been organised in close co-operation with the local authorities the City Of Lodz, Lodz Voivod (region), historical buildings associations and so on. This partnership has helped to make the planning and regeneration process work more smoothly.

This includes a job platform, working alongside jobs agency Creyf, to help local people to take advantage of the 4,000 jobs available at Manufaktura. This followed the earlier success of employing local people for construction jobs.

Source: ManuFaktura/Global City

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