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Młode Miasto, the former Shipyard area of Gdansk 

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In the second half of the 20th century, the Gdansk Shipyard was a common good of the Polish socialist society. And it was a common good of the shipyard workers – a place where they spent much of their lives. It was a city within a city, with its own health clinic, canteens, a sports club, telephone exchange, etc. And it was the cradle of the Solidarity Movement.

Enclosed by brick walls and fencing, famously jumped over by Lech Wałęsa in 1980, it remained inaccessible to the public until the early 2000's. Then over 70 hectares of land was released and sold to property developers. First plans for the transformation of the area into a new district Młode Miasto were made. Recently a master plan was prepared for the 16 hectares of the Imperial Shipyard, which takes into account the history of the area and its industrial architecture.  

The process of redevelopment has been slow and only gathered some pace after 2020. A few places, like the old Fire Station and the Dyrekcja building have been renovated. Old buildings are used for economic activity and by artists. The new landowners have involved local artists to hold temporary residences in the old industrial structures, to keep the area occupied and attract visitors - a special art route for visitors was developed.

A question is to what extent the cultural sector in general, and the present occupiers, can or should play a role in the redevelopment of Młode Miasto. Pushing out the cultural sector – a common practice in port redevelopment projects – means that commercialisation will dictate future developments. But local activists and artists would want more participation in the new developments. The role of Gdansk local government concerning regulating what will be built and for whom, has been limited. The government leaves the district's development to market forces.  


After a first visit in 2022, I participated in February 2023 in a project co-organized by Maja Grabkowska, Institute of Socio-Economic Geography and Spatial Planning, Gdansk and Mariusz Waras, Academy of Art in Gdansk, and owner of Studio of Street Art.

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