The awards for the best ecological buildings and projects in Poland were presented during the 13th edition of the PLGBC Green Building Summit under the theme “Building (R)evolution,” which took place on October 5-6, 2023, in Warsaw. The jury evaluated the submitted projects based on their architectural and aesthetic merits in sustainable construction and closed-loop economy. Social aspects and innovative ideas were also taken into consideration.

The competition is organized by the Polish Green Building Council (PLGBC), a non-governmental organization that has been pursuing the mission of radically improving building design and utilization in Poland in accordance with sustainable development principles since 2008.

“I had the honor of receiving the award in the category of ‘Best Urban/Municipal Ecological Initiative’ for the construction of the ‘Przylasek Rusiecki Recreation and Leisure Center.’ I have no doubt that, in addition to the outstanding KNHP team, the success was also due to Professor Mariusz Twardowski and his associates (the concept creator), JWMS sp. z o.o. (designers), Krisbud sp. z o.o. (general contractor), and their subcontractors. I sincerely thank them all,” emphasized Dr. Artur Paszko, the President of Kraków Nowa Huta Przyszłości S.A.

The awarded project was realized in the former Vistula river bend in Nowa Huta. It comprises 14 water reservoirs that were created in the 1950s and 1960s as a result of gravel extraction for the construction of a metallurgical complex. After the mining activities ceased, the excavations became a devastated and inhospitable area, which eventually became overgrown with greenery.

The “Przylasek Rusiecki Recreation and Leisure Center” project included the revitalization of the area around the largest reservoir. On one side of it, there is now a sandy beach with hammocks and sun loungers, sports fields, piers, promenades, walking paths, a playground, and a water sports center (offering wakeboarding, kayaking, paddleboarding, and water sports equipment). An outdoor tent hosts a gastronomic base, and eventually, an outdoor cinema will operate. The other side of the reservoir is enhanced with viewing platforms, fishing spots, and paths leading through the trees.

The revitalization of the space, carried out after social consultations, aimed to create a modern recreation area for Krakow residents while respecting nature. The vegetation in the project area is allowed to grow naturally, and the gravel surface of the paths enables natural rainwater infiltration. Not a single tree was removed during the project’s implementation.

The buildings, piers, ramps, paths, parking spaces, and sanitary facilities were designed to be barrier-free, making the facility accessible to parents with strollers, young children, and people with disabilities. There are also electric vehicle charging stations and modular benches with USB ports. Energy-efficient technologies have been introduced, including lighting with light intensity adjusted to the time of day and the number of people using the paths, energy management systems (2 heat pumps in the sanitary building), and renewable energy sources (photovoltaic panels on the roof of the sanitary building with a total capacity of 24 kW). Restrictions on the use of non-recyclable materials for packaging and a reduction in the use of plastics by catering outlets were also implemented.

The “Przylasek Rusiecki Recreation and Leisure Center” aims to promote a healthy lifestyle among residents of the region and the concept of “staycation,” which means tourism within one’s own city. Since 2021, a popular seasonal swimming area has been operating there, visited by tens of thousands of people annually.