Ports have had to adapt to economic and technological change, which has sometimes meant that ports have moved away from the city they are named after to keep up. As a result, urban planners are faced with the challenge of what to do with once-busy commercial hubs and their vast structures. The shift has resulted in regeneration and landscape restoration becoming a priority. Poland’s Gdansk is one such example of a post-industrial city whereby regenerating the landscape and mitigating the negative ecological impacts associated with former port and industrial land use has taken place. The Młode Miasto project transforms the abandoned waterfront and surrounding areas – a vast complex of production halls, new squares, streets, residential and commercial buildings, which is due to be completed in 2023. Denmark’s Henning Larsen has been commissioned to further design the area which will integrate it with the rest of the city and connect the abandoned waterfront and the stories it tells with the inner city.
The project will involve working with local residents and industry stakeholders, promoting biodiversity and improving flood management, and is an example of the EU’s Green Deal growth strategy which promotes green growth and the expansion of mutually beneficial economic and environmentally solutions. Gdansk’s proposed strategic urban development will be of enormous importance to other cities with a similar history, from Tyneside in the UK to Drammen in Norway, as it provides a blueprint for transitioning from brown to green growth. Finding appropriate spatial strategies for regenerative socio-ecological systems is a collaborative effort, where regeneration is considered as a political project of renewal and a bottom-up process of civic participation in the urban environment.