Triple infiltration basin and greenery regeneration in the square of Oblęgorska / Widok Street in Łódź (Poland)

The final look of the ATENAS square. 
Area characterisation: 

NbS was established in the upper basin of the Łódka River (Łódź, Poland) being an icon of the city and a symbol of its industrial past. Demonstration site was abandoned green yard in municipal ownership, located in front of tenement houses.

The area selection was based on the water and social challenges of the area. The main environmental challenge stems from the change of a permanent river into a temporary stream due to limited urban runoff restoration, compounded by geological conditions, floods and droughts. The social challenge stems from the densely populated district, with a fairly high crime rate, poor and neglected for years. However, it is a historically significant district highlighting the multicultural aspect of Łódź.


ATENAS logo Planting with the local community

An implementation focused on combining blue and green infrastructure, with predominant use of native species and minimizing maintenance effort.

Key aims:

  • demonstrate the integration of blue solutions into green design;
  • create a pilot implementation of the infiltration basin as an example of best practice and a source of know-how;
  • build the trust in NbS;
  • initiate the restoration of water cycle in the Łódka River catchment.

    The challenge in the area is related to a permanent river turned into temporary stream due to limited urban runoff restitution amplified by geological conditions, pluvial flooding and drought. ATENAS project analyses of options for increased water storage and infiltration in urban areas through participatory design and implementation of demonstrative NbS as community building action. It helps to promote the idea of stormwater retention, to link citizens with small and medium sized enterprises (SMES) and decision makers, and to establish community of practice and strengthen local leaderships.

    Three Infiltration basins were designed in a form for rainwater gardens and integrate grey and green infrastructure. The rain falling on the roofs of four tenement houses is captured by conventional drainpipes but then diverted to dry creeks leading to infiltration basins.

    The infiltration basins has been planned to accommodate rainfall of 30 mm (which corresponds to a rainfall intensity with a probability of occurrence once in 5 years and a duration of 1 h). This addresses the concerns of local communities related to the risk of water overflow and flooding of buildings and simultaneously accepted depth of the basin

    The gray and green elements of final implementation have been selected by the local community members, while the blue elements have been broadly discussed locally and with NGOs. The final project combined elements of two alternatives discussed with the locals and their proposals for the elements ranged according to importance. 

    The selection of plants reflects the aim to bring the colors, textures and species meaningful to residents with respect to historic Jewish / Gypsy ghetto which border exactly in the square, native species or forgotten historic ones.

    The final realization included also the first in the city living furniture – the willow bench shading and meteorological station with results available to residents (meteobot).

    Undertaken actions in the process of NbS development:

    • Starting point - organization initiated grassroots initiatives – research group (academic – ERCE PAN) with funding for NbS implementation mobilize citizenship and community action.
    • Involvement of governmental actors – co-operation with city officials toward enabling the implementation.
    • Human potential – building critical mass / networking (involvement of non-governmental actors), for gaining support and involvement in planning, knowledge sharing, care and maintenance of the area.
    • Analysis of the potential of the place and people's behavior.  Observation of the space to define behaviour patterns and interviews with local communities about the place
    • Inclusiveness of the participatory process, by involving people in planning (choosing solutions), and partial creation (workshops and meetings for planting) as well as maintenance and care of the greenery in the square, by increasing the sense of ownership.
    • Development of project documentation and construction works by project partner FPP Enviro on the basis of the materials received from the participatory process of co-creation.
    Potential impacts/benefits: 
    • Stimulating water infiltration through the introduction of NbS and thereby augmenting groundwater, rather than storing water on site, which serves another component of the water cycle;
    • Increasing the soil's water storage capacity and regulating the climate, by restoring the yard in a way that supports natural soil-forming processes;
    • Leaving the biomass produced by plants in place, thus the process of matter circulation is restored while increase of organic matter content increases soil water retention and supports micro and macro organisms in their role of soil formation, and remediation of harmful substances;
    • Increased habitat diversity by adding new substrates, diversifying soil and water conditions, and introducing plants to support birds and pollinators;
    • Planting new plants (80 shrubs and trees) will help stabilize environmental conditions over time, thereby reducing the plants' need for water, exposure to extreme weather conditions: high winds, droughts, etc.
    • Raise awareness among residents about the degradation of the urban water cycle;
    • Creating an aesthetically pleasing space and stimulating community building;
    • Enabling recreation, education and creating meeting spaces;
    • Opening up spaces for co-design and building shared responsibility and ownership of place among marginalized communities;
    • Linking vegetation to the history of the site and the memories of community members;
    • Stimulate multiplication and upscaling of NbS.
    NbS benefits 
    • Developing climate change adaptation; improving risk management and resilience
    • Increase infiltration / Water storage
    • Increasing infiltration
    • Reduce drought risk
    • Reduce flood risk
    • Reduce load to sewer system
    • Reducing temperature at meso or micro scale
    • Restoring ecosystems and their functions
    • Increase achievements of biodiversity targets
    • Increase Biodiversity
    • Increase quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
    • Increased cultural richness and biodiversity
    • Enhancing sustainable urbanisation
    • Increase awareness of NBS solution & their effectiveness and co benefits
    • Increase communities’ sense of ownership
    • Increase population & infrastructures protected by NBS
    • Increase stakeholder awareness & knowledge about NBS
    • Increase well-being
    • Increase willingness to invest in NBS
    • Social inclusion
    • Social learning about location & importance of NBS

    This case study is one of the 3 that are part of the ATENAS “To Ally Technology, Nature and Society for integrated urban water management” - an international project of JPI Water financed under the framework of the WaterWorks 2017 Programme.

    National financing: The National Centre for Research and Development, under Grant (WATERWORKS2017/I/AT ENAS/02/2019), To Ally Technology, Nature and Society for integrated urban water management ATENAS, under the program WaterWorks2017 of JPI Water


    Kinga Krauze, Project Coordinator

    3 Tylna Str., 90-364 Lodz, Poland
    Phone: +48 42 6817007

    Further information