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Revitalization of Stará Ponávka in Brno Foto: Vojta Herout, www.vojtaherout.com

Revitalization of Stará Ponávka in Brno

A new park was created on the site of a former temporary car park and paddock for dogs on the edge of the housing estate in Brno-Komárov. The dominant element of the park is the Stará Ponávka river, its previously regulated riverbed was adapted to be resembling its the natural riverbed. The water can now be reached directly from the lowered bank. In the narrower part of the riverbed, where lowering was not possible due to the surrounding buildings, it is possible to approach the water on stairs with benches and a pier.

The river is bridged by three footbridges, which also connect the nearby housing estate and the park with the repaired SVATOPETRSKA complex. Coordination of the creation of both projects, a private area and a public park, to make the space as pleasant as possible for its visitors is what makes this project so unique. Trees, shrubs and many herbs were planted in the park. Meadow beds have also been created and wooden deck chairs will encourage you to stop and relax.

The Adaptation Journey

The positive impact
The aim of the Brno Public Greenery, the managing body of green spaces in the city, was to create a new recreation area in the southern part of Brno, where there are generally fewer areas compared to other parts of the city. The determining element was the river Stará Ponávka. And they succeeded. The widening and relocating of part of the riverbed allowed visitors direct contact with water. Trees, shrubs and green areas create a more favorable microclimate, cool the surroundings and help retain water in the area.
How does it work?
The revitalization of the place contributes to a positive change of the microclimate. The new shape of 300 meters of the river slows down the outflow of water thanks to the widening of the riverbed and the reduction of the slope of part of the banks. This creates natural shoals. In order to create a slightly descending terrain, the Public Greenery had 3 meters of subsoil in depth removed.

These adjustments allow for the water level fluctuations, which are caused by the water from the rain sewer during torrential rains. The stream is connected to the relief chamber on Vlhká Street.

To the maximum extent possible, the existing trees were preserved and more than 40 tree trees, such as maples, horse chestnuts, cherry trees or alders, and about a hundred shrubs were added. A lot of herbs, especially on the banks of the stream, were planted as well.

The central area of the park is a lawn, which turns into meadow beds around the perimeter. The park is intersected by packed gravel paths and paving. Except for the main concrete road, all surfaces are permeable to water and air. As a result, rainwater seeps into the ground there.

In the narrower and deeper part of the riverbed, visitors can access the water by stairs and an above-water pier. The river is bridged by 3 footbridges, thanks to which the housing estate is connected with the revitalized commercial area on the opposite side of the river. The whole space is a pleasant place for recreation of residents of housing estates and for employees of nearby commercial areas.
Original state
Originally, it was an area on the edge of the housing estate serving as a temporary parking lot and a paddock for dogs. The edge of the area was intersected by a deepened and straightened riverbed of Stará Ponávka. The water was led to Svratka as fast as possible.
Operation and maintenance
Maintenance costs will depend on the intensity of the maintenance performed. In the first years, it will be mainly growing the previously planted greenery, maintenance of the packed gravel paths and cleaning. The lawns are planned to be mowed twice a year, areas inspected once a week and, for example, rubbish bins emptied twice a week. Altogether it costs approximately 500 thousand crowns per year. In the coming years, the costs of maintenance of technical equipment - footbridges, stairs, pier, benches - will increase. The estimated cost of maintenance in the coming years is 1 million crowns per year.
Why was the measure chosen?
When the project was in preparation, one of the options was to create a lagoon with stagnant water. Public Greenery abandoned this option due to high cost of acquiring the land, a relatively small part of the land suitable for planting and a relatively small amount of water that flows through the Ponávka River in recent years. This is influenced by the amount of water that is released from the Svitava River.

In the future, the Public Greenery of the City of Brno plans the revitalization of the entire 4-kilometer section, which is piped in the other parts of the city.
Obstacles and challenges
Most of the area, including the riverbed, is a backfill. During the implementation, some technological procedures had to be changed, especially when it came to foundations of footbridges and the pier.

From the first idea to the completion of the construction, the implementation took 9 years. The administrative procedures took 3-4 years, and the implementation took only 1 year.
Operation and maintenance
Thanks to the friendly cooperation of the designer, the construction supervisor, the contractor and the investor, all problems got solved and the construction was completed 2 months before planned.

It was unpleasant to move out the homeless people originally staying under the bridge. After their sixth ejection, they did not return.
How much did it cost?
The total cost of this project was 20,250,000 crowns (766,363 EUR). The project was funded by the City of Brno. Provided proper maintenance and renewal, the service life is permanent.

Revitalization of water elements Urban greenery Heat waves and thermal island Floods and torrential rainfall Lack of water and drought 

Brno-Komárov, Czech Republic
1 – 12/2019
FIRESTA-Fišer, rekonstrukce, stavby a.s.
Public Greenery of the City of Brno
Alexandra Koutná
“I consider the restoration of dignity, beauty and near natural character to watercourses in cities to be one of the priorities that every town hall should have. This is a good example showing that even the revitalization of a linear area (with a large number of actors involved) can be carried out successfully.”
Ing. arch. PhDr. Lenka Burgerová, PhD.
The expert jury member
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