Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Welcome to Lemingrad

Office moves can be a bit of a wrench, especially when to a less pleasant location than the one you've moved to. My corporate client for morning English lessons has moved one bus stop down ul. Poleczki, and while the new office is more modern and, I dare say, prestigious than the old one, it's missing something - soul.

Welcome, then, to Lemingrad; a sterile, soul-free place where the unthinking PO-voting electorate - in the mythology of the Polish right - work. The corporate hamster wheel. Though I don't share the PiSites' ideology, there is something in what they say regarding the rat-race and its participants.

So here we are, in the biurowcowe zagłębie (translated as 'office region', the phrase lacks the emotional punch the Polish phrase has).

This is no Central Business District, such as the one between Śródmieście and Wola, with modern Class A office blocks built around existing government buildings, theatres, parks, museums, restaurants, shops, cinemas and art galleries. This is a wasteland consisting of modern Class A office blocks - er, that's it.

I suppose the theory is that if you had to look out on this all day long (below), rather than have the view I have - overlooking the towers of Pl. Zbawiciela, the Palace of Culture, the National Stadium etc - you'd be more focused on your work.

Getting here's a bind. Walking from ul. Puławska's no longer an option (as it was when I was getting to ul Poloneza); the buses are few, unevenly spaced in time and overcrowded during the morning rush hour. Although the railway line passes close by, there's no station serving these blocks. PKP could place a new station 1.5km south of W-wa Okęcie. But the State Railway does not move as quickly as the market. Extending the tram line from Wyścigi to Poleczki is feasible but costly. Putting on more buses is the only real option. Note lack of official path from bus stop to the offices. People trample the grass, because architects and city authorities failed to tie up loose ends.

Put up the blocks first, rent them out, let the employees worry about getting to work. From ul. Domaniewska (where hundreds of businesses share one address - Domaniewska 41, a number that covers several office blocks named after planets, where public transport is terrible and car parking spaces non-existent after 7:30) in the north to Poleczki Business Park in the south, the Służewiec business district covers some four square kilometres of less-than-prime real estate just east of Okęcie airport, yet a long way from the centre of town.

I pity the workers who have to trudge here, day after day, deprived of culture and cuisine, working on the corporate treadmill. It's so much finer for the quality of life to work in the city centre, surrounded by what it takes for city life to be civilised. I'm glad I only have to come here for just a few hours a week.

Imagine driving here from, say, Wola or Praga, spending the whole day here, then - what do you do in the evening if you want to go to a concert in town, say - drive home, get changed and head off for Centrum?

This time two years ago:
Dream highway

This time three years ago:
The Days are Marching

This time five years ago:
First snow, 2007


Anonymous said...

What a mind-numbingly dull place. It looks like vast swaths of the USA. I guess the Poles are taking steps to creating their own America.

AndrzejK said...

What is absolutely stagerring is that the authorities in the 1990's missed the opportunity of planning a proper business district (vide Parisan La Defense or London's Docklands) with an integrated public transport system. Instead every gmina decided on a me too basis to have business parks. For employers these are a nightmare as it means that in effect they are limited to recruiting staff who have some chance of getting to the offices, most often by car.

And I so much more liked the UK somewhat derogatory terminology of Yuppies rather than the completely derogatory lemingi so beloved by PiS whose electorate wouldn't know true enterprise and the wish to better oneself even if it bit then in the leg.

Paddy said...

Is this the same Michael Dembinski who advocates ever more characterless tower blocks in the city centre - aka wind tunelling cultural/social black holes?! These are the suburban equivalent!

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Paddy - let me clarify. There's a difference between awe-inspiring skyscrapers and soul-free blocks. Rondo ONZ is beautiful. I'd like to see the Palace of Culture completely ringed by 40+ story skyscrapers; but the city centre is a mix of old and new, parks and avenues, culture and commerce.

White Horse Pilgrim said...

It looks as if the planners visited Slough and saw the future there.

But even Slough has decent public transport.