Electronic Journal of Polish Agricultural Universities (EJPAU) founded by all Polish Agriculture Universities presents original papers and review articles relevant to all aspects of agricultural sciences. It is target for persons working both in science and industry,regulatory agencies or teaching in agricultural sector. Covered by IFIS Publishing (Food Science and Technology Abstracts), ELSEVIER Science - Food Science and Technology Program, CAS USA (Chemical Abstracts), CABI Publishing UK and ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publisher - full membership). Presented in the Master List of Thomson ISI.
Volume 23
Issue 4
Environmental Development
DOI:10.30825/5.ejpau.191.2020.23.4, EJPAU 23(4), #01.
Available Online: http://www.ejpau.media.pl/volume23/issue4/art-01.html


Natalia Siepietowska, Beata Raszka
Institute of Spatial Management, Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Poland



Green areas in cities have a different character. Apart from parks, an important role is played by estate greenery, which, due to its direct presence in the vicinity of buildings and apartments, has an impact on the quality of life and decisions made when buying a flat. The article compares greenery resources in six Wrocław housing estates, built in 1960–2010, i.e. at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. To assess the quality of greenery, an inventory of its resources was made. In order to assess social conditions, a survey was carried out among the inhabitants of the analyzed housing complexes. The greenery of the residential complexes from the 1970s and 1980s is diverse, rich especially in woody species, although it is not consistent in terms of composition. There are often plantings introduced by residents, probably as a substitute for home gardens and an element of "taming" the space. Greenery in the estates from the 21st century has a high aesthetic and compositional value. Plantings of shrubs and perennials prevail. The inhabitants' lack of creativity in planting their own is visible.

Key words: estate greenery, residential complex, Wrocław greenery.


Urban space, especially in housing estates – the one in the immediate vicinity, should allow for the implementation of everyday activities (work, study, leisure) and evoke positive emotions. A well-developed, comfortable and functional space evokes positive associations and builds the identity of the place. One of the elements influencing the perception of urban spaces and perceiving them as friendly to life is greenery. In city centers with high intensity of development, it is practically impossible to correct design errors without the use of invasive methods. The introduction of new forms of greenery is one of the ways of influencing the attractiveness of places, improving the utility of public spaces and increasing the readability of urban compositions [10]. Natural elements have the strongest impact in urban spaces, when they are harmonized with the building structure, they merge with it, creating the most favorable ecological, biological and landscape conditions [5]. Green areas are also important for the quality of life (improvement of the microclimate, retention of rainwater, reduction of the urban heat island). They are, to a large extent, facilities for relaxation and as public spaces for establishing relationships. These tasks in the city space are served, among others, by greenery being the background for residential buildings. Housing complexes erected in Poland in the 20th century (especially until the 1990s) fulfilled the urban planning norms defining the minimum area of green areas in the so-called housing estate or district parks [4]. It seems interesting to check to what extent Poland in the 21st century refers to similar premises, especially in the context of the deteriorating conditions of the urban environment and, at the same time, increasing social requirements as to the quality of space.


The following selection criteria for housing complexes were adopted:

  1. Establishment period: the 1970s and 1980s (study group I) and the first and second decades of the twenty-first century (study group II);
  2. The form and urban layout characteristic for a given period;
  3. Similar size of the residential complex;
  4. Location of housing complexes – location in various housing estates.

Finally, six housing estates were selected for the study (Fig. 1), three from each period of the uprising. Study group I – 1970s and 1980s:

and study group II – first and second decade of the 21st century:

Fig. 1. The areas of the researched housing development against the background of Wrocław housing estates. Ed. own. (All figures were made using the AUTODESK software, student version)

The assessments were carried out in terms of the following features:

The field research was carried out from May 2018 to September 2018. A dendrological diagnosis was performed, supplemented with photographic documentation [9]. A survey was conducted with the inhabitants of these teams concerning their position towards green areas and the use of this space. The collected materials were compared and analyzed for differences and similarities.


Gądów residential complex
The Gądów residential complex is located in the western part of Wrocław. The complex of buildings in the estate is limited by Kłodnicka, Na Ostatni Groszu, Bystrzycka and Kwiska Streets. The estate was built in 1972–1975. The housing complex has a meander layout. It consists of 22 large-panel buildings, 10-, 7- and 4-storey, located on the eastern and western sides, connected by green areas. The area of the studied estate is 11.5 ha, of which green areas constitute 75% of the area. The interior of the complex has a recreational function and is pedestrianized. On the outskirts of the estate, parking spaces and greenery are located along Kwiska and Na Ostatnim Groszu Streets (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. Spatial analysis of the Gądów-Popowice Południe residential complex on the basis of the Board of Geodesy, Cartography and City Cadastre in Wrocław map – own elaboration (http://wms.zgkikm.wroc.pl/wms/)

Szczepin housing estate
The Szczepin estate is located in the center of Wrocław, west of the Old Market Square, between Ścinawska, Młodych Techników, Zachodnia and Poznańska Streets. It was established in 1972–1973. It consists of two quarters of buildings. The area of the Szczepin is 6 ha, 60% of which is green area. There are 12 buildings, including 10 residential ones. All the residential buildings are large-block 10- and 4-story blocks. The interiors of the quarters are similarly designed: each of them has a football pitch and two small playgrounds. In the western quarter, there is an additional relaxation space surrounded by small hills. A large part of the interior of the eastern quarter is occupied by a kindergarten with an adjacent playground inaccessible from the estate (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Spatial analysis of the Szczepin housing complex based on the map of the Board of Geodesy, Cartography and City Cadastre in Wrocław – own elaboration (http://wms.zgkikm.wroc.pl/wms/)

Huby housing estate
The Huby housing estate is located in the southern part of Wrocław (Krzyki district), within the borders of Wieczysta, Widna and Bardzka Streets. The buildings have a block layout – 4- and 10-story buildings are situated around a common courtyard (Fig. 4). This arrangement gives the best opportunities to tighten social ties, and the buildings clearly define the boundaries of the space in which five small interiors were created. The area of the area under development covers 7 ha, and the green areas cover 50% of the area. The housing complex consists of 17 buildings, with 10-story buildings facing north-south, while the lower, 4-story buildings are arranged perpendicularly in two rows. About 6 years ago, the interiors of the quarters were renovated. The surface of the paths was replaced, the small architecture was changed, and the existing greenery was supplemented with new plantings (shrubs and trees). The advantage of the examined building complex is the clear delineation of the housing estate interior, which gives the residents a sense of belonging to the area. Placing the entrances to the cages from the inside helps the residents to establish contacts.

Fig. 4. Spatial analysis of the Huby residential complex on the basis of the map of the Board of Geodesy, Cartography and City Cadastre in Wrocław – own elaboration (http://wms.zgkikm.wroc.pl/wms/)

Housing estate Psie Pole – Zawidawie
The Psie Pole-Zawidawie residential complex was built in 2004–2013, in the northern part of Wrocław, between Poleska, Litewska and Gorlicka streets. It consists of 8-, 7-, 6-, 4- and 3-story buildings. The older buildings, built by 2008, are 8- and 6-story blocks arranged in parallel; the later blocks are lower (3–5 storeys) and arranged in quarters (Fig. 5). Green areas cover 35% of 9.5 ha of the housing complex.

Fig. 5. Spatial analysis of the Zawidawie-Psie Pole housing complex on the basis of the Board of Geodesy, Cartography and City Cadastre in Wrocław map – own elaboration (http://wms.zgkikm.wroc.pl/wms/)

Residential complex Lokum di Trevi
The Lokum di Trevi residential complex is located in the south-eastern part of Wrocław, in Tarnogaj, in the quarter delimited by Tarnogajska, Klimasa, Międzyleska and Gazowa Streets. It was designed in a block system including eight 4-storey buildings, including one with ground floor services and underground parking lots (Fig. 6). It covers 6 ha, 27% of which is greenery. The estate is fenced and guarded. Vehicle traffic takes place alongside buildings with above-ground parking spaces. Only two patios, which form leisure and recreation zones, are excluded from traffic, including one with a fountain. Flats located on the ground floors have separate gardens, which enables the introduction of private greenery.

Fig. 6. Spatial analysis of the Lokum di Trevi housing complex (Tarnogaj) on the basis of the Board of Geodesy, Cartography and City Cadastre in Wrocław map – own elaboration (http://wms.zgkikm.wroc.pl/wms/)

Residential complex Ogrody Hallera
The studied area of Ogrody Hallera is located in the Grabiszyn-Grabiszynek estate at the intersection of Hallera and Ojca Beyzyma streets. The buildings were built in 2008–2017 as a development estate and covers 5 ha. The buildings are a compact urban complex in a block layout, clearly delineating the boundaries of common spaces. It includes fourteen 3-story buildings and is characterized by a high density of buildings, as it constitutes 40% of the total area, with a 10% share of lawns on the roofs of underground car parks (Fig. 7). The ground floors of the buildings located in the public part from Hallera Street and some premises on the ground floors in the closed part are intended for service activities.

Fig. 7. Spatial analysis of the Ogrody Hallera residential complex (Grabiszyn-Grabiszynek) based on the map of the Board of Geodesy, Cartography and City Cadastre in Wrocław – own elaboration (http://wms.zgkikm.wroc.pl/wms/)


The shaping of greenery accompanying housing complexes shows differences depending on the time of building development, expressed in the share of green areas in the total area of the complex as well as in the form and selection of species making up the housing estate greenery. In total, 121 species of vegetation were identified within the borders of the studied areas (Table 1). Most of them are repeated on 3–4 objects. Several species of native deciduous trees, coping well in urban conditions, occurred in each of the described sites: warty birch, Norway maple, small-leaved lime. Coniferous species such as black pine, blue spruce, norway spruce and western thuja were represented in all the settlements. In each housing estate there are: Thunberg's barberry and Japanese tawuła. In turn, 32% of the listed species of trees, shrubs and creepers occurred only in one of the examined places. Generally speaking, it can be said that for new plantings the most frequently chosen species were those that perfectly cope with urban spaces and have great aesthetic and natural values [15].

Table 1. Occurrence of plant species used for ornamental plantings in the spaces of the studied housing complexes. Own study
Species Frequency of occurrence Species Frequency of occurrence
deciduous trees deciduous shrubs
Acer pseudoplatanus ♦♦♦♦♦ Berberis julianae
Acer negundo ♦♦♦ Berberis thunbergii ♦♦♦♦♦♦
Acer campestre ♦♦♦♦ Buxus sempervirens ♦♦♦♦♦
Acer platanoides ♦♦♦♦♦♦ Caragana arborescens ♦♦♦
Acer saccharinum ♦♦♦♦ Cornus alba ♦♦♦♦♦
Aesculus x carnea Cornus mas
Aesculus hippocastanum ♦♦♦♦ Cotinus coggygria ♦♦♦
Aesculus x carnea Cotoneaster lucidus
Ailanthus altissima ♦♦♦ Cotoneaster acutifolius
Alnus glutinosa Cotonaster horizontalis ♦♦♦♦
Betula pendula ♦♦♦♦♦♦ Deutzia scabra ♦♦
Betula papyrifera ♦♦ Euonymus fortunei ♦♦♦♦
Catalpa bignonioides ♦♦♦♦ Forsythia intermedia ♦♦♦♦♦
Carpinus betulus ♦♦♦♦ Forsythia suspensa
Cerasus sp. ♦♦ Hibiscus syriacus
Cercidiphyllum japonicum Hydrangea macrophylla ♦♦♦
Corylus maxima Hydrangea paniculata ♦♦♦♦
Corylus avellana ♦♦ Ilex aquifolium
Crataegus monogyna ♦♦♦ Kerria japonica ♦♦♦♦
Elaeagnus angustifolia Laburnum anagyroides
Fagus sylvatica ♦♦♦♦ Lavandula angustifolia
Fraxinus excelsior ♦♦♦ Ligustrum vulgare ♦♦♦♦
Ginko biloba ♦♦ Morus alba
Juglans regia ♦♦ Philadelphus coronarius ♦♦♦♦
Liriodendron tulipifera ♦♦♦ Physocarpus opulifolius ♦♦
Magnolia x soulangeana ♦♦ Potentilla fruticosa ♦♦♦♦
Magnolia liliiflora'betty' Prunus triloba ♦♦
Malus domestica ♦♦♦♦ Ptelea trifoliata ♦♦♦♦
Morus alba Pyracantha coccinea ♦♦♦
Quercus rubra ♦♦ Rhamnus frangula
Quercus robur ♦♦♦♦♦ Rhododendron sp. ♦♦♦♦♦
Populus alba ♦♦ Ribes sanguineum ♦♦
Populus nigra ♦♦♦♦ Rosa sp. ♦♦
Populus tremula Sambucus nigra ♦♦♦♦♦
Prunus avium Spiraea japonica ♦♦♦♦
Prunus cerasifera ♦♦♦♦♦ Spiraea x cinerea ♦♦♦♦♦♦
Prunus domestica Spiraea x vanhouttei ♦♦♦
Prunus serotina Symphoricarpos albus ♦♦♦♦
Prunus serrulata ♦♦♦♦ Syringa vulgaris ♦♦♦♦
Pyrus communis Tamarix sp. ♦♦♦
Robinia pseudoacacia ♦♦♦♦ Viburnum lantana ♦♦♦♦
Rhus typhina ♦♦♦♦ Weigela florida ♦♦♦♦♦
Salix alba ♦♦♦♦ coniferous shrubs
Salix integra Juniperus squamata
Salix matsudana Juniperus horizontalis ♦♦♦♦♦
Salix × sepulcralis 'Chrysocoma' Juniperus communis ♦♦♦♦♦
Sorbus aucuparia ♦♦♦♦ Juniperus scopulorum
Sorbus intermedia ♦♦ Juniperus virginiana ♦♦♦♦♦
Tilia americana Taxus baccata ♦♦♦♦♦
Tilia cordata ♦♦♦♦♦♦ Taxus x media
Tilia platyphyllos ♦♦♦ Thuja orientalis ♦♦♦
Ulmus minor ♦♦♦♦ Thuja occidentalis ♦♦♦♦♦♦
conifers creepers
Abies concolor ♦♦ Akebia trifoliata
Abies alba ♦♦♦♦ Clematis sp.
Larix decidua ♦♦♦♦ Hedera helix ♦♦♦♦♦♦
Pinus nigra ♦♦♦♦♦♦ Parthenocissus tricuspidata
Pinus sylvestris ♦♦♦ Wisteria sinensis ♦♦
Picea pungens ♦♦♦♦♦♦    
Picea abies ♦♦♦♦♦♦    
the signs: ♦ – occurs on one housing estate, ♦♦ – occurs on two housing estates, ♦♦♦ – occurs on three housing estates, ♦♦♦♦♦♦ – occurs on five housing estates, ♦♦♦♦♦♦ – occurs in six housing estates

The greatest variety of plants is characteristic for housing complexes from the 1970s and 1980s. 95 species of trees and shrubs have been identified here. In estates from the beginning of the 21st century – 80 species. The vegetation planted in the last century, tall and shrubby, was often supplemented by the inhabitants creating perennial "front gardens" in front of their houses. In turn, the newest plantings have high compositional values, a well-thought-out set of species, but there are much fewer trees here and no spontaneous plantings introduced by the inhabitants. The greenery was created according to the designs, the arrangements of greenery are repetitive and ordered, elements such as symmetry, accentuation and rhythm are noticed in the composition of plants [15]. The groups of plants are not created randomly, they create a coherent composition, repeating throughout the area. Ripe tall greenery appears only in a few areas, most often on the edge of the area, perennials and shrubs predominate in the central parts. Greenery in these estates is treated mainly as an aesthetic element.

The study was attended by 96 residents representing three different age groups (18–26 years; 27–65 years; over 65 years old, 32 residents per group). Residents declare that they mostly use green areas and recreational areas; most willingly – in Szczepin (over 90% positive answers). In the second place (63% of positive responses) such activity is demonstrated by the inhabitants of the complexes located in Gądów-Popowice Płd. and Hubach. This means that greenery associated with housing complexes, conventionally called "old", is more conducive to recreation. In the case of residential complexes created in the 21st century, greenery is rated high, the highest in the Haller Gardens, but it is regularly used by the smallest percentage of respondents. The respondents emphasized the aesthetic value of the designed compositions and did not treat them as places of recreation. Green areas are developed in an exemplary manner, unfortunately they often do not harmonize with the surroundings and do not co-create the urban green space system [4].

A significant part of the inhabitants of the estates from the 1970s and 1980s did not choose a place to live, because they obtained it as a cooperative, or inherited it or lived in it from birth (Huby – 69%, Szczepin – 56%). In the estates from the 21st century, the main factor of choice was location and price (Psie Pole-Zawidawie). The inhabitants of the "new" housing estates (Lokum di Trevi – 56%, Psie Pole-Zawidawie – 50%) were more concerned with the presence of green areas than in "old" estates. Some residents of the Huby (19%) and Psie Pole-Zawidawie (13%) complexes expressed dissatisfaction with the current greenery resources in these housing estates; the need for the smallest changes was declared by the inhabitants of the Lokum di Trevi and Ogrody Hallera complexes. Moreover, during the conducted research, a significant integration of residents was observed, especially those staying at playgrounds (joint care for children, meeting friends, neighborhood chats). Often, during the interview of the pollster with the residents, a discussion arose regarding the necessary changes in the estate, including the need for its proper care necessary for the proper performance of its functions.


Urban residents perceive urban greenery as areas of recreation, tranquility and health, and are aware of the didactic function of greenery and notice the need for greater nature protection, both in social and economic terms [2]. Municipal governments, however, often do not see the need to maintain an appropriate area of ??greenery and natural resources. In many cities, green areas are perceived as a barrier to the development of new investments, and city authorities do not see supra-local relationships and spatial and ecological systems. In Polish legislation, there is an obligation of a minimum share of biologically active areas expressed as a percentage in relation to the area of the entire plot intended for development [16]. However, green areas are treated in a general manner in planning documents (local spatial development plans) [11]. Greenery is treated as an insignificant element of development, and the compositional role of greenery in urban spaces is often depreciated. Housing estates in Poland, especially in large cities, constitute an important spatial tissue. The quality of housing estate interiors, regardless of the time of their creation, often does not meet the criteria of comfort and functionality. Complexes of "old blocks of flats" are often poorly developed, devastated or neglected. On the other hand, "new" housing estates, where the biological active area drops even to 25%, do not fulfill the most important functions – natural and social [13].

The growing needs of urban development are the cause of impoverishment of the city's environment. The reduction of the biologically active area resulting from the development disturbs the proportions between the built-up areas (sealed areas) and the natural environment and the possibilities of its functioning and regeneration, which in turn causes deterioration of the inhabitants' lives. There used to be building standards defining the net area of greenery per capita [18]. At present, the lack of such standards results in the secondary development of buildings in older estates and the primary high density of buildings in the "new" estates. Urbanization carries many risks [1], but prudent can effectively harmonize the needs of using space and the environment [6]. These needs are met by the European Council of Town Planners, which in 2003 prepared the New Athens Charter [7] containing a vision of 21st century cities. According to its provisions, cities should ensure, inter alia, contact with the cultural and natural heritage of parks, squares and open green areas. Therefore, it becomes necessary to create such an urban environment that will ensure a high quality of life through the balance and harmony of social, economic and environmental development. Thus, urban greenery becomes a more important and appreciated part of urban layouts, both existing and planned. The importance of biologically active areas changes depending on the adopted methods of considering the natural structure of the city, introducing the concept of development and transformations in modern cities [12]. Green areas shape and organize the spatial layout of the city, create character and improve the appearance of streets and squares, give the districts an original and specific appearance. Vegetation, especially trees, significantly affects the microclimate by shading and insulating the space, retaining dust and other pollutants, purifying the air and slowing down the runoff of rainwater [17]. Program activities derived from the global policy of sustainable development are increasingly noticed, where it is important to revitalize and transform degraded and industrial trends by supplementing the biological part. The communication routes planted with trees and shrubs and plantings along the watercourses are becoming an element of ecological corridors linking city centers with suburbs and external open areas.

 The possibilities of introducing greenery in the city center are very limited. Not all housing estates are located in close proximity to green areas, which is why the housing estate greenery plays such an important role. Contemporary residential development complexes are created on the basis of local spatial development plans, which regulate the issue of green areas in multi-family development spaces [10]. Green areas in housing estates should be arranged so that they meet the needs of people as much as possible in terms of aesthetic impressions, as well as health, leisure, recreational and utility. Meticulously designed, unique forms and greenery compositions can distinguish the space of the estate from others. There is a strong relationship between the individualization of the place of residence and the identification of the local community. The local community, the better it identifies with the place of residence, the stronger it is connected with each other. At the same time, the characteristic and individual features of the surrounding space significantly influence the identification of residents with a given area.

Based on the analyzes performed, it is possible to formulate conclusions:

According to the ordinance of the Minister of Infrastructure, 2002 [8] on the technical conditions to be met by multi-family buildings and their surroundings on building plots, it follows that 25% of the area should be designated for biologically active areas and only the provisions of the local spatial development plan may constitute exceptions to this rule. It is worth treating these recommendations on the same level as the technical recommendations for multi-family buildings.

The quantity and general availability and high standard of green areas will be one of the basic parameters of the space and landscape of new cities. With the technological progress of spatial and functional solutions in cities, there will be a return to the preservation of public green areas, despite its earlier degradation to the benefit of the technosphere [14]. It is important to take into account the mutual relations of greenery and building systems integrated with biologically active surfaces, related to the system of open spaces with deliberately selected greenery [3]. Defining the parameters and structure of buildings in relation to biologically active areas in cities will allow for proper shaping of urbanized spaces and linking them with the natural system into an integral whole.


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  18. Zarządzenia nr 15 Przewodniczącego Komitetu Budownictwa, Urbanistyki i Architektury z dnia 21 lutego 1961 w  sprawie głównych wskaźników do projektowania osiedli mieszkaniowych w  latach 1961–1965. [Regulation No. 15 of the Chairman of the Construction, Town Planning and Architecture Committee of February 21, 1961 on the main indicators for the design of housing estates in the years 1961–1965], Publisher: Komitet Budownictwa, Urbanistyki i Architektury, Warszawa, ss.24

Received: 22.09.2020
Reviewed: 18.10.2020
Accepted: 26.10.2020

Natalia Siepietowska
Institute of Spatial Management, Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Poland

Beata Raszka
Institute of Spatial Management, Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Poland

email: beata.raszka@upwr.edu.pl

Responses to this article, comments are invited and should be submitted within three months of the publication of the article. If accepted for publication, they will be published in the chapter headed 'Discussions' and hyperlinked to the article.