Jerzy KWIECIŃSKI: Łódź 2022 Expo.
Revitalization of the city of which we are proud

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Łódź 2022 Expo.
Revitalization of the city of which we are proud

Jerzy KWIECIŃSKI

Deputy minister of development, member of the Council of Ministers, the government plenipotentiary for the organization of the International Expo 2022 in Łódź.

Ryc.Fabien Clairefond

other articles by this author

The Polish government will work on making the city of Łódź a candidate of not only Poland, but of the entire Central Europe. All the countries in the region have gone the same way. Communism and its fall degraded industries and industrial areas, which are now going through renovation – reminds Jerzy KWIECIŃSKI

.Today the former factory of Izrael Poznański is a shopping mall. The textile factory complex at Księży Młyn has been transformed into a residential area with luxurious lofts. The late 19th century tenement house of Adolf Daube at Piotrkowska Street in the centre of Łódź, once decrepit, has regained its former splendour. These are just a few of many notable examples of the ongoing revitalization of Łódź which has been in such a quick progress that it is comparable to what was happening in late 19th and early 20th century when so many textile factories were built in the city that it began to be called the promised land. Expo 2022 can be a unique opportunity for Poland and Łódź to show all that to the whole world and to secure them a place in history.

The application of Łódź for the organization of the International Expo 2022 has a profound significance. Thus Poland manifests being a serious international player with the will to promote its cities and regions.

How is it done? Every Expo attracts the attention of the world. Many of the world exhibitions, since their beginning in 1851, have been very important from the historic point of view, for instance the one in London (in 1851), with Crystal Palace built especially for the occasion, or the one in Paris honoured with opening of the Eiffel Tower. Later came e.g. New York in 1964 when the Space Age was highlighted with futuristic architecture, or the Japanese Okinawa in 1975 when the spectacular (partly submarine) Aquapolis was presented, with the life of seas and oceans as its main feature.

Even the latest Expo held in Milan in 2015 is unforgettable, partly to be blamed on some troubles with financing, although mainly due to its impressive scale. Despite the severe crisis Italy was in at the time it was capable of creating something very special there.

The Expo in Milan was a proof that there still are ways for suprising the world, attracting its attention, on the condition that one has a really attractive idea. Łódź is awesomely prepared to compete with other very serious contestants, some of whom had last minute entries. The candidature of Rio de Janeiro has been withdrawn, but the US has put forward Minneapolis and Argentina offered Buenos Aires. Both cities are much better known all over the world than Łódź is, so it might be easier for them to appeal to the voters. The decision will be made by the member states of the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) in autumn this year.

Why would the International Expo be such a big thing for Poland? It always makes a great platform for various meetings and establishing contacts, hence the high turnout during the events that usually last a few months (e.g. 22 million people in Milan, whereas in Shanghai in 2010 there were 70 million visitors) . This in turn provides fantastic promotional effects for the organizers, which last for a very long time, if not forever. A well prepared Expo will embed Łódź – and Poland – within positive associations had by more and more foreigners, who will perceive the country as a good place for doing business or as an attractive holiday destination.

Winning the competition for the Expo with Minneapolis and Buenos Aires will be a very difficult task, yet Łódź can achieve that, because it builds its chances on an attractive idea, i.e. on the skilful and effective process of revitalization which has already been its hallmark. Owing to that the urban fabric has been restored in many districts that previously had fallen into ruin. In many places the fabric has been built from scratch, e.g. in postindustrial areas that these days house business or recreational facilities. Similar processes occur in other parts of the world, particularly in the West, and how to renovate the former factory buildings or mine shafts poses a very serious question there. Łódź solves such problems in a manner that can be seen as exemplary by other cities and countries.

Nonetheless the successful revitalization is not going to be the only achievement that Poland will proudly present in the Expo. By 2022 almost all the money guaranteed for us by the EU Financial Framework 2014-2020 will have been spent, so the visitors will be able to see how it has been used. What will be revealed? The effects of implementation of the Strategy for Responsible Development prepared by the Ministry of Development, most importantly new solutions and projects in the field of transportation. Works on the so called Central Communication Port, including the Central Airport, should have been advanced by 2022 as well. Many Polish cities will have had electric buses on numerous routes, also railways will have undergone complex modernization.

.The Polish government will work on making the city of Łódź a candidate of not only Poland, but of the entire Central Europe which shares similar challenges of developing cities and towns and giving them a new sheen. All the countries in the region have gone the same way. Communism and its fall degraded industries and industrial areas, which are now going through renovation. Presentation of Łódź as a good revitalization project can be beneficial for Poland as well as for the other Central European countries. Expo would enable us to show the world that we are able to do things really well. Revitalization is a direct reference to the successful political and economic transformation of Poland and its neighbourhood.

Jerzy Kwieciński

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