Revitalization of Żyrardów
Revitalization is a process of spatial, social and economical transformations in degraded town districts, contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of its inhabitants, restoring spatial order as well as causing economic boom and establishing social bonds. It comprises extensive technical, social and economical activities aimed at restoring former glory as well as securing development of a given area: former town districts, post-industrial and post-military grounds and "housing grounds".
Revitalization programs usually encompass historical town centres. They are also treated as one of the ways to solve the problem of low standard of living in existing residential premises. Such an attitude is justified, as long as it is not connected with an expectation that through revitalization programs a huge renovation deficit in the Polish housing industry as well as provided that the aims of revitalization are not socially or economically belittle. Then these programs create real perspectives of handling crisis of a given area and a given local community.
Crucial, positive indicators of the concept of solving critical situations through revitalization include: preserving historic aspects of a given area, emphasising its uniqueness and the local colour, acting in line with needs and values of a given community, with an active participation in preparing and realising the revitalization programs. Common initiatives and actions of local authorities and inhabitants, institutions situated in a given area and other interested partners allow for the achievement of greater material results as well as a growing acceptance among local community. All this leads to a social and cultural development as well as the economic area being revitalized and the whole town.
Idea for a town
Over the years the development of our town was dependent to a great extent on the condition of the linen factory. Regrettably, the activity of the Żyrardów Linen Factory ended with a lengthy bankruptcy trial, negatively affecting especially the local job market. Unemployment brought another, resulting from it, social difficulties: substantial loosening of social bonds, low level of the inhabitants' activity and their identification with the town, as well as - natural to a certain extent, migration of mainly young and well-educated inhabitants of the capital city. Liquidation of the linen factory is also connected with the degradation of post-industrial grounds, which is getting worse year after year.
The scale of the problem motivated the municipal authorities to work out and implement an integrated, social, economic and spatial town revitalization program. Factors, such as on the one hand - current social and economic situation of the town, lack of perspectives to return to large-scale industrial activity development, and on the other hand - the possibilities lying in cultural and natural values of the town, as well as the surrounding areas, and finally, town accessibility, which incline to the search for new directions of development and creating town character on the basis of post-industrial heritage.
The historic town centre is a major potential of Żyrardów. As a precious heritage of European material culture it is becoming the foundation of social and economic transformation. The historic centre of Żyrardów comprises of the 19th century factory town and the neighbouring post-industrial areas. The factory settlement is the only one in Europe "living" urban and architectural complex of an industrial town at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, which almost completely survived. The grounds of the Factory Town are registered as a monument due to its unique urban planning and receive strict preservation maintenance. In the neighbourhood of the settlement there are post-industrial areas incredibly attractive from the investment point of view, which abound in pearls of industrial architecture. In the District List of Vintage Buildings there are 368 historical monuments, including 201 entered into the register of monuments. Unfortunately, the Factory Town area, and what is more, post-industrial areas are to a great extent degraded, while most of the buildings are in bad technical condition. The historic centre of Żyrardów therefore requires a consistent and large-scale revitalization process.