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​11 September 2014 | Warsaw

Warsaw: small changes, big impacts on city development

Micro-locations across Warsaw are undergoing an exciting transformation. JLL Poland explore what these changes mean for the city.

By JLL Poland | @JLLPoland

​While the headlines and attention tend to go to the landmark developments that a city becomes known for (think the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, for example), it’s often the less obvious and smaller incremental changes that have a telling impact on how a city develops and prospers. And that’s what JLL set out to identify in Warsaw, as part of a joint research project with the popular internet portal Nowa Warsawa.


Warsaw has unquestionably undergone spectacular transformation over the past two decades. Major investment in infrastructure and redeveloping much of the centre continues. The city authorities have, for example, recently confirmed the further extension of the metro, with major investment planned to connect more parts of Warsaw with a modern and efficient transport system. Over the last 10 years, Warsaw has built just under a mile of skyscrapers and now has almost a third of the entire office stock in Central and Eastern Europe. But in the midst of these major projects, the smaller and more subtle improvements can be overlooked. And that’s what the research project sought to address, as Anna Bartoszewicz-Wnuk, Head of Research and Consultancy at JLL Warsaw explains: “We wanted to look at Warsaw from a different perspective. We assumed that cities change not only at the level of crucial political decisions or flagship investments, but also at the level closest to their residents, the neighbourhood level.”


The research with Nowa Warsawa deliberately focused on smaller existing, ongoing and potential developments that could act as catalysts for further development and positive change that contribute to enhancing the overall quality of life and experience of being in the city. Asking users of Nowa Warsawa to vote for developments revealed an increasing interest in the quality of public space and the impact that it has on the overall attractiveness and liveability of a city.

The opportunities for small-scale developments and change could be limited to just a single city block, part of a street or square. But collectively they can create a momentum and impact whose reach extends to generate a network effect of positive changes and improvements. In tandem with the higher profile investment and developments reshaping the centre of Warsaw, attention to the smaller changes in the urban landscape should also be borne in mind to drive Warsaw’s continued upward trajectory, as Tomasz Trzóslo, Managing Director of JLL Poland explains: “This is a natural course of urban development – from spectacular investments to the attention paid to immediate surroundings and quality of public space. All these elements contribute to the quality of life in the city and to its image in the eyes of residents, tourists and business”.