Small towns of the Lublin Region: transformations of landscape
Small towns of the Lublin Region are a repository of our national cultural heritage. These towns are not only a collection of buildings and places, but also living forms that constantly change over time. Today, each historic town is regarded as a town of cultural heritage.
Definition of a small town
Based on traditional definitions, a small town or a town may be described as a spatial grouping of a limited number of buildings within a specific clearly laid-out area, intended for a small population as well as relationships between and within these elements. The adjective “small” is used to describe populations of various sizes, usually ranging between a few and a dozen or so thousand people, and generally not more than thirty thousand inhabitants. The term “small town” is used by historians and urban planners to describe settlements with urban or near-urban functions, mostly the ones exerting a local economic impact and with the largest urban population in the region.
In the majority of Polish small towns, the existing resources reflect the character of the town and create its distinctive urban landscape. The landscape is like a setting formed by history for the life and activities of the changing generations. Evolution of this setting should be gradual so as not to destroy the identity of the place, its tradition and culture.
Urban landscape vs. cultural landscape
The definition of urban landscape is consistent with the definition of cultural landscape in which we observe visible effects of human activity. The term “urban landscape” appears in the context of the cultural landscape typology for the landscape architecture purposes. In the majority of Polish cities and towns we still find old centers that fall into the concept of the historic city/town. Consequently, such complexes should be considered as areas of the cultural, historic and urban landscape with a specific intricate structure.
Analysis of spatial layouts
The analysis of spatial layouts in order to trace the process of shaping the urban landscape throughout centuries, on the one hand, and forming of the location-specific forms of development, which determine the place's tradition and cultural heritage, on the other consists of several stages:
– examining historical background, including the emergence and development of the historic layout and individual components of considerable cultural and landscape values plus identification and organization of types of development, including: historic complexes and structures; traditional residential housing; public buildings and buildings of the postwar period, and their respective impact on the urban landscape evolution;
– listing the types of development that had a significant impact on shaping the urban landscape and its historical continuity of development, for example: temporary housing developments of the occupation and post-occupation period, remnants of Jewish houses or industrial buildings;
– describing the course of development of cities/towns, analyzed on the basis of population density, migration and components of utilities;
– describing transformations of the architecture and landscape, taking into account historic structures and complexes, which are significant for the landscape; landscape values of urban architectural complexes and changes in the small town's landscape.