Lodz (Łódź) is an UNESCO city located in central Poland, known for its industrial heritage and avant-gard artistic history. It is a vibrant urban center hosting a considerable number of film studios, artists, and design agencies and offering hundreds of festivals throughout the year. Its industrial heritage is the subject of large-scale urban redevelopment projects, reinventing its identity with creativity and design.
At the same time, Lodz is one of the most polluted cities in one of the most polluted regions in Europe. Air pollution is mainly due to coal-fired heating systems. Growing costs of alternative energy sources and of the needed infrastructure are slowing down the energy supply substitution process. Citizens’ proposals collected by the Municipality of Łódź are evidence of the local awareness about pollution and other environmental issues. The citizens also highlight the need for broader and deeper monitoring (one of the proposals asks for mobile sensors moved by drones) and urban greening to deal with pollution (many proposals deal with Nature-Based Solutions in public spaces).
The factory-residential complex on the River Jasień was built in the 19th century by Karol Scheibler, the richest industrialist of Lodz. It was a self-sufficient city inside a city modelled on English industrial settlements. It had factory buildings, including a huge castle-like cotton mill, warehouses, workers’ houses, school, fire station, two hospitals, gasworks, factory club, shops, houses of the owners, and a railway siding. All that was placed along straight cobbled streets and it was architecturally coherent.
The fall of the textile industry in Lodz forced the change of the settlement’s function. Since the first decade of the 21st century the area undergoes significant renovation and development of mixed-use spaces of offices and housing. In recent years, many new buildings and residential spaces have been built in the area. In selected locations (Łódź Special Economic Zone), the process of reindustrialization is also progressing.
Today, Księży Młyn is being transformed to become attractive not only for the residents of old and new housing estates, but also for tourists and artists. The remarkable post-factory interiors are venue for interesting cultural events, festivals, fashion shows, while the former mansions are being converted into museums.
In a narrow sense, Księży Młyn is the name of a settlement, huge cotton mill and workers’ houses with a street, located on the western side of Przędzalniana Street, between Tymienieckiego and Fabryczna streets and Źródliska Park I. In a broader sense, it includes the entire urban complex which had formed up to the 1920’s, including the Scheibler and Grohman families’ estates. In 1971 the urban complex was recognized as an industrial architecture monument.
Lodz’s industrial heritage and a coal-burning heating tradition have still a visible effect in the city’s severe air pollution. Księży Młyn also faces challenges resulting from the city’s industrial history, such as soil and water pollution. Additionally, this area is particularly affected by flooding. During heavy rainfall, the concrete pavement cannot contain the water volume of the rivers (including Jasień), currently enclosed inside canals that run under the city, when they overflow.