Kozhumiatska Square is the first thing people see when they come to Podil neighborhood from the Upper Town. This area is surrounded by steep hills called Schekavytsia and Zamkova Hora on one side, and the street grid of the Lower Town (Podil) on the other. Vozdvyzhenska Street starts from the square as well.
Previously, this place was a real square, but today its space is occupied by an endless flow of cars, billboards, and parking lots. Buildings in this area offer a mixture of different architectural styles and varied functional content.
Kozhumiatska Square is located in the historic area of Honchari-Kozhumyaky. Some of the oldest streets in Kyiv, such as Kozhumiatska, Honcharna and Dehtyarna, run through this area. They were named after settlements of artisans located here in the days of Kyivan Rus. In 1746, a wooden Church of the Exaltation of the Cross was built here. After the church was destroyed in the massive fire of 1811, it was rebuilt in stone.
Historically, the Vozdvyzhenka neighborhood had mostly one- and two-story buildings which existed here until the 1970s and even into the 1980s. Finally, local residents were resettled into Kyiv's newly built neighborhoods and the old houses were torn down. At some point in the late 1990s, this area was just barren hills. In the early 2000s, the Vozdvyzhenka residential complex started to be built along these streets, imitating the looks of 100-year-old buildings.
To identify potential users of the public space here and determine the functionality of the area, we explored 1.7 km2 around this neighborhood. Along Vozdvyzhenska Street, ground floors are often occupied by restaurants and shops. Apart from that neighborhood and Podil's main street called Verkhniy Val/Nyzhniy Val (Upper/Lower Rampart), the vast majority of facades in the area are inactive, rendering the streets monotonous and dull. Several streets have almost no trees at all.
The area's buildings are mostly offices or residential quarters, though a significant area is occupied by ruins, unfinished buildings and garages. The area is quite green, but trees are often inaccessible because they grow on steep hills while pedestrian walkways run elsewhere. One third of the territory is completely or partially closed off for regular passers-by, and, as a result, fewer people use such streets making the territory perceived as unsafe. Unfortunately, the amount of public infrastructure is below the official State Construction Standards.
Approximately 8,500 people live in the area, some 26,800 work here, and about 3,550 study. We interviewed some of these people about the current state of the square and their expectations for the future of this place. In total, we interviewed almost 100 users of this area: tourists and locals, office clerks, parents with children, passers-by and the homeless. We found that most people do not perceive the square as a public space, but would like to have a better traffic junction, a more comfortable space on the alley between the "Ramparts" and more trees.
"I don't feel the soul of Kyiv", "Look at these buildings – all run down", people living in Podil express their worries about the appearance of the buildings. Kozhumiatska Square welcomes guests with a wide variety of architectural styles and neglected facades. To provide businesses using these buildings with a solution for uniform signage standards, we developed the signage design code.
Kozhumiatska Square is located at the intersection of seven streets. It meets the residents of the Upper and Lower Podil, accompanies people to the Dnipro River and Lukyanivka neighborhood, is part of the popular tourist routes from Andriivskyi Descent, Vozdvyzhenka and Dytynets areas. However, there are currently no address plaques on the square, no pedestrian wayfinding signs, no maps at public transportation stops. Because of this, it is difficult to find your way around the area, to understand in which direction to go, and where the necessary building is located.
We explored the walking routes and singled out points where pedestrians make decisions about where to go next. In these spots, we placed wayfinding totems and determined which questions of pedestrians they should answer.
"A non-stop traffic jam", this is how both drivers and public transportation users describe the situation on the square. In addition, drivers have nowhere to park, passengers have to access the tram stop by crossing active traffic lanes through the flow of cars, pedestrians have no legal crossing that would let them get to the boulevard between the Lower and Upper "Ramparts" without risking their lives.
View from the drone during the evening
We moved the tram tracks to Verkhniy Val (i.e. the Upper "Rampart" side of the boulevard) and created a pedestrian space connecting the sidewalk with the boulevard. In our project, the stops are located on the pedestrian alley, not in the middle of the active traffic lanes. We moved the exit from Vozdvyzhenka neighborhood to Kozhumiatska Street, creating a pedestrian square there free of cars. We provided a parking garage in one of the buildings along the square's side.
We moved all traffic to Nizhniy Val (the Lower "Rampart"). This way, we simplified the traffic junction and turned it into a regular intersection with fewer conflicts between pedestrians, public transportation and cars. As a result, we have convenient and safe pedestrian crossings. We created parking spaces along the traffic lanes, which now let car drivers and their passengers exit their vehicles
We counted the number of cars on the roads and together with A + C Ukraine developed a traffic micromodel of the intersection. Based on this model, we tested the intersection design and made sure that it does not impair traffic but provides new pedestrian connections while making the intersection safer.
Visualization of transport micro-model
In the area of Kozhumiatska Square, there is a confluence of the Kiyanka stream, which flows from Vozdvyzhenka, and the Hlybochytsia river, which descends along Hlybochytska Street. In the 19th century, these rivers began to be used as an open sewer and eventually were hidden in an underground collector. At that time, it was a common world practice for city streams and rivers.
However, in recent years, cities around the world have begun a reverse movement called "daylighting"—that is, bringing rivers back to the light of day. Over the last 20 years, some 200 cities around the world have joined this initiative. London alone has opened 17 km of its rivers over 5 years.
The Hlybochytsia River collector is now not in its best condition. After the summer floods, it began to show signs of destruction resulting in sinkholes opening up on the boulevard. You can see the water where parts of the boulevard have collapsed.
We opened up the collector to give access to the river, which now runs under the boulevard. We added some stairs and ramps to make access to the river inclusive and accessible for people with limited mobility. We also preserved the trees growing on the boulevard and left a fair amount of soil around them for healthy growth.
When during the interviews we asked people about Kozhumiatska Square, they did not understand what we were talking about. Currently, it is just a transit section between several streets, which everyone wants to pass through as quickly as possible, often times having to jump over puddles or squeeze between parked cars. Nobody wants to purposefully come here, let alone stay on.
We returned the historic buildings around the square and made them of the size that's visually comfortable for people. In one of the buildings, we placed a multi-level car park, where drivers willing to leave their cars on the square can now park them. Thanks to the new buildings, retail space will appear on the ground floors filling both facades and the space in front of them with activity.
We explored the flow of pedestrians in the square and identified their main routes. After redevelopment, they will partially change and there will be direct paths through the area. To avoid the flows of people and cars from intersecting, and to create a comfortable public space, we have formed the additional space in the middle of the square.
To preserve the visual axis of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross, we deepened the entire volume of the public space so that activities would not obscure the compositional axis. We added inclusive ramps along the main pedestrian paths which do not interfere with the people inside the public space. Everyone will be able to use the square and fill it with activities at their will.
The project was made by
Roman Dyma, spatial research
Yuriy Hranovskyi, sociological research
Dmytro Bespalov, transport modeling
Maksym Kotsiuba, lanscape architecture
Oleksandr Kolodko, way finding
Marharyta Zaimenko, design code
Dmytro Hurin, advocacy campaigns
Yevhen Petroshchuk, urban projects
The project was developed
on the course Urban Design
in the spring of 2019 in Projector