One of Lviv’s oldest districts, Pidzamche boasts a historic urban layout, numerous relics of material culture, and the memory of Jewish heritage. On the other hand, this part of the city, run-down and badly needing investment, is of a working-class character. Until recently it was viewed as an unattractive residential area inhabited mostly by the poor who were unable to keep up their flats, to say nothing of new initiatives.
Fortunately, the image of Pidzamche has been changing in recent years, partly thanks to Polish development assistance programmes carried out by the Institute of Urban Development (IUD) from Krakow. In collaboration with Lviv’s City Institute, in 2011 it drew up the “Lviv Revitalization Programme – Pidzamche 2012-15,” which set out a number of projects of a limited scope but wide thematic range. Apart from improving the appearance of urban space and making it more functional, the projects aim to offer local residents hope that their district had the potential to flourish, and that they themselves can make a big change to their quality of life.
The first investments began in 2013 under a project called “Regeneration of Pidzamche's backyards - professionalisation of management of municipal houses in Lviv: 2013” With considerable help from the local community it was possible to refurbish three courtyards and a playground in Khmelnytsky street, as well as renovate and tidy up a fragment of Krinichny Square opposite Lviv-Pidzamche railway station. Three murals were also created. There were dozens of meetings, training sessions, consultations and negotiations involving citizens and municipal authorities. Polish experiences and solutions were showcased. But as the project author points out, “the most valuable outcome is the sense of responsibility that emerged during the joint projects, and more interest shown in one’s own place of residence.”
2014 is marked by more revitalizations of public space, with historic gateways renovated at townhouses, and information boards put up about the most interesting sights of Pidzamche. Local community inclusion measures and training courses are run. Things don’t always go smoothly, since historic townhouses can hold one or two unpleasant surprises, such as a balcony collapsing during renovation work.
New initiatives by local organizations and communities began to mushroom around Polish aid projects in Pidzamche. Examples include an open cinema set up at a closed-down marmalade factory, a book fair organized by one of the publishing houses, and local residents taking the initiative to stage an artistic performance inaugurating a newly refurbished playground, and organizing themselves to prevent acts of vandalism. But the most interesting measure that the Institute of Urban Development endorsed as one of the official partners is the festival of neighbours in Pidzamche, organized by IOTA, a non-governmental organization. The district also drew the attention of local and regional media, which have been shining the spotlight on good practices.
Pidzamche has already begun to live a more beautiful and friendly life. This is reflected in the smiles of children playing at new playgrounds, the involvement of happy residents and their budding faith that they have what it takes to change their surroundings. In the difficult political situation of Ukraine which is marked by considerable volatility and an uncertain future, it is very important to have small-scale schemes that improve the quality of people’s lives, and build the conviction that a lot can be achieved by working together.
Project “The Regeneration of Pidzamche District in Lviv 2014-2015 - phase III” (no. 371/2014) implemented by the Institute of Urban Development from Krakow. Grant of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: PLN 483,400.