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Culture and Creativity

Gdańsk Design Workshops

Where locals can solve urban challenges and shape their city.

Type of project :
Size of city/region:
People around a table with a city planning.

Key facts

Main sponsor: City of Gdańsk

Year completed: ongoing

Prizes: Leader of Local Government 2022 award by the Association of Polish Cities

City / regional background

Gdańsk takes a comprehensive approach to ensuring the quality of life and well-being of its inhabitants through conscious management of the built environment. The Development Strategy Gdańsk 2030+ puts the quality and coherence of the public space at the fore of development goals for the city.

Gdańsk created the position of City Architect in 2021 to coordinate urban planning, aesthetics, and quality of new and rehabilitated built environment. The City Architect operates at the intersection of various local government departments and sector-specific policies to help make Gdańsk a green, common, accessible, and innovative city.

Among its activities, the City Architect conducts consultations and participatory processes with local communities for the urban development of public and private areas.


Gdańsk Design Workshops are a series of meetings devoted to innovations in shaping public space. They are developed and implemented by a multidisciplinary team from the City Architect's Office, with external experts when needed.

Gdańsk Design Workshops are inclusive and open to all interested parties, e.g., residents, specialists and non-specialists in urban planning and architecture, investors, scientific community, local government officials, Non-Government Organisations.

The design workshop process has led for instance to a study of the Grunwaldzka Avenue strip, an important service area of the city, which will increase the number of jobs, apartments, services, greenery, and expand the public transport network. Another example is the development of an architectural and urban vision of the entrance to Stogi beach.

The workshops embody the values of the development strategy of the city, namely: cooperation, education, openness, environment, and mobility. With an emphasis on public space, social integration, and civic activity, they focus on participatory solving of local issues and provide recommendations for new directions to shape the city.

The process lasts between 3 months and 2 years, and typically includes 5 meetings: introduction, three workshops and a conclusion with recommendations for future planning.

About 10 projects have already been implemented using this method.

Criteria for high-quality (context, sense of place, diversity, beauty)

  • Each workshop process enhances the urban environment using the available human, architectural, natural and cultural resources while managing the limitations and dysfunctions of the space.
  • The expertise and partners mobilised in the design workshops method is tailor made for each topic, area, and issue. They have involved urban planners, sociologists, architects, historians, engineers, economists, educators, IT specialists, media and PR experts
  • The design workshops have strongly contributed to trust building between the city administration and the community. They resulted in an increased sense of agency in policy-making and shared responsibility for the effects of its implementation on the city’s physical, environmental, and social space.
  • Participants to the design workshops all have an emotional connection to the place under transformation. The workshops contribute to the aesthetic education of participants who then feel responsible for the applied solutions and act as ambassadors of their quality and appropriateness.

Planning and management

The workshops are run by the City Architect Office with one full time staff member, and three half time.

Budget and financing

Depending on the complexity of the problem solved by the Design Workshops method and the expected results, the budget varies from 5 000 to 180 000 Polish złoty (€1079 to €38 841) per design workshop process.

Staff costs for an average workshop process (6 months) amount to € 3 500.

Transferable ideas

3 tips from the city/region:

  • Assemble your team: mobilise a wide range of competences with a strong emphasis on social skills (communication, mediation, leadership).
  • Raise awareness about the value of the design workshops among local political leaders and within the city administration to finance the practice.
  • Be flexible in the process, don’t be afraid to work unconventionally and horizontally. Be brave, dare to make mistakes, be friendly, be honest and do not give up!

Contact information

Contact the Gdansk municipality via email.