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Cities of Dispersal
Guest-edited by Rafi Segal and Els Verbakel
4 Architectural Design Backlist Titles
Volume 76 No. 4 ISBN 0470025859
Volume 76 No. 5 ISBN 0470026529
Volume 76 No. 6 ISBN 0470026340
Volume 77 No. 1 ISBN 0470029684
Volume 77 No. 2 ISBN 0470034793
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Individual backlist issues of 4 are available for purchase at £22.99/US$45. To order and subscribe for 2008 see page 136.
4 Architectural Design Forthcoming Titles 2008
March/April 2008, Profile No 192
Versatility and Vicissitude: Performance in Morpho-Ecological Design
Guest-edited by Michael Hensel and Achim Menges
This third AD by the guest-editors of the highly successful Emergence and Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design titles shifts the morpho-ecological design project into the realm of performance. Whereas the dictionary definition of performance – to ‘carry out an action’ or ‘to fulfil a task’ – invokes a tired utilitarian debate, Hensel and Menges inject the meaning of the word ‘performance’ with an entirely new life. In this context, form is redefined not as the shape of a material object alone, but as the multitude of effects, a milieu of conditions, modulations and microclimates that emanate from an object’s exchange with its specific environment; a dynamic relationship that is perceived and interacted with by a subject. A synergetic employment of performance and morpho-ecological techniques combine to create integral design solutions that will render an alternative model for sustainability. This issue presents historical precursors and precedents for this approach, as well as the current state of the art of morpho-ecological design. Key contributors include: Klaus Bollinger and Manfred Grohmann of Bollinger & Grohmann, Aleksandra Jaeschke, OCEAN NORTH, Professor Remo Pedreschi, Defne Sunguro˘ glu, Peter Trummer and Michael Weinstock.
May/June 2008, Profile No 193
Guest-edited by Julieanna Preston
What does one mean when describing a room as atmospheric? Does it allude to a space that has been designed, stylised or even thematised? Is it a spatial quality conditioned by one’s perception? Does atmosphere originate from material attributes inherent to interior finishes and décor? Is it simply the dramatic effect resulting from skilful use of lighting and colour? Is atmosphere an immersive ambience? How is atmosphere crafted? Does it have a critical edge, literally and theoretically? Visually exciting and provocative, Interior Atmospheres combines contemporary projects and interviews alongside analytical essays. Authors such as Rachel Carley, Ted Krueger, Malte Wagenfeld and Hélène Frichot explore the distinctions between visible and invisible realms within architectural design. The technological interface between design and atmosphere is tested through digital and creative material works by Petra Blaisse, Kevin Klinger, Gregory Luhan, Andrew Kudless, Walter Niedermayr, Kazuo Sejima and Ryue Nizhisawa, LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela, Joel Sanders and Karen Van Legnen, Scott Gowans and Steve Wright and Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis Architects. Paul James, Mary Anne Beecher and Lois Weinthal probe the physical limits of atmosphere in regard to site, 'the outside' and interiority. Contributors and projects straddle the boundaries of design, art and architecture in order to gain a fuller understanding of atmosphere’s elusive and pervasive presence.
July/August 2008, Profile No 194
Proto Architecture: Analogue and Digital Hybrids
Guest-edited by Bob Sheil
The illusive and uncertain world of translating ideas into matter is a negotiation between the ideal and the real and a central preoccupation of architectural production. By invading the toolbox of digital fabrication, design has transgressed into protocols of manufacturing previously the domain of other disciplines and skills sets. Craft, assembly and installation, once the realm of trades, are qualities that are now dependent upon design information and its status as an instruction to make. The ensuing loop between the physical and tactile, the imaginary and speculative, has defined a new expectation in making architecture as a construct that is part real, part ideal. With contributions from Lebbeus Woods, Evan Douglis, Theo Jansen, Shin Egashira and many more, Proto-Architecture presents an explicitly diverse collection of works from leading and emerging practitioners, educators, researchers and visionaries from all corners of the innovative field.
Architectural Design January/February 2008 Cities of Dispersal Guest-edited by Rafi Segal and Els Verbakel 4 .
Nigel Coates. Edwin Heathcote.99 Single issues outside UK: US$45. Massimiliano Fuksas.00 Details of postage and packing charges available on request.co. London W1T 4LP. Michael Rotondi.co. El Caracol.uk [ISSN: 0003-8504] 4 is published bimonthly and is available to purchase on both a subscription basis and as individual volumes at the following prices. Israel. electronic. No part of this publication may be reproduced. NY 11003 Individual rate subscriptions must be paid by personal cheque or credit card.co. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica.uk Editor Helen Castle Production Editor Elizabeth Gongde Project Management Caroline Ellerby Design and Prepress Artmedia Press. André Chaszar. Elmont. Bognor Regis West Sussex. Jayne Merkel. photocopying. 200 Meacham Avenue. stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means. Israel Rafi Segal 64 Peripheral Landscapes. scanning or otherwise. mechanical.co. Peter Cook. West Sussex PO19 8SQ England F: +44 (0)1243 770620 E: permreq@wiley. Mark Burry. All prices are subject to change without notice. London Printed in Italy by Conti Tipocolor Advertisement Sales Faith Pidduck/Wayne Frost T: +44 (0)1243 770254 E: fpidduck@wiley. Ken Yeang Contributing Editor Jayne Merkel All Rights Reserved. Elmont. Leon van Schaik. Front cover: Desert within a city: proposed plan for the city of Beer Sheva. © Rafi Segal Requests to the Publisher should be addressed to: Permissions Department. PO22 9SA T: +44 (0)1243 843272 F: +44 (0)1243 843232 E: cs-journals@wiley. NY 11003 4 6 Editorial Helen Castle 34 Water and Asphalt The Project of Isotropy in the Metropolitan Region of Venice Paola Viganò Introduction Urbanism Without Density Rafi Segal and Els Verbakel 40 12 16 22 28 The Public and the V2 Bruce Robbins Intermittent Cities On Waiting Spaces and How to Inhabit Transforming Cities Claudia Faraone and Andrea Sarti Terminal Distribution Albert Pope 46 54 58 String Block Vs Superblock Patterns of Dispersal in China Kjersti Monson Public Lifestyle in the Low-Density City Alex Wall In the Our Beautiful Future Martha Rosler Old Dispersions and Scenes for the Production of Public Space The Constructive Margins of Secondarity Bruno De Meulder Archipelago of the Negev Desert A Temporal/Collective Plan for Beer Sheva. Individual rate subscriptions may not be resold or used as library copies.ISBN-978 0470 06637 9 Profile No 191 Vol 78 No 1 C O N T E N T S 4 Editorial Offices International House Ealing Broadway Centre London W5 5DB T: +44 (0)20 8326 3800 F: +44 (0)20 8326 3801 E: architecturaldesign@wiley. Anthony Hunt. Jan Kaplicky. Teddy Cruz. 2007. The Atrium Southern Gate Chichester. Mexico City Jose Castillo . Denise Bratton. except under the terms of the Copyright. recording. 200 Meacham Avenue. 90 Tottenham Court Road. Charles Jencks. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Neil Spiller. Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under the terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd. Rafi Segal (with Yonatan Cohen and Kate Snider). Postmaster Send address changes to 3 Publications Expediting Services. Robert Maxwell. Air freight and mailing in the USA by Publications Expediting Services Inc. Michael Weinstock. without the permission in writing of the Publisher. Annual Subscription Rates 2008 Institutional Rate Print only or Online only: UK£180/US$335 Combined Print and Online: UK£198/US$369 Personal Rate Print only: UK£110/US$170 Student Rate Print only: UK£70/US$110 Prices are for six issues and include postage and handling charges.uk Subscription Offices UK John Wiley & Sons Ltd Journals Administration Department 1 Oldlands Way.uk Editorial Board Will Alsop. NY 11431. Max Fordham. UK. Michael Hensel. Single Issues Single issues UK: £22.
Saint-Nazaire The Historic Periphery Manuel de Solà-Morales 110+ 114+ 120+ Interior Eye Reinvigorating Childhood Howard Watson 74 Nam Van Square. Macau Manuel Vicente Urban [IM]plants Tactics for Recombining Landscape and Collective Space in Bonheiden. Sarah Whiting and Margaret Crawford Userscape Natural Methods of Interaction Or Natural Interaction in the Everyday Digital World Valentina Croci 124+ Royal Dutch Military Police Campus Zvi Hecker’s Landscape Urbanism Rafi Segal Spiller’s Bits Putting the ‘I’ back into Architecture Neil Spiller 126+ Unit Factor Radical Interface AA New Media Research Initiative Joel Newman.4+ 68 Urban Voids: Grounds for Change Reimagining Philadelphia’s Vacant Lands Deenah Loeb 88 94 Ville-Port. Theodore Spyropoulos and Vasilis Stroumpakos 130+ Yeang’s Eco-Files On Green Design (Part 3) The Basic Premises for Green Design Ken Yeang 134+ McLean’s Nuggets Will McLean . Austria Vito Acconci 80 84 User-Focused Public Space (M)UTOPIA in Denmark Serban Cornea Discussion Architecture and Dispersal Rafi Segal and Els Verbakel with Stan Allen. Marcel Smets. Graz. Belgium Els Verbakel and Elie Derman 100 102 Practice Profile KieranTimberlake Associates Jayne Merkel Mur Island.
When most people are asked where they would like to live, they will answer quite categorically the town or the country. Yet fewer and fewer people worldwide actually inhabit city centres or truly rural surroundings. Home for most of us is somewhere in between, whether it be outer- or inner-city suburbia, urban sprawl or a makeshift shanty town. This is a trend that is set to intensify with the growth of the world’s population from 5 billion in 1987 to 6.7 billion in 2007. According to the UN Habitat 2006 Annual Report, for the first time in history half of the people worldwide are now living in towns or cities; this shift towards urbanisation is only set to continue with 60 per cent of the world’s population living in or around cities by 2030. Whereas growth and diffusion of urbanity has been most famously associated with the ‘edge city’ of Los Angeles or the unharnessed development of illegal housing in India and South America, it is a situation that affects us all. It is most apparent in some of the small wealthiest nations of northwestern Europe, such as Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK, where space is scarce and, despite falling birth rates, their buoyant economies continue to attract migrant workers, boosting their ageing populations. This is epitomised by the Dutch conurbation of the Randstad, made up of the four major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague, and their respective satellite towns, which form a continuous rim around a green heartland. One also only has to drive along the M4 corridor to wonder where London begins or ends. Rafi Segal and Els Verbakel’s title of AD represents an important shift in mindset and aspirations. It squarely positions the dispersed city as a fertile territory for architectural intervention. Whereas outer urban areas have conventionally been the stronghold of the house builder or commercial developer, it places architects and urban designers’ sights on exurbia. Segal and Verbakel regard ‘dispersal as an opportunity to reinvent urbanity’, and specifically to question the notion of public space, which was traditionally positioned in the centre of cities. Featured projects range across the world from Macau in southern China to Copenhagen and Mexico City. Sometimes the investigations are theoretical, but always the focus is on application. Both guest-editors have undertaken projects in this field; Segal here publishes his own project for Beer Sheva in the Negev Desert of Israel, and Verbakel her scheme for the town of Bonheiden in Flemish Belgium. What all the contributors share is an understanding of the possibilities of reinventing and re-editing the given built environment. Abandoned is the notion of Modernist control; to have a place in this setting one has to be deft and flexible, content to engage with the world as it is rather than to recast it as one would like it to be. 4 Helen Castle
Guy Saggee, Digital print, 2007 In a response to the theme of this issue and in collaboration with its guest-editors, graphic artist Guy Saggee explored images of dispersed cities. Similar to the production of collective space in dispersed urban conditions, his graphic technique of dithering produces a blurred image interspersed with emerging patterns. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Image © Guy Saggee
The predominance of sprawling, low-density urban environments throughout the world begs the question: What constitutes a city? Such environments also require us to rethink public space, traditionally at the core of city centres. Rafi Segal and Els Verbakel outline the challenges and opportunities that cities of dispersal raise.
Our built environment is in the process of reorganising itself, redistributing densities of buildings, population and activities. Cities are expanding, growing and sprawling, while at the same time their centres and downtowns are shrinking, disappearing, voiding out. By mid-century, the populations of 39 countries are projected to be smaller than they are today: for example, Japan and Germany 14% smaller, Italy and Hungary 25% smaller, and the Russian Federation, Georgia and Ukraine between 28 and 40% smaller. Statistics from World Population Prospects: The 2000 Revision, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, 2000 This process of growth and redistribution has been partially described by terms such as ‘sprawl’, ‘suburbs’ (with roots in
the American context),1 ‘wild living’ and the ‘diffused city’ (‘citta diffusa’ – mostly referring to the European context).2 Dispersal functions as an umbrella term for these phenomena, by zooming out and describing them as part of a larger global tendency. In this context, Cities of Dispersal can be recognised as emerging types of low-density environments: decentralised, heterogeneous, and radically different from traditional definitions of the city in their spatial organisation and patterns of growth.3 Between 1960 and 1990, the population in more than 200 American cities increased by 47%, while urbanised land increased by 107%, resulting in a density decrease of 28%. Statistics from David Rusk, Cities Without Suburbs, Woodrow Wilson Center Press (Washington), 1995 Throughout these physical transformations of the urban environment, the notion of public space has not remained unaltered. Public space has long been a decisive factor in our understanding of the city. Furthermore, we can say that the notion of the public itself, even if by virtue of imagination, has been essential for any act of urban design or planning.4 It is therefore inevitable to ask: What is the place and role of public space in new dispersed urban environments? How have dispersed urban conditions changed the notion of public? And what are the current notions of the public that influence the way we conceive cities?
50% of US housing is suburban, 20% of US housing is non-metropolitan. From American Housing Survey for the United States: 2001, US Census Bureau, 2002 The traditional distinction between the urban and the nonurban relied on a hierarchical organisation of density. Cities at the centre were the densest, most concentrated, moving to less dense areas towards the suburbs, the countryside, and yet further to the wilderness. These different types of environments not only presented different degrees of human intervention and habitation, they also developed different ways of living. The opposition between negative and positive attributes of city and countryside has long been supported by clear boundaries between one and the other, be it through walls, ring roads, green belts and the like. Yet over the course of the 20th century, whether due to economic, industrial, military or technological developments, the distinctions between city, suburb, countryside and wilderness have become blurred. In their currently advanced state of dispersal, cities have lost their traditional boundaries.5 Due to a redistribution of urban activities and intensities, we can no longer recognise a clear pattern of high density in the centre and lower densities at the periphery. In this process, programmes that were previously associated with the city centre, such as commerce, office work, leisure and entertainment, have been transplanted to suburbia and have taken on a different shape. Suburbs, new towns and satellite cities, initially designated for housing, have gradually become multifunctional environments, independent of the city. The distinction between the city as a centre and suburbia as its subordinate kin has become, in many cases, neither accurate nor appropriate. Low-density environments have ceased to be sub-urban, no longer relying on the city as their centre, or raison d’ê tre. Many of these low-density environments (also outside the European and American context), despite their increasing
integration within urban systems, are generally not viewed as urban or as cities. This is mainly due to their lack of density and centrality, the absence of a coherent urban fabric or distinguishable boundaries, and a ‘damaged’ relationship between the pedestrian and urban space.6 More importantly, they are seen to lack the conventional forms and uses of urban public spaces to which we have become accustomed. Current attempts to qualify dispersal usually refer to the loss of these characteristics.7 Yet when we look at examples of sprawling cities such as Los Angeles and Mexico City, or larger, spread-out areas such as the Veneto region in Italy or the state of New Jersey, we find different urbanities that have emerged from such apparent losses. Dispersal has led many to paint a sombre picture of an irresponsible ‘non-urbanity’, from which the only escape is a move back into the city. However, if we are to accept Rem Koolhaas’ claim that the city is dead, or Mark Wigley’s statement that the city has ceased to be a useful idea in planning, we are left in confusion, with losses on both sides.8 This issue of AD treats dispersal as an opportunity to reinvent urbanity. It questions whether the urban should remain reserved solely for the dense physical environment. Can not the notion of the city be established through combined degrees of interaction, access and communication that do not necessarily require high densities? High degrees of exchange, interconnectivity, the overlapping of networks, juxtapositions and proximities of diverse programmes – all can create an intensity that generates an urban condition, urban in its function, notions and experiences (chance, anonymity, conflict, and so on). Moreover, in the process of seeking new opportunities for alternative urbanities, the notion of public space itself needs to be questioned. Recent studies of contemporary urbanities have suggested that traditional definitions of public space are no longer accurate to describe chance encounters, temporary spaces of gathering, partially accessible meeting places, commercialised and themed entertainment. Can we, then, replace the more
Our changing notion of the public has thus allowed certain forms of urbanity to evolve. academics.Ørestad. and 8 . at times vague and unpredictable notion. and jurisprudence13 – preoccupied with locating the boundary between public and private – can be seen as those mechanisms that also propagated urban sprawl. proposes the reintegration of traditional forms of public space such as urban plazas. The problem lies in the fact that there is not always a clear or direct correlation between social. limiting social diversity. but on the other hand changes in the urban realm have contributed to creating new notions of public space. They have seldom led to innovative work and have often contradicted contemporary notions of scale. doctors. political and cultural notions – in this case the notion of the public – and their architectural or urban expression.11 This shift of rationalism and criticism has left the public sphere prone to stronger forces such as marketisation and privatisation. The idea of a public sphere.12 Mechanisms that have contributed to the privatisation of public space (at least within the American context). and allows the organisation of grassroots campaigns. and so on) who engage in it un-publicly. urban space by its nature refers to concrete places that undergo slower processes of change in appropriating new conceptions and conditions.10 no longer functions for the reasons that brought it about – as the place where opinions and ideas about society and state were formed and discussed. the public today is better understood as a fragmentary interplay of multiple publics and multiple groups. forms and programmes. diversity and flexibility. processes that have been considered by some a threat to democracy. With the rise of consumption culture. Rather than a singular. is essential to the preservation of democracy since it provides the space for freedom of speech and public assembly. Mexico demanding term ‘public space’ with the somewhat more adaptable option of ‘collective space’? And how does this impact our understanding of the city? Within the field of urban design and planning. for example. continuous sphere or space. Public space. critical reason is seen to have shifted to other groups (lawyers. While the public is an abstract. such as the reorganisation of collective space towards consumption. Other approaches to urban dispersal understand and thus address contemporary notions of the public and public space but without projecting new urban configurations. maintains awareness of the needs of others. as identified by J Habermas as having emerged from 18th-century bourgeois society.14 Many previous approaches to public space in sprawled conditions have attempted to impose traditional urban models rather than seek new types of spaces. and discouraging long-distance commuting even when these are alien to the way we live today. Its approach operates within a new urban condition that assumes a notion of an old public – mimicking traditional architecture (and a historic way of life). The Congress for the New Urbanism. highly dynamic. Yet this notion has undergone substantial changes. the extension of undemocratic governance systems such as home-owners associations and development districts. according to this conception. enforcing pedestrian movement. enables the publicising of dissent. the shaping of public space has been considered the primary task of the architect or urbanist. the public sphere has become an ‘arena for advertising’ channelled at pleasing various tastes and personal preferences. while mass consumers might have a public receptiveness but remain non-critical. This inertia of the urban environment is enhanced by the general tendency (also of architects and urbanists) to preserve old models and expressions even though they may no longer serve current necessities. Denmark Mexico City. commercial main streets and other components of a townscape tradition within contemporary sprawled environments.9 Its role and place in the city as a space of gathering and exchange has been treated as a kind of ‘glue’ that holds together the city and promises to generate urban coherence and active use. With this understanding.
The Netherlands Veneto. temporal programmes that function as urban voids. describes how certain literary ideas of public space can possibly inform urban thinking. The use of landscape. These critical observations are further explored by a series of much more speculative projects. In parallel. in ‘The Public and the V2’. It calls for an investigation of the public and/or collective dimensions of dispersed urban conditions. but rather capable of taking on several forms/shapes/arrangements present in the existing environment. presenting both research essays and design examples from different scales. landscape becomes a strategy for urban peripheries. Grahame Shane and many others explain how the concept of heterotopia provides opportunities for hosting contemporary spaces of gathering or collectivity within the city. research and design projects that follow present an interpretation. The last section of the issue pulls together a series of built work. 9 . meaning it does not carry a form or shape of itself. potentially leading to more innovative models and approaches of design and intervention. as a possible prototype for a new kind of public space. cultures and geographies. Identifying heterotopia as a type of public space does not therefore require a new urbanarchitectural setting. the relationship between new publics and new urban spaces has yet to be explored. or projects under construction. The essays. Cities of Dispersal is an attempt in this direction. Danish group MUTOPIA propose an interactive approach that utilises user-based computer software to aid in appropriating collective spaces.15 Yet a primary trait of heterotopia is its ‘mirror-function’. It mirrors an existing reality. large-scale commercial complexes situated in lowdensity urban areas. while establishing a new balance of built and open space for ecological and infrastructural functions. which imagines the desert landscape as a site of shared. Els Verbakel and Elie Derman present a ‘toolbox of interventions’ – a method for combining green and collective spaces – for the suburban town of Bonheiden in Belgium. offering new ways of looking at the relationship between collective spaces and urban dispersal. Albert Pope examines the morphological and structural processes that characterise the development of low-density urbanisms. Italy without considering the need for a new urban/architectural expression. Both cases present the transformation of a ‘negative’ useless space to a positive attractor. Alex Wall outlines the emerging typology of lifestyle centres. Reinterpreting Foucault. ecological tourism and other forms of programmed open spaces become alternatives to redensifying former city centres such as the urban voids of Philadelphia (the ‘Grounds for Change’ competition proposals) featured in Deenah Loeb’s article. agriculture. some of which emphasise a method for urban growth and renewal rather than offer one solution. The dominance of bigness within urban sprawl is also examined by Kjersti Monson in a critical investigation of the Chinese superblock. one of the most rapid modes of urban expansion worldwide.Schiphol. Martha Rosler’s ‘utopian community’ challenges existing structures of interaction and advances the potential of the art project as space for social change. It is not particular to any specific physical-spatial setting. In other projects such as Jose Castillo’s El Caracol in Mexico City. Bruce Robbins. The notion of utopia also characterises the Beer Sheva (Israel) proposal by Rafi Segal. separating different communitybased neighbourhood islands. understanding and/or critique of how new forms of collective space can be imagined. The research presented in this issue includes parts of the extensive studies and mappings of European urban dispersal by Bruno De Meulder (on Flanders) and Paola Viganó (on the Veneto region).16 While these approaches have contributed considerably to the discourse on dispersal and the role of architects/urbanists within this type of environment. Two framing essays open the issue. and the betterment of urban living.
These projects manage to overcome a restricted and problematic site. social. Similarly. that infrastructure can generate multi-use spaces. whether in China or the Middle East. if we could not unself-consciously take them for granted as really existing and addressable 10 . they are spatialised not by streets and piazzas but by infrastructure and landscape. and how to redefine this space as part of the public realm.Shanghai. low density. the question also arises whether the notion of public space may be replaced by spaces of collectivity. commercial complexes and suburban housing. has been adopted to identify multiple regions in Europe such as the Dutch Randstad. projects and built work raises questions on how to approach the ‘emptiness’ of the dispersed city. 3. 17 These questions provide a major challenge for architects and urbanists. Originally introduced in reaction to Dutch government-controlled standardised housing. ‘Diffused city’. a term invented during the 1990s to describe the spread-out urban fabric of Italy’s northern Veneto region. Carlotta Bruni and Rui Leão) and in Vito Acconci’s Mur Island. ‘If we did not have a practical sense of what publics are. This collection of research essays. the German Ruhr area and others. These areas have grown from a network of medium. appropriate and inhabit the space in between spread-out buildings. the Flemish Diamond. projects and buildings that appear in this issue of AD aspire to address the former rather than the latter. and consequently other regions in the world. transformed into a mixture of industrial parks. it came to describe the process of modernising the rural landscape as a means to prevent city growth. where the conventional distinction between city. privacy and mobility. suburban communities gained importance after the Second World War with massive reconstruction efforts and the creation of new towns as satellite settlements around existing cities. sprawl has largely been initiated by the post-Second World War housing crisis. The projects and explorations presented here point out the opportunities of what are commonly seen as negative characteristics of sprawl. less dependent on designations of democracy and freedom. and the encouragement of consumption: a growing demand and supply of choice. Belgium From a more direct architectural point of view. 4 Notes 1. a temporary floating bridge/gathering space. lack of context becomes an opportunity to create an artificial context. and the non 24/7 lifespan of programmes opens up a redefinition of accidental places of gathering. claiming no responsibility for its outcome. Also in Europe. The potential of public space as an island can be seen in the Nam Van Square project in Macau (Manuel CM Vicente. conveniently avoiding it. large distances and building plots provoke super-size design approaches. In the American context. the democratisation of ‘the good life’. Fragments become islands. voids become landscapes. and the role of the architect/urbanist in these processes through the shaping and programming of space – whether by offering new imaginations of collective life.to small-size cities interspersed with former agricultural territories and rural villages. 4. building and landscape is questioned. Whether in the form of super-size islands. how to use. In addition to the potential of the void. suburbs and the diffused city. Both of these suggest. The selected essays. thereby unfolding a spectrum of critical and self-conscious approaches that contribute to a new field of research and design yet to be further defined and explored. Even though much attention has recently been drawn to cities being built from scratch. piecemeal implants or ad hoc and userbased events. the meeting of dispersal and the notion of collective space produces intriguing projects such as Zvi Hecker’s KMar campus in Amsterdam or Manuel de Solà-Morales’ mixed-use project in Saint-Nazaire. utopian. China Bonheiden. 2. the phenomenon of urban dispersal – the spreading out of existing metropolitan areas – is much greater in scope. or by repeating conventional forms associated with past notions of the city. France. Here there is room for broader discussions concerning the place of collective spaces in sociopolitical processes. on different scales. reproducing their own context and creating a sequence of inner voids/open spaces that are integral to the architecture. rather than monofunctional structures intended only for movement from one place to the other. who have tended to ‘look down’ on dispersal. the term ‘wild living’ refers to the massive inhabitation of the dispersed European territory. The unbearable fluidity of dispersal has the potential to be transformed into a more grounded condition whereby new collective spaces take a prominent role: whether ecological.
Issue 6. Urban Design Futures. NAI Publishers (Rotterdam). 2005. ‘Shaping public space is considered the first order of urbanism by the architect/urbanist. In current urban design practices. Supported by recent discussions held during the conference ‘Visionary Power: Producing the Contemporary City’ at the 3rd International Rotterdam Biennale. From Craig Calhoun.’ Alex Krieger. 2003 (www.edu/in_visible_culture/Issue_6/issue6title. 14. function and spaces of political activity/debate have changed drastically. From Margaret Kohn. ‘Visual Publics. ‘Resisting the city’. 6.’ Michael Warner. existing spaces are reinterpreted as ‘heterotopian’. or re-created. space and setting. This same setting is still used today to represent the public (as a political body). in Joke Brouwer. Yet publics exist only by virtue of their imagining. These forms of dispersed settlements have now begun to be transformed into a new type of urbanism. 1992. Even contemporary urban historians and theorists such as Marcel Smets and Manfred Kühn still raise the need to overcome this dichotomy. leaving no middle ground. ‘Introduction’ in Invisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture. leads to a reading of the environment as made up of binary poles. arquitectura 911sc. Mark Wigley. Urban Design and City Theory. ZKM (Center for Art and Media). p 10(l) © Kjersti Monson. disputes involving natural resources. From this point of view. wilderness or suburbia is no longer sustainable. Italy social entities. p 7(r) © Dominique Macel. Rosalyn Deutsche and Michael Warner present a less definable singular public sphere but rather a fragmentary interplay of multiple publics and counter publics. since. 17. What is called empty should be understood in relative terms. p 8(r) © Jose Castillo Ólea. De Ringcultuur. MA. TransUrbanism. 16. Latour’s examination of past notions of the public as a political body suggests that in our world. The parliament’s architecture.The layout of the parliament house. and London). p 22. Images: p 6(l) © Paolo Viganò. camps. specifying that of which it is vacant: vacant of buildings. p 8(l) © MUTOPIA ApS. p 6(r) © Van Alen Institute. p 26. pp 14–44.’ 11. sprawled cities. p 10(r) © Els Verbakel. definition. A common belief is that we have not created any good cities since the 19th century.Beer Sheva. Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. or what Willem-Jan Neutelings calls the ‘density of the void’. under the direction of Philipp Oswalt (Berlin) in cooperation with the Leipzig Gallery of Contemporary Art. Habermas and the Public Sphere. Willem-Jan Neutelings. Graham Shane. even though the structure. 15. Richard Ingersoll’s Sprawltown: Looking for the City on its Edges. 10. made manifest a certain public-political activity. Wiley-Academy (Chichester). 7. in Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (eds). 19th-century city boulevards and others. ‘From Realpolitik to Dingpolitick or How to make things Public’. for example. for example. and the ‘Shrinking Cities’ project – an ongoing exhibition and publications (2002–05) of the Federal Cultural Foundation. centre and periphery. Princeton Architectural Press (New York). 13. ‘Territories of urban design’. p 11(r) © Martha Rosler 11 . MIT Press (Cambridge. there are many other kinds of assemblies that gather a public around things: church. 12. Vlees en Beton Publishers (Ghent). suburbs. p 7(l) © Macau Information Bureau. diffused cities and so on. 1988. we could not conduct elections or indeed imagine ourselves as members of nations or movements. Shane extensively discusses definitions of heterotopias and their potential use in city modelling and urban design. Visible Publics’. One of the forefathers of urban design (town planning). from the garden cities to new towns. supermarket. The main argument presented by Margaret Kohn in Brave New Neighborhoods: The Privatization of Public Space. 2006. and London). p 9(l) © Zvi Hecker. It is a search for the materialisation of this emptiness. Zone Books (New York). op cit. vacant of activities. Arjen Mulder and Laura Martz. op cit. Publics and Counterpublics. and so on. in Malcolm Moor and Jon Rowland (eds). Routledge (London and New York). The fact is that new forms of settlements have been created. 2004. 2005. MIT Press (Cambridge. the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and the magazine archplus. thereby offering new descriptive models that stress the lack of coherence. Elie Derman of Derman Verbakel Architecture and Ward Verbakel Architect. photo Jonathan Cohen Litant. Patrick Geddes pointed out a hundred years ago that the antagonism between city and country. Karlsruhe. established an architectural expression to that period’s conception of political assembly. 2006. Renaissance piazzas. as it emerged during the Enlightenment (discussed by Bruno Latour in Making Things Public). p 11(l) © Rafi Segal. See. pp 1–48.html): ‘Our theoretical understanding of the public has changed since Jürgen Habermas introduced the high bourgeois public sphere (1962). Bruno Latour. p 9(r) © Claudia Faraone and Andrea Sarti. either belonging to conditions of ‘hyperarchitecture’ (of the sanctuary) or in opposition ‘infraarchitecture’ (of slums. MA. Recombinant Urbanism: Conceptual Modeling in Architecture. 5.rochester. the more recent work of Bruce Robbins. Many theorists and practitioners have studied the losses that have occurred during processes of dispersal. 9. See Craig Calhoun (ed). The concept of heterotopia. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. vacant of human presence. Service du Communication de Saint Nazaire. beyond the political. 2002. p 103. etc). 2005. p 8. See also Catherine Zuromskis. we could not produce most of the books or films or broadcasts or journals that make up so much of our culture. limits. Routledge (New York and London). In Chapter 4. edge cities. Nancy Fraser. 8. Thus the primary role of urban design is to develop methods of doing so. Israel Venice. what most people (including architects and urban planners) would consider ‘good urban form’ is largely a convention based on the spatial and architectural qualities of historical models such as medieval town squares. as understood by Lieven De Cauter and Michiel Dehaene.
literary critic Bruce Robbins questions the archetypal view of the Second World War as a watershed after which the ideal intact city and its community were ultimately destroyed.The Public and the V2 The London Blitz has come to epitomise the golden age of urban togetherness and bonhomie when the public was bound by a common enemy threat. Through his reading of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. 12 .
and of the city-destroying force we have come to call globalisation. These are scenes of dispersal. transnational geography – what Pynchon names ‘the Zone’. corresponds in time as well as space with a map of the protagonist’s sexual encounters (hence the phallic rhyme between rocket and banana). As you begin to prepare your breakfast. By definition. the loss of centred public space. the novel will send its protagonist abroad. Has urbanism been dispersed. Under the V2s city and publicness have come apart.) Isn’t it a good thing. The V2 rocket is at the heart of Thomas Pynchon’s vision of the city in Gravity’s Rainbow. From one perspective. It is as if ordinary citizens felt that the public decisions arrived at in the metropolis had failed them. If they are staples of the urban breakfast. that the dreaming evacuee encounters the truth of London’s infrastructure. it will not qualify. undisturbed by power differentials between the participants. rightly or wrongly. The Evacuation anticipates the rush to the suburbs after the Second World War during the precise years when Pynchon was writing. What we literary critics tend to be less sure of is whether the urban core has indeed imploded – whether we have definitively lost the centrality and publicness that we have come to associate. apparently. The phrase ‘dispersed urbanism’ has a no doubt calculated ambiguity. marked with a pin on a London city map and dated. And the interrelations of its multinational cast continue uninterrupted after the Second World War is over. of desire. who has been dreaming. sharing with them both their vulnerability and their experience of London’s grimy. For a vigilant reader. its places ‘whose names he has never heard …’?4 And his emphatic rubbing-ofelbows with the poor in the Evacuation: doesn’t this seem less like a loss of the public and more like a move in the direction of a more strenuously inclusive. that before the era of rockets. 1940.3 A public that would include those who launch the V2s as well as those on whom they come down is hard to imagine. as a sphere in which there can be common conversation. a story we are accustomed to think of as the loss of community. however. roughly speaking. Perhaps the disappearance of the privileged American individual he once was makes it possible for him to represent a threateningly dispersed but nonetheless ethically desirable inclusiveness. seeking the mysterious connection between the rockets and his sexuality. The miraculous bananas. the city in which you live is already the target of violence launched from overseas. and ends with ‘celebrated architects and the precise trajectory of the V2 rocket’. usually come from far away. especially violence from a distance. The second is a morning scene. It throws the dreamer into a sudden intimacy with the poor. neglected infrastructure. London. seems reasonable enough. more properly democratic public? At the end of the novel. The tale begins with the sound of the V2 (‘A screaming comes across the sky’) and with two V2-related scenes. and in the sky he sees. this pairing of architects and V2s as agents of radical transformation. far off. about matters important to their common welfare. Albert Pope begins with Allied bombers and aggressive freeway engineers. the greatest American novel of the past half-century.Listing agents of what he calls ‘the implosion of the urban core’. And if you inspect those faraway places. and had responded by fleeing towards suburban privacy. In pursuit of this pattern. 13 . bananas and suburbs we were already firmly in possession of it. in the dream sequence. one single conversation. thereby drawing together figures who did not seem capable of inhabiting one single story. it will devote many of its pages to those who develop and launch the rocket.6 the reader is left wondering how much this ought to count as a failure and how much it might on the contrary satisfy a desire. Indeed. its ‘secret entrances of rotted concrete’ and ‘trestles of blackened wood’. with the pre-implosion city. The novel will reveal that the site of each V2 explosion. If this is something less than a full blueprint of a transnational public sphere. And the city reacts. it is certainly a critique of the earlier notion of the public. when the protagonist is ‘scattered’. the city at which the rockets are aimed cannot encompass so much. these two scenes also contain clues that Pynchon may be trying to tell a very different kind of story.5 no longer visible ‘as any sort of integral creature’. hence destroyed. the suddenly revealed urban space that the would-be evacuees must traverse. at least before global Defusing a Nazi bomb. then the city was already causally linked to faraway places before the rockets started falling. Gravity’s Rainbow might be described as an attempt to model the public – a radically and necessarily more comprehensive public – under stressful contemporary circumstances. for example: could they really grow in London. The explosions of the rockets and the ‘implosion of the urban core’ belong to the same story of what the novel will call ‘scattering’. the trail of another V2 on its way down. indeed. and of both with the fate of the modern city. warming? Bananas. by emptying itself out. which complacently or nostalgically assumed that the public was something that did its job and was ours to lose – in other words.1 To a literary critic like myself. like V2s. A pattern can be detected behind what would otherwise appear to be random dispersiveness – the dispersiveness of rocketry.2 The first is a dream-like scene of Evacuation (the word is capitalised) that turns out to be. The public is usually described. He goes up to his roof garden to gather bananas for one of his famous Banana Breakfasts. don’t you detect violence behind the process of production by which the bananas so reliably arrived? (Consider the massacre of striking banana plantation workers in Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. thus seems its very antithesis. Violence. This new story occupies a different. in which a British officer wakes up after a wild party – it is he. a dream. also in London. one might say.
the concept of the public as a zone of causal 14 . publicity) translates into what is public in a weightier sense like ‘sociability’ or ‘organised political will’. what exactly do we mean by ‘pertain’? Some very diverse things. On the other hand. as urbanism. for example. up to but not exceeding the scale of the nation. Or we might say it is ‘already visible to’ and ‘viewed by’ the community. We might say something public is ‘potentially accessible’ to the community. c 1940. By switching. and 2) the public as what is merely observed by and relevant to the community – that is. commuting time and the cost of fossil fuels matter? This is related to the ever more interesting issue of the public’s ‘scale’. whether ‘public space’ has come to be defined as ‘the space of communication’. an urbanism that somehow takes a dispersed form? These are questions that Pynchon also addresses. in the words of Manuel Castells. between the public as active participant (modelled on the organised political group) and the public as passive spectator (modelled on theatrical audience and reading public) – the word can imply that the active. If the public is what pertains to the social whole. when and whether what is public in the minimal sense of ‘visibility’ (celebrity. where access to infrastructure. say. This fits its association with zones of actual conversation and self-consciously shared destiny. Or that which is ‘authorised by’ the community. This switch encourages a tendency to inflate the degree and significance of agency available in the act of cultural consumption – the suggestion. participatory aspects of politics are present within the more passive. Or that which is done ‘in the service or on behalf of’ the community. as we sometimes say. The word public has been most frequently used about collectivities. however paradoxically. The same ambiguity drives media research into how. Or we might say it is that which ‘affects’ or is ‘of significance to’ the community. which have historically been limited. aestheticised context of spectatorship. the key question is perhaps whether the urban has been superseded by the digital. leaving behind something that is not urban? Or is there a version of urbanism that persists. For urban planners. Or we might say it is that which ‘belongs to’ and/or ‘is controlled by’ the community. and managed by the community. decided upon.7 Or must successful political action eventually move out of the digital and back into physical space. Some of the term’s power lies in the confusions it makes possible between these different options. And they are questions that are inherent in the very definition of the public. Each option overlaps to some degree with the others. Yet this ambiguity also raises such productive questions as how distinct the two sorts of publicness are and what role theatricality and symbolism can play within politics. that shopping and striking are comparable practices. between 1) the public as what is owned. like the city. but each also leads to a different moral appeal and a different mode of action.An aerial view of an area of London that suffered heavy bombing.
London’s Smithfield Market damaged by enemy action. It seems to me that the city’s vulnerability to rockets must be added. Constellations: Constructing Urban Design Practices. 2007. Most novels don’t manage to be public in the strongest sense. Helen Baker and Doreen Massey. the public sphere? PostCold War reflections’. Ladders. Perhaps we should all be able to vote Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. through some form of coupon democracy or world parliament. already functional and always in danger of being lost. ‘Absolutely central to the notion of the public sphere in all its versions. Ash Amin. wherever they live. to quote an article in Latour and Weibel’s Making Things Public. as well as the everyday violence of imported fruit. Rice University School of Architecture (Houston). I will not presume to say what it might mean to architects and urban designers to think of the public less as a default setting or an inheritance. Penguin (New York). to identify the enemies of the public sphere as those who use force. The novel has had to stretch to find a way to make these distant relations of force part of its form. 3. including ‘the massive prolonged war against Iraq’ (p 7) – at that time still merely a reference to the violence of sanctions. p 15 © CORBIS ca. Thus the restrictively national scale of the public (in the sense of conversation and control) is seen to be stretching. p 102. 2005. Gravity’s Rainbow. An American vote counts for far more than votes in other parts of the world because it comes backed up by structures of enforcement that can project it into the world … Remember that the course of a large part of the world hung on a small number of hanging chads and on the fact that only 51 percent of the American electorate voted in the 2000 presidential election. always needing to be reimagined creatively.’10 As a literary critic. 7. Verso (London). and necessarily so. to put this differently: ‘The notion of an unbound site prompts designers to consider not simply the territory under their direct control. Pynchon. 1973. 2000. 2. a form that is much more comfortable following the fate of a handful of private individuals. p 3. social and temporal arenas impacted by their actions. UK. Phu Duong and Els Verbakel (eds). Pynchon. Charlie Cannon. Thomas Pynchon.’9 Or. Mike Hill and Warren Montag. whether or not the group is in conversation with itself or with the begetters of the actions – is much vaster. connectedness – those actions relevant to. p 811. Images: pp 12 & 13 © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS ca. but the more expansive physical. and thus to support ‘defending them with force’ (p 7). 1941. bringing these two senses of the public into congruence with each other – means resetting the boundaries of the relevant moral community so that those likely to be affected by a course of action. so to speak. MA) and ZKM (Center for Art and Media). but only if there is some way of alluding architecturally to the city not just as victim. including the rockets it sends out. 1996. September 1940. and the Public Sphere. or significant for. ‘The project of urban design’. Albert Pope. London. for example. Ibid. England 15 . It’s always a stretch. op cit. 2007. 4. They trace the logic by which this conceptual suppression of force leads Jürgen Habermas. ‘What was. ‘is the opposition between reason and force’ (p 6). Among other things. but also as source of violence. Classes. in Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (eds). England. Pynchon.8 ‘Where you vote counts unequally in its effects. pp 238–66. not to speak of official and unofficial violence across borders. Masses. op cit. Manuel Castells. this is a question. 10. International Journal of Communication 1. In the era of the world market. Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. 6. Thanks to Noah Brick for the reference. Columbia University Urban Design Program (New York). Andrea Kahn. Enlarging the scale of international attention. what is. MIT Press (Cambridge. ‘Centers don’t have to be points: Political influence of US Republican Party overseas’. 9.’ Hill and Montag write. London. the welfare of a given group. of ‘the spatial grammar of the politics of who votes where’. this zone has become increasingly international. than as a sort of miracle. 4 Notes 1. and/or to need stretching. What criteria would have to be satisfied? The city’s degree of openness to strangers is something planners are already thinking about. ‘Communication. power and counter-power in the network society’. 5. always in need of enlargement. mainly outside the NATO countries. Karlsruhe. p 738. in Andrea Kahn. conversation and opinion so as to match the scale of international causal connectedness – that is. 8. op cit. c 1941. in the US elections! We should certainly consider the possibility of allowing residents in one part of the world to exercise their citizenship rights in another part of the world over common planetary issues. are included in those invited to debate it. p 740. Nigel Thrift.
In the language of the human sciences. the royal square and the village green all created the constituencies they contained. but the question of ‘who’ nonetheless remains. on the other hand. This begs the question of whether Foucault’s analysis of an individuated subject might point the way to an alternative subject position. but it would be the ultimate result of its construction. From this perspective we can easily see how individuals in medieval cities would be constructed in an entirely different way than the individuals in industrial cities. individuated subject on the discourse of architecture and urbanism should have been significant. Out of this reorganisation. even today. this outright rejection of subjectivity has had drastic consequences that can be summed up in a few simple questions that are rarely asked and almost never answered. In other words. and the early 1970s critique of it was definitive. mean that urban designers and architects might have lost sight of who they are designing cities for? Albert Pope sets out on a search to define the contemporary ‘who’ and finds some answers in Michel Foucault’s notion of the historically grounded subject. the working class or mass society. For a whole host of reasons we are unable to account for a collective subject in the practice and discourse of contemporary urbanism leading us to further discount the projection of subjectivity. economic and political change of such magnitude as to require the reorganisation of the city at an existential level. the universal subject was seen as an agent for the emergence of a brutal and oppressive mode of urbanisation. but that it projected subjectivity devoid of recognisable features. Like all cities before it. It will be the contention here that individuated subjectivity is more 16 . it becomes clear that the unique environment of cities constructs unique individuals. this individual is referred to as the social ‘subject’. And while more recent examples of collective subjectivity exist – ‘the people’. The study of ‘subjectivity’ attempts to understand how society constructs individuals by analysing the individual itself. and could not. With 50 years’ hindsight. but the notion of projecting subjectivity altogether. specifically the Radiant City urbanism that emerged in the 1920s and was codified in the 1930s and exported worldwide following the Second World War.Terminal Distribution Could the late 20th-century rejection of Modernist planning. Over the past 30 years. These constituencies and others continue to exist in enduring urban form to this day. however. In the mid-1970s. is the subject of contemporary architectural and urban design? Who are our discourses (such as this one) targeting? For whom do we presume to speak? Given that subjectivities are the inevitable outcome of historical forces. Such a subject did not. It is generally understood that urban spaces such as the agora. the constituent of the modern city did not yet exist. Who. This led to the notion that the urban subject could be both anticipated and designed for. and along with it the notion of a ‘universal subject’. This subject – the ‘universal’ subject of Modern architecture and urbanism – was a subject like no other. This devotion to the collective subject is nearly second nature. condemning not only the universal subject. In the 1920s. it was imagined that an entirely new mode of subjectivity would emerge. When the study of the subject is extended to the study of cities. the Radiant City was imagined to create a unique subject. we can apply the analysis of subjectivity to modern urbanism. for it answered much of the critique that modern urbanism was undergoing at virtually the same time. the prospect of a modern universal subject has been substantially diminished. exactly. The Postmodern critique. Simply stated. the advocates of Modern urbanism saw technical. and it has all but eliminated any obvious alternatives. was far more problematic. This anticipation of a truly universal subject was hardly defensible.2 The implication of a historical. to begin the list – they are rarely associated with contemporary urban form. Subjectivity It has long been argued that society constructs individuals. It is clear that Foucault’s conception of a historically grounded subject could help answer the contemporary question of ‘who?’. we construct the world and the world constructs us. If architects and theoreticians conceive of the subject at all. Foucault redefined subjectivity around two key innovations: that the subject was both historically grounded and socially individuated. This naivety regarding an urban subject was largely overcome through the writing of French historian Michel Foucault. the parvis. Moving forward. what is the role of urban form in their construction? Ever since Foucault’s cogent argument. His conception of an individuated subject. became a polemic. It can be argued that the problem of Radiant City urbanism was not that it projected subjectivity.1 It is safe to argue that the universal subject of modern urbanism was a naive attempt to establish an unknown and unrecognisable subject against all subjectivities that came before. exist but as a figment of a utopian imagination. they usually conceive of it in collectivist terms.
Infrastructure is literally everywhere. in other words. Foucault found them encoded in various institutions such as prisons. The substitution of the universal subject for a historical. along with unpaved or paved roadbeds. however. and because we take it for granted we fail to acknowledge its importance in the constitution of the lived world. infrastructure leaves us largely unaware of the mechanisms of social organisation that surround and define it. This difficulty in understanding. Infrastructure cannot be put down like a newspaper or a book. You can see it when you sit at your desk. it is especially illuminating with regard to the relation between infrastructural form and social organisation. up or down. or be a direct reflection of class such as the colloquial expression ‘uptown’. or there is only a simple two-level hierarchy of STREET/DESTINATION. In either case. left or right. Because infrastructure is everywhere. or indicate a district identified with a distinctive urban feature such as Marquette Park. or whether formal transformation brought about profound social change. but also at the base level of urban organisation. You feel it when you go to work. It determines. As opposed to a work of architecture. cul-de-sac cities has irreversibly changed the course of urbanisation. It determines whether you walk fast or slow. the gridiron form supported multiple subjectivities. especially in the case of the early 20th-century metropolis. how collective subjectivities are supported by the gridiron infrastructure. its negotiation of the social is extremely clear. The circles can also recognise fluid political constituencies such as the old ward system or today’s narrowly focused special interest groups. or the Flatiron district in Manhattan. Infrastructure is a more potent means of encoding social organisation precisely because it operates subliminally. gridiron cities to closed.relevant to contemporary urban form – specifically infrastructural form – than its collective counterpart.3 Because this change is so recent. of a large group of people upon a stadium or the retreat of a far-flung commuter. factories. It exists all around us. in basic geometry. a fundamental relation between infrastructural form and the construction of urban subjectivities. we are situated at the nexus of a social and formal negotiation. And while he rarely speculated on an urban scale. The large circles suggest social groupings of various sorts and sizes. schools and factories. I would like to argue here that street infrastructure – both historical and contemporary – embeds social organisation at the deepest levels of urban existence. or go to church. Diagram 1 The first pattern is that of the urban gridiron. whether you walk at all. its ‘subliminal ubiquity’. without effort. electrical and communications grids. 7 days a week. It allows us the very necessary fiction of unfettered agency that most modern societies require. 24 hours a day. Infrastructure Subjectivities are found encoded at all levels of the built environment. 365 days a year. or walked out of like a film or a building. By street infrastructure I mean the layout of water and sewage lines. In this regard. even where you are right now. This diagram shows. It is important to note that in the gridiron city. the gridiron street structured a century and a half of American and European urbanism. It operates. Urban infrastructure is there every time you walk out of the door. Through its many variations. as in the mass society. both individual and collective. look out of your window and when you watch television. such as Midtown Manhattan or the Mid-Wiltshire district of Los Angeles. Infrastructure provides the baseline to the elaborate choreography of social organisation. This is unfortunate because urban infrastructure has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past halfcentury. not only at the level of individual building. a district in Chicago. counterintuitive to imagine that street infrastructure would have an equal or greater impact on subjectivities than those buildings that take social organisation as their aim (prisons. the significance of street infrastructure goes far beyond its technical specification. we take it for granted. This radical shift in form begs the question of whether social imperatives gave rise to form. demonstrates what is perhaps infrastructure’s greatest strength. Three Stages What follows are the diagrammatic descriptions of the three infrastructural configurations that marked the transformation of infrastructure in the 20th-century city (see 17 . shut off like a computer or radio. schools). and so profound. actually. or go to school. for example. While largely a matter of civil engineering. There is. all of these subjectivities are negotiated and renegotiated unhindered by an open and continuous urban matrix. asylums. drainage capacity. They can also indicate areas of development distinguished by density. pedestrian walks. there is no hierarchy. With the gridiron. What is unique about the gridiron infrastructure is that the social groupings can be moved and sized independent of the forms that support them. Up until the 1950s. whether it be the convergence. This development animates the evolution of recent urban history as the emphasis of forms has shifted from a validation of the collective to a validation of an individuated subject. individuated subject and the encoding of that subject in the concrete form of the city will be the primary objective of the text that follows. A major shift from open. I am referring to the subjectivities constructed by street infrastructure. It is. it is nevertheless true that powerful subjectivities are encoded. at first. The circles can indicate ethnic enclaves such as a Chinatown or a Little Italy.
This significant increase in economic. This change in kind dramatically affects the subjectivities of the gridiron. This subjectivity was encoded directly in the urban infrastructure. They are also characteristic of the immediate postwar subdivision in North America. Itineraries It is apparent from the first three diagrams that the relation between the social and the formal is far more than utilitarian. With the addition of the access road. the broad range of social grouping allowed by the flexible infrastructure of the previous diagrams is diminished. The three stages – gridiron. This three-level hierarchy can be expressed as BOULEVARD/STREET/DESTINATION. undifferentiated. intermediate pattern is that of the superblock. One of the most important characteristics of gridiron urbanism was that it allowed Diagram 3 The third and terminal stage in the transformation of 20th-century urban infrastructure can be seen in the emergence of a cul-de-sac organisation.4 The systematic disassembly of a mass society by the consumer economy is nowhere more evident than in the recent transformations of infrastructural form. What succeeded the gridiron was the superblock. Through these levels of hierarchy. The subjectivities of the superblock correspond precisely to the infrastructural form so that a ‘lock’ between programmme and structure is created. the same groups can be formed. What this three-stage transformation reveals is a progressive fragmentation that continues to the point at which the part is isolated from the whole and the whole is lost to cognitive awareness. 18 . But it is also the case that the figures suggest a specific place. as if it were a literal image of a large number of people occupying a space and time such as Times Square on New Year’s Eve.Diagram 2 The second. and they can still indicate a district identified with a distinctive urban or natural feature. but unlike the gridiron infrastructure. The line patterns on the left-hand side represent the planimetric base form of the infrastructure. The superblock encodes another level of hierarchy within the urban infrastructure. the superblock shows a third level of hierarchy non-existent in the gridiron. These transformations will be referred to as a process of ‘individuation’. various subgroupings to be taken as a single. Lafayette Park in Detroit stands out as the primary example among many similar unrealised schemes. The exact same circles representing social groupings can be drawn as they were in the previous diagram. The elimination of the cross-axial field brings additional levels of hierarchy to street infrastructure. The ability for the gridiron to encompass the whole is what allows it to support the metropolis’ most characteristic subjectivity: an industrialised mass society. The advent of the freeway and feeder road bring a fifth and sixth level of hierarchy into play. but also a change in kind. these subjectivities can also be more easily isolated as a result of a defined perimeter and the reduced number of entrances and exits that typically occur in superblock development. The diagrams on the right-hand side represent the familiar icons of statistical analysis. 100X and so on. This is the case here. subdivision and classification come into their own. especially in a time of dramatic urban change. 10X. the groupings cannot be moved or resized independent of the superblock infrastructure that creates them. as follows: FREEWAY/FEEDER/BOULEVARD/SPINE/STREET/DESTINATION. Gridiron construction effectively came to an end in the period following the Second World War. Such figures often depict the quantities of a statistical sampling representing 1X. It is not a coincidence that the gridiron underlies the most celebrated form of 20th-century urbanism – the metropolis. a completely individuated subjectivity comes into view. This spine emerges through two important transformations in street organisation: the elimination of the cross-axial field of gridiron organisation and the emergence of a ‘terminal node’. For the first time. In other words. non-hierarchical mass. a mass society was as open and infinitely extensible as the street infrastructure that supported it. The diagrams are arranged in a split-screen format that directly juxtaposes the formal and the social. This stage can be seen as an important refinement of the superblock from an isolated gridded organisation into what can be more strictly defined as a spine. Cul-desac organisation is also characteristic of the majority of contemporary North American subdivisions as well as European and Asian New Towns. specifically in the open and infinitely extensible gridiron street. Superblocks are the organisational unit of such well-known projects as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City and Llewelyn-Davies’ Milton Keynes. With the introduction of urban motorways into areas of new urban construction. demographic or territorial dimension represents not only a change in size. or dead-end street. The principal example of cul-de-sac organisation comes from the large planning projects of Mies van der Rohe and Ludwig Hilberseimer. Besides being locked into the infrastructure. A superblock is an increase in the unit of urban aggregation beyond the characteristic of a conventional city block. In other words. superblock and cul-de-sac – reveal a change in the interaction between infrastructural form and social organisation. The correlation between social organisation and infrastructure is apparent in Diagrams 1–3). but the dynamic between them is utterly changed. The circles still indicate a number of collective subjectivities such as formed by political or ethnic identities.
In this diagram. Any connecting path must move several levels back up the hierarchy. The diagram of gridiron itineraries on the left is meant to contrast with the itineraries generated by the cul-de-sac shown on the right. These observations in themselves may be sufficient to theorise a relation between social life and urban form. the same six destinations are drawn on top of the cul-de-sac infrastructure. office. With regard to gridiron urbanism there exists a near-infinite number of paths that connect any of the six destinations. Here the drastic elimination of choice is so severe that it is in danger of cutting the analysis short. It is important to remember that the organisational logic of any given urban system is not identical to the logic of form. the itinerary is interesting because it lies between the social entities and the formal infrastructure. on the other hand. The difference between the nodes of continuation that characterise open urban systems. It is possible to push this analysis into the existential realities that are the result of the ubiquitous nature of urban infrastructure. Itineraries are sketched on top of the infrastructure diagrams and are often at variance with the forms that support them. gridiron and closed cul-de-sac organisation. Planimetric circles limit us to mapping the social as a group. then the daily routines that connect them are almost infinitely variable. This drastic reduction of choice from near infinity to one. loops and nodes of continuation. school. Putting judgement aside. Individuation While the integration or separation of social entities is important to the working of a city. six locations are marked by the small circles. 19 . On the right-hand side. Unlike the infinite number of itineraries between all possible points on the grid. This is made clear in the next pair of diagrams that trace habitual paths of movement. it is not the only effect of infrastructure. What is important to remember is that these network nodes form utterly opposed subject positions. often returning to a primary axis of organisation before descending again to one of the specific locations. then the daily routines that connect them are almost infinitely variable. the points on the closed system allow only a single connection between any two points. The increasing isolation of the cul-de-sac destination due to the systematic elimination of connecting paths is clearly revealed by the itinerary. These small circles represent individual destinations rather than the large circles that represented social groups. or ‘itineraries’. The left-hand diagram shows that in gridiron urbanism there exists a near-infinite number of paths that connect any of the six destinations. In other words. including the ability to isolate and control them as well as the ability to understand them as a whole. These circles represent individual destinations rather than the large circles in the preceding diagrams that represented social groups. often returning to a primary axis (such as an urban freeway) of organisation before descending again to one of the specific locations. Any connecting path must move several levels back up the hierarchy. we realise that the difference being marked is between urban systems that are open and urban systems that are closed. It is clear that changes in form affected the dynamics between these subjectivities. To this end. What this means is that the analysis of form alone does not yield the decisive characteristics of urban organisation. they privilege collective subjectivities as opposed to individuated subjectivities that are more characteristic of contemporary cities. spokes and nodes of termination.the historically specific subjectivities that rose and fell throughout the 20th century. This diagram of gridiron itineraries is meant to contrast with the itineraries generated by the cul-de-sac. Unlike the infinite number of itineraries between all possible points on the grid. yet there is something banal (read behavioural) in the equation of social organisation to a circle. Once again it is clear that the relation of social organisation to urban infrastructure far surpasses functional considerations. and nodes of termination that characterise closed urban systems. It is possible to take the analysis of itineraries one step further in order to understand these patterns of movement beyond their already significant implications. As opposed to the infinite number of routes or circuits created between the six locations on the grid. temporarily. more accurately depicts the contrast between the open. As a diagramming technique. This drastic reduction of choice from near infinity to one is not revealed by the direct juxtaposition of the circle and the grid. market. and focusing on the analysis at hand. the cul-de-sac drastically reduces the connections between the six destinations. the same six destinations are drawn on top of the cul-de-sac infrastructure. cannot be overstated. Furthermore. market. We can proceed with a mapping of itineraries by locating six destinations marked by the small circles on the diagram (see Diagram 4). The patterns generated by these paths are often at variance with the forms that support them. are made up of networks characterised by hubs. If each destination represents home. the cul-de-sac drastically reduces the connections between the six centres. If each destination represents home. Open urban systems are made up of networks characterised by circuits. Closed urban systems. As opposed to the infinite number of routes or circuits created between the six locations on the grid. school. the impact of urban form Diagram 4 This pair of diagrams traces the paths of individual movement on top of the infrastructure diagrams. office. Nodes of termination forge a highly individuated subject position encoded at the ubiquitous level of urban infrastructure. the points on the closed system allow only a single connection between any two points. eliminating the direct (deterministic) correspondence and potentially tying the two together.
each of our delicate egos seated at the base of a terminal destination. The organisational logic of a grid produces points that are connected by an infinite number of circuits or loops. there can be no greater contrast between the collective subjects the gridiron street produces and the individuated subjects the culde-sac produces. a distribution of terminals or terminal distribution. the grid offers only a series of arbitrary stopping points often described as coordinates in space: for example. but at the end of a particular path. Who. on the contrary. Turning inwards on itself. on the last cul-de-sac. I would argue that the gridiron did ultimately sustain a collective subject even if that subject was defined as an undifferentiated mass society. The organisational logic of a cul-de-sac produces. at the very origin of the spiral. on the last cul-de-sac. 239 East 339th Street. will never terminate because the gridiron is infinite in all directions. this mode of subjectivity is no longer possible. admire. exactly. is the need to update the Modernist conception of the ‘universal subject’. In the cul-de-sac city. so much a change in urban form as it is a change in urban subjectivity. or even prefer. The ability of the cul-de-sac city to establish fixed endpoints has significant implications for urban subjectivity. The path on the open grid. the path configures a series of discrete segments each more exclusive than the last. Terminal nodes are unlike the nodes of continuation that characterise gridiron urbanism. The organisational logic of a cul-de-sac produces. nor does it suggest that individuation is an inevitable or even a desirable outcome. but at the end of a particular path. The path to a specific place in the cul-de-sac city will always terminate in an exclusive destination or endpoint (see Diagram 5). will never terminate because the gridiron is infinite in all directions. Viewed from this perspective. Everyone now lives not on an anonymous grid coordinate. perhaps. bringing to modern urbanism a workable alternative. culde-sac cities are made up of networks characterised by nodes of termination. In order to extend the analysis. Whatever characteristics of gridiron urbanism we may Diagram 5 This diagram maps the logic of the terminal node in cul-de-sac urbanism. it does provide a less-than-arbitrary starting point for continued analysis. on the other hand. This is best revealed in another itinerary diagram. At this juncture it is possible to provide a tentative answer to the question of ‘who’. on the last driveway. on the contrary. This is to say. finally and without equivocation. in a city whose overall form is unknowable. that urban form is historically unique as are the subjects it produces. The path to a specific place in the cul-de-sac city will always terminate in an exclusive destination or endpoint. we are not able to ignore the fact that gridiron urbanism cannot support the individuated subjectivities that are prevalent today. tentative answer to that question is that we speak for the highly individuated subject of the contemporary city. a distribution of terminals or terminal distribution. This path might begin on a primary urban freeway and from there turn inwards towards a singularly defined place. The cul-desac city privileges individuated subjects at the expense of any massification or incorporation. at the very origin of the spiral. In the cul-de-sac city we are right where we have always wanted to be. As opposed to the cul-de-sac’s termination of movement. In the cul-de-sac city we are right where we have always wanted to be. Turning inwards on itself. The manner in which the cul-de-sac city defines a destination speaks volumes for the magnitude of change seen in urban infrastructure over the past century. however. This is not. on the last driveway. This in-turning spiralling path — from freeway to feeder to collector to development spine to driveway — forms the trajectory of a closed urban system. 20 . Everyone now lives not on an anonymous grid coordinate. the pattern of movement through urban space traces the figure of a discrete SPIRAL through a succession of the overlaid structural hierarchies described above.extends beyond the issue of interconnected parts to the construction of subjectivity at an existential level. This path might begin on a primary urban freeway and from there turn inwards towards a singularly defined place. 239 East 339th Street. As opposed to the cul-de-sac’s termination of movement. each of our delicate egos seated at the base of a terminal destination. The path on the open grid. As mentioned. This in-turning spiralling path – from freeway to feeder to collector to development spine to driveway – forms the trajectory of a closed urban system. in a city whose overall form is unknowable. This spiralling inwards constitutes the existential reality of terminal nodes. In the cul-de-sac city. is the subject of architectural and urban design? For whom do we presume to speak? A first. While such an answer is certainly not definitive. the path configures a series of discrete segments each more exclusive than the last. the pattern of movement through urban space traces the figure of a discrete SPIRAL through a succession of the overlaid structural hierarchies described above. The organisational logic of a grid produces points that are connected by an infinite number of circuits or loops. the grid offers only a series of arbitrary stopping points often described as coordinates in space: for example. on the other hand. More important. This is its historical uniqueness as it is the historical uniqueness of the city in our time. it is important to understand how discrete locations are established in the extended urban field of the cul-de-sac city. This spiralling inwards constitutes the mechanism of individuation that creates the existential reality that lies behind the nodes of termination. In the cul-de-sac city.
and put into its place a subject that was historically defined. cul-de-sac organisation has dominated urban development. It has evolved since that time through numerous variations in pattern including regular and irregular syncopation. The group must not be the organic bond uniting hierarchized individuals. a second type of unranked. 6. it is not the case that the infrastructure has become. the social was defined in ‘essentialist’ terms.’ (author’s italics). but a rupture of that typology that brings entirely new qualities into the urban environment. collective subjectivity was not established by the urban plaza or square. The six-level hierarchy – FREEWAY/FEEDER/BOULEVARD/SPINE/STREET/DESTINATION – revealed in Diagram 3 allows us to readily identify this type of individual. He wrote that: ‘The problem was to plan the disappearance of the subject. again. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. In architecture. The individual is therefore not seen as something that is ‘restored’ with reference to a series of ‘essential’ (philosophically defined) rights. 5. preface to Deleuze and Guattari. MA). The grid form typical of street infrastructure has existed since antiquity. Traditionally. these subjectivities were socially constructed by specific disciplinary regimes that constituted and regulated society (by targeting individuals) on a one-by-one basis. This quotation does a lot in four sentences. Against this hierarchised. This second type of individual is ‘deindividualised’ by a process that actively undermines the organic bond that traditionally ties it to a larger group dynamic.’ Manfredo Tafuri. By all accounts. ultimately creating a stable typology. The second way in which Foucault reinterpreted the social was to shift the emphasis from an incorporated or collective subject to an individual one. the historical study of an individual subject was limited to the reign of a king or another such significant person and would ultimately constitute the ‘great man’ theory of history. he studied the factory worker. 1976. This autonomous evolution was abruptly terminated following the Second World War when the gridiron form of the Western city was eclipsed by a new pattern of organisation. Instead of writing the history of kings and generals. merely a technical or functional matter. The individuation of urban infrastructure follows the decline of the welfare state and global embrace of neo-liberal economic policies. Foucault’s reinvention of the subject can be broken down into two distinct features – historicising the subject and individuating it. His celebrated study of the penitent criminal in Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon is the premier example of Foucault’s focus on these individuated disciplinary regimes. political theorists have invented a placeholder for the emerging global subject called ‘multitude’. In this regard. I have argued elsewhere that the cul-de-sac is not a further evolution of the ancient grid typology. to indicate the voluntary and docile submission to those structures of domination as the promised land of universal planning. Architecture and Utopia. no gridiron street infrastructures have been produced in the American city. It then follows that the gridiron infrastructure was characterised by a distinctive feature of mass society: the ability to grow without boundary. This multiplicity shares a striking resemblance to a new form of global political subjectivity that has been defined by a number of political philosophers as the ‘multitude’. diverse combinations. today. Following Foucault. Foucault focused on an individual subject. a position that is still promoted (however unwittingly) today. orthogonal and curvilinear geometries. lunatic. creating a decisive transformation in what we understand to be street infrastructure. or the prisoner and the so-called ‘disciplinary regimes’ that made them exactly what they were. It is as if our liberal heritage safeguarded the existence of our humanity in a world defined by the encroachment of mass society. The individual is the product of power. While the link between neo-liberalism and individuated subjectivity seems reasonably clear. however. 2. Collective subjectivity (political identity) was constructed by the open street. The first pursued an understanding of subjectivity as a historical phenomenon. The first type is one that Foucault claims to be the product of power.In a short text dating from 1972. and there are many. positive and negative. 3. Foucault. 1983. Before Foucault. the multitude is highly individuated. Like these historians. and this multiplicity produces a kind of unranked individual that is not subject to the type of disciplinary technologies that Foucault’s work reveals. for the mass would always exceed its fixed boundaries. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. It has been suggested that the liberal conception of the individual is as dated as the conception of mass society itself and that. Images © Albert Pope 21 . It offers two opposing types of ‘individuals’. larger. Foucault made the following remark about the construction of an individuated subjectivity. we can thus identify a process called ‘deindividuation’ that is the means by which an individual that is ranked into a unitary hierarchy is unranked into a form of organisation that can be described not as a group or a mass. p 73. On the critique of the universal subject. 4. but a constant generator of de-individualization. non-hierarchised individual is offered by Foucault. Foucault undermined all such essential positions through a detailed study of the historic record. Instead. what is less clear is the specific constitution of a global subjectivity that may ultimately emerge from this condition. individual. but as a multiplicity. This situation raises the stakes on the question of ‘who’ our discourses presume. University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis). He wrote: ‘Do not demand of politics that it restore the “rights” of the individual. but the logic of the grid form has endured. to cancel the anguish caused by the pathetic (or ridiculous) resistance of the individual to the structures of domination that close in upon him. Since the late 1940s. Manfredo Tafuri argued that the effect of modern urbanism was not to reinvent the subject. Such specific procedures suggest not the shoring up of an essential integrity. p xiv. Street infrastructure is one of the oldest and best demonstrations of the autonomous evolution of urban form. MIT Press (Cambridge. it may be the case that individuality or ‘difference’ constitutes as much a threat to our humanity as it does to its safeguard. but an individuation that is accomplished by a multiplication of individuality – a hyper-individuation. And while the typology is ruptured. The implication is that power produces a ‘hierarchised’ individual that is ‘organically’ bonded into the unity of a larger group. but to eliminate it.5 Seldom do we question the fundamental value of the individual. Recently. ‘universal’ subject. this essentialist subject was most often referred to as a modern. It is instead seen to be constructed by the multiplication and displacement of itself. This process is accomplished ‘by means of multiplication and displacement’ and by replacing the organic unity of assimilated individuals with ‘diverse combinations’. 4 Notes 1.6 This unique understanding comes to us as designers who recognise the concealed logic of urban infrastructures and how it may unwittingly block or accelerate the development of the social. What is needed is to “deindividualize” by means of multiplication and displacement. closed.and smaller-scaled spacings. In the 19th century. the group becomes not a hierarchical encoding of individuals. By autonomous form is meant form that follows prior form in succession over time. but a ‘constant generator’ of multiplicity. the schoolchild. or ranked. What this means is that the social had been interpreted as the ‘essence’ of community or the ‘essence’ of humanity that was distilled down through the ages into an idealised subject position that transcended its many historical manifestations. In other words. Anti-Oedipus. as philosophy has defined them.
yet the expressions ‘urban’ and ‘urbanism’ seem inappropriate. yet it was the first postwar building type to effectively manage the flows of cars and trucks. and what kind of urbanity do they represent? Can retail. create a central place in the low-density city? This articles seeks to address these issues by focusing on the role and potential of the shopping centre in the consolidation of the low-density city. It starts by looking back at the nascent American suburbs where the regional shopping centre first made its claims for centrality. in combination with other functions. In its latest manifestation as a ‘lifestyle shopping centre’. developers and inhabitants. the diffuse nature of the low-density city is a threat to the specificity of the historic urban cores. thus creating the basis for comfortable.Public Lifestyle in the Low-Density City Much maligned. shopping centres have come to represent many of the negative aspects of low-density areas. The regional shopping centre epitomises all of these questions. the low-density city has been the predominant urban form in North America and western Europe. Alex Wall questions this preconception. Its spaces are a function of mobility and access. Could the well-conceived and designed shopping centre actually prove to be urban sprawl’s redemption? The Idea of Centre in Low-Density Urbanism For some decades now. and it seems to represent a lifestyle devoted to consumption. it is a milieu served primarily by the private automobile. safe and clean outdoor pedestrian spaces that attracted many thousands of people. This is not because it is not urban. otherwise it develops new forms of cityscape and landscape to suit the needs and desires of its builders. then moves to middle Europe where two current projects in Switzerland are using a synthesis of ‘branded urban district’ and intensively 22 . but rather because it has not yet found its own urban design practice. The low-density city is best understood as a process of urbanisation. the same questions asked 50 years ago still apply: What is the role of the public spaces of shopping centres. They are all too often associated with high car dependency and a paucity of cultural and public amenities. For traditional urbanists. There are three additional irritants: the lowdensity city does not seem to have a proper centre. Sometimes it replicates or reinterprets aspects of the traditional city.
Masterplan. Boston’s Quincey Market (1976) and Baltimore’s Harborplace (1984) were exemplary public-private projects of their time and required close cooperation between innovative city mayors. was one of the agents that transformed the area outside American cities into a low-density urban cityscape-landscape. there are indications that a new model of participation between private. shopping centre developers and the ‘road lobby’. Switzerland. Its impact on the development of the suburbs. Rouse’s particular innovation was to link retail. landscaping and modest community rooms. Jerde’s project showed that the retail component could be scaled back and replaced by entertainment functions and narrative urban space. the developer and his architects. historic structures and tourism. It is an optimistic thesis yet a necessary question: Can private development take responsibility for the public realm. the build out of the suburbs required the formation of a formidable cartel of bankers. Gruen’s fusion of retail with the idea of a social and cultural centre was a first step leading from the postwar suburban shopping centre to the ‘branded’ urban districts of today. View from the highway showing the fractal public spaces piercing the shopping centre envelope. a street grid with sidewalks allowing some drive-up access. in Los Angeles’ Universal City. CityWalk (1993). but its significance was in the extent to which the public space became a stage for events. Southdale (1956). choreographed urban public space as a mechanism for restructuring the city region. a strategy that led to his trademark Festival Marketplaces. often beyond statutory boundaries. Who Builds the City? The phenomenon of low-density urbanism raises the question of who builds the city. In the European and Southeast Asian examples illustrated below. the renewal of the downtowns. and can it bring to market an equitable balance of housing? Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG.public and private initiative and responsibility may be changing again. having conquered the city. has returned to the suburbs. was Jerde’s breakthrough project and amounted to a new development type – the urban entertainment centre. and the spatial and programmatic order of the new metropolitan regions can be traced in the built work of Victor Gruen. Finally. it assesses the potential of a specific phenomenon in the Southeast Asian city of Jakarta: shopping centre clusters as initiators of public space. while being popular and urban. Even more explicitly than Rouse’s Festival Marketplaces. the newly formed real-estate industry came to dominate questions of where. how and what to build. due for completion 2008 Superposition of regional centre and highway space. Berne. This evolution was picked up by the developer James Rouse and architect and planner Jon Jerde. the nation’s first indoor mall. recast as a ‘lifestyle centre’. Developers came to do what public authorities could or would not do. for example Northland (1954) outside Detroit. This bewildering designation describes what is basically an upmarket shopping village with multiple buildings. CityWalk is both private and artificial. wellfurnished outdoor spaces and a broad variety of consumption activities. originally a product of the regional marketing strategies of downtown department stores. what is urban and what is city? Overturning private/public and real/artificial. as agents of reurbanisation and as the starting point for the long and difficult negotiation towards a sustainable megacity. thus the private not the public hand would build the city. Westside. CityWalk posed questions for urbanists: for example. public and community actors is emerging. New Urban Images The shopping centre.2 In his early centres. they are built near upper-middle-class residential areas and 23 . merchant builders. In post-Second World War North America. Yet the balance between Commerce as the Generator of New Urban Space. was planned to function as the centrepiece of a planned community.1 As cities spread out. Lifestyle Centres: ‘Mix’ The shopping centre. and a place to both see and to be seen. Often described as ‘town centres’. Gruen argued that the attractor was the public spaces with their sculpture.
Brandhubs have required the equal partnership of the public sector. They use architecture and urban space to create an ambience for a brand. At Westside the larger urban organism is what is important. we will focus briefly on the intentions of the designers. and housing plots to the right. In the low-density city. and by extension all of the other participating retailers. We will soon be able to see whether this fusion of infrastructural planning with consumption and leisure activities anchored by signature architectural spaces will be the starting point for a new model of centrality and Swiss identity. due for completion 2008 The masterplan in 2006. The complex interweaving of social and economic goals requires the cooperation of many stakeholders besides developer. and the surrounding communities have been involved in negotiations from the start of the project. Where Westside is dependent on the architecture. more distinctive hybrids of the lifestyle centre are ‘Brandhubs’. and a garden centre.6 Berne is a city of civil servants with stagnating population and growth. revisits in European terms the postwar restructuring of the American city-region by the regional marketing strategies of the great downtown department stores. On the land bridge over the A1 are the lifestyle shopping centre complex to the left. will form a new regional subcentre and provide an anchor and identity to the disparate settlements on either side of the A1 highway west of the city. juxtapose virtual landscapes and interactive functions with the adjoining consumption spaces. The housing will consist of 80 flats for the elderly. The regional rail line runs along the lower edge of the site. A second project by the same developer located on an industrial strip intends to provide answers to these questions. Holzer Kobler Architekturen of Zurich. scheduled to open in 2008. But what is certain is that the architects seek to offer space that is informed and restless besides being architecturally or urbanistically distinctive. and a regional railway station will link Westside to the Swiss rail network. and strategically implemented at a planning and government level to foster urban development. Berne A project near the Swiss capital of Berne. Westside. set to open in 2011 in Ebikon near Lucerne.Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG. their theme is a ‘relaxed’ urbanity. At this point we cannot judge to what extent the public space at Ebisquare will be an instrument or merely spectacle. with the architecture as the selling point. The shopping centre is flanked by a cineplex. Masterplan. or branded urban districts. the city and canton of Berne. pool complex with a spa and fitness centre. with a programme similar to Westside. Regional bus lines stop at the two plazas in light blue. but provide a thematic focus: contemporary lifestyle shopping in an architectural setting.7 Ebisquare. hotel and conference centre. The initial gesture is a major civil engineering work.8 If Westside reflects the complex participatory synergies that must be in play in order to equip the low-density city. Ebisquare. will be animated by a public space that is intended to be in permanent transition. A new interchange will make the 24 . yet in the case of Westside. while the suburbs to the west have above average numbers of unemployed and foreign born. However vague the term ‘lifestyle centre’ may be. Switzerland.700 people to be built over the next 10 years. Lucerne A traditionally contested aspect of shopping centres is their ‘public’ spaces. As the project is currently out to bid. The Westside complex should not merely physically link the fragmented western suburbs. and 800 apartments for some 2. while at Ebisquare the selling point will be the ‘wild’ interior space. Ebikon. the credibility of these places as centres depends on the programmatic mix and the nature of the public spaces. The lifestyle shopping centre. property owner and investor. Ebisquare include offices and some accommodation. The different spaces of the mall. The goal was to build consensus and support for the project on the part of all stakeholders. including the surrounding communities. who owns them. what is new is that Migros. mobile and virtual. From the beginning.3 In Europe. the goal is to develop a robust long-term relationship with their client communities. who has the right to use them and who is excluded? Social space in the low-density city is an endless variation of semipublic. conceived as a Möbius strip. Berne. For the Migros brand. The core of the project is the shopping centre and a series of public spaces designed by Daniel Libeskind. undertaken within a framework of public-private partnership. bridging over the A1 to provide a landlink for the existing and planned communities. complex accessible to one million people within half an hour. focuses not on the building but on the performance of the internal public space. Every large-scale multifunctional urban development has an impact on its city and region. Westside. semiprivate. the developer. They are defined by Kerstin Hoeger as developments at an urban scale.5 a lifestyle shopping centre complex sponsored by the Swiss department store group Migros.4 Westside.
governmental weakness and the neglect of physical and social infrastructure. formed into a continuous strip. and the problems of traffic. and indeed on Sunday the restaurants are crowded with families having sit-down meals. ‘lifestyle’ is best expressed in the proliferation of restaurants and cafés where people come to eat.9 They are practically the only place for ‘outof-home leisure’. cultural and commercial magnets. urban structure and public space is that many of them are located adjacent to each other in ‘clusters’.10 Below I propose the reurbanisation of such clusters as the basis for creating a spatial and programmatic network of public places across the broad cityscape of a megacity. and social segregation together present difficult challenges. Holzer Kobler have inserted a Möbius strip of interactive mallspace that incorporates the roof of the building. automobile-oriented low-density city. air and water quality. Lucerne. 25 . The chain of associations should extend to the product displays resulting in a fusion of communications. other than the shopping centres there is no public space in which to meet. Top: a typical section showing a central internal mall. communications and culture. Yet merely continuing typical real-estate development practices of the last decades. At the moment. Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. ecological and social cul-de-sac. Shopping Centre Clusters as New Central Places The shopping centre industry in Jakarta would like to compete in the arena of shopping tourism with Singapore. The space will be ‘curated’ to ensure the effect and meaning of real and virtual elements.13 To contribute to a new Jakarta identity and reframe their potential as social. due for completion 2011 Water + Meadows: continuous curated space. private enterprise nor community pressure can resolve these problems on their own. Jakarta: Shopping Centre Clusters as the Beginning of Public Space? The meaning and function of the large shopping centres in Jakarta is slightly different from that in North America and western Europe. consumption of energy. will lead the city into an economic. atmosphere and stage design. Since the 1970s. Ebikon. may demonstrate the continued vitality of public space even in the medialised. The retail market is already saturated. in which the agenda of private development has overtaken the role of public planning. For the middle classes. yet what is significant in terms of urban typology. Section through lifestyle centre complex. Through an act of spatial surgery.Holzer Kobler Architekturen. Below: the mall incorporates the roofscape. media. the shopping centre clusters in Jakarta have become de facto subcentres in an expanding cityregion. Switzerland. Ebisquare. Holzer Kobler’s goal is that the linear space of the mall.12 Similar to the emergence of the North American edge cities described by Joel Garreau.11 Neither government. thus they become an essential social meeting place. Only a new synthesis of cooperative and collective action can begin to roll back the metastasising consequences of runaway development. a large number of shopping centres have been built. using sound and light to create both a real and virtual experience. will be a series of landscapes. the starting point for the spatial concept should celebrate science. For the developer. The buildings on the right are the Senior Living Center.
Yet these new large-scale commercial ensembles raise many of the same problems and questions that were levelled against suburban and urban shopping centres. 2 and 3 with parking (forming an L-shape). freight railway yard. developers need to innovate by adding non-retail functions. Manila and Anggara. and PT Perentjana Djaja. Nearby two train lines serve a passenger station at the edge of a large. By 2010. Straddling its central boulevard. yet this is the spatial development that all of the other clusters must follow if these complexes are to have any greater urban value than as mere shopping precincts. now disused.14 Lying just east of the historic centre of Jakarta. 1987– Google Earth view of shopping centre cluster. Two Shopping Centre Clusters: Kelapa Gading and Mangga Dua Kelapa Gading Mall (1987–) is a multi-use cluster with a ‘mixed market segment lifestyle mall’ selling everyday articles at one end. both of these new complexes are having difficulties. Not merely traffic arteries. the urban value of the Mangga Dua district should be given by the spatial quality of the boulevards. a site for future shopping centre 4 with a hotel. Cannibalistic retail development is an unsustainable practice. and the historic seafront (Ancol). Enhancing accessibility and diversifying the functional mix of the different centres can prevent duplication and redundancy. Closely surrounded by compact middle-class neighbourhoods.Cadiz International. The trade centre cluster of Mangga Dua (1988–) is known throughout Southeast Asia as a destination for wholesale buyers and retail shoppers for textiles and electronics. the management at Kelapa Gading contributes to the security and maintenance of the nearby streets. such as education and training. Kelapa Gading Mall. shop houses and La Piazza parking. while the other end is anchored by the spaces and products that can be found in a good-quality shopping centre in the West. Kelapa Gading is near to being an integrated district centre. The surrounding district is structured by a T-junction array of boulevards. shopping centres 1. All of these need to be linked by coordinated public transport. Under constant expansion since 1987. Rather than an internal pedestrian concourse as at Kelapa Gading. the Mangga Dua cluster consists of four trade centres interconnected by bridges. the historic colonial centre (Kota). the Summit Apartments. the cluster consists of La Piazza Entertainment Center and Gading Food City (village). both of which are open-air and have their own public spaces. with adjoining hotels and parking garages. and how will the complex contribute to the liveliness of the surrounding boulevards? Envirotech Indonesia. Can the design of the marketplace lead to urban and 26 . a network of public places can be created consisting of the shopping centre clusters. Jakarta. then Mangga Dua could develop into a selfsupporting urban district. thus supporting social equity. The planned central pedestrian boulevard will require the building of new entrances to all the adjoining buildings. which will require new facades and entrances to the existing buildings. the Mangga Dua district is larger and more complex than Kelapa Gading. they should be extensively planted with trees. Reimagining the Relationship Between Mall and City While global entertainment and media corporations are developing ‘branded’ urban spaces and even ‘branded’ urban districts. By reinforcing both its external and internal accessibility. a traditional bazaar. all of these fragments will be united by a central pedestrian boulevard. more and more people have come to expect urban space that is not only multifunctional and urban. ‘Living boulevards’ would bind the different trade and shopping centres into a single cityscape. If the adjacent freight railyards could be developed into a new mixed-use residential quarter served by the two train lines. and legible connections to the surrounding neighbourhoods must be established. Jakarta. the monumental public buildings and spaces commemorating independence (Monas). Along the shorter arm of the T is a new trade centre and a large shopping centre (both to the right). at the scale of the city. equipped with pedestrian amenities and be well served by various forms of public transport. Due to market saturation. 1988– Google Earth view of Mangga Dua district. The potential for Jakarta is that. but also safe and convenient. with four trade centres and hotels straddling the long arm of the T (left). A concept needs to be developed for the spaces between the buildings. The decision to reorient all of the functions to a new public space is more easily undertaken when the whole complex is under single ownership. To what extent will the facades to the street be opened. Mangga Dua district. Indonesia.
apartment buildings and offices. 8. KGS for Jordan Marsh in Framingham. Zurich. existing planning structures were modified to enable the creation of the ensemble at Westside. and. Shopping centres pay extra taxes. education and small businesses. and masterplanned by Daniel Libeskind. the department of City Planning and Urban Development at the University of Tarumanagara. and everyone who gave me their advice and time. Finally. including the decking over of the A1. Based on the practice in Taiwan. which left the city littered with ‘rotten buildings’. posted 6 April 2005. ‘The Mall Goes Undercover. 3. Here the City Governor. There is a lack of political will and inadequate tools to mediate spatial segregation and social inequality. and Barbara Holzer of Holzer Kobler Architekturen. creating incentives for affordable housing. exhorted the real-estate industry to work with all stakeholders to engage the problems of the city. housing. and the resulting demand is exacerbated by immigration from the rural hinterland. In November 2006. asserted its claims during the planning and especially with respect to the infrastructure contract. yet any citizen. Commerce is being used to rebalance regional settlement. For example. Kerstin Hoeger ETH. real-estate investors. Universal City. culturebox (http://www. and allotting 20 per cent of retail space to street vendors. Renderings Edit-Bilder für Architektur. For local communities there is a lack of purchasing power. Herlambang. Three examples of the first generation of regional shopping centres.com/ 2005/01/11/news/fortune 500). The building of the Westside complex has had to overcome a number of difficulties. D Hayden. in Built Identity: Swiss Re’s Corporate Architecture. could take part. and finally the client. but ultimately the skill of the merchandising concept and the variety of the functional mix will be important to engage visitors with the public spaces. Director. p 25 © Holzer Kobler Architekturen. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. City land consistently falls to big investors. The largest trade centres have several hundred shopholders. Shopping centre clusters are agglomerations comprising two or more shopping centres of different generations. affected merchants or citizens could raise objections. 7. were John Graham’s Northgate for Bon Marché of Seattle. 6. has proved difficult to implement. Kemal Taruc. and supporting increased public transit. in Jakarta where questions of sustainability and the effects of climate change are creating pressure. was conceived by Nuesch Development AG. The programme of integrating small and mediumsized enterprises. to create centrality. New York. Berlin). Also. and again at Southdale for the Dayton Co department store in Minneapolis. city planner in Berne. for example. 2006. 300 housekeeping. health and education. the middle classes and the working poor. 100 parking and 200 building maintenance engineers.5 million square metres (16. 13.1 million square feet) in the pipeline. Pantheon (New York). Lippo Group. and hopefully to create opportunity across the social spectrum. there are 4. cultural and environmental role? And how are the goals of private development to be balanced with the needs of local communities? Our thesis is that current and future environmental problems can only be met by a cooperative effort between the stakeholders. Boston. Real Estate Indonesia sponsored a conference on trends in real-estate and shopping centre development that was attended by shopping centre developers. Trade centres are large multistorey buildings housing up to several hundred ‘mom and pop stores’. the strategic and economic power of private developers must be harnessed for implementation. Berlin and Tokyo. In the trade the consensus building and planned regional restructuring of the Swiss examples. and Victor Gruen for the JL Hudson Co of Detroit. Images: pp 22-3 & 24 © Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG. primarily offering textiles and/or electronic goods. copyright Washington Post 2007. Can the collective ownership of the shopping centre clusters. See two recent articles posted on the internet: Andrew Blum. Fauzi Bowo. Liong. the number of staff needed to run the complex is 200 administration. Massachusetts. In contrast to Notes 1. Christoph Rossetti. Project partners are the city and canton of Berne. 400 security. for example at Pasar Pagi. and the Chair of Urban Design at the University of Karlsruhe. at the Taman Anggrek Mall. 10. Public and private consultant organisations must provide critical inputs. Conversations with Klaus-Peter Nuesch. which precipitated civil strife between ethnic Chinese and Indonesians. 2005. Disney’s Times Square Development. 4. 14. kindly answered a questionnaire. It Now Looks Like A City Street’.social renewal? Under what conditions do corporations want to play a more positive social. and the Sony Centers in San Fransisco. General planning Burckhardt und Partner. the participation takes place at different levels: local landowners could register their ideas as the basic programme was being developed. managed by Neue Brünnen AG.or shopholders buy outright or lease their space long term. ‘Corporate urbanism and sustainability’. 4 centres. pp 165–8.slate. Given the forecast of growth over the next three to five years. the real-estate crisis of 1997. PRUDEV (The Role of the Private Sector in Urban Development). As Christoph Rossetti of the City Planning Department of Berne explained in his email answer to my questionnaire. before permission was given to changes in the lifestyle shopping centre. Parija Bhatnagar. now is the time for stakeholders to begin these transformative processes. working in partnership with city government and the local communities. or citizen group. 2005. These figures do not include sales staff for the shops and restaurants. diverse in their location and form. in practice this means balancing regulatory and tax conditions. Current problems include the city’s concern that the explosion of retail space represents a bubble economy. Renderings Art Tools. Nuesch AG.com/id/2116246/). 9. 2003. Jakarta. alterations were presented at hearings attended by cantonal civil servants as well as local citizens’ groups. These arguments and the pivotal role of Victor Gruen are further developed in my Victor Gruen: From Urban Shop to New City. 15. and the devastating floods of 2002 and 2007. the masterplanning model and urban design concept were developed by professionals of course. The idea to create a regional centre to the west of Berne originated in the 1960s but was shelved because of the oil crisis of the 1970s. Local communities need to lobby support for housing. CNN (http://money. Government must provide vision. and because of their reliance on air conditioning incur high energy costs. Shopping centre owner-operators and their investors face market saturation: with a further 1. I thank Eduard Tjiahadi. posted January 12. Los Angeles. 5. Zurich. from the shopping centres I thank Soegianto Nagaria of Kelapa Gading and Andreas Kartawinata. Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth 1820–2000. Westside is owned by Migros Aare. Migros.cnn. 12. Kees Christiaanse and Kerstin Hoeger. hotels. guidance and regulation. Direct precedents for our discussion of branded urban districts are CityWalk.000 staff and sales personnel. There is no supply of affordable housing. Professionals and critics may debate the merits of the architecture. St Gallen. Birkhauser (Basel. stall. Shopping centres in Jakarta are socialeconomic entities providing one job per 10 square metres (108 square feet) of net retail space. there will be an increasing number of dead malls. communication and participation structures need to be developed. between Real Estate Indonesia.15 In the context of Berne. Architecture and Facade Peter Völki. one or more trade centres. frame and initiate long-term transformation towards a legible and equitable city? At the heart of this question is mediating the discrepancy between the new rich. Westside is the largest private construction project in Switzerland. Jo Santoso. they have open floors for a large number of small shops. 11. See. p 26 © Adapted from Google Earth 27 . The study of the role of urban shopping centres for the future development of Jakarta is a joint project. such district management. academics and members of local and national government. pp 134–7. These problems are exacerbated by the effects of the Asian financial crisis of 1990–2. 2. new cooperative and participation models and equitable development strategies. ACTAR (Barcelona).
Instead the urbanisation leads to an incremental infill of plots along rural roads unequipped for urban use. with little sense of where one metropolitan area begins and another ends. Bruno De Meulder describes the underlying logic of this unbroken urbanscape. Urbanisation of rural networks The general urbanisation of the territory is to a large extent a parasite of the pre-existing network of rural roads which undergoes no restructuring during urbanisation.Old Dispersions and Scenes for the Production of Public Space The Constructive Margins of Secondarity The density of development in Belgium is such that the entire country has become an open city. and the opportunity it affords for re-editing and reinserting informal social spaces in areas of wasted land. 28 . In a second phase dendrite-like structures are grafted on to the existing network in order to disclose the second order behind the ribbon development.
which spread over the whole territory. national roads. this generalised condition of ‘secondarity’5 in opposition to ‘primarity’6 – generates an ambiguous space. In terms of development potential. ‘citta diffusa’. Given the general laissez faire attitude. as it does not allow economies of scale. On the other hand. Put simply. housing and labour market. and so on. in the long run an equal development potential that ultimately led to an isotropic condition (which might be considered as a zero degree of redistributive democracy). The ‘unification’ of the national territory resulted in a unified national land. industry and commerce. nationwide networks of different complementary infrastructures (canals. nor an established (hegemonic) order. economical and political power. This general and uncoordinated urbanisation of the territory was fuelled by two main ‘Belgian’ characteristics: a prevalent and persistent anti-urban catholic ideology (which also implied a resistance to any centralisation of power). industrial. the notorious corner with (by now closed/shut down) pubs at the tramway stop. permanent type of urbanity was generated. The landscape by definition becomes the defective interplay of simultaneous and contradictory landscape forms: urban and rural.4 Historic cities became merely insignificant relicts in the isotropic territorial continuum where industry (dense networks of flexible small. tramways and. after the Second World War. Its continuously reproduced undefinedness renders permanent its character of wasteland. since the municipal law of 1838. The territory is administered by a multitude of municipalities which. due to the negligent/secondary urbanisation 29 . the combination of a sustained generalised dispersion and a permanently emerging urbanity gave rise to the formation of recurrent tissue figures in the territory: the isolated terraced house in the middle of nowhere. completeness and accumulation of this different nationwide network created in a certain way a ‘universal’ accessibility for each spot of the territory. an embryonic territorial constellation that always remains receptive. which gave rise to the very dense occupation of the countryside since the early Middle Ages. of incredibly dense.and medium-sized enterprises). piecemeal additions or transformations. Each spot embodied the same accessibility and. express roads and highways). Everywhere – on the periphery of the capital city or in remote hamlets – an emerging. any crossroads of two national roads.4 miles) apart. Conventional wisdom condemns this ‘secondarity’ as a burden. a terrain whose potentiality is unconsumed.The nearly total urbanisation of the territory of Belgium surely makes it an emblematic case in discussions about ‘dispersed urbanism’. it does not create any significant public space. Belgium has since unremembered time been a country of laissez faire. residence and agriculture negligently cohabitate. this absence of rules and norms. commercial) have been filling in the remaining open meshes of the multitude of urbanised nets that cover the territory. and consequently the absence of any centrally imposed town-planning regulations. and the intensive division of land property. and broke the monopoly of the city as the centre of production and consumption. sprawl. population.2 This extremely decentralised administration turned the territory into an archipelago of municipalities which themselves are a mosaic of the small land properties that underwent a continuous process of further division through inheritance law. tramway stop or a highway exit acquired the same competitive advantage as the traditional city. As a result. and nor does it generate the synergies that concentration and accumulation allow.7 the ribbon fragment along whatever road. and so on. concentration of labour. Nevertheless. Factors1 that explain the unusual situation of the Belgian territory include: the extraordinary fertility of the soil. most of the spatial patterns are endless recombinations of the aforementioned figures. the oversized and only half-developed perimeter block8 that results from urbanisation without any urbanistic restructuring of former rural road networks. railways. Since practically no sites have consolidated and become ‘primary’ land. In concrete terms. plots varying in size. they remain permanently emerging. consequently. the bulk of development takes the form of incremental. a train station. where an intense poetry – this is Magritte territory – lurks side by side with a nauseating banality of everyday habitation. This process of unification and equalisation distorted the traditional settlement pattern.3 While the catholic ideology promoted home ownership in the municipality of origin. juxtaposing housing. and eventually the development of urban strategies to deal with it. commerce. undefined by over-definition. as a forum of public debate. all have the same rights and powers – from hamlet to village to the larger city. step by step. and so many other terms that attempt without too much success to grasp the reality of the contemporary urban condition. it eroded the notion of centrality. a multitude of small-scale provincial cities. Over the last decade. This at the same time incredibly chaotic and urban landscape seems at first sight to lack any coherence whatsoever. creating such a redundant variety that the territory becomes isotropic. It creates an ‘open city’. Both centre and periphery vanished and were replaced by an almost omnipresent ‘secondarity’. Because it remains dispersed. the density. quality and character (residential. and the implementation. yet. Development equals incremental mutation. where the cacophonic juxtaposition of built fragments delivers surprise after surprise. incremental and unconsolidated. This urbanity has generally never consolidated – it is permanently emerging – given the mismatch between the disclosed development potential and the effective development capacity required. the commercial ribbon development along national roads. usually only 20 kilometres (12. a closer look allows at least an insight into the ordering logics that determine the continuous production and reproduction of the seemingly chaotic territory.
OSA. West Flanders. and the surrounding area The late medieval territory here is intensively occupied. 30 . often less then 20 kilometres (12. Atlas Southwest Flanders. with a very fine division of the land and a large number of cities. The countryside is characterised by a dense network of evenly distributed farms of relatively small scale. 2002: Ferraris 1777 map of Ypres.4 miles) apart. The cities – often with crossroads between river and road – create centralities that appear as an archipelago of cities in a sea of intensively exploited and very fine-mazed rural territory.
The archipelago of cities mutates in a heavily infrastructured rhizome of secondary centres. railways. West Flanders Over time. highways and expressways is superimposed on this territory. Wevelgem. tramways. a dense network of national roads. garages. in recent decades. with allotments that consume the last of the open space. Oversized perimeter blocks. as each of the crossroads creates an equal accessibility and is hence a potential point of centrality. The proliferation of crossroads.Territory of West and East Flanders: from archipelago to rhizome (1770–2000) From the 18th century onwards. warehouses. industrial buildings or. This leads to an urban landscape in which conglomerate and template coexist as morphological principles. such as the well-known ribbon development and oversized perimeter blocks with their ever expanding dimensions. In a second phase the second order behind the ribbons is sometimes filled in with additions. stations. this parasitic incremental urbanisation process leads to the formation of redundant figures in the landscape. and a territory of secondarity is generated. exits on highways and so on distorts the spatial structure of the territory. 31 . tramway stops.
necessary structures and missing public spaces. chaotic juxtaposition of open spaces offers on the one hand all conceivable gradients between public and private space. attempt such a re-editing exercise in Southwest Flanders. large-scale buildings often in a first order/second order relation. waste(d) lands that hopelessly try to mediate between different scales. in one way or Buda block/element The urban fabric is generated by ad hoc infill along ribbons and the unconsidered induction of freestanding. contradictory qualities and spatial paradigms: ribbon development versus allotment. This unordered. relief and contrast. conflicting functions. The projects presented here. However. while at the same time avoiding an overdose of structuring and definition. A re-editing allows the articulation and exploitation of this richness of open-space qualities as what is conventionally only seen as residual space.9 They attempt to use new development to insert minimal spatial qualities. traditional building block versus Modernist composition. process. By no means do they aim for a comprehensive requalification of the territory. and so on. and so on leads to a large variety of open spaces with very different relationships to the private constructions. In this territory. 32 . The urbanistic project consequently becomes an intertextual work of re-editing (a weak embryonic) text. with its zero degree of spatial quality. a lot of residual landscape fragments. urban versus rural. conglomerate versus template.OSA: Atlas Southwest Flanders. including the protodemocratic character of its spatial constellation. 2004: Buda intimacy/exposure–public/private The urban fabric that is generated by rather ad hoc and unconsidered infill. construction. and are. demolition. wave after wave of development deposited a layer of urban material to the point where the whole territory was covered/urbanised in one way or another. reconstruction. by OSA (the University of Leuven’s Research Group for Urbanity and Architecture). These are neither urban nor rural. and on the other opens up a register of spaces ranging from extremely exposed to intimate. which would eventually destroy the fundamental quality of the open city Belgium has become. they do focus on potential sites of condensation (in the sense of subconcentration and precipitation – the fallout of new material) that allow articulation.
They are not programmatic – programmes are usually interchangeable anyway – but try to use the interstices between production and reproduction to re-create ambiguous spaces (public in this case) that invite – given their reaffirmed ‘secondarity’ – new social practices. the case study in Bruno De Meulder and Oswald Devisch. 4 Transformator. for example. Project voor de Electriciteitscentrale. In the end. 2005. Oase. ‘Patching up the Belgian Landscape’. but at the same time everything but overdefined and deterministic. 33 . 52. Le Travail (Verviers). 3 Wevelgem. The project requalifies this infrastructure in a canalscape. p 59. ‘platforms’. Notes 1. SRO (86). For more detailed information see. See. 4 Buda secret garden The Buda Island project exploits and articulates the coincidence of opposing morphological logics (oversized perimeter block versus freestanding buildings. Bruno De Meulder. Kortrijk. the work of OSA is an urbanistic credo that is testimony to a belief in emerging new social practices that are enabled by the insertion of the public spaces of tomorrow in an open city that is still only on the verge of becoming urban. 1. It is a modus operandi that assembles utilities to create efficient environments. urban. and hence public spaces. ‘Lintbebouwing: Algemeen én Belgisch’. the latent urbanity of the open city. 1981. 6 Kortrijk Buda. For a more elaborated history of the Belgian urbanisation process see. a landscape development strategy for the E17 highway in Southwest Flanders. social practices are the sole creators of public life. 5. 8. a space that is created by processes of bricolage. an inviting space that can accommodate a variety of different uses and atmospheres side by side. They are far from neutral. the Leiedal intermunicipal association in South Flanders. Results of this urbanistic work are published as fascicles of the Atlas Southwest Flanders: fascicles 0. In short. Bruno De Meulder and Michiel Dehaene. ‘Primarity’ characterises a condition where the production of space is dictated by the necessities of subsistence and survival. the subconscious and subversive trial-and-error production of new common grounds. So far it includes a study of the municipality of Wevelgem. pp 40–3. fields and forests that inscribe themselves in the netcity and in doing so restructure the netcity and introduce spaces for public appropriation. Atlas – Fascikel 3: Wevelgem. Jean Remy. PUF (Paris). Zwevegem. Canalscape. the Buda Island project in the city of Kortrijk. La condition municipale. What all of OSA’s projects have in common is the search for new types of scenes – ‘secret gardens’. the redevelopment of the St Amandscollege in Kortrijk. a landscape development strategy for the Bossuit-Kortrijk canal. railway lines and national roads generated the mutation of the countryside into a rhizomatic urban landscape composed of simultaneously present landscapes (industry. and a study of the ‘Pand’ in Waregem. Ville: Ordre et violence. 4. and so on. ‘Secondarity’ refers to the non-functional and irrational concretisation of a desired spatial experience. Fernand Brunfaut. 7. gardens. Anno 02. in collaboration with and commissioned by. 2. instead of following the mainstream discourse on the ‘loss of public space’ (it is difficult to lose something that was never there) and the ‘loss of urbanity’ (ditto) caused by the dispersed city. Atlas – Fascikel 1: Zuidelijk West-Vlaanderen. 6. 1999. The urbanistic work presented here forms part of the ‘Atlas-project Southwest Flanders that OSA undertakes. Images © OSA-KULeuven Simultaneous landscapes/canalscape project The existing infrastructure of canals. 1951. These open ‘signifiers’ have the ambition to unlock the latent potentiality of waste(d) land. for example. 2002. 2002. for example. 4. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. the redevelopment of the power plant site in Zwevegem. Bruno De Meulder et al. a network of quays. 7 Gelijktijdige Landschappen. ‘fields’ and ‘parks’ – that without too much emphasis invite and facilitate new types of social interaction. mostly regulated by an engineering rationality. 2 (on architecture). pp 78–112. 3. 9. rural). as a support for an open city. ‘quays’. both zero-degree versions of traditional building blocks and the Modernist paradigm) to create a variety of open and closed spaces that are different in character and nature. intended to substructure the open city mainly via the introduction of public spaces of a new kind. the secret gardens project on Buda Island.another.
Paola Viganò provides an alternative definition of the dispersed territory. this is an ancient landscape of evenly scattered development that has grown up alongside roads and waterways. 2006 Water and asphalt: the project of an isotropic territory. B Secchi. which has developed out of untamed growth of metropolitan areas. Venice. 10th Architecture Biennale. Rather than archetypal sprawl.Water and Asphalt The Project of Isotropy in the Metropolitan Region of Venice Through an exploration of the Veneto region close to Venice. Water and Asphalt: The Project of Isotropy. P Viganò and students of the IUAV PhD in Urbanism. 34 . in northeastern Italy. The research is based on the hypothesis that new conditions today exist for redevising the isotropic space in the greater metropolitan area of Venice starting from its main support: water and asphalt.
The supports of a population whose social mobility has been very high in recent decades. We encounter a long history of territorial rationalisation: the Roman centuriatio (a technique for the reclamation and subdivision of the land made by a grid of canals and roads of 710 metres/2. tramways and so on – a process in which different forms of rationalities have been superimposed on each other. In a very short and simplified overview. combines rows of trees. more recently. The first important rationalisation was the Roman centuriatio. There are similarities between sprawl and the territories of dispersion. water and asphalt today have different types of relations: they run parallel. In the Middle Ages the Benedictine order reclaimed the abandoned system. in particular of a diffused and isotropic sponge of roads and waters – isotropic in the sense that they more or less create the same conditions throughout the territory. Each rationalisation has created its own landscape: the centuriatio. fragmentation and homogenisation. as mentioned above. In the metropolitan region of Venice. horizontal instead of vertical.5 Our vocabulary is ever less rich and ever less suited to understanding how the various devices that make the plain. and has a long and heavily connoted history. constructing the same landscape. integrated more than juxtaposed. or separately defining opposing features. a dense network of infrastructures – which. 35 . The two interpretations often coexist and overlap. sprawl concerns the spreading out of the city and the commuting of its inhabitants. The phenomenon of dispersion in Europe can be interpreted in at least two different ways:1 the first emphasises the breaking of an equilibrium. accepting oversimplified and generic explanations. huge reclamation works were carried out in the low wet areas around the lagoon using polderisation procedures similar to those being used by the Dutch. Starting from the 2nd century BC. society and cultures are related to an extended way of experiencing. the extended use of the territory3 and the mix of functions differ: ancient as opposed to recent. and living in a place. The utopia of an isotropic territory lies within the character of this as of other territories of dispersion. In a very close dimension one can appreciate totally different experiences: you only have to turn the corner and you enter into a different landscape where rhythms and sounds produce an estrangement.6 And in the 1930s. water and asphalt today have different types of relations: they run parallel. water and asphalt are today in deep crisis. have supported the original economy and territorial form. houses and factories. and proceeds along the mid-wet and impermeable plain. Movements of different kinds can percolate through them. highways. whatever the direction and wherever the point of observation. dry and permeable plain. or separately defining opposing features. In the territory around Venice. work. the building of roads. at least for many European regions.4 To understand this hiatus we started by naming. the high. it developed at the same time as a drainage system. the mid-wet and impermeable plain. since the 1960s in several parts of Italy. a plot subdivision and a road infrastructure.Territories of Dispersion ‘Sprawl’ cannot adequately describe a territory of dispersion where specific economies. They are no longer considered adequate for contemporary needs and for contemporary imagery: new projects bring to bear a logic of hierarchisation. cultivated fields divided by minor drainage lines. the traditional relationship between town and country. This third great rationalisation was strong enough to completely change the physical and ecological character of the area. twisting and turning to reach the draining slopes. Following the former.329 feet). roads and. for example. The rivers were displaced to the east and to the west of the lagoon in an incredible effort that is at the origin of the new science of hydrology. but to forget the latter in favour of ‘sprawl’ means. The 16th century witnessed the beginning of the great diversions of the rivers entering the lagoon by the Venetian Republic to avoid the silting up of the protective water surface with sand and gravel brought from the northern mountains – the second important rationalisation. It is a term pertaining to English-speaking cultures. and the low reclaimed plain. the Fascist period. the second insists on development ‘without fractures’2 that distributes resources and creates opportunities for individual undertakings. Water and Asphalt: Rationalisations In the territory around Venice. partially reconstructing it and bringing it into the modern era. the longue durée dispersion has been related to the presence of specific infrastructural configurations. filling and reclaiming. the second deals with traditional conditions of dispersion – for example. the waterways excavated in the lagoon. but the process of diffusion. The Project of Isotropy This study poses three principal questions: What is still contemporary in the past process of rationalisation? Is isotropy a figure of contemporary and future rationality? What new conditions have emerged to enable the conception of a new project of isotropy? The process of dispersion. the river diversions and rectifications. can be related to the spatial configuration of diffused and isotropic infrastructures. the fishing valleys. constructing the same landscape. using. three main periods/events can be identified.
2006 Water (red) + asphalt (grey) + pits and dumps (black). fall semester. Old pits and dumps are dispersed. but in relation to the geological features. P Viganò and student S Favaro. and can be reused to design an extended net of public spaces in relation to water and asphalt. Top left: The aggeratio. Today the role and function of these areas can be rethought. for example. View from the hillside towards the plain in the proximity of Vicenza. Above: The landscape of the dry plain contains the remainder of a mesh of canals transformed in a tree structure of concrete canals in the Fascist period to irrigate the industrial agriculture in the gravel plain. a dense road network and an even denser water system. houses and factories. The landscape of the low wet plain is the result of a strong process of reclamation during the Fascist period in favour of industrial agriculture. combines rows of trees. showing the way in which houses and industries merge with agricultural features. roads and.B Secchi. in the Veneto region. 36 . In the metropolitan region of Venice. water and asphalt define the isotropic conditions. New processes of rationalisation are today modifying these. Water and Asphalt. Each rationalisation has created its own landscape. European Post-graduate Master in Urbanism (EMU). cultivated fields divided by drainage lines. more recently. Left: The landscape of reclamation. The picture is quite exemplary.
The paradox of public spaces in the territories of dispersion is clear. The Venetian territory has been invested with strong processes of rationalisation: the Roman aggeratio. an increase in territorial porosity and permeability. a scenario to be investigated in its manifold consequences. In this framework. Isotropy is an extreme and ideal figure: the territory is not perfectly isotropic and it is not homogeneous. of the modern welfare state. sport fields. river diversions and rectifications. and the energy crises can be tackled with decentralised production. political and ecological rationality: less costs due to flood damage. after the EU policy of subsidies. The schemes here show the complex hydraulic system of the reclaimed land of the low wet plain. 37 . isotropy reveals traditional aspects of economic. This is not a big urban project. waterways in the lagoon. the great image of isotropy – and its consequences on the design of space – is perhaps the only one able to reconstruct a comprehensive image and the possibility of a territorial design. Today a new project of isotropy is at the same time the acknowledgement of a territorial specificity. playgrounds. alternative mobility. the fragments. tramways and so on – a process in which the isotropic features have often been reinforced. is to become a multifunctional landscape. highways. filling and reclaiming. The research here is based on the hypothesis that new conditions now exist for redevising the isotropic space in the metropolitan area of Venice. and a design hypothesis that can be concretely devised in terms of intervention on the water system. innovative agriculture and the decentralised production of energy. the future of agriculture. schools. revealing at the same time the crisis of traditional urbanity. tramways. public green and so on represent an impressive isotropic distribution that can match with and reinforce a mesh of railways. waterways and paths. often marginal and dispersed. the building of roads. on roads and public transport. The landscape of reclamation. of the modern concept of public space and the limits of a strongly individualised way of life. both social and ecological. forms of diffused welfare. but an incremental series of undertakings beginning with water and asphalt: the problems of flooding and scarcity demand more space for water. Although not fully accomplished.Processes of rationalisation.
7. New woods and agricultural areas.1 5 1 2 6 3 7 A new project of isotropy is now possible: the problems of flooding and scarcity demand more space for water. Minimum 10 per cent new woods. 3. Existing woods. 5. and the fragments of the modern welfare state represent an impressive isotropic distribution that can match with and reinforce a mesh of railways. More space for the water. 2. tramways. is to become a multifunctional landscape also for decentralised energy production and woods. A new mesh of public transport (each circle is 5 kilometres/3. 6. Water and flooding areas. Roads + railways (in black) + waterways (in red).1 miles). after the EU policy of subsidies. 1. waterways and paths. 4 38 . 4. The future of agriculture.
A Zaragoza). 1989. Water and Asphalt: The Project of Isotropy. It is not only related to urbanity or to the modern idea of welfare. 36(tl). See in particular my introduction. They are dispersed elements that could support today’s different activities connected to an extended use of the territory. The Territory: A New Scale for Public Space The paradox of public spaces in the territories of dispersion is clear. C Renzoni. U degli Uberti. along the isotropic network of water and asphalt. G Lambrechts. P Viganò and students of the IUAV PhD in Urbanism (M Ballarin. see in particular the introduction to the third edition (1986). often inventing them where they had never existed and in competition with new places of consumption. E Giannotti.8 per cent of GDP). of the modern concept of public space and the limits of a strongly individualised way of life. M Patruno. U degli Uberti. N Dattomo. T Lombardo. Officina Edizioni (Rome). p 36(cl&bl) © TerraItaly™ by Pictometry. P Viganò (ed). Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 4. new forests. Anthropos (Paris). revealing at the same time the crisis of traditional urbanity. but to the construction of a field of horizontal conditions for contemporary practices and ecology. M Gronning. has found it difficult to represent the peculiar mix of rurality and urbanity of the Venetian territory. A Scarponi. In a metropolitan region such as Venice. 37. G Lambrechts. P Marchevet. but to larger symbolic representations. B Secchi. the reference cannot be Times Square. M Tattara. Donzelli (Rome). New Territories. 2006 Redesign of a gravel pit as a public space and water reservoir (section). 5. Un progetto per l’urbanistica. It is an infrastructural space that individuals cannot afford on their own. Venice. F Vanin.P Viganò. 1974. See P Viganò. G Zaccariotto. and modern facilities often in marginal and disconnected areas. J McOisans (Centre de recherches sur l’espace sonore & l’environnement urbain-Grenoble). nor the village community space. In the European dispersed territories. E Dusi. S Giametta. where more than 70 per cent of the land is still cultivated (only producing 2. Paesaggi dell’acqua (Landscapes of Water). Paola Viganó. Venezia e le acque. M Brunello. Venice. irrigation devices. Il Mulino (Bologna). A weak structure of small squares. Public space is something larger. La production de l’espace. 10th Architecture Biennale. V Ferrario. 39 © Paola Viganó. 1995. highly standardised and isotropic. Einaudi (Turin). F Verona. Images: pp 36(tr&br). 6. Landscapes of Water research project. G Fuà and C Zacchia. The Merotto gravel-pit recuperation is a pilot project that explores the reuse of gravel pits as flood-water reservoirs together with a new canal as a new public space. © Compagna Generale Riprese Aeree 39 . IUAV. pp 34. Flooding areas. 2004. Yet it is a social space that we consider our own. They are not related to an idea of centre and periphery. and utilises flood control to introduce a new type of landscape within the widespread territory and with it a new connection between differing environments. P Bevilacqua. is dispersed throughout the territory. Industrializzazione senza fratture. 1983. The canal has a variable section. D De Mattia. In recent years. H Lefebvre. T Lombardo and G Zaccariotto. to new forms of collective representation and free time. minimal and large-scale projects can produce denser environments. 3. forthcoming. former gravel-pits. 4 Notes 1. S Porcaro. much investment has been made to requalify public spaces within a traditional urban framework. 2. The welfare city. 38 © Bernard Secchi. B Secchi. and has remained a predominantly functional space. M Pertoldi. Q2. roadside churches. T Lombardo and G Zaccariotto. L Stroszeck. 2006. canals and public transport nodes are materials and places with and in which to reformulate the concept of public and the concept of public space.
On Waiting Spaces and How to Inhabit Transforming Cities 40 .Intermittent Cities Claudia Faraone and Andrea Sarti tap into the potential of the transient contemporary city. By networking a series of sites – either officially or unofficially awaiting development – they provide the city of dispersal with a highly dynamic. which is incessantly growing and evolving. ready-made urban culture.
Four different examples of waiting spaces: Top: Near a construction site but disconnected from the surrounding urban transformation. close to an exchange parking lot and a bus stop in Mogliano Veneto. The waiting spaces will build on the existing infrastructure of roads. The phenomenon of city sprawling characterised the second half of the 20th century and became so widespread and powerful that it has shifted the way cities were traditionally organised. Intermittent Cities: On Waiting Spaces and How to Inhabit Transforming Cities. The industrial progress in building constructions. Claudia Faraone and Andrea Serti. tend to change and grow incessantly. further south. within a consolidated neighbourhood in Marghera. exchange parking lots and bus lines to create an interconnected network. 2004 Map of waiting spaces in a portion of the dispersed city in the Veneto region (the so-called citta diffusa. Mogliano Veneto and Marcon. we recognise the Dutch structured dispersion or the Flemish diamond and. from well-contained urbanities to the dispersed territories we live in today. the mixed diffused city of the Veneto region of northeast Italy. Veneto. Looking at a satellite image of the European territory. cycle paths. Exemplary results of this process can be clearly found within the European territory. Italy. especially their dispersed parts. compose an even yet small-grained entity. Upper middle: Beside a productive and commercial area. social and political conditions. produced by different economic. or diffused city) between Venice-Mestre. the development of technology and communication. 41 . on the edge of a development in Marcon. together made cities spill out beyond their surrounding territories and regenerate their interiors in a continuous cycle of building on undeveloped areas and reuse of existing urban terrains. Bottom: Close to a residential area.Contemporary cities. Lower middle: Disused bus depot in Mestre. and the transformation of the heavy-industry based economy into a service one. where different types of sprawling cities. the mass diffusion of individual privately owned cars.
42 .Spatial configurations depending on waiting space availability and location.
A duration sequence in the network of waiting spaces. Spatial configuration of modular units according to different activities. Each is provided with a city info-point or a modular unit situated at the entrance to the waiting space. parking lots with solar panels). a series of spatial configurations is made possible depending on how much time is available. and a basic. For each waiting space. 43 . the location of the space and the requested activities. self-sustainable infrastructure as a possible means of ‘awakening’ the space (for example.
near Garibaldi station. assembled or dismantled based on demand. On the one hand. exchange parking lots and bus lines. Interpreting the dispersed city as composed of intermittently functioning waiting spaces. bicycle paths. university classes and public lectures.Among the outcomes of this consuming and recycling of the territory. In Piazza Freud. While preparing the Intermittent Cities project. This newly imagined intermittent city will be produced by temporally networking a series of waiting spaces at the scale of the urban region. waiting spaces are areas that belong to expanding portions of the city that have never been used but in which it is nevertheless predictable that a transformation will occur. These can be found in peripheral commercial centres and new city extensions around Mestre and Venice city. As a continuously changing entity. waiting spaces can provide a temporal shelter for urban activities that are temporary or cannot take place inside the canonical productive system of contemporary cities. exchange parking lots and bus lines. evolving and being used. the intermittent city can be switched on or off. reclaiming the space. while their immediate surroundings are growing. with concerts. or beyond the Veneto region Battersea Power Station in London. This newly imagined intermittent city will be produced by temporally networking a series of waiting spaces at the scale of the urban region. an emerging kind of urban space can be recognised: ‘waiting spaces’ – a definition that comes from their main characteristic of standing empty or unused. a sociocultural association that promotes non-profit public and cultural activities in Milan. Since they have the ability to re-create themselves endlessly. One of these was organised by Esterni. and using wireless technologies and selfsufficient energies. waiting spaces can be found in abandoned structures and places now ready to be used again: the ACTV bus storage in Mestre. we observed and participated in similar projects that were a real test of the short-term organisation necessary for a waiting space. a new design approach can be applied to the portions of urban territory that are in the time span: just before their turning on or soon after their turning off. or in contested urban spaces such as Piazza Freud in Milan. performances. using the existing infrastructure of roads. ‘Catching’ intervals of time will allow for a 44 . and using wireless technologies and self-sufficient energies. this waiting space was ‘turned on’. using the existing infrastructure of roads. bicycle paths. On the other hand. and running parallel to Milan Design Week 2004 for 10 days. and therefore waiting.
recreational. bicycle sharing points and so on. with Bernardo Secchi as promoter and Stefano Munarin as co-promoter.This constantly updated online database of available waiting spaces can map possible locations and works in coordination with the Venice municipality’s urban planning website. Small-scale private or public actions with a high amenity value will improve waiting spaces by hosting currently missing urban public activities. temporary transformation of waiting spaces into public spaces: from a matter of fact to an urban design proposition. similar or complementary. between Mestre and Venice airport. self-sufficient elements and infrastructure will guarantee that the intermittent city will function. Sustainable. near a settlement with few facilities and very close to the airport and the main road to Venice. small modular units equip the waiting spaces with flexible devices capable of various spatial configurations to host different users. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Artistic. to libraries that might need to close their central building for a while. and once a series of activities becomes linked to the waiting space it will begin to attract other. 4 Note This project has been developed as part of the authors’ thesis at IUAV. Images © Claudia Faraone and Andrea Sarti 45 . Architecture University of Venice. activities. it allows single users and small public/private institutions such as art galleries. we tested our space configurations by organising them in thematic strips. art galleries. Because of its edge conditions. conferences. libraries and community associations to contribute towards building a collective urban and cultural awareness across the territory. sports performances. and with a parking lot nearby. through events such as concerts. groups of individuals or small collective entities will be given the opportunity to incrementally build the ‘software’ needed to produce an urban culture for the dispersed city. Individuals. Working with mobile and changeable architecture. A possible testing location for a long-term waiting space is a site in Campalto. Temporal ways of inhabiting and experiencing the city would be possible inside these spaces. along with their management and regulation. as well as public activities and facilities like playgrounds. small satellite libraries. Acting as a territorial interface. information and promotion strips with different and complementary levels of activities were used to meet every eventuality: from art galleries that might need modular units for their satellite exhibitions. or the school nearby requiring a new playground for its pupils. cultural associations.
Alternatively. Whether a project becomes one or the other is often entirely up to the developer. 46 . rooted more in collective culture and addressing the demands of the market-driven economy. while challenging it by proposing an alternative ‘stringblock’ approach. allowing for rapid urban growth while also meeting the needs of state and property developer alike. At the high end. superblocks function as the ultimate in gated communities – truly wonderful tower-in-the-park environments. they can be relentless in their standardisation and repetitiveness.String Block Vs Superblock Patterns of Dispersal in China The superblock in China has become the dominant unit of urban planning. Kjersti Monson explains the conditions that have given rise to the superblock.
The LDI system is designed for maximum efficiency through an institutionalised preference for using templates and standards instead of pushing design innovation. Collective Culture and the Built Environment The creation of collectivized dining halls. shedding enormous chunks of developable land with approved use rights in single transactions. In the end. and therefore for urban expansion under the current system. However. and this will provide the economic premises for the extinction of the family as an economic unit. 19741 The Communist Revolution is the most radical rupture with existing property relations. This phenomenon is underscored by the requirement in newly planned expansion areas (Pudong is such an area. its spatial logic is practical from a planning. A superblock can vary in size from 8 hectares (20 acres) in an existing urban area to 40 hectares (100 acres) or more in newly urbanising rural peripheries. Each superblock project can rapidly deliver large numbers of housing units to market while offering a financially attractive prospect to the global-standard developer and financier. and furthermore necessitates frontage roads to be built within the green buffer. often duplicating the existing road and encircling the inner block. Buildings within a superblock project tend to be standardised. informed how China ultimately structured its land lease and development regulations. performance is harder to gauge. single developers could house entire small cities in one project. wherein the private owner will plan and build interior roads. the government defined a planning process for urban land with the superblock as its basic unit. it is here that any discussion should start by considering improving the qualitative outcomes of new development as it pertains to the public interest. This precludes multiple blocks from relating to one another with a cohesive streetscape. In addition to defining a legal and political process for bringing land to market. The dominant typology for land transactions. Discrete circulation (in the spirit of the cul-de-sac) for each building phase is considered preferable so that leasing can begin on one area while another is still under construction. K Marx and F Engels. The land is parcelled and planned by the government at a scale that requires large financial transactions. As the basic unit of urban planning and real-estate transactions it defines the new Chinese city in a way that the grid and parcel defined New York. construction and leasing point of view. and must also possess the operational and financial capacity to produce a megaproject. and why the individual remains peripheral to land development in China. dormitories. large and homogenous cells – a ‘candybox urbanism’. Standard superblocks create an urban fabric characterised by discrete. sustainable city-making and social justice. both in the sale of rights as well as in the ensuing land improvements and construction. NA Miliutin in Sotsgorod: The Problem of Building Socialist Cities. laundries. As a type. So does the superblock lay the foundation for transactions that are in keeping with Chinese values related to the state and collective culture. along with the cultural assumptions that grew from the system of institutionalised architecture created to realise the communal built environments in the style of Soviet communism. although the result of this process sometimes leaves a lot to be desired with regard to public space. streamlining the design process and reducing costs. LDIs are typically a required partner for projects of any scale on the Chinese mainland. public space and sustainability. Because the typical superblock morphology is cellular. Collective culture. which allowed for a real-estate market to emerge in the late 1980s. became a tangible characteristic of each 47 .The superblock represents the DNA of urban expansion in China. it is useful to explore the country’s history as a collective culture. As cities expand ever further into the hinterland. nurseries. is the superblock. Because the superblock type is so dominant as the vehicle for Chinese urbanisation. the will to change it is hard to find since it has thus far functioned adequately from both a state and private development perspective. which was not born in China but has perhaps reached its zenith as a megatypology within that context. no wonder that its development is the most radical rupture with traditional ideas. it is not a type that blends well with its environment and it inherently tends to diminish the possibility of cohesive public space or the stewardship of natural systems. The sheer scale of a typical superblock requires that the developer has large capital reserves and high political standing. Communist Manifesto2 A history steeped in collective culture. The grid and parcel laid the foundation for real-estate transactions in the American city that were in keeping with US values related to the individual’s right to land and property. Basic cultural institutions and assumptions underlie the superblock form. it is efficient for implementing rapid expansion since it allows the government to limit its hard investment to the planning and construction of a widely spaced pattern of major infrastructure only. being built from the ground up on previous agricultural lands) for 15-metre (50-foot) or greater ‘green buffer’ zones between the kerb and the proposed buildings. kindergartens. Given the allowable densities. and repair shops will really break radically with the existing family attitude toward property. The process capitalises on the strength of the Chinese systems of Local Design Institutes (LDIs) – a system of state-owned architecture and engineering institutes that provide standardised construction documentation at a very low cost. long an underlying component of Chinese civilisation. In order to understand why transactions are occurring only at this scale. The lack of a finer grain of parcellisation ensured that development would continue at the scale of the collective rather than of the individual.
Under the law.The enormous model of downtown Shanghai at the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum reveals a large-grained cellular pattern of development typical of superblock fabric. As large-scale. Nevertheless. As a type. environment and existing conditions. including the workplace or factory. which was rural or suburban. Nevertheless. two kinds of land were recognised: state-owned land. closed-loop and collectivised walled compounds. under the law. due to its high efficiency for rapid expansion. 48 . Each block is distinct with regard to massing. residential dormitories. It represented social identity through work. which was either urban land or a nationally significant natural resource. familial ties and national ideology. They were defined first and foremost as centres of production. The production team was the legal representative of collectively owned land rights. was not only the building block of the socialist city. In the city. the production brigade (administrator of the ‘natural village’ – often a group with familial ties – and coordinator of production teams). When the People’s Republic was formed. and was the building block of Chinese socialism. officials). or danwei. The work unit was at the core of everyday life. The work unit. An urban danwei provided the worker members with everything they needed within a defined and controlled area. it has difficulty coping with context. and is typically disconnected from other blocks by large and fast-moving roads. clear terms of transaction and strong formal likeness to the collective compounds of China’s recent history. an industrial village was linear. The work unit was the nucleus of the political and social life of a village. it was the core of communist identity. with the basic and most important unit of socialisation being the ‘work unit’. Standardising communal living arrangements underscored the national dedication to instilling socialist values at every level. it is likely to remain dominant and should be considered as a formal and functional type ready for urban design innovation. circulation and open space. Collectivisation meant more than the pooling of labour and the communal allocation of resources. more specifically. cafeteria and school. Land and resources were not held individually. and most likely sited along a canal. It also meant common eating and living spaces – a standard feature of the dormitory living units built at this time. danweis constituted the basic social and built structure of the Chinese city. resulting in a sort of insular ‘candybox urbanism’. The system of local administration was split into three levels: the people’s commune (administrator of the town and liaison to higher As the basic unit of urban planning and real-estate transactions in China. and had spatial implications depending on the means of production employed. land rights were necessarily represented by designated parties – those with standing to negotiate in the event of a dispute or landuse change. but by the state or commune. An agricultural village was cell-like. Chinese citizen’s daily life in the 1950s through the bricksand-mortar restructuring of both city and countryside into working communal environments and political structures under Mao. Therefore the legal framework governing land rights reflected the ideological values of Chinese socialism by privileging two parties with legal standing under the law: the state and the work unit (production team). land was nationalised. the Chinese population was collectivised. In the countryside. it was the ‘production team’. this building block was called the ‘danwei’. the superblock defines the new Chinese city in the same way that the grid defines New York. and collectively owned land. Throughout most of the pre-marketisation communist era or. The state was the legal representative of urban land rights and natural resources. and the production team (a designated group of peasant labourers working together towards production goals). from 1953 to 1984.
among Chinese planners and officials. using the superblock as the basic structural and transactional unit. whether the creation of new government centres for peripheral new towns. the broad-axe development framework represented by the superblock will necessarily have to adapt. key financial districts or new residential units to meet projected demand. these blocks function as the ultimate in gated communities – truly wonderful towerin-the-park environments. general land use and scope of what will be built. it is considered incorrect to refer to developable land as ‘privatised’. Privatization of Urban Land in Shanghai. It has also resulted in the resettlement of large numbers of people and the loss of agricultural land as cities and infrastructure rapidly expand. giving it the stability and predictability that is a prerequisite of any serious investor or developer. entitlements. expanded industry and logistics around a new deep-water port.019 trillion). the communes of the People’s Republic were decollectivised and political structures and organisations were renamed. they enter into state. albeit one that has floated a market of tradable land rights. The first hint that there is something fundamentally unique about the new mode of land distribution and development in China is the political incorrectness of using the term ‘privatisation’ to describe it.As China turns its attention to the ever expanding periphery and the countryside. 49 . The superblock is highly efficient for planning and land transactions. the outcome of a ‘by-thebook’ development is typically a fabric of disconnected dense megablocks that may pose challenges to both social and ecological systems. This should be an important subject for advocates of the ‘good city’ in China. however. Part of this predictability comes from the fact that the process of bringing developable urban land to market is a highly controlled process in China. 25 June 20023 Instead of moving toward a completely capitalist socio-economic system. At the high end. Because the state has not in fact turned over ownership of land. The marketisation process in China has heralded a period of unprecedented urban expansion. Masterplans are produced according to top-down planning agendas. At the low end. and through which real property is brought to market. China is in transition to a market socialism. When marketisation began as a result of new legislation in the early 1980s. At the time of the initial land transaction between public and private. … a natural resource (land). ‘People’s commune’. but its form creates enormous disruption to existing natural and cultural systems. construction and lease-up that bring new real estate to market. exactions or performance-based rules. As new expansion areas are identified and approved by Beijing. A key difference under the new system. The two forms of property remained: state owned (urban land) and collectively owned (rural and suburban land). whose monetary value had been neglected since 1949. Whether a project becomes one or the other is entirely up to the developer. People’s Daily Online. necessitating substantial relocation and compensation to be undertaken by the developer. ‘administrative village’ and ‘natural village’. more than triple the total value of other State-owned properties. government planners have already defined the scale. An auction occurs in which land-use rights are sold to developers who proceed through the site planning.or municipal-level design institutes where land uses and infrastructure are planned and approved. These plans typically – and sometimes rightfully – have no relationship to the fabric that existed before them. ‘marketisation’ is the correct term. In the current regulatory climate in China. China still perceives itself very much as a socialist state. as it is in defining these nuances of the regulatory relationship between public and private that one truly begins to affect change on a massive scale with regard to quality-of-life outcomes. Plans focus on major infrastructure and land uses. was that no legal representative of collective ownership rights was identified under the law. The laws and processes of development for state-owned urban land have been quickly and precisely mapped out over the past 20 years. they are relentless rows of standardised housing. 19964 Marketisation is a legal and political process by which stateowned land in China becomes developable. State-owned urban land has a clear delineation of use rights and specific quantitative planning and entitlement regulations. suddenly assumes a very important role in the overall Chinese economy … How then does this ‘from nothing to everything’ situation come about? Li Ling Hin. but rather has established a system of long-term leases and rights of use. such as easements facilitating public space or environmental goals. ‘production bridgade’ and ‘production team’ became ‘township’. The government rarely imposes additional conditions that could forward the public interest. Indeed. Marketisation Land parcels are the most important State-owned assets valued at 25 trillion yuan (US$3.
and obtain services in the commune as a collective. The fate of collectively owned land has been different from that of state-owned urban land. and the construction of communal living and working environments all underwrote socialist tenets in tangible ways in each Chinese citizen’s life and community from the 1950s onwards. Rural and suburban villages are still largely functioning as collectives. migration minimal and buyers hard to come by. a suburban industrial commune has a linear form. and the basic unit of social organisation was not the individual but the collective. With no recognised legal owner-representative. and limitations. Here.The basic unit of collectivisation in China was the production team.6 Evolution Creation of a centralised system of planning. where the population may be sparse. or more precisely the New Socialist Countryside as outlined in its ‘11th Five Year Plan’ in 2006. The scale of development and market absorption that a superblock development must inherently assume in order to justify such a large land acquisition at the start may not be realistic in peripheral areas. awaiting state intervention. The revolution sought to shift definition of the basic economic building block and property rights from being family-based to being commune-based. Meanwhile. it created a revised system of land rights. the countryside is frozen from a land rights point of view. moving towards a system of market socialism. and the problem of how potential investors might engage this territory remain vague. or how land can be reclaimed by the state. the land has by default been subject to land grabs and wasteful development practices by local officials throughout China. Market reform in China has led to a specific form of collectively owned enterprise in rural areas (Town and Village Enterprise). with a dense residential centre and surrounding farmlands. These differences are about to become significant barriers as China turns its face to the countryside. Residents would work in the factory or farm that defined their commune. live in the commune. this hinterland represents too many legal grey areas. From the perspective of an entrepreneur. The process of creating land supply and parcelling newly developable land In both city and countryside. A farming commune takes on a cellular form. settlements in the latter half of 20th-century China were defined first and foremost by the means of production employed in them. When China implemented the land-use regulations (LURs) of the 1980s. There are differences in both the social frameworks and legal frameworks governing urban land as compared to rural or suburban land. which was granted communal land rights under the law. a top-down hierarchy of architectural institutes linked to the state. The superblock may differ in the way it engages the private sector in order to be produced. or work unit. the simple questions of who owns the land.5 but has yet to clarify collective property ownership rights. resulting in major hurdles for sustained economic growth and investment. or danwei. although individual farmers have been granted leases. As it currently stands. but it maintains the socialist lineage of planning and city building in units of large-scale insular compounds rather than city-building at a parcel scale. 50 . what villagers can do to improve their own situation or benefit from growth. with indistinct rights Former collective types such as lilong (lane) housing or hutong (courtyard) housing are now being replaced as marketisation brings new superblocks online throughout city centres and peripheries. taking advantage of a large canal. The refined process of land development via the superblock does not fit rural or suburban land. The social and political system made communal decision-making a way of life. One area under the collective land law that has developed quickly is the land impressment process. converted to urban land and its residents resettled.
When applied in rural settings. 51 . Design Community China. superblock-style land transactions and financing could be adapted for redeployment in suburban or rural areas seeking development – keeping the basic DNA of the superblock method intact while adopting a more integrated attitude towards context and form. A man-made lake is maintained as a living habitat where turtles. suburban Shanghai. in this first surge of growth. one might be surprised that there are not more severe conflicts arising. A Masterplan for the Fengxian District Suburb of Shanghai In 2005. Fengcheng is one of the nine towns in Shanghai’s ‘One City Nine Towns’ 2020 Plan. while living in Shanghai. I propose exploring the superblock as a malleable type that may adopt alternative.for transaction took the form of superblocks and maintained the fundamental powers of the state to implement top-down control. Given the right regulatory framework. The company. Ltd (DCC). it requires a tabula rasa attitude towards context that makes any notion of organic or phased growth that engages local populations nearly impossible to imagine. as well as attract development interests who prefer the predictability of the superblock planning model. signed a memorandum of understanding with Fengxian District. It also preserved the basic principle of planning at the scale of the collective rather than the individual. As the superblock is not designed to coexist but to replace. However. Despite the problems inherent in superblock planning – especially environmental degradation and the polarisation of city and countryside – the principles of collective culture that underlie the rise of the superblock as the definitive contemporary Chinese urban form are not likely to change quickly. The small scale of the block (around 7 hectares/18 acres) makes for an intimate and gardenesque centre. since no one can predict the kind of density a superblock will assume on a site that is entirely peripheral to the city. not suburban and rural land. As China turns its attention to the ever expanding periphery and the countryside. for a system only around 20 years old. the project turns its back on the public. A lot of trouble has been avoided through the government’s focus on urban land. This is not because officials deny or do not care about the apparent problems inherent in the type. and although it engages the natural it does so at a superficial level – creating a sort of pond aquarium that sits on top of underground parking without engaging any larger functioning ecologies. to undertake an experimental planning process and possible development for Fengcheng town that culminated in an 80-page planning document. The community maintains a newsletter and encourages residents to get to know one another through planned events. the broad-axe development framework represented by the superblock will necessarily have to adapt. We evaluated the existing landscape structure north of the town. and entrepreneur Francis Yum. with sentries posted at each entrance.7 DCC sought to establish a formal framework for organic growth in the district that would benefit the matrix of farming villages that surround the town. noting that where Top of City in downtown Shanghai is a good example of relative success in superblock planning. Indeed. The superblock is highly efficient for planning and land transactions. fish and toads reside. it is a destructive force that can be considered speculative at best with regard to real-estate markets. but its form creates enormous disruption to existing natural and cultural systems. less inherently damaging forms. a business leader and McKinsey consultant. I created a Hong Kong company with two partners – Aaron Loke. if at all.
The string block maintains the fundamental components of standard development. we endeavoured to create a plan that could be built. but in the future it is hoped that urban designers and planners will further push the boundaries of what is possible within China’s superblock megatypology. As land rights and regulations are fleshed out and become more complex under the law. so will urban form. It presents as more of a string than a cell. circulation. but with different structuring rules. allowing existing farmlands to continue functioning. leaving hydrology intact and respecting the boundaries of communal lands. it differs from the traditional superblock. The plan was composed of focused development areas. public planning role and financing. a suburb of Shanghai. villages that were already facing demise due to existing superblock development. The simple choice of where to draw a property line – which is entirely at the discretion of the government planner – has enormous potential impact on surrounding communes. Fengxian District. Ultimately. 2005 In a planning study for an area of 150 hectares (371 acres) in conjunction with the town of Fengcheng in Fengxian District. Functioning farmland and small villages were largely preserved. phasing and leasing are the same. and we continue to await a final outcome on the venture. The DCC masterplan for peripheral Fengcheng proposed a pattern of development that would allow new fabric to coexist with the communes and farmland already on the site. and low-grade commercial edges. it is highly unlikely that the superblock will persist in its current ‘candybox’ form as a development type in peripheral areas. Masterplan for Fengcheng town. 4 52 . This project is a tentative first step. the relative insignificance of the project from a municipal point of view. there would already be some village mortality. The circulation hierarchy. phased and financed like a superblock but that would interact more positively with its context. It does not assume or even advocate that these lands remain active farmland in perpetuity – indeed this seems unlikely. agricultural bureau and party secretary) but has as yet failed to be approved by Shanghai Municipality. our plan was supported by officials in the district (including the offices of the planning bureau. Shanghai. China. Formally. but the simple choice of where to draw a property line during the land impressment process – which is entirely at the discretion of the government planner – has enormous potential impact on surrounding communes. Ultimately. in order to allow adjacent uses to coexist with the intervention. Insufficient land quotas. Once this happens. use.The Fengxian plan maintains the basic DNA of the superblock but presents as more of a string. Using this matrix as an organising structure. defiance of typical planning processes and political barriers have all played a role in the delay. superblocks are already planned and infrastructure under construction. DCC mapped the pattern of existing agricultural and industrial communes on the site and determined where village mortality would occur as a result of the existing superblock masterplan. the breadth and limitations of suburban and rural residents’ rights will have to be clarified under the law. Design Community China (DCC). Our proposal reflects the basic DNA of the superblock in terms of density. The principle at stake is that a new development should not necessitate the demise of functioning webs of activity at its edges. ‘Developable land’ consisted of out-of-date industrial uses.
Li Ling Hin. and as the New Socialist Countryside concept of China’s 11th Five Year Plan takes shape in the coming years. The United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research. The 11th Five Year Plan of the Chinese Communist Party was adopted in the fourth session of the 10th National People’s Congress in October 2006.The Fengxian masterplan sought to create a positive interface between agricultural lands and new development. 53 . Highlights of the rural development policy and particularly the New Socialist Countryside concept can be found on China’s official government website at http://english. Where village mortality was occurring. But Calls for Fair Play’.com. 7. ‘Land Market Reform Advances. studied and in two cases worked in focus areas of the 2020 plan. the superblock type will have to evolve and adapt to a new set of regulatory issues. (http://english.gov. ‘Working Paper Number 150: State-Owned versus Township and Village Enterprises in China’. Enrico Perotti et al. 6. Chongming Island and Fengcheng. Fengxian District. Qingpu District. p 81. MIT Press (Cambridge. Privatization of Urban Land in Shanghai. NA Miliutin. People’s Daily Online. 2. pp 24–5. including Anting Newtown.cn/200206/25/eng20020625_98507. and interviews with Chinese planners and academics over nearly three years spent living and working in China. Hong Kong University Press (Hong Kong). Fields would provide vista opportunities for key public spaces. Maps and documents are not publicly available in print form. 1998. 1996.cn/special/rd_index. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Nine Towns’ 2020 Plan has been discussed and its components published and interpreted widely in various media since the plan was adopted by the State Council in May 2001. MA). 3. the team envisioned existing structures as reuse opportunities with a unique scale and fabric. p 81. Sotsgorod: The Problem of Building Socialist Cities. and views to them were designed into the plan. Notes 1. op cit. p 2. Shanghai’s ‘One City.people. 25 June 2002. The author documented key elements of the plan through photographs of this exhibition. 1974. The author also visited. A farmers’ market acted as the heart of the development and the most direct interaction between new residents and farmers. As quoted in NA Miliutin.shtml) 4. Images © Kjersti Monson As development pushes further into the Chinese countryside.htm. 5. increasing pressure to ensure social justice and address the very real concerns about environmental degradation in China. policy research. but can be viewed on display at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center in downtown Shanghai.
54 . the other two are. and latterly a set of posters – an ongoing investigation that seemed to have flopped over on to an exhibition like a fish too large for the plate. only Obrist is a professional curator. Of these. manifested in part at the 2003 Venice Biennale. I proposed that we think together. The exhibition was organised by Hans Ulrich Obrist.In the Our Beautiful Future Martha Rosler describes Oleanna. imagining an alternative public through a new transnational/postnational collectivity. an art historian and an artist. Oleanna was a project for the ‘Utopia Station’ exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2003. Considering Scandinavia’s recent history of utopian design and social engineering against a centuries-long backdrop of fratricidal war. a school noted for communal action and social projects). Molly Nesbit and Rirkrit Tiravanija. That year I was teaching a project class in Stockholm’s Konstfack and another class in Copenhagen. a number of public and private discussions. that joined together students and artists in imagining alternative publics to ‘rescue the utopian hopes of modernity’. a collaborative project. respectively. The attraction of this exhibition was its origin in a discursive project: a proposed book. and I invited the students to collaborate on a project for Venice. at the Royal Academy (in Mur og Rum.
Forbidden to use mechanical equipment. we considered Hardt & Negri. calling themselves a Trojan horse.) Arguing Oleanna’s attributes. we raised our building like a barn. Niemeyer.) A building to house our projects. writing constitutions. a season of widespread protests and boycotts of classes and refusal to participate in exhibitions.We named this imaginary post-place collective space Oleanna. Tafuri. after many consultations and adjustments (incorporating Biennale-imposed strictures). spaceship and space station. The group’s idea was selfeffacing infinitude. led to the construction of the space/ship/ station – nothing like a blob. Benedict Anderson. and even in outer space. I learnt of it through Pete Seeger’s version in the 1960s. seemed necessary. by hand. (During the Biennale of 1968. Buckminster Fuller. 55 . (except possibly the roof) or the mutable bundles of aluminium tubes and plastic sheeting Herscher initially proposed – but a raised wooden octagon with intermittent walls. members of this group held a brief ‘sit-in’. I invited the Massachusetts-based architect Andrew Herscher. in imaginary spaces. we flew a Trojan horse banner over our spiral-adorned seminar hill top. Lefebvre. whom I had met mid-project in New York. Kiesler and utopian feminist science fiction. to work with us online. to commemorate this 35-year anniversary. Buck-Morss. Debord and fellow Situationists. We interviewed local activists and Free University theorists. a 1950s vacuum-formed plastic holiday house. or a more updated blob. we considered Futuro. after a failed mid-19th-century colony in Pennsylvania. as well as a few of the renegade Scandinavian (‘Bauhaus’) Situationists – those expelled from the movement for refusing to renounce the art world. Chris Marker. as well as documents and manifestos of resistance and of everyday utopian life on earth. Herscher’s plans. We carried building sections in teams on unbuilt roads from the canalside. and to provide a watering station in summertime Venice. dreamed up by Norwegian violinist and adventurer Ole Bull. (Oleanna was memorialised in a satirical song by Norwegian newspaperman Ditmar Meidel in 1853. to act as a base. manifestos and mottos. finally. open structure and hospitality. We decided on an unfinished building that would be a hybrid space bridge. Foucault. who encouraged Scandinavian farmers to join him there without ascertaining arability.
since the Scandinavians missed their bikes in canal-crossed Venice (our main poster showed the participants on bikes spiralling into the cosmos). We flew the multicoloured PACE flag displayed throughout Italy that summer. in addition to a poster. On pillows or ‘thought balloons’ attached to the cloth. 56 . Our group project. and a bicycle wheel. in alphabetical order. reclaim democracy …). drink beer. solidarity. of 1956. a meditation on art and civilisation). Interior seating was provided by cushions sewn into strips. art students sewed an array of direct.5-foot) long banner on the theme ‘In Our Beautiful Future’. who came together to work. and made videotapes. prepare meals. We saw our building as a symbolic bridge and way station to utopia. read. argue. and construct the building sections in Copenhagen before Venice (where we were joined by Flea members from Australia. water. watch and produce movies and tapes. the names.The roof was a drape of transparent plastic dotted with metal circles. Germany and the US). produced a 10-issue newspaper (in Copenhagen and Venice). I invited participation by students in my graduate sculpture class in New Haven (Yale) and a small group of international artists (the Fleas) who had participated in a workshop I had led in Florida a year earlier (we still continue with a robust online correspondence). Our project. friendship. hosted by ‘Utopia Station’ within the Biennale. But the bulk of the project was accomplished with the Scandinavian students. while outdoors we used ‘seminar cloths’ of oilcloth bearing mottoes of resistance (such as singer Ani di Franco’s ‘Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right’). from the Aeneid to the space age (cf the Swedish poet Harry Martinson’s epic poem Aniara. performances and quite a few posters on the theme of utopia. power. The walls were painted in representative colours and bore painted ellipses – shadows of the absent Futuro – folk-based Danish cutouts. such as I had seen at a Copenhagen graveyard. allusive or ironic slogans (reclaim public space. hosted other projects centred on social space. parked in the garden of the Arsenale to house our imagined community as we reflected on – just after the global multitudes had demonstrated against the US war in Iraq. do research and design work. about post-apocalyptic Mars-bound colonists catapulted into deep space. was a 9-metre (29. of the project’s Venice participants. Canada. space. gross national happiness. We reported on intentional communities in Copenhagen and Jutland. which began anyway and continues on – matters of exodus and exile. Some were by local architecture students and others included artists Kirsten Dufour and Finn Thybo Andersson’s plans for a Palestinian community centre in Copenhagen and antiwar flyers from my New York artists’ group. think. produced for us by the Vienna-based Museum in Progress.
because ‘we cannot afford to let them 1 disappear’. Nanna Starck. 4 Note 1. Fleas: Daniel Blochwitz. Horit Herman Peled. MA). Erik Åkesson. and a space for dreaming for visitors to our garden site (about a kilometre from the Arsenale entrance) in the crushing heat of the opening week. we provided a shady spot on our seminar hillock. A quotation from Susan Buck-Morss offered us a reigning idea: we have to ‘work our way through the rubble’ to rescue the utopian hopes of modernity. Ulrika Sparre. Mia Joo Vo Rosasco. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Maria Werger. Images: pp 54. artwork by Deborah Kelly Oleanna: My Andersson Lind. Jens Hultquist Laursen. Ellen Moffat. Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West. Our unfinished project was meant finally to provide an archive and to create a network for work to be done elsewhere and otherwise. 2000. Trebor Scholz. pp 55. Line Skywalker Karlström. MIT Press (Cambridge. Charlotte Bergmann Johansen. Martha Rosler. Per Nyström. furnished with our seminar cloths. 57(br) © Oleanna/Martha Rosler. ‘Speculations and Speculative Fictions’. Tarje Eikanger Gullaksen. Tamar Guimarães. Martha Rosler. Kasper Akhoj Pedersen. Christina Hamre. Lilach Weiss Zach. Jill Dawsey. Mille Rude. Susan Buck-Morss. Molly Haslund. Nanna Debois Buhl. recapitulating some of our themes. 56 and 57(t) © Martha Rosler. p 57(bl) © Fleas/Martha Rosler. Deborah Kelly. shade and water. where we also held a talk on women and science fiction. a seminar for curators on art projects outside institutional walls. Annesofie Sandal. Karoline H Larsen. Mary Jo Walters 57 .In addition to providing rest. Ulla Hvejsel. Julie Sinding. p 68. and I did a performance.
Israel .Archipelago of the Negev Desert A Temporal/Collective Plan for Beer Sheva.
4-mile) radius of Beer Sheva. Sketch exploring urban erasure. the city was conceived as a regional centre of exchange and gathering that came to life just a few days a week when the nomadic tribes (Bedouin) came to set up the market on Wednesdays and congregate for joint prayers on Fridays. The construction of Beer Sheva went in hand with state objectives to push the nomad Bedouin tribes outside the city. and so on) The fact remains that although situated in a beautiful desert landscape. Inhabited by diverse groups (such as Ethopian Jews.Known locally as the ‘non-city’. Russian immigrants and oldergeneration settlers) in neighbourhoods socially set apart from each other. Later attempts to house new immigrants in the city increased social and ethnic separation. for political and strategic reasons. culture and sociopolitical conditions have not allowed the development of a traditional city core. with a population equivalent to the number of Israelis living within the current city boundaries. Its extreme desert climate. leading to segregated communities: utterly disconnected from any sense of urban identity. its peripheral location and desert setting served as a site of urban and architectural experimentation. ‘neighborhood d’. It became the emblematic tabula rasa. missing opportunities to benefit from this resource. Rafi Segal proposes a way of creating connectivity while accepting the city’s lack of centre and optimising on its beautiful desert landscape and Bedouin inheritance. Beer Sheva’s architecture and urbanism disregard its unique natural setting. The desire to turn the city into a larger fixed urban centre for a permanent modernised Jewish population met with too many difficulties: that of drawing new inhabitants to the city. under Ottoman rule. 59 . Notable here were the attempts to appropriate Modernist concrete housing slabs to the extreme arid climate. Historically. Within the early years of the Israeli state. favoured other towns and settlements that were situated closer to territorial conflicts and thus considered a higher priority for national security. Beer Sheva in southern Israel is made up of segregated communities with no central core. it has all the infrastructure of a populated urban environment yet it lacks the sense of city – a notion that led to its nickname as the ‘non-city’. as well as lack of government support which. during the early 20th century. Countless efforts to establish a dense and active city centre for Beer Sheva have failed. they are still referred to by the alphabet describing the land plots on the city’s masterplan (‘neighborhood c’. This attitude towards the environment is also reflected through the attitude towards the Bedouin tribes – most of them currently occupying areas within a 20-kilometre (12. in an area with access to water. and under the motto of ‘blooming the desert’. Beer Sheva is currently one of the most run-down cities in Israel. Beer Sheva – in the south of the country – found itself part of the new Zionist frontier that sought to combine advanced agriculture with the national mission of settling new Jewish communities in the Negev Desert.
Rafi Segal. 2007 In this proposal. Top: Existing neighbourhoods. Public buildings/institutions are in red. Archipelago of the Negev Desert. 60 . the residential neighbourhoods of Beer Sheva become ‘islands’. Beer Sheva. shifted apart by the entry of the desert into the city. Israel.1900s erasure # 1 1950s erasure # 2 2000s erasure # 3 Growth and erasure: the growth of Beer Sheva throughout the 20th century (left column) and the proposed future development (right column) involving a process of erasure to expand the city’s inner voids. Bottom: The proposed plan. developed with Yonatan Cohen and Kate Snider.
as a place of passage from one part of the desert to the other. Since the programmes are temporal. (2) flower tourism (flower fields that bloom in the desert aproximately three weeks a year). (1) zones for Bedouin herd movement. From an environmental and ecological point of view. usually understood negatively as interrupting the livelihoods of people. (3) community agriculture. (6) tent camps. allowing both desert and city to ‘breathe’. in many cases occupying the same space at different times. The Bedouin tribes take part in activating this space. this inner void prevents the city from becoming one large mass. The collective zones/programmes intersect and overlap. here allows coexistence. 4 61 . creating an ‘ocean’ of desert space in which the island-like neighbourhoods are scattered. Segregation. they can overlap and occupy the same space at different times.1 2 3 4 5 6 New collective spaces are created by giving shape to different programmes within the expanded inner-city voids. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Public Voids/Temporal Programmes Departing from the understanding that Beer Sheva’s lack of a centre is one of its inherited conditions. This ocean of unclaimed land becomes a transient public space. allowing the desert to flow through it. It perpetuates flow and enables distinct modes of living and diverse groups of people to occupy the same space. The existing inner voids are expanded to a point where they become continuous. the proposal here introduces a decentralised urban scheme in which the city is fragmented into distant neighbourhoods. each with its own cycle. (5) four-wheel drive recreation routes. The notion of the urban is established through links and connections between nodes of activity and the juxtaposition of the collective programmes with smaller neighbourhood clusters – all surrounded inside and out by the unique desert landscape on which Beer Sheva has until now turned its back. (4) market areas/trade zones. each inscribed with a new temporal programme with its own cycle/time frame of activity. Within it are formed designated collective areas/zones. These neighbourhoods are set apart from each other. becoming ‘islands’ floating in a desert landscape.
62 . Existing public buildings are in orange. 2007. The collective programmes are shown simultaneously although each occurs at a different time/season. Existing inner city void. Beer Sheva.Overlay of all temporal collective programmes within the inner voids.
Israel. 2007. Text @ 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images © Rafi Segal 63 .The Negev Desert.
Mexico City In Mexico City. unplanned illegal development exists cheek by jowl with developerdriven housing. Jose Castillo of arquitectura 911sc explains how the practice’s project for New Caracol provides leisure facilities and open space that afford opportunities for social and cultural exchange between the two different communities. El Caracol.Peripheral Landscapes. 64 .
Historically. Ecatepec. between the suburb and the shanty town. 65 . hydrological and industrial. El Caracol is such a site – a palimpsest of histories. just infrastructure. and a working hydrological infrastructure. it also acts as a rapport between formal and informal development. arquitectura 911sc (Jose Castillo and Saïdee Springall).000 new units of low-income housing were built. geological. the urbanisation that characterises Mexico City’s periphery is the materialisation of a twofold process. para-legal community. between the natural and the post-industrial. Mexico City. 2007 Render: View from the southeast. city and landscape. with no housing. Aside from functioning as a park for leisure and contemporary art. An area of agricultural fields. In the mid-1990s the plant shut down. with a spiral jetty moving water along shallow ponds extracting the sodium carbonate by evaporating the water and then processing it to use it in the factories nearby. El Caracol became a quite productive industrial landscape. On the other we see a more recent phenomenon. would become a settlement of close to two million people in just five decades. illegal sales and subdivisions of underserviced land. New Caracol. The El Caracol plant was built on the site in 1942 to desalinate the water of Lake Texcoco by moving it through a series of shallow ponds in a spiral path and extracting the sodium carbonate. arquitectura 911sc’s project for the New Caracol recognises the site as a space between city and landscape. El Caracol introduces a new kind of open space that supports the coexistence of multiple forces. On the one hand informal urbanisation. Just next to them is the informal settlement of El Salado. characterised by the large-scale transformation of greenfield and brownfield tracts of land into developer-driven housing. a continuously growing self-built. such as the public need for preservation and the private thrust for development. as well as social and political following the logic of real-estate and informal processes. By densifying through specific punctual interventions in the northwestern part of New Caracol and leaving the southeastern section as a hydrological infrastructure. the project strives to erase the distinction between infrastructure and park. and 10 years later 13. has been produced outside the legal. regulatory and professional frameworks through different forms of occupation such as squatting.During the mid-20th century. It is also the space of negotiation between conflicting forces. the formerly dominant model of citymaking.
and sub-urbanisation operating in the northern periphery of Mexico City. Caracol remains the most visible geographical marker. and the other urban dynamics operate around it.Satellite image showing the different patterns of urbanisation. 66 . The transition from greenfield/brownfield to (sub)urbanised land is always an incremental process with complex dynamics over time. dis. Development diagrams.
4 Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.000-unit development and the adjoining informal settlement are complemented by programmes in the New Caracol that they currently lack. By preserving the defined geometry of El Caracol. 67 . and the hydrological and the leisure park. and charging it with programmes and use.000. including workspaces and retail spaces. the natural and the urban. The New Caracol project is a landscape of negotiation: between the formal and the informal. the project strives to put infrastructure on the front burner. open space and infrastructure. achieving improved performance even within the context of low-density growth. In arquitectura 911sc’s proposal. In the context of large megacities. where sprawl is the dominant mode of growth and where there is always a battle between nature and urbanisation. Images: pp 64-5. geography and infrastructure become a more relevant urbanism for the outskirts. p 65(t) © Aerofoto México Plan: scale 1:10. 66-7 © arquitectura 911SC.The multiplicity of conditions at El Caracol show the ambiguous nature of the periphery. the autonomous 13.
Urban Voids: Grounds for Change Reimagining Philadelphia’s Vacant Lands 68 .
2006. Philadelphia is a ‘shrinking city’. The URBAN VOIDS: grounds for change international ideas competition attracted 220 entries from 27 countries. New York. The competition entries featured here investigate and illustrate how this low-density urban environment can be reoccupied. 69 .000 vacant plots totalling around 405 hectares (1.org). deindustrialistion has prompted urban abandonment at the same time as the growth of urban sprawl.Dispersal is most often regarded as an upshot of population rises as the demographic grows and spreads outwards of the city centre.000 acres). Similar to the way that land and water resources have historically drawn people to settle. Brookings Institution. Deenah Loeb. What does a city do to respond to its vacancy crisis? Decreasing populations in many American cities during the last 40 years have shifted the dynamics of the built environment across the nation. p 1. Van Alen Institute. Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. City of Philadelphia: density of vacant properties. executive director of the City Parks Association of Philadelphia. 2.landvisions. This multiphase programme was created to generate new thinking about the future of Philadelphia’s vacant lands and to act as a catalyst for implementation: vacancy could be an opportunity to imagine a new future for the city that had lost its population. Despite being the sixth largest city in the US. Cities. The City Parks Association launched URBAN VOIDS: grounds 2 for change in September 2005 as the second phase of the Philadelphia LANDvisions initiative (www. instilling the voids with a wide range of new uses. 4 Notes 1. Philadelphia is an example of a cityscape that has been greatly impacted by both deindustrialisation and suburbanisation: the city currently has more than 30. resulting in lower urban density. the ecology of a place can again be a force that can shape urban form. describes how the URBAN VOIDS competition was launched in order to trigger public discussion and the reimagining of a greened city. Philadelphia’s present vacancy crisis is a result of urban abandonment and extensive sprawl. though. can simultaneously experience contraction and expansion. Back to Prosperity: A Competitive Agenda for Renewing Pennsylvania. an area roughly the same size as its city centre. December 2003. Competition advisor. It offered an opportunity to design in relation to shifting human and urban marks on the land. It is a place where the ‘economy is drifting as it responds incoherently to continued 1 industrial restructuring’ – concerns that are shared by cities throughout the country. and challenged entrants to propose new visions and possibilities for Philadelphia’s extensive inventory of vacant land by responding to the city’s unique ecological infrastructure.
Farm and city begin to function as one integral machine combining the pleasure of open sky and land with the richness of city living. 2006 Front Studio’s entry proposes transforming the city’s urban fabric with the introduction of farmlands – incongruous rural elements that create a juxtaposition between farm and city.Front Studio (Yen Ha and Ostap Rudakevych). Farmadelphia. The conversion of vacant sites would provide employment and encourage entrepreneurship: the act of farming seeks to empower residents to take charge of their land while creating localised centres of activity. 70 .
Hilltopia: new topographies. at their summits. These new landforms – hill-bounded neighbourhoods – would guide the city’s evolution of new boundaries providing spaciousness and privacy . turbines for new energy. employ sustainable practices for managing storm-water treatment or. The mounded forms could also support new energy-efficient housing models. new communities. 2005 The Hilltopia team suggest taking the excess soil from rapidly developing suburban areas to build new topographies in the city. 71 .Thaddeus Pawlowski and Srdjan Jovanovic.
environment and economy.com: engineering a new surface. from making inert things (such as manufacturing) to making living things.Anuradha Mathur and Dillip da Cunha. ‘reactivating the American frontier toward the cultivation of a new living surface’. and dynamic living surfaces. 72 . The new landscape will blur boundaries between industry and habitation in every sense. experimental fields for energy. This shift of industry will open new frontiers in science and in the nature of human settlement. Philadelphia will sculpt new multifaceted working landscapes that support greenhouses. Bio-Philadelphia. 2005 Bio-Philadelphia is poised to champion the transition from technology to biotechnology.
Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 2006 Timescapes proposes to stimulate discourse between the vacant lots of the inner-city neighbourhood and the adjacent open space of Fairmount Park. City Parks Association of Philadelphia 73 . The 3-D sidewalk is a specific development of this investigation. pp 69-73 © Urban Voids: grounds for change. Images: p 68 © City of Philadelphia.Jill Desimini and Danilo Martic. Timescapes: densifying community activities. while looking skyward as a strategy to cultivate density. gathering together a range of activities in a vertical spatial element that engages the edges of the neighbourhood.
in the province of Antwerp in Belgium. Though the surrounding rural setting has remained protected this has often been to the detriment of urban life. Each intervention can occur independently of the others and can function as a catalyst for its immediate surroundings and beyond. Urban [IM]Plants Instead of a masterplan. Els Verbakel. Elie Derman and Ward Verbakel propose a more flexible. 74 . lies in a region known for its exceptional natural beauty.Urban [IM]plants Tactics for Recombining Landscape and Collective Space in Bonheiden. interactive and dispersed approach of pinpointed interventions. Belgium Bonheiden. as the built environment has been subject to a process of banal suburbanisation. Els Verbakel and Elie Derman explain how they propose to turn this situation around by creating public spaces that use the town’s ‘original landscape as the base material’.
The population that gradually moved to suburban villas in the periphery of rural villages during the 1960s and 1970s is now ageing and relocating to high-end multi-unit housing projects in the centre of town. The project offers an alternative to a conventional masterplan by presenting a ‘design toolbox’ instead – a matrix of pinpointed interventions of various scales and budgets that can be flexibly modified and implemented on demand.In the autumn of 2005. It is just one example of many Flemish towns undergoing the aftereffects of the countryside’s massive postwar suburbanisation.000 inhabitants in the Flemish periphery. the Old World version of suburbia has become the standard model for living. the town is now gradually losing its raison d’ê tre. 75 . a town of 14. Elie Derman and Ward Verbakel. Yet when this new dispersed urban condition is recognised in its own right. Ward Verbakel’s proposal brings the landscape to the public spaces. The Flemish policy for this town and similar areas in Flanders limits future urban growth and preserves the existing green space. 2005 Landscape vs public space While the current urban fabric of Bonheiden separates the public from the landscape. organised an invited competition to rethink the spatial quality of its centre. In accepting the new dispersed urbanised territory as part of this urbanity. In recent years. Once famed for its landscape of heath. pulls the public into the landscape and creates hybrid living typologies between urbanity and nature. floating in the mazes of a network of cities. Flanders has become a prime case study of urban dispersal. using its original landscape as the base material. Flanders: Traditional urban model vs dispersed urban model When looking at Flanders according to the traditional urban model. marshland and forests. Bonheiden. boring and generic towns. Bonheiden. The proposal was selected by Bonheiden to provide strategies to increase the built density of the suburban town while reintroducing and strengthening its connection to landscape and nature. The Belgian township called for a vision that could cope with an ageing population and development pressures without losing its rural character. However. fenland. Bonheiden’s future does not look very bright. Els Verbakel. Belgium. Bonheiden is an island surrounded by a peripheral void. Bonheiden is an insignificant suburban island floating in a peripheral void. thereby ‘freezing’ the present situation and encouraging the current tendency for grey. Image Quality Plan. in between larger urban cores connected by highways and trains. deeply rooted in the economic and political history of the region. Bonheiden becomes an important player in what could be seen as the dominant urban condition in western Europe. Designated by the Flemish Structure Plan as a ‘Built Peripheral Landscape’. leaving the town the power to control its own progress and ‘master’ its own future. a new vision for the town can play an exemplary role within the region and beyond. Derman Verbakel Architecture and Ward Verbakel Architect propose reinterpreting this vague terminology and exploring the possibility of boosting the town by developing a new vision for its public spaces. According to traditional ways of studying the city. thereby creating a ‘collective landscape’. At the scale of western Europe.
urban [im]plants = landscape as collective The project uses a technique of urban [im]plants: recombining segments of public space and landscape in punctual interventions of changing scales. turns the centre into a vertical landscape and. the reintroduction of a wild heath landscape remoulds and reactivates the town centre into a new and surprising type of urban space. by reclaiming the landscape as collective and. allowing the inhabitants direct interaction with the primary natural condition of the place. in addition. can attract a mixture of inhabitants. particularly high-end multi-unit housing projects that are quickly turning the town into a generic. In the long term this will discourage new inhabitation. combining urbanity and nature. The project offers an alternative future where the introduction of hybrid living typologies. Recovering this initial attractor neither replaces nor erases the identity of recognisable public spaces. transforming the existing public spaces. It thereby reintroduces the formerly wild heath landscape back into the city centre through specific. 76 . The emergence of a collective landscape The majority of the town’s landscape is currently in private hands – mostly in the form of villa gardens – which does not sustain a lively public space. rather. thus becomes the main component of the renewed public space. a collective landscape will stimulate new urban life. However. Former town hall: before and after Bonheiden’s centre currently suffers from an ageing population and development pressures. highly tangible design interventions. grey and boring place. Landscape. through combined programming. in its most primordial sense.
providing outdoor seating areas that can be closed off in the winter and. and can be rented for private events or for commercial promotions. parks. In the core of each design intervention. and Points – structures and art installations. The hybrid implants are organised according to three spatial registers. a floating pergola can be added on undeveloped sites adjacent to commercial properties to create a new vertical landscape in the centre of town. hybrids between parking lots and fields of nature such as orchards. small-scale agriculture. A café-terrace can be added to existing restaurants or bars. again. and so on. One such example is the ‘parking plus’ fields. This combined typology allows for an increased number of parking spaces in the town centre while at the same time enlarging the green spaces and activating collective living. Every component can be implemented independently as a stimulator of the surrounding urban space. contribute to a new and green collective street facade. 77 . Parking plus Both in the public and in the private domain.urban [im]plants = hybrid interventions Modifying relationships between built fabric and nature produces new hybrid urban conditions. the project proposes a series of ‘urban hybrids’ that formally and programmatically recombine urbanity and landscape in small-scale interventions. characteristic of the urban configuration of Bonheiden: Fields – surfaces such as squares. parks and natural domains. Lines – continuous spaces along streets and paths. Floating pergola and café-terrace A series of architectural typologies was developed to ensure that in the private domain every structure can contribute to a new visual identity for the town. For example. ranging from green kiosks and ecological advertisement panels to hanging-garden modules and vegetated street lighting. urbanity and nature merge into an irreversible hybrid of structure and vegetation.
architecture. urban design guidelines and communication projects.Toolbox: point interventions A toolbox organises all proposed interventions according to location and category. In this case the point interventions are a series of architectural proposals that intensify vertical green space within the town’s collective spaces. Each intervention was tagged with an ID card specifying the component location. but also offers space for close collaboration with inhabitants and other user groups. urban impact and revenue. Derman Verbakel Architecture and Ward Verbakel Architect suggested an opensource method that could be ‘mastered’ by the design team. urban [im]plants = toolbox strategies To achieve flexible and innovative design and policy strategies. Instead of a fixed predefined document such as the traditional masterplan. Building regulations In a second phase. A piecemeal and guided approach provides greater flexibility. the town and its inhabitants. small and larger buildings and public spaces to building regulations. investment. and permits the town to instantly imagine a future quality for its centre through pinpointed proposals. which operates as a ‘toolbox’ of design interventions and principles. the results of the interventions are continuously evaluated and redirected before further investments are planned. Through a feedback mechanism. 78 . The interventions range from art projects. in which the landscape serves as a point of departure. The regulations range from ‘virtual parcellation’ to ‘green fingers’ and ‘parking plus or minus’. type of intervention and morphology. Els Verbakel. a matrix organises all of the interventions according to location. Elie Derman and Ward Verbakel translated their vision for vertical green space and hybrid living typologies into a series of building regulations. formulating nine principles for any new building in the town. This allows components to be assessed in communication with the town and its inhabitants throughout the process of implementation.
Derman Verbakel Architecture and Ward Verbakel Architect. p 79(b) © Architectenbureau Reginald Schellen BVBA Architectenbureau Reginald Schellen BVBA. the execution of ‘test projects’ such as ‘parking plus’ locations and more. without having to wait for slow and after-the-fact policies. providing them with a new identity as a dispersed yet urban entity. an image quality chamber that stands in direct dialogue with local developers and architects and advises the town on each building application. The project is currently being implemented through different mechanisms such as the creation of a legally binding structural execution plan. The proposed collective landscape has therefore already entered the imagination of the town’s officials and inhabitants. The practices’ approach of strategic [IM]plants has proven to be an effective method not only to formulate an appropriate vision for the town.Building regulations case study For specific project proposals. but also to implement this vision in small steps with immediate results. 2007 As a result of the case study exercises above. Bonheiden. Project Hoek Kerkplein Berentrodedreef. Images: pp 74-8. Belgium. the image quality plan influenced the architecture of new building. 4 Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 79 . 79(t) © Els Verbakel and Elie Derman. the team applied the principles of the building regulations by visualising them for specific locations such as the church square.
crisscrossed by three blue paths and one of asphalt.User-Focused Public Space (M)UTOPIA in Denmark The Danish practice MUTOPIA brings to public space a strong sense of delight and playfulness. The Mikado Plaza consists of a green area with grass and fir trees. Hovedstaden. while demonstrating an overriding concern with the end user. a temporary plaza for the extensive development of Ørestad Nord in Copenhagen aims ‘to speed up the process of creating the area’s own identity’. As Serban Cornea of MUTOPIA explains. 80 . Each path forms a socalled activity space with a theme of its own. while the practice’s housing for LyngbyTaarbæk. audaciously puts the ‘garden’ back into the ‘garden suburb’ by relocating the transport infrastructure to the rooftops.
MUTOPIA is a young Copenhagen-based architecture office that merges idealism and visionary activity (UTOPIA) with expediency, evolution and change (MUTATION) working towards an architecture based on user participation. The practice’s user-focused design approach produces public space by combining a wide range of design tools and communication strategies for mediating between different interests and needs, which encourages support among the stakeholders, while it engages in dialogue with the users and testing insights gained during processes of user exchange.
Mikado Plaza, Ørestad Nord, Copenhagen, 2005
Mikado Plaza is the first of several MUTOPIA-designed temporary urban public spaces (TUPS) planned for Ørestad, a new urban development in Copenhagen that extends south of the city centre towards the airport and the Øresund link to Sweden. With an estimated building time of 20 years, Ørestad is lacking the identity provided by the multiple layers of the historic city centre. Due to the size of the development, the area will continue to present itself to visitors and new residents as a gigantic building site with few, if any, public spaces for many years to come. TUPS were conceived as a strategy for creating temporary urban public spaces on the building sites in Ørestad, in order to provide recreational facilities for the residents of areas under construction. Using unique spatial interventions, the strategy involves the residents in the process of defining their urban environment, thereby providing a one-to-one testing ground for urban life. The design for the Mikado Plaza was shaped by the dreams and needs of 100 future users, visualised as a statistical diagram with each column representing their favourite activity. The columns were then ‘thrown’ over the area, like gigantic Mikado (‘pick up’) sticks, whereby each activity was proportionally represented within the available open space – not only providing the desired activities but also encouraging multiple ways of interaction between different inhabitants, visitors and passers-by. The TUPS strategy was devised by MUTOPIA as a catalyst for public life and identity by means of participatory planning and flexibility. By using the building sites of today as temporary public spaces, it aims to speed up the process of creating the area’s own identity, while at the same time providing the residents with a sense of history. PLAYCER, an internet-based scenario game, enables users and inhabitants to visualise and discuss ideas for future urban environments. The insight and knowledge produced by such scenarios will inspire future design concepts, for the transformation of Mikado or the development of new temporary public spaces, that will continuously evolve and transform in an ongoing dialogue process between inhabitants, users, designers and authorities.
MUTOPIA is in the process of completing the city park in the Ørestad City downtown district. The 7.5-hectare (18.5-acre) project is due for completion in spring 2008 and is operating with concepts similar to Mikado Plaza; namely, a (flexible) matrix of round ‘islands’ that have been programmed by means of a participatory planning process in collaboration with local residents.
The Ørestad development comprises a series of urban areas – Ørestad Nord, Amager Fælled, Ørestad City and Ørestad Syd – separated by green recreational areas in between. A hundred people whose daily movements take them to Ørestad Nord were asked to select their favourite activity from a choice of five, ranging from chill-out to sport. Their answers, represented as a statistical diagram with each column representing an activity, have subsequently triggered the design of the space.
Star gardens suburban dwellings, Lyngby-Taarbæk, Hovedstaden, Denmark, competition proposal, 2004
Urban sprawl has been and often still is motivated, commercially and ideologically, by the aspiration to access substantial amounts of green areas. However, the massive amount of infrastructure required by sprawl, along with the interest from the private market in higher-density buildings, leaves little or no room for gardens. Here, elevating car traffic on the roofs of 180 terraced houses allows for a more efficient use of the building footprint, organised in a star shape. Each housing ‘finger’ combines dwellings, car access and parking areas into new hybrid infrastructures, or ‘sky streets’. Car-free landscape wedges created in between the housing fingers provide collective recreational areas.
‘Lifting up’ the car traffic on the roofs of the terraced houses allows for a more intensive use of the buildings’ footprint: each housing ‘finger’ contains both dwellings and the required car access and parking areas organised as ‘sky streets’ on top, while at the same time the landscape wedges in between the housing fingers are preserved as car-free public recreational areas. Each dwelling unit has two entrances (one from the upper roof deck and one from the park), as well as two different private spaces related to each entrance (a roof terrace and a garden), which unite the best of both worlds: urban life above and suburban greenery below. 4
The star-shaped layout of the residential area creates a central plaza, unites the northern and southern parts of the site as a coherent whole, and provides the development with a strong identity while at the same time securing public accessibility throughout the entire area.
Text @ 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: © MUTOPIA ApS
Royal Dutch Military Campus (KMar).000 square-metre (828. The Hague and Utrecht – and has come to epitomise the most intensive European condition of dispersal. 84 .821-square-foot) site. Amsterdam. working and training facilities for 1. Amsterdam. Zvi Hecker. the Netherlands.500 staff stationed at Schiphol Airport.209 square feet) on a 77. Structural engineer: Arup. 2002– This project unites in a single location the various branches of the Royal Dutch Military Police. with a built area of 33. Schiphol International Airport. responsible for maintaining security at Schiphol International Airport. Client: DVD (Ministerie van Defensie). the ‘rim city’ conurbation that comprises the four biggest Dutch cities – Rotterdam. Amsterdam. As Rafi Segal describes. Hecker chooses to address this context by providing the campus with ‘a notion of the urban’ that creates ‘a city within a wall’. Programme: multifunctional complex of living. Project manager: DHV bouwadviseurs.000 square metres (355. Zvi Hecker’s new police campus for the Royal Dutch Military Police is located in the Randstad area.Royal Dutch Military Police Campus Zvi Hecker’s Landscape Urbanism Situated close to Schiphol Airport.
this site is situated within the dispersed Dutch Randstad. In this sense. with streets. restrictions on building heights. The bars are layered and juxtaposed one on top of the other. landscape and infrastructure. seen from the air and the runways. Its public dimension is not only evident in the variety of collective gathering spaces created within it. the line between building and landscape is blurred. which are for the most practical reasons located in low-density environments. It does so while provoking a new expression for the public institution of the state’s military police. courtyards. landscape and building. of which the walls have split and shifted to allow light. Highway no 4 defines the northern edge of the site. multiple scales. dormitories. set along the edges of the site forming a peripheral structure that gradually opens up towards the centre. It draws a line that oscillates between these while incorporating them into one architectural-urban thinking. to create an environment of good working and living conditions in an unfavourable and restricted site. Yet from a functional point of view. Characteristic of airports and their surroundings. it is. connections and inclusion of diverse routes and speeds of movement tie it more to the notion of the urban. From the air and at eye level. These programmatic demands came with a problematic site and several constraints: exposure to the invasive noise of air and highway traffic. Increasing demands for airport security led the Dutch government to establish a new centre for the Royal Dutch Military Police (KMar) at a site adjacent to Schiphol International Airport. the project’s complex programme. clusters and other elements – a sequence of spaces defined by buildings and linked by routes of movement. The architectural challenges of this project were therefore twofold: first. In addition to the requirements to combine living. elevated buildings. but also through its external presence and location – representing a government institution. KMar is conceived of as a continuous wall-like bar building. and second to provide an architectural expression for an institution of state power and control in a 21st-century democratic society. The ‘bar’ buildings that form the structure accommodate offices. radar limitation on the location of the various programmes on site. bridges.6 metres (11. air and space to enter. the symbolic presence of the project as the main gateway to the Netherlands. This architectural strategy turns the campus as a whole into a kind of landscape created by the interweaving of the wall-like buildings and the open spaces created in between them and around them. freeing the central space for common facilities and sports fields. and other more general conditions such as building on a site that is below sea level – in this case by 3. 85 . ‘a city within a wall’ or an emptied-out fortress. The project thus challenges the traditional distinction between city. as its designer Zvi Hecker called it.8 feet) – as is common in the Netherlands. working and training facilities in one complex.View from the southeast. the campus resembles more a kind of city. educational facilities and other programmes. In contrast to the concept of the campus as a collection of individual scattered buildings implanted in green space. Although placed outside the traditional urban context. Hecker’s KMar campus offers an integration of building. creating both a larger scale massing that relates to the linearity of the runways and highway. also played an important role. and smaller intimate spaces that shield and protect from the external disturbances. The long greened roofs of the bar buildings merge with the surrounding fields and create a series of terraces.
86 .Studies and sketches of the site plan as it developed.
Note 1. letter to the author.’ 4 Detailed views of the courtyard spaces. A main element of enclosure – the peripheral wall – becomes here the building itself. allowing the campus to remain ‘exposed’. by its mere shape and configuration it creates a form that interweaves and connects open and closed. Furthermore.The KMar campus as a continuous wall-like structure. this peripheral ‘wall’ is permeable. Sketch of the overlapping ‘bar’ buildings. control and supervision. The campus located along highway no 4. April 2007. recalling his statement in the commission interview for the project. As Hecker himself noted: ‘Given that democratic society requires an army and police. and runways 1 and 2 of Schiphol International Airport. The campus’ horizontal. 2001. Images © Zvi Hecker 87 . building and landscape. Site plan. the architect should find a way to express this need. symmetric. open and porous. It is only in dictatorial regimes that one does 1 not know where and how police operate. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. collective and private spaces. hierarchical and enclosed buildings commonly associated with state power. which does not enclose a thing but meanders around open spaces. Zvi Hecker. dynamic and dispersed nature counters the concentric. Here lies its programmatic and symbolic strength.
Saint-Nazaire The Historic Periphery The harbour town of Saint-Nazaire on the Atlantic coast of Brittany in northern France remains divided both by its memories and its built environment. visual and mnemonic divisions that have grown up over time between a working port and seaside resort. Ville-Port. Manuel de Solà-Morales describes how his Ville-Port project seeks to address the structural. 88 . Manuel de Solà-Morales. Saint-Nazaire. France. 1998 Aerial view of the project intervention.Ville-Port.
Intervening in such a spatial and psychological tension is a delicate operation. turns the apparent conditions of the periphery on their head. but one constructed with a very low density. There are geographic peripheries that have given rise to the term ‘peripheral’. drawn up in successive competition and execution phases between 1994 and 1998. between a mass with a volume of 900. there are also peripheries constructed by history. as portrayed by Tati’s Monsieur Hulot character.426. The shipyards. it would come to 1. composite and active relationship.000 cubic metres (31. the ramp 89 . well known for its Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyards since the 19th century.400 square metres (13. History has thus turned the French port of Saint-Nazaire into a periphery: a history of memories of suffering and destruction. if we were to calculate the total volume of buildings in the central area (75 hectares/185 acres).Saint-Nazaire’s tragic destiny during the Second World War was to leave two dramatic footprints: the almost complete destruction of the city by the Allies. places that history has considered central.201 cubic feet) and a continuous and homogeneous town. which does not amount to much more. The references are. the empty spaces (squares. and establishing a controlled relationship at a distance with the centre of the town. and of centripetal retreat in the face of growing suburban dispersion. voids even in use. thereby became peripheral to the uses of ordinary life. its vast holding capacity. muddled and filled with conflict. There are also more recent histories of segregationist zoning in order to maintain the conformist banality of the beach. in the immediate surroundings. Just as there are ‘historic centres’. and the urban fabric appears to be no more than reassuring support for the mysterious presence on the industrial edge of the water. The Ville-Port project in Saint-Nazaire. which is a concrete symbol of occupation and tragedy. even though relatively central in their location.902 square feet). places that time and memory have pushed to the margins of daily life. parking lots) between the centre and the military base. The desire to tackle the periphery of the port again is above all an act of intelligence on the part of the town.247. altogether. the urban unconscious masks the areas that it doesn’t want to recognise. Saint-Nazaire’s postwar reconstruction (the Maresquier plan) focused on a leisurebased beach/city centre relationship. In fact. Identifying the periphery will signify assuming the hybrid condition of the space of the harbour. a sense of waiting for things to come. stemming from the effort required to rebuild the town after it was bombed during the war and from the presence of the submarine base. and the submarine base built by the Germans as a refugee camp and arsenal in the Atlantic Front fortification plan from Burdeos to Brest. one that retains the existing differences and the empty expanses as a pregnant expression of space. aimed to defy this broken city–port link and peripheral perception with the introduction of new collective uses. of industrial crisis at the legendary Chantiers de l’Atlantique. And yet these zones can be absolutely central to the topographic viewpoint. and its docks as broad as its horizons. always well received but also subject to the perennial suspicion of insensitivity to local problems. both within the submarine base and on its roof. than the enormous truncated pyramid of concrete. The new semantics remain on the margins. Yet the obvious tension between monument and city. Situated at the Loire‘s estuary end.783. It is a mark of awareness of the present and of superiority with respect to the past – a superiority based solely on respect and understanding. and completed in 2001. especially when one is a foreign architect. because they are inconvenient. and there are historic peripheries. Sometimes. Voids on the ground and voids in space. The Ville-Port project proposes a system of new references in the port territory designed to involve the town and harbour in a new and more open.
Implementation in Saint-Nazaire’s urban fabric.Night lighting and reflections on the water basin. 90 . Project masterplan.
Longitudinal section and detail. 91 . Ramp and esplanades to access the submarine base.
Glass wall and transparency. 92 .Parking and transparency through the submarine base.
with its incorporated buildings (hypermarket. the towers (both existing and new) that rise above the harbour and the reinforcement of the avenues that run around it. the landmarks of the silos and high-rise buildings accentuate the extent of the empty spaces in between. owing to their size. culture and commerce. Images: pp 90(b). 93 . but mixing them with – just a few – regional and civic functions of recreation. even though far away. 4 Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. And. 92-3 © Dominique Macel. and the ‘atrium of the barber’ created in the transparent interior of the base (vestibule of exhibition halls. link the centre of the city to the open horizon of the harbour and estuary. All around. This is a structure of visual and functional relations that effectively mark a territory on the periphery. involving this perimeter that delimits the base. are traces that. maintaining all the vitality of its industries (storage facilities. 90(t). fusing the entire area into a structure that is both loose and strong. pp 88. with its platform roofs and small cells at water level. refrigeration plants. The twin access routes to the military zone. cinemas and restaurants). and establish the scale and the new peripheral condition of the territory. the manufacture of fishing nets and moorings). housing). in the distance. 91 © Manuel de Solà. Service du Communication de Saint-Nazaire Night view of interior spaces.providing access to the roof of the base.
Macau A peninsula. 94 . As Manuel Vicente explains.Nam Van Square. lying 60 kilometres (37 miles) to the southwest of Hong Kong. when he was asked to create an important new public space for the city it provided the opportunity to create a plaza that was able to assimilate the past forms of the historic city without absorbing the symbolism of its colonial history. Macau is the Las Vegas of the new China.
like a palace in an Indian fairytale. but also and most urgently from a functional point of view: the inherited historical civic space was clearly inadequate. The values VLB proposed for Macau’s new Nam Van Square were mainly those related to the plural and diversified fruition of the site. successively ascertained through the interplay and manipulation of hidden geometries waiting to be named. Here the architects’ reconfiguring of the supporting structures as part of the new built landscape creates a show of different speeds and rhythms made by the conjugation of people and machines. distinctly postcolonial. not only from a symbolic point of view. along a path shaded by the traffic flyovers that form an important part of the design of the new civic square. gardens. When VLB Arquitectura & Planeamento LDA were appointed to design the project. a children’s playground stretches along the water. in the course of time. and a true icon with no connotations with the city’s past. as a simple landscaping of the access areas for the new (third) bridge to the outlying islands. An urban park was commissioned two years after the square. Designing a public site requires recognition of a place prior and beyond the invention of its space. 4 Note 1. they immediately presumed that the main objective of the new administration was not to create a site condemned to the usual pastiche – either ‘Chineseness’ or ‘Palladianess’ – but instead to create the opportunity for something new: free of any symbolism though eager to pursue the hybridism of the urban form that consistently configured the city throughout the course of history. a quintessential modern and abstract structure. each finding a design pattern to divorce itself from its proximity to the roads. the formal hard-surfaced floor that represents the real foundation of the public space.’ Overview of the Macau peninsula before the construction of the third bridge. even in mere capacity terms. 95 . terraces. A new development plan for the central shore of the historic city – the Nam Van Lakes plan designed by Manuel Vicente throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. the poetic essence of which becomes. to harbour the collective rites and rituals of the new Macau. as meninas a saltar …’1 After all the noise and excitement over Macau’s administrative transition settled down post 19 December 1999.‘Os cavalos a correr. ‘Horses are galloping. In the south. simultaneously circulating. in a whole complex concoction pregnant with unsuspected urbanities. the creation of public space traditionally begins almost as a casual accident in the urban fabric. which interpreted and extended the curve of the historic bay out into the river and featured a culmination point in the form of a formal/functional roundabout at the meeting point of the two lakes – stood out as the irrefutable place for the new civic project. From the core of the roundabout’s inner square. This was even more irrefutable given the immediate vicinity of the newly built Macau Tower. a sloping scenic garden with pools on different levels overlooks the city and transforms the over-imposing macro-presence of the bridge as a framer of views. in an adjoining stretch of causeway. This project organises two different park areas along the two waterfronts. the new local government was faced with the requirement for a new public square. walkways and embankments – to the lake’s shore. And on the riverside. On the lakeside. one can walk through the series of familiar typologies that irradiate from it – esplanades.
A flyover as shelter. .
Nam Van Square is shown at the intersection of the two lakes and the river. and flies by when seen from above. Map of the city of Macau showing the Nam Van Lakes reclamation scheme and its integration within the historic Praia Bay.Plan of the whole territory of Macau. Nam Van Square is between the two western bridges. The reclamation between the two islands is the location of the new megacasino strip. showing the water beds and major gambling investments (in orange). The points of intensity in the design are concentrated on the transition of levels and the transfer from road to public space structures. The flyovers were developed as two-sided objects: the traffic disappears when viewed from the lakeside. 97 .
98 . The curved complexity transverses different levels.View towards the lake. The landscape areas bind the different levels and functions.
has historically been a place of miscegenation and deviation. between China and the Asian archipelago. up from 14 square kilometres (5. pp 97(t&c). Macau. Images: p 94-5 © Macau Information Bureau. 99(l) © Rui Leão. 99(r) © Rui Leão. p 97(b). Its geopolitical status.3 square miles).4 square miles) 20 years ago.The modelling of the floor. 98(b) © Rui Leão. 98(t). a total area of 24 square kilometres (9.almosterstudio. thus becoming the Special Administrative Region of Macau. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. with the ambition of moving away from a South China nostalgia into a regional economic player. The liberalisation of the territory’s gambling industry in 2002 was the political milestone that triggered an immense leap in the city’s urban development. was a Portuguese-administered enclave from 1557 until 19 December 1999: the date when it was returned to the People’s Republic of China.com 99 . General plan for the urban park under the third bridge. which has produced in the architectural field a culture of typological hybridism. Carlotta Bruni and Manuel Vicente. Macau’s architectural legacy is the fruit of a symbiotic confrontation of Portuguese city-making praxis against a matured local Chinese social context and modus facendi. which creates an organic movement along the lake shore. located on the South China coast. photos Carlotta Bruni. Carlotta Bruni and Manuel Vicente. Carlotta Bruni and Manuel Vicente. It comprises the peninsula of Macau and two islands. photo www. pp 96. provides a means of simultaneously alienating and integrating the massive presence of the pre-existing bridge flyovers.
in Austria missed the opportunity to rejuvenate areas of the city beyond the historic core. He explains why he believes the location of his highly successful cultural centre for Mur Island. A canopy above the lower entrance twists down to create lounge seating around the edge of the dome. Mur Island.Mur Island. Graz. Acconci Studio. on to a terrace. Austria The New York artist Vito Acconci has chosen to work through architecture. or from below into the restaurant/bar area. It is entered from above. . Graz. Graz. 2003 The dome functions as a café/restaurant. seeing the potential of it as a medium to engage ‘the public with the world around them’. Austria.
contrary to art. © Acconci Studio. which was chosen by Graz 2003. was the River Mur. The greatest consideration was put into the river context with its water and tides and floods. the studio was always aware that if the island drew people in significant numbers it would endure beyond 2003 when Graz was European Capital of Culture. and expands and contracts. Acconci Studio is interested in engaging the public with the world around them. without tying into existing public spaces. and would have rejuvenated a quieter part of the city and provided an alternative cultural area to that which already exists in the historic core. This in between space is a threedimensional grid that functions like monkey bars. Plan of Mur Island. Architecture. In addition. This would have allowed for an alternative strategy to be pursued. a small café and children’s playground. there is a slide that cuts through the grid. Each line of bleachers waves in and out. anchoring the island to the bottom of the river allowed it to respond to the rise and fall of the changing tide. the town centre and the planned Peter Cook and Colin Fournier’s Graz Museum (now completed). collective space to function independently of the continuous urban fabric. and allowed the island as a public. © Acconci Studio The bowl functions as a theatre. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. As with other projects. the organisation behind the initiative. it would have acted as a device for drawing activity beyond the established city confines. and very much hoped. a node in the river. When not being used as a theatre. 101 . Temporality was never much of an issue during the design process. which provided an additional river crossing on Mur Island at a point where there are currently no bridges. photo Elvira Klamminger. and vice versa. a field to climb up and crawl through and hang on to. The selected site. away from the existing bridges and the urban centre. Where the dome morphs into a bowl. the world they are in. would happen. Images: © Acconci Studio. a plaza. visitors can sit face to face and enjoy everyday conversation. Acconci Studio’s own preference would have been for a different location. a playground is formed by the warp. a circulation route in the middle of the river which is an island: the island is a dome that morphs into a bowl that morphs into a dome. photo Harry Schiffer. in the middle of the river. and is lined with transparent bleachers made of grating or perforated metal that step down to the stage below.This floating island for the 2003 European cultural capital included an open-air theatre. which it assumed. In this sense. thus instead of sitting facing straight ahead. the bowl functions as a public space. They are involved with design and architecture because design allows the possibility of dealing with (at least some of) the occasions of everyday life. This choice of site was determined by its proximity to the town’s bridges. which runs through the Austrian town. 4 A twist in the river. is oriented towards users rather than viewers: design and architecture deal inherently with participants and inhabitants.
due for completion 2008 102 . 2006 Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG. Westside. Landscapes of Water. I would turn that equation around to say: How does the collective create public space with the spaces that are given/found? This means that the role of the architect is to make a space for that public – to create the conditions where the public can Paola Viganò. and directly engage in giving shape to public life. we cannot conceive of the urban without a conception of public space. historically.’ So you would almost have to ask the question: What are the spatial practices that could activate this abstract notion of public space? We can talk about those spatial practices that create the potential for public places. in their tendency to invent ways to use the spaces that are given to them. and ask what was the notion of public space. ‘is practiced space. Berne. Space is an abstract notion that acquires specificity in relation to specific practices. So. guest-editors Rafi Segal and Els Verbakel curated a discussion with Stan Allen. in all their specificity and multiplicity. what and where are these public spaces. it can’t be criticised). In my view it’s more important to think first about publics. can architecture as a profession give up the role of designing for the public? Stan Allen: I think to start with we need to be sceptical of this vague notion of ‘public space’. Marcel Smets and Sarah Whiting. and then look at their spatial practices. another interesting thing about de Certeau’s views is that he has a faith in the collective creativity of subjects. The concept of public space enables the architectural profession to go beyond the sole service of the private sector. Can urbanity exist without the production of public space or vice versa? And. Architects here become ‘interpreters’ of the public ‘good’ – their client being the ‘public’ itself. and how are they used? We would find that each one has a very specific and often very different pattern. beyond the whims and particular desires of the individual client. squares. That’s a dangerous combination.’ writes de Certeau. who also elaborates a distinction between space and place. as Robert Venturi pointed out. in parallel. etc. ‘Place. is it the landscape architects alone who have been quick to realise the potential of the empty spaces in our cities as a ripe terrain for change? Many agree that the notion of the urban and public are intertwined: that is. I would start by signalling my scepticism about the concept as it is usually evoked – especially in the American context.Discussion Architecture and Dispersal To close the issue. We think of the traditional city as the locus of public space. Public space is a concept that is on the one hand hardly ever defined with any degree of specificity. Veneto. This notion of spatial practice derives from Michel de Certeau’s. but what do we mean? It is worthwhile to look at the traditional city. Margaret Crawford. Yet in the current reality of urban environments at low densities. You could argue that the traditional notion of public space is a kind of top-down argument whereby public space is ‘given’ to the public. In the larger sense. markets. If we look specifically at the American city. the interdependence of urbanity and public space as we know it can be questioned. the romantic notion of the European piazza (as the emblematic public urban space) is something that never really existed in the American city. Italy. Switzerland. with full awareness that I am treading on a sacred icon (public space is like motherhood or apple pie. and put some provocative questions to them: What constitutes public space in the contemporary city? Can the public sphere still exist in the urban context? Should public space be fought for by architects and urban designers? Or. and on the other never questioned as to its value. as Allen proposes. they act on behalf of the collective interest.
but rather quite the reverse – it means that our job is not to script spatial practices. spaces that touch and connect people with other people. France. we are talking about places where we frequently spend time. from cemeteries to recreation places. of men’s uniting into commonwealths. Public space has become a ‘telanovela’. This fact simply cannot be avoided when discussing public space. etc. be dictated from above. There is an important paradox that has been articulated by Michel Foucault. Collective space gets to be pre-coded if not privatised. Nam Van Square. by definition. In Flanders. and putting themselves under government. As much as we may want to believe in the altruistic alignments of public space and public agency. the Washington DC MacMillan Plan of 1902 (also designed by Burnham). It’s for this reason that I’ve always been suspicious of the attempt to overscript the use of public space. even civic services such as post offices and administrative centres are moving away from the centre based on a false idea of efficiency. the incentive for cities planned after independence has arisen from the private sector. ‘is a practice. 2007 Manuel de Solá-Morales. therefore.freely exercise its collective creativity. 1998 103 . but it cannot. Manuel Vicente. places that are shared can be considered public spaces. imagining and projecting potential uses into the space. That potential is in turn activated by the way in which the space is put to use – put into play – by the public itself. For me. Whether this is necessarily a highly concentrated space can be questioned. to business than to its presumptive origin in government or some variant of public organisation. transport locations. etc causes urbanity to disappear. understanding flow and access. but rather to create the precise architectural conditions where those practices have the best chance of survival. beginning with Daniel Burnham’s Chicago Exposition of 1893. Carlotta Bruni and Rui Leão. The privatisation of public space finds a willing accomplice in programming – in the definition. an individual yet shared experience. now more than ever the public sphere invariably finds easier alliances in private partnerships than it does in public policy. been tied as much. it loses its hierarchy and has become more temporary. or not – utilises the delineation of property ownership as its base map. Bottom Line Public Spaces (BLPS) dot the entirety of American urbanism and are very likely the only hope for public space that we will see in the near future. While colonial cities such as Savannah were organised so as to create miniature cities within a city. In a certain way. that allows for the unexpected. Macau. or beginning even earlier with the nation’s land surveys and acquisition policies. So the job of the architect becomes calibrating the right mix between specificity. The architect’s job is to create spaces with potential.’ In short. sports fields. post-lapsarian narratives about a lost public sphere that needs to be ‘recovered’ appear to have wormed their way even into AD. Places of gathering that used to be associated with city centres are splintering. The American urban landscape. for example in the form of events and festivals. this has created a new type of city centre where recreation is the only urban activity left. Sarah Whiting: Lament-drenched. while always leaving some noise in the system.’ In this sense it can be given space. ‘Public’ space does not disappear but multiply. In many Flemish towns. China. creating the right measure. each centred on a public green. education. Cities are now concentration points in urban nebulae. a successful public space is precisely a space where something unanticipated happens. Even in high densities we see a tendency for isolation. has long been directed primarily by monetary concerns.’ writes Foucault. a degree of ‘play’. Saint-Nazaire. but there are no specifically ‘liberating’ architectures. dense. I don’t see this as a problem for architects. is the preservation of their property. The flocking together of programmes such as sports. the space of the American urban landscape – urban. These sentiments invariably feed futile ‘retrieve and recover’ missions that share success/failure rates with other contemporary missions based on myths. In each type of urbanity. The main square that used to host political demonstrations is now only a place for entertainment and tourism. since people no longer go to church. if not more. illustrating John Locke’s observation of 1690 that: ‘The great and chief end. Marcel Smets: The classic answer would be that the church square no longer works. ‘Freedom. organisation and construction of what happens in that space. The public sphere in the US has. from its inception. who has pointed out that there are architectures that constrain freedom and free expression. Ville-Port. suburban.
architects know almost nothing about suburban life. a green and sandy strip between the city and the lake. the lifestyle shopping centre has the potential to become a model of a new type of public space. points out that the US is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacations. MASS MARKET: Multiply. How do we. multiply. The Center for Economic Policy Research. ‘pure’. a coffee shop or café. include some public functions (library. New Caracol. particularly in the dispersed environments that are the focus of this issue of AD? Lamenting an absent idealised public sphere is futile. One is the ubiquitous strip mall. skating and eating. Massachusetts. foster new possibilities in the public sphere. Add a piazza or town green. 2007 MUTOPIA. LOVE YOUR SKIN: Revel in surfaces. and give them a space to say it in. textures. Colours. Their design and organisation is based on mechanisms of high profit. art. city offices). limited access and high security environments. we’re seeing how small that sphere may be. vehicle registration department. The fleeing of the public from the city. STACK THE DECK: If lawns and asphalt are irresponsible. close the bar 104 . Montecito. now. close or far from a city. say. let alone public. And the large is just fine. If we drop the false narrative of an original. Let them speak. Accompanied by constant headlines such as ‘Is your child too busy? Make sure to schedule family fun time too. raises questions about the relevance of previous forms and expressions of public space to contemporary culture and settlement patterns. California. the programming of contemporary public space cannot keep pace. there are several obvious types of sites that cry out for a little more public-ness. as architects. In the US. Copenhagen. outside of Boston as equivalent examples of dispersed urbanism does justice to neither. Starting from the status quo doesn’t mean selling out: given the public sphere that we’ve inherited – the American BLPS – here is what we need to do: BOTTOM LINES: Give public space a bottom line. the small aggregates to create the large. in general. without that time. They also need to acknowledge the enormous variety of dispersed urban conditions. wildflower paths. Ecatepec. the public sphere is always very much intertwined with the private one and is being squeezed out of existence because of a lack of space and time to perceive it. Trying to understand how people live. frames and tones of public space. wholly public sphere and accept that. More and more we see the emerging of a wide range of collective spaces produced by a highly advanced private market. work and interact in dispersed areas should be their first priority. How can architects develop new models for public space within dispersed urbanities? Can self-contained spaces with limited access be considered public? Margaret Crawford: There are many opportunities for producing public spaces within existing suburban landscapes. Chicago’s recent Millennium Park is fully programmed with music. patterns … these are the plinths. the strip mall’s current form is a bar of programme surrounded by a sea of parking. at least in the American context. and working-class Medford. to name just a few distinctions. still. discover the new horizontal. Home to virtually every suburban commercial function. Like Ladybird Johnson’s wildflower campaign. multiply. Mikado Plaza. suburbs can be rich or poor. and that 61 per cent of workers in the US take less than 15 days vacation a year. Yet with a little tweaking it could become a public place. the ensuing questions need to be retooled. But. based in Washington DC. and Albert Pope’s analysis of changes in the organisation of settlements from grid to cul-de-sac on the other. Let it make a profit. Although the diversity of suburban lives and circumstances demands specific strategies. as described in this issue of AD by Bruce Robbins’ reading of Thomas Pynchon on the one hand. KNOW YOUR MEDIUM: To know your image is to know your public (even when it looks funny). Mexico City.’ we are fast becoming a culture with no time or space. 2005 But as the programming of contemporary life accelerates. Alex Wall seems to suggest that in Southeast Asia. It was easier to believe that we had a public sphere when we felt that we had time for it. To discuss. Unlike Burnham’s Grant Park of 1909. with or without a centre.arquitectura 911sc. Ørestad Nord. a wealthy suburb of Santa Barbara. Denmark. MAKE A PITCH: Sell the public to the public. from grocery stores to restaurants to local boutiques.
rather than the increasing cocooning of privatised public space. more flexible. architects can challenge these expectations and strive for a surprise effect. To a certain extent. Nevertheless. sports complexes and parks). rather than the neighbourhood street. accessible. is extremely fascinating yet also very depressing. design is always running behind the fact. existing but faded main streets (where. Image Quality Plan. and in parallel there exist microworlds that are more interesting. All the ingredients of a university campus have been provided. 2005 Claudia Faraone and Andrea Sarti. As architect to the Flemish government. Marcel Smets: To turn this question around. Our perceptions have become private experiences. often. while the public sphere requires the sharing of experience. unclaimed space seems to offer more possibilities. On the other hand. Italy. In the current boredom of banality. unexpected. shared experiences of beauty. the Roman forum or the Greek agora were also never fully accessible and we should be careful not to fall for a myth.Els Verbakel. in projects such as the Philadelphia Urban Voids competition. such as the primacy of the automobile. where the camera follows a plastic bag flying in the air. The scene in the movie American Beauty. Belgium. In Brussels’ 19thcentury belt we can find examples of unclaimed space. As designers we can draw attention to small. Waiting Spaces/Intermittent Cities. The street. the menu of a ‘nice neighbourhood’. introducing after-hours uses or even commercial activities). where beggars and homeless walk side by side with inhabitants and visitors. All of these transformations should acknowledge the realities of dispersed urbanism. this kind of approach is very much needed. but it can also be a confrontation. And without disturbing the mall’s necessary commercial functions. 2004 with two wings. they can be comforting yet not challenging. and El Caracol in Mexico City). Buses are cheaper. by providing sufficient parking. although not always equally. not only shared by equally minded users. Voila! a new public/private place that would satisfy most urbanists. the government could play a more active role in increasing accessibility to public spaces. We can work with micro-interventions and lost spaces that function as implants. and even well-designed bus stops. Bonheiden. the anonymous main street. Bonheiden. and rearrange the parking. But at the same time residents should also be offered alternative means of access by creating bicycle and pedestrian paths. walking in Manhattan it is surprising how the New York University compound has become so much more predictable than it used to be. I myself make an effort to raise awareness about making collective spaces more accessible. As designers we have the responsibility to make people imagine and realise that beauty can lie in very small things. and with new forms of electronic scheduling can nearly reproduce the door-to-door capacities of private automobiles. architects will have to give up their dream of fixed rail transit as a generator of public spaces. where a more layered collectivity can take place. or even monofunctional civic centres (whose lives can be extended beyond working hours with new public and private programmes such as theatres. After all. In several projects presented in the issue. Elie Derman and Ward Verbakel. multilayered. neglected voids within the larger low-density environment (for example. Other projects (such as KMar and Mikado) incorporate the landscape feature 105 . A beautifully designed strip mall? Why not? Other suburban sites whose public-ness could easily be amped up include schools (by adding functions. Research projects such as the work of Paola Viganò and Bruno De Meulder suggest that whole geographic regions and landscapes be read as one continuous space layered with different systems/networks. can be seen as public. the space that does not belong to anyone is potentially the most public. a pseudo-urbanity that has been fixed ahead of time. The space of infrastructure is usually accessible for all. Belgium. teasing and provoking the current state of terrifying banality. For example. everyday commercial activities like supermarkets can enliven street life). In dispersed areas. Veneto. we can identify attempts of the urban plan to employ landscape as an active urban force that can give meaning to otherwise loose. This is the kind of urbanity we should strive for. Not everybody finds the current developments that interesting. How else to operate than in the margin? Large projects are today managed by developers who work according to the stereotypical representations and expectancy patterns of their users. Although there are many mechanisms that make claimed spaces such as supermarkets more multivalent.
landscape has become a place of escaping the predefined. infrastructure. open space design. As Robert Fishman has argued. As a discipline. in working with dispersed urban conditions. Again. infrastructure and urbanism – landscape architecture is situated at the point of intersection between regional ecologies. parking lots. week and weekend. the festival emerged as an attempt to break out of the theatre into the landscape. which makes landscape into a place of identity. gardens and green spaces of all kinds are among the suburbs’ primary attractions. the so-called empty spaces. this would require them to acquire a deeper knowledge of the circuits and cycles that constitute suburban lives. roadways. public experiences. Venice. architecture and urbanism. rather than existing as fixed points in spaces. It doesn’t seem accidental that the rise of landscape urbanism 106 . In the suburbs. a number of recognised practitioners. a catalogue of projects. traditionally attributed to nature and ecology. but as an amplification of possibilities. Italy. The flocking together of similar programmes and activities creates a highly developed system of connections that can receive a new meaning as public space.Vito Acconci. This suggests that we are urgently in need of a new discourse of ‘landscape suburbanism’. and its own literature (at least two well-conceived collections have appeared recently. In fact. all staples of the dispersed landscape. for example). and it opens up a lot of interesting territory. So landscape urbanism has already emerged as a serious field of study: it has a 10-year history. becomes very much related to the question of identity. Mur Island. Oleanna/Utopia Station. This is a very promising development. and therefore possibly a new type of public space. subdivisions and roadsides. landscape architecture has the potential to become a kind of synthetic discipline that incorporates the insights of ecology. Time as much as space should be a key component of this new discourse. Landscape offers an ‘unclaimed’ territory. infrastructure and what has been traditionally called landscape. between buildings. accumulate over the course of the day and night. These tools – new ways of thinking and working – are ideally suited to this emerging dispersed field. on the other hand. The challenge for designers is to weave more of these public moments into the built and unbuilt fabric of dispersed urbanism. Temporality and transience. Venice Biennale. Several projects propose a non-permanent approach to design. 2003 as an integral part of the urban thinking. Graz. Landscape architects can design parks. life in the new dispersed city depends on time as much as space. Much of the built space starts to look similar. Stan Allen: Landscape architecture – or what has come to be called ‘landscape urbanism’ – is an absolutely key term to bring up when you talk about dispersed cities. working with users and inhabitants (for example those by MUTOPIA and Claudia Faraone) or provide options for future changes (Timescape and the Urban Voids competition). Austria. Landscape. 2003 Martha Rosler. have now become an important aspect of designing public spaces in dispersed environments. adding a temporal dimension to design in the suburbs should not be viewed as a compromise. and experiment with the non-built as a generative element. Margaret Crawford: Landscape architects. used to dealing with open spaces. Can strategies of landscape design offer new approaches for designing public space in environments of urban dispersal? Is this an indispensable compromise of the dispersed city? Can public space only exist temporarily and then again disappear? Marcel Smets: Both landscape and infrastructure are in the process of acquiring new roles within the contemporary urban condition. At the same time. But I am convinced that paying close attention to the successive events of suburban life can produce new and unexpected ways to experience public life. winter and summer. A promise of continuous change can now be found in the landscape. trees. are clearly more adept than architects who are obsessed with filling space. The attraction of landscape urbanism is that it offers a new set of tools to be deployed in the design of the void spaces. in part because of its ‘minor’ status and lack of history. Thus. but is today something beyond the mere design of gardens and parks. For example.
It is possible to identify three key terms that have to do with the overlap and intersection between the discourses of landscape and architecture: Connectivity: It’s no accident that there is a parallel fascination in architecture and landscape for the surface. p 107(r) © Zvi Hecker 107 . is that emergence does not happen all by itself. 2007 Zvi Hecker. as was often the case. there is this attractive idea that on an open field anything can happen – sports. it is possible to look somewhat critically on the actual practices of landscape urbanism: most practitioners have been doing large-scale urban parks. ‘Don’t worry about programme. KMar. above all. paradoxically. etc. Israel. p 103(l) © Rui Leão. Carlotta Bruni and Manuel Vicente. I just want to point out three areas that. To my mind. In the urban or landscape realm. and there is an idea that the warped surface promises total connectivity. 2007 parallels the emergence of the city as a dispersed field condition in the late 20th century. It’s triggered by differences and imbalances in the initial conditions. Schiphol International Airport. The architect’s obligation to specificity and design remains. Recognising that attraction. Beer Sheva. Amsterdam. That’s what makes it exciting. p 105(r) © Claudia Faraone and Andrea Sarti. too. in a vacuum. etc. This suggests closer attention to breaks. a kind of loose thinking where it is possible to say. What is interesting is that each of these areas has both an enormous potential and some room for error. the potential pitfalls of the landscape urbanism approach. in theory. for me. but we haven’t yet seen the full impact in practice. ideas are still being worked out. constitute both the areas of greatest promise. It becomes easy to fall into a false utopia of total connectivity. on the contrary. p 107(l) © Rafi Segal. they haven’t actually been doing urbanism. where we are talking about artificial ecologies. On the other hand. So for me. where anything can happen. photo Carlotta Bruni. continuous flows. demonstrations. p 104(l) © Jose Castillo Ólea. This is of course attractive but naive. To my mind these are the real contributions of landscape urbanism. The idea that self-organisation and emergence are associated with lack of specificity and lack of design is itself a misunderstanding. discontinuities and separations – and their social/programmatic value – in both landscape and architecture. the notion that the architect supplies a kind of infrastructure and then you just let things happen over time. by foregrounding the question of time and the question of process. you don’t get emergence without very carefully designed initial conditions. The architect’s obligation to design those initial conditions with a high degree of precision and specificity remains. doing away with architecture’s vertical dimension. festivals. p 105(l) © Els Verbakel. It’s a young field where things are still in flux. concerts. p 106(tr) © Martha Rosler. Service du Communication de Saint Nazaire.’ This approach can be seen analogous to the notion of 1960s universal space – a space.Rafi Segal. Images: p 102(l) © Paolo Viganò. We are still waiting for projects that show a real synthesis of landscape and urbanism. In part this is because the institutional realm – those who commission large-scale projects – have yet to catch up. nothing happens. p 106 (bl&br) © © URBAN VOIDS: grounds for change City Parks Association of Philadelphia. which has become associated with partitioned space. 4 Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Indeterminate programme or multi-use: Here. This is based on a loose appeal to ideas of ecological succession. arquitectura 911sc. it is something of an abdication of responsibility. The Netherlands. What an ecologist will tell you. p 104(r) © MUTOPIA ApS. Elie Derman of Derman Verbakel Architecture and Ward Verbakel Architect. yet where. landscape urbanism is an important emerging field. p 106(tl) © Acconci Studio. Archipelago of the Negev Desert. but. because programme take care of itself. Landscape urbanism is enormously promising. there is no need for the architect to determine anything. p 103(r) © Dominique Macel. p 102(r) © Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG. picnics. It has the potential to change our notion of urban design by making available a new set of tools and. Emergence: In both architecture and landscape there has been a fascination with self-organisation and emergence. Surface is the territory of landscape.
in 2001.cast1466. in 2001. and at Rutgers University. the Belgian Garden Cities and the reconstruction of Belgium after 1914. of WW. including The Brussels Mont des Arts Reconsidered (Rotterdam. Milan. Current research projects include SHAKTI – Research for the Sustainable Development of Hyderabad. Princeton University. China. He is the principal. videos. This has spawned new types of dialogue and process tools. His work and writing have been published in Praxis Journal. His design partnership with Rui Leão and Carlotta Bruni began in Lisbon. São Paulo. alongside Saidee Springall. Skira. Israel and New York. Israel. a Design Arts Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the author of Ladders (Princeton. a graduate diploma from the Architectural Association. changeable and portable instrument. mostly dedicated to urban design matters. KU Leuven). His most recent publications include Victor Gruen: From Urban Shop to New City (Actar. an architect and photographer. France. 2000). He obtained a professional degree in architecture (Israel) and an MSc in architecture and urban design (Columbia University). and holds a Masters of Landscape Architecture. Georgia. Cornell and NYU. Kjersti Monson is a planner and urban designer with EDAW/AECOM. Leuven. He works with photography as a tool to describe and therefore to interpret the reality of cities and territories. Israel. and has held visiting positions at Harvard. and later established his own practice while also working in partnership with Eyal Weizman. mainly the social housing schemes. In 1991 he also set up a practice in Berlin. Her research focuses on the evolution. His research is situated at the crossroads of urbanism and urbanisation. 1996). Their most significant projects include the Coloane Island masterplan. and in 1990 she founded Studio Bernardo Secchi Paola Viganò with Bernardo Secchi. of arquitectura 911sc. He is currently a professor at UPenn’s School of Design. Andrea Sarti. Porto Marghera. and coordinates the Master of Architecture thesis programme. while working on the pavilions and strategies for the Lisbon Expo 98. Paola Viganò is an architect. Venice. 2G and Domus. She has taught architectural theory and design at KU Leuven. and is the Gus Sessions Wortham Professor of Architecture at Rice University. and at Princeton University where he is currently completing a doctoral dissertation. Nakuru: An African Town (Leuven. Israel and New York. MUTOPIA was founded in 2004 by architects Serban Cornea and Kristina Adsersen. war-making and the built environment. Manuel Vicente has been working simultaneously in Macau and Lisbon for the past 45 years. and has published widely. He received professional degrees in architecture and urban design from the universities of Ghent and Delft. Poland. Stemming from Vito Acconci’s background in writing and art. more recently. He is also co-author of Zwischen_Stadt_Entwerfen (Mueller + Busmann.bordersproject. Marcel Smets is the Flemish government architect. and current projects include a visual one about public spaces in European capitals and the visual mapping of the transformations of Venice’s industrial area. 108 . the renovation of the Moorish Barracks. Martha Rosler uses photographs and montages. a historic organisation whose work acts as a catalyst for change by advancing visionary thinking about natural resources in the urban community(www.Contributors Acconci Studio is a collaborative studio that undertakes design and architecture projects. Arquine. and the crossroads of practice and theory. landscape architecture and ecology as models to revitalise the practices of urban design. He is chair professor of Urbanism at the School of Architecture of Barcelona.org in Venice (2003–04). As a practising urban designer. and as tutor in the Advanced Course in Visual Art at Fondazione Ratti in Como (2006). and the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven. in the office of Trav do Noronha. Uzbekistan. She is also a partner. Manuel de Solà-Morales is an architect and city planner.org). 2006). biological and other models with narratives and action. and a President’s Citation from the Cooper Union in 2002. 2005). an old military area. 1998). an attempt to define the components and design strategies for European low-density urban regions. in particular looking at field theory.com he carries out commercial work as well as research projects dealing with city transformations and public spaces. During the 1990s he was co-editor of the journal Social Text. Pratt Institute and Princeton University. performances and critical writing to investigate social conventions. Haifa. Venice and Canary Islands biennales. Architectural Record. among them ‘Studio OpenCity’ in Brussels/Kortrijk (2000) and www. New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Pratt Institute. He has taught at the Universite Laval in Quebec. He has lived in the US since 2004. His urban projects have been published in Points and Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City (Princeton Architectural Press. He has curated and participated in various exhibitions including ‘Mexico City Dialogues’ at the Center for Architecture in New York and shows at the Rotterdam. Els Verbakel founded Derman Verbakel Architecture. His most recent book is Upward Mobility and the Common Good (Princeton. with Alan Berger. and a PhD in Urban Planning from UCLA. He has published widely. 1999) she became an associate professor of urban design and urbanism at the IUAV. are still a strong reference for Portuguese and Macanese architects. She has been a guest professor in several European schools (EPFL Lausanne. Columbia University. She has more than 25 years’ experience in programme innovation and implementation in the environmental field and the arts. She was a 2006 Fellow of the Fudan University Center for Urban Studies. France. Nansha Coastal City (Harvard Graduate School of Design. he was in charge of large urban design projects in Belgium and Italy. Current projects include a retractable bridge in Boulognesur-mer and housing folded inside a hill in Beaumont. 2000) and De Kampen van Kongo (Amsterdam. 2000). and PRUDEV – What is the role of the shopping centre clusters in the future urban development of Jakarta? Sarah Whiting is an assistant professor at Princeton University’s School of Architecture where she teaches urban history and contemporary theory. and a founder and head. and the design of new housing in La Courrouze. a research group in urban morphology. She is currently working on a research project on Skopje city centre as her final thesis for the European postgraduate Masters’ in Urbanism she attended at KU Leuven. Bruno De Meulder is a professor of urbanism at Katholieke Universiteit. Belgium. including books on H Hoste. Claudia Faraone. Ch Buls. the media. a working method and architectural strategy that challenges the role of the architect while welcoming citizens and professionals into the design process. and is currently living and working in Atlanta. has participated in various architectural and artistic projects on the subject of cities and urban space. as well as a range of innovative urban and architectural designs promoting social and environmental sustainability. He worked for several years with Architect Zvi Hecker in Tel-Aviv. He studied architecture in Technion. Jerusalem. he has developed an extensive catalogue of urbanistic strategies. Responding to the complexity of the modern city in creative ways. Rafi Segal studied and taught architecture at the Technion–Israel. along with Ron Witte. and is a PhD candidate at Princeton. of the Laboratori d’Urbanisme de Barcelona. Deenah Loeb is the executive director of City Parks Association. Nam Van Square.cityparksphila. Stan Allen is a registered architect and Dean of the School of Architecture. She obtained a professional degree in architecture (Belgium) and an MSc in architecture and urban design (Columbia University). a Graham Foundation Grant. She has published several books including Building the Workingman’s Paradise (Verso. the studio seeks to combine mathematical. She is a professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (Städelschule) in Frankfurt and at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Within the collaborative and interdisciplinary studio www. using space as a fluid. and obtained a PhD at the University of Leuven where he was appointed to the chair of Urbanism in 1978. He has published and lectured extensively on contemporary architecture and urbanism. He has taught architectural design at the Bezalel Academy. Margaret Crawford is a professor of Urban Design and Planning Theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Technique and Representation (G+B Arts. with projects in Belgium. TU Delft and UPC Barcelona. and painting at the Avni Academy in Tel Aviv where he set up the practice Hecker. 1996) and. Canada and Universität für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna. uses and meanings of urban space. Sharon. He has published many books. and has established its distinct profile through ‘user-focused design’. Jose Castillo is a practising architect living and working in Mexico City. She received a BA from the University of California at Berkeley. text works. 2005). 2007). From 2003 to 2006 she was based in Shanghai where she worked as a consultant and designer on projects throughout urban and rural China. Albert Pope is an architect living in Houston. Alex Wall is an architect and Chair of Urban Design in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Karlsruhe. Bomb. in 1931. with Elie Derman. 1996). with projects in Belgium. installations. India. and contributed to organising the Fudan University International Urban Forum in 2006. Kuvuande Mbote: A Century of Colonial Urbanism in Congo (Antwerp. UNESCO-WHS. in Rennes. Bruce Robbins is a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. an architect and urbanist. and grew up in Samarkand. He has won several awards for excellence in design and his work has been exhibited internationally. with Els Verbakel. Zvi Hecker was born in Krakow. since 1968. His buildings in Macau. He has also taught at the universities of Geneva and Lausanne. After her PhD (‘La città elementare’. currently works as a freelance in Venice. Texas. an independent architectural and urban practice. Elie Derman founded Derman Verbakel Architecture. Neumann. and a member of the board of the PhD in urbanism. the Sai Van Urban Park and. working on competitions and projects such as the reuse of the disused railway area in Spoornoord. She is a visiting professor at the Technion University and Bezalel Academy. 1999) and his theoretical essays in Practice: Architecture. Antwerp. He has been awarded fellowships in architecture from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. Germany. a project for the new opera house in Harbin. an architecture firm based in Princeton.
Theodore Spyropoulos and Vasilis Stroumpakos 130+ Userscape Natural Methods of Interaction Or Natural Interaction in the Everyday Digital World Valentina Croci Yeang’s Eco-Files On Green Design (Part 3) The Basic Premises for Green Design Ken Yeang 124+ 134+ Spiller’s Bits Putting the ‘I’ back into Architecture Neil Spiller McLean’s Nuggets Will McLean .C O N T E N T S 4+ 110+ 114+ 120+ Interior Eye Reinvigorating Childhood Howard Watson 126+ Practice Profile KieranTimberlake Associates Jayne Merkel Unit Factor Radical Interface AA New Media Research Initiative Joel Newman.
. He finds the pared-down spaces of the interior surprisingly in accord with the original Victorian structure.Interior Eye Reinvigorating Childhood Howard Watson is uplifted by the ‘brave. graceful subtlety’ of Caruso St John’s redevelopment of the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood in east London. drawing their inspiration from ‘the regimented order of grand Victorian museology’.
the main exhibition space evolved somewhat haphazardly to become a charming. V&A Museum of Childhood. Caruso St John. graceful subtlety that draws on the regimented order of grand Victorian museology. often resolving complex aesthetic ideas and a political will for community and cultural integration with The pattern of the front facade can be seen as building blocks. iron columns and girders. it was a large iron building. porphyries and limestone draws on the red of the Victorian brick behind. while jealous adults would stand elsewhere. an impoverished part of east London. comprising three sections with curved ceilings. The museum resides beside a park. They even dimmed the lights. forming perhaps one of the best-kept examples of the Victorian desire to bring health and culture to London’s poorer regions. but the materials are exquisite. and the iron walls were replaced by typical Victorian red brickwork. Formed in three parallel sections. touching screens and interacting with displays.In the last decades of the 20th century. It carries through the realisation of the museum’s contemporary ambitions with a brave. It was constructed in 1856/57 by Charles Young & Company as a temporary structure for the new South Kensington Museum. The pattern has now been repeated and enlarged on the mezzanine ceilings. at the request of local philanthropists. Meanwhile. It would be tempting to expect the refreshed Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood to be an excessive den of bright lights. which became the V&A. so the museum principally comprises one large. highlighting accessibility and reflecting the street and greenery of the surrounding park through tall windows. is now uncluttered. The marble mosaic floor tiles were made by women prisoners in Woking jail and installed when the structure was relocated from South Kensington to Bethnal Green. but his plans were never completed due to a lack of funds. 2007 The main exhibition hall. as a working venue. The Museum of Childhood. The variety of quartzite. Consequently. but cluttered and disorganised space. The lack of accessible facilities has hampered its ability to move forward and offer the quality of community and educational resources that suit its remit. deceptively simple design solutions. The architects have combined their ability to construct cultural permanence in sometimes unlikely settings with ground-breaking exhibition design. and a glass roof. peering at a mistyped paper label beside a dusty. The three parallel sections were not divided. with corrugated iron walls. the museum has been dogged by its incompletion. It became a familiar sight to witness children banging buttons. In 1865 it was replaced and the temporary structure was moved to Bethnal Green. JW Wild designed a new entrance and additional facilities. Caruso St John was established in 1990 and has gained respect in Britain for its innovative arts-related buildings. an appreciation that young minds can more readily accept the shock of the new drove parts of the museum sector to investigate using the advances of technology within child-orientated displays. badly lit display. Bethnal Green. computer wizardry and child-friendly chaos. colour. but Caruso St John’s fiveyear redevelopment has shied away from wearing whizz-bang intentions on its sleeve. such as the New Art Gallery in Walsall and the (ongoing) Centre for Contemporary Art in Nottingham. London. almost tunnel-like volume. Caruso St John was faced with trying to create new access to resources and facilities under the building while refocusing the design of the main exhibition space and galleries. The facade creates a new relationship with the community and geographical setting. with the original ironwork helping to regiment the space. has been one of their longest-running projects. involving a twophase redevelopment of a Victorian building. which is run by the Victoria & Albert Museum. 111+ .
Section of the new entrance. creating a new level of accessibility to the facilities. but these are mainly pushed to the outer wall. The charming but somewhat disorderly main display area before the redevelopment. architect Peter St John says he drew upon the best of Victorian museum architecture. The mixture of too much direct light from the roof lanterns and chaotic lighting has been replaced by an ordered system that enhances the objects. including the original cases of the Natural History Museum. The museum is full of elements of physical interaction.When reorganising the main museum display system. 112+ .
Cocktails and Style (2006). The second phase undertook the major building work – a new entrance and learning centre – as well as introducing a new gallery space and toilets. the Museum of Childhood has managed to get itself in step with contemporary needs and prepare itself for the future through an intelligent. journalist and editor based in London. There is now also a direct. 2007). £34. has a dual importance: it provides an exhibition display for the work of local children and an ordered circulation route into the main hall and. completing the design of new collection displays. the displays are now housed in freestanding. evolved lighting that added to the disarray has been replaced by a neatly ordered system that complements the interior’s ironwork structure. Diane Lees. 113(r) © Caruso St John Architects 113+ . including crucial renovation of the roof and ceiling. and cures some of the prime logistical problems. but Diane Lees says that: ‘The project has “fixed” about 90 per cent of the issues we had in operating as a family friendly museum. of the new 2nd edition of Fashion Retail (WileyAcademy.99. the director of the museum. large wooden and glass cabinets that consciously draw on the museum’s Victorian past. community and outreach: each of the three components of one shape form a component of an adjacent one. porphyries and limestone in a decorative pattern that is emblematic of connection. inclusive design that has enabled a wide range of visitors to access the museum physically and intellectually. calm interior of the new entrance which. The facade is clad in quartzite. large windows and decorative grilles that pick up the pattern of the exterior. This has been combined with practical.wiley. introducing order without partitioning. the interior is now a soft. while the overall impression is of building blocks – a ‘constructive’ reminder of the learning processes of childhood. pp 112(bl&br). Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. See www. but subtle approach to interior architecture. It has consequently won Caruso St John a 2007 RIBA Award. The redevelopment of the museum is not quite complete. The result is a natural grid. Previous books include The Design Mix: Bars. down to the new learning centre and facilities below. and resolving access and circulation issues. explains the success of Caruso St John’s designs: ‘The design of the new extension is sensitive to the original building and the materials are inspired by and blend with the historical context of the design. the chaos has gone.’ The first phase of the redevelopment concluded in 2003. with its granolithic terrazo floor. The ad hoc. The cool. with Eleanor Curtis. Formerly all white. visually connects to the design of the main building. 112(t). and Hotel Revolution: 21stCentury Hotel Design (2005). pale pink that calms the spatial threat of the huge main volume and creates a warmer environment. The new entrance replaces its shambolic predecessor with one that addresses the immediate surrounds.com.The plan of the main hall. 4+ Howard Watson is an author. Largely. He is coauthor. accessible entranceway to these resources on the level below. via stairs. as well as refocusing the orientation to the facilities. the reordering of the main display space and a new exhibition display area on the first floor. with its rearranged displays and improved circulation. The simple entrance interior. 113(l) © Hélène Binet. By contrast. Inside the main building. Images: pp 110-11.’ Many of the late-20th-century interactive displays in smaller museums across Britain seem to be permanently ‘out of order’ or at least out of step with new developments. provides an exhibition space for local children. grand. both also published by Wiley-Academy.
Practice Profile KieranTimberlake Associates James Timberlake (left) and Steven Kieran (right) in their studio. 114+ .
and introducing methods of collaboration and fabrication drawn from the automobile. Their interest is in part a reaction to the emphasis on imagery that they saw at Venturi. research and teaching attempts no less than to change the way that buildings are made. postmodernised old industrial building with little punched windows and a prominent central entrance where KieranTimberlake Associates work on an otherwise oldfashioned street gives no clue that anything extraordinary is going on inside. If anything. is built of factory-made components that were hoisted into place on site. such as autoclaved concrete. A full-scale freestanding wall of black glazed and brown buff brick being considered for the student services office building at Ohio State rises from the floor. Maryland. aeroplane and shipbuilding industries. dayglo colours or other attention-grabbing devices in them.Nothing about the beautifully detailed buildings that Steven Kieran. Taylors Island. it takes the shape of an Ionic column and of bubble wrap. it fostered a new commitment to environmental efficiency at this progressive day school. their firm’s first commissions – low-budget additions and alterations at Loblolly House. they emphasise materials and the construction process. suggests that they have a radical agenda. such as grey ductile concrete. Kieran and Timberlake saw the lack of interest in building technology. In addition. Shelves are filled with product samples. at the American Academy in Rome. a 2. sparing most of the nearby forest. Another little room with cement board walls houses a welder. In the 1980s they both had fellowships. independently. the location on the edge of downtown Philadelphia. as something they wanted to explore. The first hint that something else is afoot comes when the elevator door opens to a lobby framed by sloping sheets of steel like those in a Richard Serra sculpture. but gets his kicks from making things’. which blends rather seamlessly into the landscape. near the Art Museum and Free Library. and a parking lot with two wings and a functioning wetlands courtyard. a laser cutter. modern brick middle school replaced an ugly mansard roof with a flat ‘green’ one. a threedimensional printer transforms drawings into plaster models. tables stacked with models abut workbenches strewn with tools. and conference areas formed by tilted steel walls with absorbent inner surfaces for pin-ups. Washington DC.137-square-metre (23. There are no crazy shapes. where they found that what interested them most was the fabric of ancient buildings. 115+ . the University of Michigan and other schools). 2006 KieranTimberlake’s expansion and renovation of a bland. which was typical of the time. But the space that reveals the unique nature of the practice is the shop at the end of the room. Traditional materials being used in new ways are being tested alongside experimental ones. where they worked in the late 1970s after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania architecture school. mostly for schools and colleges. boxy. across the street from a neat row of 19th-century town houses suggests a rather traditional architectural practice. There is also a compressor. The office even has ‘a full-time shop director who was trained as an architect. 2006 This holiday home for the Kieran family on the eastern shore of Maryland. Here. James Timberlake and their colleagues are creating. In doing so. As teachers (they have taught at Penn. raw material racks. and exterior wall panels being considered for various projects. as Timberlake explains. Rauch and Scott Brown. Yale. Just as Venturi was reacting against the Modernist disregard for symbolism and history. near Washington DC. demonstrates that prefabricated construction can also be ‘natural’. a material that the architects are developing with Composite Technologies. The aesthetic.500-square-foot) open loft with 6. A ceiling mock-up for the Yale University Sculpture Building hangs overhead. exposed wiring. He and Kieran are pretty obsessed with making as well – in the largest possible sense. subjects often neglected in American architectural education. models on pedestals. Jayne Merkel explains how they are expanding the architect’s sphere beyond mere ‘design’ to become ‘master builders’ of a uniquely 21st-century kind – developing new materials and ways to save energy. In a small room on the right.7-metre (22-foot) ceilings contains movable workstations. The pleasant. behind a glass wall. Here. Sidwell Friends Middle School. Around the corner. But what these architects are doing in their built work. site specific and unique. a porous white material the architects are considering for a house in Texas.
slipping and weaving). It provides numerous examples of different approaches to each category taken from their own work. An intriguing example of ‘patching’ is a row of brick privacy walls inserted between stone columns under low brick arches in the basement of Princeton University’s Stafford Little Hall. selecting. ventilated curtain walls provide visual connections between the activity inside and campus life outside. East Stroudsburg University. storage rooms 116+ . Carefully proportioned. Here they replaced old pipes. $42 million project. often with a healthy dose of self-criticism. transparent. the new glass-walled home of the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania that connects several brick structures in different historical styles by stepping back and creating an additional courtyard. 2002) focuses on various aspects of building (framing. consisted of dormitory rooms. so there are some quirky contrasts even in the original fabric. Connecticut.000-square foot). glass-walled studio building in the middle of the block. Manual (Princeton Architectural Press. designed by James Gamble Rogers in 1930. scaling.Yale University Sculpture Building. The two building complexes. 2007 This 17.559-square-metre (189. One of KieranTimberlake’s first major jobs at Yale – the renovation of Pierson and Davenport residential colleges – involved a good deal of hinging and patching and joining. One example of ‘joining’ is the Melvin J and Claire Levine Hall. profiling. Haverford College. someone asked: ‘Why choose?’ So every partial enclosure is different from the next – a veritable museum of brick patterns that are differentiated from the existing surfaces and interesting in their own right. joining. and made of red brick with Neo-Georgian shutters and classical colonnades on the inner courtyard sides. libraries and dining halls (separate ones for each college) built around generous courtyards on the Oxbridge model. patching. and connecting the two colleges underground to provide more types of recreational facilities to be shared by students of both colleges. steel-framed. New Haven. They are sheathed with stone and detailed in a Neo-Gothic style on the street facades. which was built in 22 months instead of the university’s usual 48. and a four-storey concrete parking garage for 280 cars with open steel and Cebonit walls and shops at the base. Chestnut Hill College. which was built by Cope and Stewardson in 1899 and 1901. a single-storey art gallery around the corner. lining. consists of three separate structures: a four-storey. While trying to decide which unusual brick pattern to use to give student rooms more privacy. enlarging the study areas in the libraries. The architects’ work involved converting the old dininghall kitchens (intended for waiters) to self-serve cafeteriastyle spaces. and to a few houses – forced them to think about details and construction. Their first book. hinging.
and squash courts (which all Yale colleges once had) with fitness rooms, a basketball court, music practice room, a theatre and cafés, combined the two pressrooms into one (all Yale colleges also had their own presses), and added recycling areas, a laundry and new mechanical services. The new underground spaces are naturally somewhat grittier than the formal ones upstairs, but the architects take the same delight in details and materials as their predecessors, using brick, stone, resin-varnished Fin-ply wood, concrete and steel with aplomb. Their masterpiece here is a pair of open concreteand-steel staircases leading in opposite directions up to the main living spaces of Pierson and Davenport colleges. KieranTimberlake’s is a nuts-and-bolts approach, but it does not prevent them from looking at the bigger picture. In order to learn what might be possible today, they used the American Institute of Architects’ first Latrobe National Research Prize to study how automobiles, ships and aeroplanes are now being made. The result of that research appears in their next book, Refabricating Architecture: How
Manufacturing Methodologies Are Poised to Transform Building Construction (McGraw-Hill, 2004). This fully illustrated, little black-and-white paperback argues that the time is right to fulfil the early 20th-century Modernist dream of mass production – only they call it ‘mass customisation’ because contemporary technology can offer numerous options. Today most parts of buildings can be built ‘off site’ (in a factory) faster, better and more safely than with standard construction. KieranTimberlake have demonstrated how this might be done in the most unlikely place – on the Pierson College ‘beach’, a leftover outdoor space where they created a new small courtyard and a wing of dormitory rooms with 27 beds, called TomKat Hall. These were prefabricated in New Jersey, shipped to the site, and erected in four days during the spring break. The dark-red brick, gabled structure manages to nod to its historic neighbours while subtly proclaiming its 21st-century origins with clever downspouts, ‘fingered brick’ elastomeric sealed expansion joints (almost zippers) between components, and other details.
Yale University School of Art Gallery, 2007 The big, open, loft-style gallery, which connects to the sculpture studios by an underground passage, will be used both for professional exhibitions and for shows of student work. The glass walls of its corner ‘front porch’ facing the street can be opened completely to the outside during events. The building’s recycled wood walls relate to old houses nearby.
Melvin J and Claire Levine Hall, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 2003 The 4,181-square-metre (45,000-square foot) addition and 1,393-squaremetre (15,000-square-foot) renovation wedge new facilities for the Department of Computer and Information Science between the School of Engineering’s 1906 Towne Building and 1967 Graduate Research Wing, while opening up new campus paths (where parking and service spaces used to be) to the English Department’s 1912 Bennett Hall. Levine Hall’s innovative ventilated curtain wall saves energy while creating a desired sense of transparency because air circulates between the double-paned skin and the single-glazed interior skin. The project adds new laboratory space, faculty offices and an auditorium to the School of Engineering.
unique and apparently indigenous entirely with factory-made parts. The Loblolly House is named for the loblolly pine forest into which it nestles almost imperceptibly – it stands on trunk-like stilts and is sheathed with irregularly spaced vertical strips of red cedar. Its fourth facade opens to Chesapeake Bay with accordion-folding glass walls and retractable translucent aeroplane-hangar doors that remain open on most summer nights. Few nearby trees had to be cleared for construction because, in only six weeks, the house’s prefabricated parts were hoisted on to a platform and set into a scaffold when they arrived from the factory. Whole rooms with ceilings, walls, windows, plumbing, electrical connections and lighting were set within 30-centimetre (12inch) deep horizontal sandwich panels made of plywood or cement board filled with ductwork. Horizontal panels contain insulation, vapour barriers and sheathing. Since the architects believe that buildings should have a lifecycle like everything else, the 204-square-metre (2,200-square-foot) structure was designed to be dismantled eventually. Most of its parts are recyclable. However, even if it is demolished, the Loblolly House may live on, since the architects are working with a developer on a mass-producable version. Like other American architects, KieranTimberlake have become increasingly interested in energy efficiency, but because they know a lot about building technology they are able to take this concern to a higher level than most of their colleagues. At the Sidwell Friends Middle School, an extensive renovation of and addition to a private Quaker school in Washington DC (where Chelsea Clinton was once a student), they replaced an old mansard roof with a functional ‘green’ one. Where a parking lot once stood, two new wings create a courtyard that both recycles waste water and serves as an outdoor laboratory. The buildings, which were sited to
The firm’s research on the fabrication processes being used by the transportation industries convinced them that architects need to give up the typical top-down approach to ‘design’ because it usually limits their involvement, separates them from the building process, and cuts them off from advances in construction technology. They advocate a collaborative process that involves architects, contractors, materials scientists and product engineers, working together with computerised communication from the conception of a project to the end. Materials scientists are essential because Kieran and Timberlake believe in using the wide range of new materials available now. Many save energy, cost less, last longer and can be readily adapted to the off-site construction process, which is faster, more efficient, more accurate and not subject to the whims of weather. A holiday home that Kieran built for his family in 2006 demonstrates that it is possible to create something original,
TomKat Hall addition to Pierson College, Yale University, 2004 The new suite of rooms was built off site from manufactured components and erected on site in four days even though, because of the tight nature of the site, the modules had to be lifted over existing buildings from trailers in an adjoining alley. The site-built construction of the slate roof, interior finishes, porches, terraces and landscaping took another four months. The site, off a corner of Pierson courtyard, was formerly used for recreation and services.
Pierson and Davenport Colleges, Yale University, New Haven, 2004 and 2005 The two adjacent residential colleges were extensively renovated with new mechanical services, recreational facilities and small additions at a cost of $40.5 million each. The two are now connected underground where they share facilities. The architects demonstrate their love of craft and materials in the underground, back-to-back staircases.
maximise passive solar heat gain, were opened to natural light with glass-walled corridors along the outer walls and sheathed in recycled wood from wine barrels. They also have photovoltaic panels, high-energy pulse boilers, linoleum made from 10 different natural materials, and bamboo casework. The design has influenced the curriculum so significantly that herbs produced on the green roof are used in the dining hall, where organic food is now served, and the impact of the building on student health and mental acuity is the subject of a study by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The new Sculpture Building at Yale is equally innovative. It may realise more energy savings than any glass-walled structure in America, but in order to achieve this the architects had to make some pretty radical changes to the programme. Since they were required by the city to replace the parking spaces that had filled the site, university officials assumed they would build a parking structure in the middle of the largely residential block and locate the sculpture studios along the street on the west side. But that would have meant orienting the building east–west, even though a north–south orientation would provide ideal northern light and the opportunity to capture southern heat gain. So, KieranTimberlake placed the elegant, glass-walled studio building in the middle of the block and the open-walled concrete black parking structure on the street where it will have shops on the ground floor. They also opened the interior of the block with pathways in both directions leading to the studios, and pulled out the art gallery, which will be used by the other art departments too, so that it opens on to a pretty residential street around the corner from the garage. The gallery is sheathed in the same western cedar siding recycled from wine casks that the architects used at Sidwell, only here it is in horizontal bands with metal strips like those on barrels. The architects also gave the little building an abstract front porch, in a nod to nearby 19th-century houses with
clapboard siding and prominent porches, removing every other board on that corner for a more porous feel. The glass walls under the porch can be opened to the street for events. The gallery’s sidewalls bow out slightly. The 6.7-metre (22-foot) tall, single-storey gallery has exposed steel ceiling beams, and little light slits in the corners and at the edges of the ceiling under the functioning green roof. It is connected by an underground passage to the studios behind it, which have porches on several levels with big trees and other plantings on them. It is the high-performance studio building walls, however, that will set new standards for energy efficiency. Those on the south have exterior metal sunshades projecting from the wall surface, which has operable transparent triple-pane windows above 10-centimetre (4-inch) thick, Aerogel-filled translucent fibreglass panels with a subtle, almost Japanese, feel. Perforated black metal panelling on interior columns houses a displacement ventilation system that uses 40 per cent less energy than usual. Black steel ceilings in stairwells with larger perforations achieve a similar aesthetic that hovers between sculptural and industrial. Even the surfaces in the corridors – fibreboard varnished with urethane – are efficient, rugged and attractive at the same time. At night the building glows from within, lighting up the mixed-used residential and commercial area around it. By day, people passing by can glimpse the studios from the side yards of nearby houses and apartment buildings. The complex extends the activity of the Yale campus into a mixed-use area that could use some new energy and sets a new standard for building at Yale. That is, after all, KieranTimberlake’s goal: raising the bar aesthetically, technologically, environmentally and socially – not a small ambition. 4+
Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: p 114(t), 115, 118(t), 119 © Ed Wheeler; p 114(b) © Barry Halkin; pp 116-17 © Peter Aaron/ESTO/VIEW; p 118(b) © KieranTimberlake Associates
It is composed of a ceiling-mounted unit that generates an interactive projection on the surface of a table. mobiles and automatised machines are so omnipresent that the means by which we interact with digital devices is now generally regarded as a given. of which only 100 examples were produced. a system of interactive projections.Userscape Natural Methods of Interaction Or Natural Interaction in the Everyday Digital World Computers. To interact with the projection. which includes iOO. without touching it. questions our use of mechanised interfaces and the language that they require us to learn. iOO Design. though. iO Agency. 120+ . 2006 iOO Design is a series of products developed in collaboration with the 3M Corporation. Valentina Croci explains how iO Agency has developed more natural ways for people to interact with digital environments through physical or tactile ‘triggers’. all one has to do is move one’s hands above the surface. Italian practice iO Agency.
for example the computer screen. a form of interaction between users and technology-enhanced spaces that is based on the imitation of reality and common gestures. the user. natural interaction takes place through a process that involves the simplification of possible operations. or even the display screen on automated ticket machines. With respect to other digital installations. The office now has 22 associates. Each project is calibrated based on the functions it is to perform – conferring information or. The approach taken by iO Agency is different from that taken by other offices involved in the creation of digital installations or interactive objects. One of the centre’s members. 121+ . is not required to learn how the machine functions. of the concept of ‘natural interaction’. touching or pointing become the ‘triggers’ of the digital system. The resulting manipulation of information is not direct. These interfaces use methods of interaction based on an analytical language composed of icons and access panels. is also one of the founders of iO Agency and the theorist. actions such as walking. mobile phones.iOO can be applied to the horizontal surface of a carpet. such as keypads. Here. varying the atmosphere and colour of the spaces. Alessandro Valli. the result of the direct manipulation of the latter by the former. more simply. creating a barrier between the user and technology. decorating an environment – and based on the number of people who will use it or a specific target of users. Interaction between digital tools and those who use them is generally managed by graphic interfaces. founded in 2004 in Treviso with the aim of developing interactive spaces. An example of this approach can be found in the work of the Italian office iO Agency. part of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Florence. For iO Agency. his or her attention passes from the process of using digital technology to the experience that it can generate. but requires that the user adapt to a language that differs from the way in which we relate to other objects in the physical world. The fact that the user must adapt to the language of the machine often generates frustration. Given the increase in the number of digital instruments in everyday spaces. iO Agency’s final objective is the creation of spaces in which technology is integrated with the everyday. removing their attention from the sensorial experience in favour of the effects of the digital environment. The user can personalise the background image and patterns of movement of the figures (speed or effects of movement) using very simple software installed on a home computer. handheld devices. many of whom were involved in the ‘Net Economy’ (the virtual arena in which business is conducted that emerged in the mid-1990s). Interaction requires no specific technical skills. we must design new methods of interaction between users and technology. unlike with traditional media. This creates an immediate relationship between the user and digital technology. in 2001. The user can also periodically update the contents. Given that the user carries out familiar actions. the projects by iO Agency do not seek the complete immersion of the user within altered or exasperated sensations. in addition to boasting a collaboration with the Centro di integrazione dei media (Media Integration Centre). part of an environment in which digital instruments dialogue with one another. buttons or a mouse.
the various methods of accessing digital content. which provides a gallery of images accessed through visual. The space also includes an interactive floor surface. the colour and intensity of which can be modulated and used to project interactive displays. the gestures used to indicate products and the movement of elements on surfaces are natural movements for this category of users. Milan. The semantic nature of the interface. interaction. Another of the Sensitive Space System devices is the interactive 3M catalogue. The installation focused on the effect of surprise and the shared. Installation for the New Fiat 500. later. Sensitive Space System objects include devices connected to a central system that unties their various operations. Milan. via the exaggerated symbolism of interaction. iO Agency. view it at 1:1 scale inside a dark room. 2005– The Sensitive Space System is a range of products developed in collaboration with the 3M Corporation and designed to create three-dimensional interactive spaces for retail and advertising spaces.iO Agency. The interface-display was designed to be used by the company’s sales staff who are accustomed to reading a catalogue of products based on an index similar to a periodic table. The office designed a series of workstations that visitors could use to configure a version of the new Fiat 500 and. The system also simultaneously created a personalised brochure of the car. Sensitive Space System. Cappellini Temporary Store. 122+ . The final objective of the showroom is that of demonstrating. 2007 Three months before the launch of the new Fiat 500. and non-analytical. iO Agency was asked to design an installation that would represent the car without actually presenting the physical product. At the Italian headquarters of 3M it is possible to visit their showroom: a space with translucent walls. The catalogue also includes ‘touch-less’ products such as this information stand. playful experience enjoyed by a group of people.
a sales support station that uses bar-code recognition and projects interactive information about the product being purchased. which employ metaphors (the desktop or the operating system) that are held to be satisfactory for the functions that they must perform. as much as the development of applications for everyday life. as iO Agency points out. The introduction of this type of digital technology can sensibly modify the atmosphere of a given space – as in the case of the Sensitive Space System. its devices are partially manufactured elements with advanced levels of engineering. move. on the other. The final objective of these devices is that of introducing new services within everyday spaces. Their partially manufactured products operate based on the logic of uniform interaction. for which iO Agency studied the possibility of simultaneously modifying light. Cosmoprof Fair.Part of the modular concept designed for L’Oréal. iO Agency works with external partners. It is thus important to define the final objectives of the device beforehand. while the interface makes reference to a precise number of gestures – point. in technological innovation and. but also to the creation of a synergic process involving architects and designers. sound and the emissions of odours using interconnected interactive objects. Bologna. in turn. capable of implementing serial applications based on a client’s needs. the Colour Studio is an instrument of support for the sales of haircolour products. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Italy. However. allows for the construction of a richer experience that leads. p 123 © L’Oréal Paris 123+ . grab or walk – connected to a precise operation performed by the machine. above all for public spaces or spaces of social interaction. or better yet. The design challenge for interactive spaces is not simply the creation of temporary installations with a significant impact. Thus. turning a routine event into a spectacular and theatrical experience. Images: pp 120-22 © iO Agency. a client management system that offers personalised suggestions for specific purchases. The form of the instrument ‘attracts’ the user by clearly representing its function. Modular concept for L’Oréal Professionel Salons. interactive elements. For the definition of products at the industrial scale. Digital applications do not replace traditional computerised objects. iO Agency does not produce standard products. iO Agency stresses that the design of interactive environments within the spaces of the everyday is not only related to the engineering of digital technologies. the 3M Corporation. and attained an MSc in architectural history from the Bartlett School of Architecture. The applications created by iO Agency identify alternative and more emotional forms of logic that allow for a greater level of intervention on the form of space and the perception of the quality of a given environment. inserting. The interpretation of people’s behaviour and its reduction to ‘triggers’ that activate the system is a very difficult part of the design process: the technology must be able to distinguish between the actions of the subject and ‘background noise’. on the one hand. This type of interactive object. and the reduction of the number of actions that the user must make using the interface. a space filled with integrated. the definition of the interface and the functional specifications are calibrated for each single application. for example. 2005 This environment was designed to support sales and track client behaviour. and the Colour Studio. interactive methods of using space and alternative mechanisms for accessing services. She graduated from Venice University of Architecture (IUAV). 4+ Translated from the Italian version into English by Paul David Blackmore Valentina Croci is a freelance journalist of industrial design and architecture. together with the sequences of accessing its functions. The project is articulated in four functional modules that can exist separately or as part of an integrated group: an interactive display case that allows passers-by to interact with L’Oréal products. in the maturation of a new culture that is interested in this research. Sales clerks can use a handheld device or PC tablet to display the various colours being proposed on a video wall. within our everyday habits. London. with whom they collaborated on the design of the range of Sensitive Space System products. She achieved a PhD in industrial design sciences at the IUAV with a theoretical thesis on wearable digital technologies. the design challenge is to be found. to new design possibilities.
A Neapolitan historian and philosopher.000 Britons declared themselves ‘Jedi’ in respect of their religion. Is it because architectural fashion often precludes the personal approach? Of course. We are all different. Creating a space of desire. she produces a subjective ‘synthesis of architect. as in the case of much contemporary architecture. So if digital design is so revolutionary. Architects often deny themselves in their work – it is often apolitical and lacking in any but the most abstract references to the complex mind of its designers. the gaze and the body are not excluded from the work. Vico was appointed by Charles III of Naples as his historiographer in 1734.Spiller’s Bits Putting the ‘I’ back into Architecture Neil Spiller gets personal in a bid to put the ‘I’ back into architecture. I don’t know what anybody else likes for sure. something like 100. I don’t believe in ‘Styles’. I only know what I’m like aesthetically and intellectually. exciting and cutting edge. He celebrates the spatial experimentation of the work of Charlotte Erckrath. If I were cornered I’d probably say ‘Radical Constructivist’. In the last UK government census. space and view’. At the root of this Radical Constructivism is Giambattista Vico (1668–1744). why does it all look the same – pretty though some of it may be? Is it because clients are very conservative and have just got around to managing to accept the double-curved in architecture? Certainly. I like ‘I’. This can take on an almost religious aspect. 124+ . The fundamental notion that makes Vico memorable is his ‘versum ipsum factum’ (‘the truth is the same as the made’). and this is great. you are different to me and I am different to you. The space of desire. This idea was first published in 1710 in Erckrath developed each element so that it could be rearticulated and reconfigured in relation to the viewer’s body. body.
vibrating bachelors divided from an unobtainable mechanised bride – no sexual binary opposites.2 Erckrath has identified the various modes of observation illustrated by the picture and the act of viewing it. Sexuality and Space. Images © Charlotte Erckrath 125+ . acetic world of science. but here are no illusions to masturbatory. 4+ Neil Spiller is Professor of Architecture and Digital Theory and Vice Dean at the Bartlett School of Architecture. of near misses and of desire – a nomadic. and its theoretical content was sketched out by Victor Burgin in 1992. pp 219–41. 1992. She has then taken these ideas and included herself and her body in the act of viewing and interpreting in her architectural work. Thus Vico is sometimes called the first Radical Constructivist. V Burgin. It is a world of experimentation. expedient pseudo-science. body. This is an anthropometric scaled. space and view.Charlotte Erckrath. This world is not the controlled. G Vico. The New Press (New York). This conclusion should be the aim of all architects and their work. University College London. The Mirror. in B Colomina. Here is a detail of one of the movable junctions. more a personal synthesis of architect. so human truth is what man comes to know as he builds it shaping it by his actions. The earth never moves for me unless ‘I’m’ involved. The Voyeur and The Backdrop. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. tame. ‘Perverse space’. These are: The Spectator. De antiquissima Italorum Sapientia. The inspiration of this piece is a photograph produced by Helmet Newton in 1981: ‘Self Portrait with Wife June and Models’. Notes 1. We all construct our view of the world as we navigate through it.’1 Cybernetic Radical Constructivists believe that there is no mind-independent reality and that an individual constructs his or her understanding of his or her world by observation and operating within it. its geometries inscribed with further bodily syntax and vectors. The Photographer. earthshaking architecture. It in turn is readjusted in the individual’s dealings with others and other world-views mediated by cybernetic conversation. 2. points of view. 1858. and not the impersonal taxonometrically similar designs that so many of our profession perceive as inspired. chapter I. parallax and the engagement of the viewer. his treatise De antiquissima Italorum Sapientia. Making the Idea: Subjectivity and Objects in SelfPortrait with Wife June and Model by Helmut Newton. So in this particular ‘Bits’ I would like to honour spatial experimentation. her work can be seen in comparison to Duchamp’s Large Glass. 1:5–6. Stamperia de’Classici Latini (Naples). ‘As God’s truth is what God comes to know as he creates and assembles it. 2007 The piece is produced by exploring boundaries. The photograph resonates back in time to Las Meninas of Velázquez. Perhaps unsurprisingly. thresholds. ‘I’ and the space of desire by introducing Charlotte Erckrath’s work. intimate project that cannot be separated from its architect.
Unit Factor Radical Interface AA New Media Research Initiative At the Architectural Association in London. Theodore Spyropoulos and Vasilis Stroumpakos are spearheading the New Media Research Initiative. AADRL Research Fellowship. The goal is that by doing these experiments on ourselves we can gain critical insight into our adaptive cognition while acquiring a tangible understanding of the sensorial. Techne. Here they call for architecture to abandon its hold on the formal qualities of the physical in favour of a mode of experience that provides an interface that fully reflects the way we inhabit space today. were designed as a series of limitation devices that are integrated with dispersal software systems that become the testing ground for where we can turn these immersive technologies back on ourselves. Theodore Spyropoulos and Vasili Stroumpakos. Joel Newman. 2002–04 These explorations. 126+ . performed by Nick Puckett.
but a logical progression of 10 years of experiment on the World Wide Web. The Experimental Web It is fair to say that the new level of interface design is not the exclusive result of one particular studio or company. while embedded 2-D design is treated as a secondary or subsidiary consideration. Shape. and certainly does more than merely respond to route planning. With the introduction of the internet. driving the development of better and powerful software. with the introduction of a new generation of more complex devices such as Apple’s iPhone and the BenQ Black Box. and the aesthetics of form and material are secondary. Apple described it as the product the company was created to make. Interface experimentation certainly did take place within labs and research centres. This continues today in the blogsphere. their opinions and feelings to the world: writing about their likes and dislikes. but many dedicated amateurs. Function and Experience However. people started to create personal pages. and so they are a grand and continuing experiment. Fascination with the new tools (Flash. Although this kind of work had been. students were asked to develop limitation devices. but do not pass C’. However. For a long time. devices such as mobile phones were judged During a design workshop at the AADRL. function does not have to be boring. if not exclusively. so contemporary design education ought to be prepared for that. Form and Graphics When the iPod was released. Today. In the design of devices. Thomas Chan. a device that could embody the company’s philosophy: the interface is the product. This is the residue of an older paradigm in which structure is matter and fresco is decor. leaving the content to evolve from the words and images of the Web population. the separation between the threedimensional form and the interface is under question. Java and later Processing) led this generation of dedicated amateur experimenters to contribute greatly to the evolution of user interfaces. physicality is still perceived as the main reference for judgement. Function in contemporary architecture is the creation of an environment of experience. Although this was a reasonable mode of thought for the design of building in the past. contemporary design should adopt the mode of experience. primarily. a small but growing number of users became more interested in the interface itself. an addendum at best. What you see is what you use. Interface Catalogue. both in terms of scientific research and in public applications. Many pages were simply just people wanting to put forward their voice. This requires consideration and understanding of the complex aspects of perception and cognition. and the product is the interface. or still is. Creating experiences refers to the real target of interface design: to generate new forms of engagement with information and communication. Interface rarely featured strongly in the design process or in the critical evaluation of the design. smart kids and professionals alike were also deeply engaged and loosely hooked together by the Web. the way that space is inhabited today. the practical and ergonomic parameters were all important. 2007 Intermediate 6 student Thomas Chan (tutors: Veronika Schmid and Alistair Gill) designed and developed a comprehensive custom-made interface in Flash through which he could control and inform the 3-D modelling software. Interface is both function and performance. creating an image of their lives and perspective on the world they live in. Director. the appearance and feel of the materials. or ‘go from A to B. on the physical characteristics of the case. substantially it is rigorous research through experimentation. showing photographs of their friends and families. characterised as Web or computer art by some. The interface is the new material. Interfaces have existed for a relatively short time. 127+ .In architectural and product design. One of the briefs was to design an instrument as a seeing stick for the blind. to excite the human intellect with new forms of interaction. interface has found its apotheosis in the new physical space of the screen.
2004 and the AA. They adopt extreme and radical modes in their engagement with experimental design. and the momentum that these types of works has created affected. London. Joshua Davis. This takes place on three levels. Golan Levin. Radical interface design by innovators such as Yugo Nakamura. Selfridges. Martin Wattenberg. a wide range of creative disciplines. including architecture. London. Facebreeder emerged as an aftermath of the Techne research fellowship. First through the agendas of several studios in the undergraduate and graduate school. Experimentation does not need to be beautiful.Theodore Spyropoulos and Vasilis Stroumpakos. but rather an outrageous lack of compromise. Facebreeder software/installation. Dextro. Lia. and this is reflected in the formation of its New Media Research Initiative. Ed Burton. Jared Tarbell. AA Method as Practice The Architectural Association (AA) is at the forefront in nurturing these approaches. Their work defines a new understanding of interface design and screen-based interaction. where student research undertaken at the AA Design 128+ . Simultaneous experimentation by a multitude of people produces innovation through evolution. 2006 Fabricated by the authors and a group of DRL students. Zachary Lieberman and Ben Fry provides distinctive examples of direct and applied ‘research’ for architects working in computation. which emerged through the continuous engagement of the school’s various programmes within the domain of interface. and still affects.
and teaches video-making. Int 8 and Dip 14 clearly depicts a shift in the architectural design paradigm employing methods and concepts. He directs the experimental design practice Minimaforms. Int 6. Architectural Association. The New Media Research Initiative aims to work as an umbrella for these engagements by reinforcing the interface dialogue: on the one hand by a series of events/talks including key speakers Stelarc. Dextro. Vasilis Stroumpakos studied at the AADRL (MArch) and at AUTH in Thessaloniki. 128(t&br) © Theodore Spyropoulos and Vasilis Stroumpakis. Christopher Lindiger and United Visual Artists that took place during 2006/07. 129(b) © Architectural Association. He is coguest-editor with Michael Hensel and Achim Menges of the Emergence: Morphogenetic Design Strategies (May 2004) and Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design (March 2006) issues of Architectural Design. and has worked as a project architect at the offices of Peter Eisenman and Zaha Hadid.org 129+ . Zachary Lieberman.Dextro. Brian Dale and Luis Fraguada. He is a visiting research fellow at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies working with the Interrogative Design Group. AA New Media Cluster Kick-Off Event. photo Sue Barr. And finally through explorations conducted in the Media Studies programme. 2007 Pioneer in contemporary computer art. Second through research fellowships such as Techne that were developed by Theodore Spyropoulos and Vasilis Stroumpakos and led to projects such as the Facebreeder that engaged the AA community. Theodore Spyropoulos is a co-director of the AA Design Research Lab (AADRL) in London.org. who is Academic Head and Head of Technical Studies at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. London. CCdb project. Greece. and on the other by engaging with related projects such as the cross-programme event laptop-jam sessions promoting and presenting student work and staff research that responds to concepts of space as interface. and also a visiting professor at Yale University and at ESARQ Barcelona. 4+ Joel Newman studied fine art at Reading University and has exhibited his work widely. Images: pp 126. presented his work at the AA. Ed Burton. London. He is co-author of ramtv. Architectural Association. He is currently writing a book on the architecture of emergence for John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. but also developing approaches that blend digital interface with spatial and experience design. p 129(t) © dextro. Interactive applet. 2007 The cross-programme event brings together interface-related student work from various departments of the school. 127(t). Dextro. p 128(bl) © Theodore Spyropoulosz and Vasilis Stroumpakis. 2006 Stelarc performs involuntary acts with student volunteers at a new media clusters launch event at the AA. pp 127(b). He also runs the practice 00110.org’s Negotiate My Boundary! He has been a research fellow at the AA and is currently part of the academic staff at the AADRL and AA Media Studies programme. He has run the AA’s audiovisual department since 1994. ‘Unit Factor’ is edited by Michael Weinstock. Research Lab (AADRL) and Emtech as well as undergraduate units such as Int 3. AA New Media Laptop Sessions. London.
Malaysia.Yeang’s Eco-Files Yeang’s Eco-Files Yeang’s Eco-Files On Green Design (Part 3) The Basic Premises for Green Design In the final part of his short series that outlines the main principles of ecodesign. It provides shade from the heat and shelter from monsoon rains. He covers the full gamut of choices and hybrids from buildings that are constructed in ‘passive mode’. Foster + Partners. 130+ . University of Technology Petronas. Ken Yeang turns his attention to the alternatives that are on offer to designers who want to ensure comfortable internal conditions in their buildings. without the need for any electromechanical systems. to those that are conceived in ‘productive mode’ producing their own energy. 2004 The campus’ crescent-form roof responds to the climate of the Malay peninsula by covering pedestrian routes.
while also applying the same thinking to the operational systems of the greater built environment and our own businesses.Yeang’s Eco-Files Yeang’s Eco-Files WOHAA Architects/Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell. productive mode and composite mode. There are essentially five ways of doing this: passive mode. full mode. In addressing these systems we need to look into ways of improving the internal conditions of our buildings so as to make them more comfortable. When considering the design of the facade. Yeang’s Eco-Files As designers we should be looking at ways of configuring individual built forms as low-energy systems. Examples of passive mode strategies include the adoption of suitable building orientation and configuration in relation to the local climate. Moulmein Rise Residential Tower. the incorporation of natural ventilation and the use of vegetation are also important. issues of solid-to-glazed area ratios. The internal environment often needs to be supplemented by the use of external sources of energy. This horizontal opening lets in the breeze but not the rain. thermal insulation values. 2003 Here the traditional monsoon window is adopted in a 28-storey. as well as the selection of appropriate building materials. full mode. Building design strategy must start with passive mode or bioclimatic design. as in full mode. the last being a composite of all the preceding modes. Passive mode requires an understanding of the climatic conditions of the locality. mixed mode. The practice of sustainable design requires that we look first at passive mode (or bioclimatic) design strategies. the designer should not merely synchronise the building design with the local meteorological conditions. speculative housing block. Full mode uses electromechanical systems often powered by external energy sources – whether from fossil-fuel derived sources or from local ambient sources such as wind or solar power. as this can significantly influence the configuration of the built form and its enclosure systems. then we can move on to mixed mode. but optimise the ambient energy of the locality to create improved internal comfort 131+ . Meeting contemporary expectations for comfortable conditions in the office cannot generally be achieved by passive mode or by mixed mode alone. Singapore. productive mode and composite mode. all the while adopting progressive strategies to improve comfortable conditions relative to external conditions. Passive mode means designing for improved internal comfort conditions over external conditions without the use of any electromechanical systems. It clearly demonstrates the potential of the monsoon window as an effective passive cooling device in a contemporary urban setting.
the embodied energy content and the attendant impact on the environment. in turn. Ecodesign also requires the designer to use materials and assemblies that facilitate reuse. double facades. we will need to do so on a much larger scale. recycling and their eventual reintegration with ecological systems. If the passive modes have not been optimised. Yeang’s Eco-Files Yeang’s Eco-Files conditions without the use of any electromechanical systems. To be truly ecomimetic. buildings use some electromechanical systems such as ceiling fans. Composite mode is a combination of all the above modes in proportions that vary over the seasons of the year. a design solution is developed that has not previously optimised the passive mode options. Ecosystems use solar energy that is transformed into chemical energy by the photosynthesis of green plants.Yeang’s Eco-Files Typical floor plan illustrating the location of the monsoon windows. which in turn drives the ecological cycle. Full mode relies entirely on the use of electromechanical systems to create suitable internal comfort conditions. the materials we produce should also take their place within the closed loop where waste becomes food. We must appreciate that passive mode and mixed mode design can never compete with the comfort levels of the high-energy. and wind turbines that harness wind energy. they can return to the environment through decomposition. Here again we need to be ecomimetic in our use of materials in the built environment: in ecosystems. then these non-energy efficient design decisions will need to be corrected by supplementary full mode systems. The design addresses the challenges of the tropical climate by incorporating monsoon windows and the perforated wall. flue atriums and evaporative cooling. In mixed mode. manufacturers and businesses is: How can we use this waste material? If our materials are readily biodegradable. ecosystems do not actually generate waste since one species’ waste is really another species’ food. all living organisms feed on continual flows of matter and energy from their environment to stay alive. The inclusion of systems that create productive modes inevitably leads to sophisticated technological systems that. If ecodesign is to be ecomimetic. however. it remains at an improved level of comfort during any electrical power failure. Productive mode is where a building generates its own energy. increase the use of material resources. the further refinement of a design should lead to the adoption of choices that will enhance its energy efficiency. then whenever there is no electricity or external energy source the building may become intolerable to occupy. the inorganic content of the built form. orientation and enclosure are considered. while establishing a relationship of different volumes to maximise air circulation. The fundamental nature of these decisions clearly dictates that once the building configuration. However. if the design optimises a building’s passive modes. full mode conditions. at the very early 132+ . we should seek to do the same. Common examples of this today can be seen in the generation of electricity through the use of photovoltaic panels that are powered by solar power. Thus matter cycles continually through the web of life. as an alternative. It must be clear now that low-energy design is essentially a user-driven condition and a lifestyle issue. If. The new question for designers. If we want to be ecomimetic. this will inevitably lead to full mode design. This is the option chosen for most conventional buildings. we should think. Furthermore. Such a remedy would make a nonsense of low-energy design. Currently we regard everything produced by humans as eventual garbage or waste material that is either burned or ends up in landfill sites. If clients and users insist on having consistent comfort conditions throughout the year. and all living organisms continually produce ‘waste’.
including Ecodesign: A Manual for Ecological Design (Wiley-Academy. 4+ Kenneth Yeang was Chairman of the Master Jury of the 2007 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. built environment with our organic host in a benign and positive way. how the building can be adapted over time. It gives a sensation of cooling to passers-by. The Moulmein Rise Residential Tower and University of Technology Petronas were two of nine projects presented with awards this year. Ecodesign is essentially design that integrates man-made systems both mechanically and organically with the natural host system – the ecosystems. of course. in addition to being easily demountable. which has been modified to accommodate a number of small jets within the middle of the blower. These emit a fine spray of water that evaporates and creates a misty cloud around the doorway. To facilitate the reuse of. then the structure could be easily demounted and reassembled elsewhere. we should integrate both the organic waste (eg sewage. For details of the award scheme and other award-winning projects. Standard Chartered Bank Priority Building Pavilion. The next challenge will be to integrate our buildings. Images: pp 130-32 © Courtesy of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. food wastes. Malaysia. These are the exemplars for what our buildings and our businesses should achieve: the total physical. the components were modular. Malaysia. see www. sister company). While manufacture and design for recycling and reuse relieves the problem of deposition of waste. It has an aircurtain above the entrance. many of today’s buildings only achieve eventual integration through biodegradation that requires a long-term process of natural decomposition. Failure to integrate will result in dislocation in both cases. how a building. UK. inviting them into the pavilion. These design considerations will determine the materials to be used. etc) and the inorganic waste. Kuala Lumpur. operational systems and internal processes with the natural ecosystems that surround us.akdn. which has its roots in sustainable design. rather than welded so that the joint can be released easily.org/architecture. p 133 © Dr Ken Yeang 133+ . A surgical prosthetic device also has to integrate with its organic host being – the human body. systemic and temporal integration of our human-made. rain water run off. our cities and all human activities with the natural ecosystems that surround us. a structural component. waste water. the ways in which the building fabric is to be assembled. a large number of theoretical and technical problems to be solved before we have a truly ecological built environment. This lowers the ambient temperature of the zone around the entrance. Unfortunately. Another major design issue is the systemic integration of our built forms. He is the author of many articles and books on ecodesign. the connection between the components should be mechanical. Such integration is crucial because without it these systems will remain disparate artificial items that could be potential pollutants. There is a very appropriate analogy between ecodesign and surgical prosthetics. If we consider the last point. we should draw encouragement from the fact that our intellect has allowed us to create prosthetic organs that can integrate with the human body. let us say. reuse. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. its components and its outputs can be reused and recycled. Yeang’s Eco-Files design stages.Yeang’s Eco-Files Yeang’s Eco-Files TR Hamzah & Yeang Snd Bhd (a Llewellyn Davies Yeang. However. There are. If. This leads to the concept of ‘design for disassembly’ (DfD). and how the materials can be reused after the building has reached the limits of its useful life. 2006). Kenneth Yeang is a director of Llewellyn Davies Yeang in London and TR Hamzah & Yeang in Kuala Lumpur. 2001 This glass pavilion is an example of mixed-mode design. ie bolted. we come to an increasingly important conclusion. in a little more detail.
which consisted of his trademark Voile (stripes) decorating the sails of a series of sailboats at Lake Grasmere (July 2005). which consists of a previously unremarkable fleet of second-hand cars being individually (and show specifically) inscribed with the participants of Kassel’s ongoing five-yearly. or someone trying to keep out of the cold. with galleries and museums functioning as temporary stops or viewing platforms. The business and total amount of artwork in transit (measurable in weight. For the land-based movable feast we find London-based artist Cedric Christie’s elegant collection of mobile art. Detail of Cedric Christie’s ‘Documenta 4’ car parked in a London street. finally realised in 2005. 134+ . where the art lover. 100-day international art Olympics of the ‘Documenta’ exhibition. Aside from the Europewide doyens of a trade formerly known as road haulage such as Willi Betz. but without the artist looks like a late delivery. a floating theatre for 250 that visited Venice and Dubrovnik. 32 years after his premature death. It is the self-recognisable art logistic (or the art of logistics) that seems more pertinent. or Aldo Rossi’s Teatro del Mondo (1979). We can take to the water with French artist Daniel Buren’s sailing sculptures. More recently we witnessed Robert Smithson’s Floating Island – a 30 x 10 metre (98 x 33 foot) flat-decked barge of fully grown trees and large rocks being towed up and down the Hudson River. may saunter past a good work. Norbert Dentressangle and the UK’s largest private logistics company ‘brand’ of Eddie Stobart. there are independent artists who operate in the field of artworks that are designed to move.and Re-Materialisation of the Art Object The logistics of art is an international business. or not.McLean’s Nuggets The De. Also briefly appearing in a Venice canal (1985) was Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s collaboration with Frank O Gehry – a theatrical spectacular featuring a 25metre (82-foot) long floating Swiss army knife as its centrepiece. monetary value or the more complex measure of human happiness) we will leave for another time. which may have been interesting.
Whether through some transcendental detailing or a more robust appreciation of need and appropriate servicing. Will McLean is joint coordinator of technical studies (with Peter Silver) in the Department of Architecture at the University of Westminster. pp 78–9 ‘McLean’s Nuggets’ is an ongoing technical series inspired by Will McLean and Samantha Hardingham’s enthusiasm for back issues of AD. Town and Country Planning. and its subsequent consumption. Vol 76. but the designed tools and mechanisms for the traffic and comfort and ultimate enjoyment of the user seem simplistic and largely symbolic. Hall points to the tourism successes of the previously esoteric ‘adventure’ destinations of the Galápagos Islands or Machu Picchu.1 which in a generation have become so popular that visitor numbers are strictly controlled. as explicitly explored in Hardingham’s AD issue The 1970s is Here and Now (March/April 2005). seemingly unwilling to submit to a Las Vegas-style upgrade. There are currently 400 such designated biosphere reserves throughout the world. 135+ . We must all be careful so as not to miss the point (or the destination). March 2007. where the cultivated civilities and etiquette rigmaroles of the 20th century are replaced by a more loosely formed set of highgrade (that is to say. The space syntax mob may or may not be able to predict and somewhat guide us around the large peopled environments of stadiums. for the exploration of sustainable development. or does planning supremo Sir Peter Hall have a point when he suggests that these ready-made eco holiday resorts have all the residual social and physical fabric to sustain an economic transformation? Writing in Town and Country Planning. not expensive) prosaic or ‘real’ experiences. No 3. or perhaps not qualitatively.Performance-Enhancing Architecture? During a recent conversation with a former employee of a large multinational food and domestic goods combine. then we and our incoming tourist visitors might well be able to enjoy the regional differences and delicacies that are so prevalent. Images © Will McLean A beach ashtray distributed free by the Menorca reserva de biosfera. designers should begin to manufacture more stimulating and more physiologically tuned environments. The Balearic island of Menorca was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1993. Can we not learn from the highly tweaked ingredients of the psychologically complex PEB and make some architecture that demonstrably makes you feel good? Although ‘good’ is a rather imprecise descriptor. and hardly need another reinvention. 4+ Note 1. whereupon the company may or may not be allowed (by various advertising standards organisations) to make substantiated claims for their new wonder drink. So what future in the British Holiday destination? Leaving aside the middle-class enclaves slumming it in high-priced Nuevo rustic boutique hotels or the beach-hut investments of the south coast. you are left with a faintly moribund invented tradition that owes its existence more to the tachometer proximities of the logistics industry. what about ‘architecture is good for you’ – though I doubt the profession’s representative bodies or many of its practitioners and clients would try and support such a statement. Town and Country Planning Association. Going Local Like an observation recently overheard at the nearby motorway services that ‘the problem with Gretna Green [the UK’s premier eloping destination] is that it is not tacky enough’. are British holiday towns (and in particular the seaside variety) the doomed economic blackspots of our current imagination. he was kind enough to tell me about a sector of the nonalcoholic drinks industry entitled Performance Enhancing Beverages (PEB). Also spotted in the Institute of Directors’ magazine After Hours (Spring 2007) was a highly serviced neo-primitive tourist destination where you pay good money for ‘la service ruistique’. Employed by the firm as a psychologist. If the UK were not still so dominated by short-termed entrepreneurship and the desire for difference so well represented in the proverbial ‘twist’. This kind of psychological assessment of architecture. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. it was one of his jobs to assess (under strict scientific procedures) the short-term physiological effects of ingested liquid refreshment. airports and shopping centres. offering ‘natural habitat and exotic culture’. is not so obviously deployed.
this issue of AD explores emergent types of public space in lowdensity environments. and practitioners including Zvi Hecker. typology or pattern. The concept of public space needs to be examined: replaced. nor guided by one mode of development. Vito Acconci. Manuel de Solá-Morales. It describes this new form of urbanism: decentralised. re-created or adapted to fit these conditions. What is the place of the public in this form of urbanism.4 Architectural Design Cities of Dispersal Guest-edited by Rafi Segal and Els Verbakel Questioning the traditional boundaries between cities. in a constant process of expansion and contraction. The physical transformation of the built environment on the one hand. settlements operate as a form of urbanism. MUTOPIA. suburbs. countryside and wilderness. and how can architecture address the notion of common. Albert Pope and Alex Wall. Martha Rosler and Manuel Vicente in a search for new collective architectures within the dispersed city. While functionally and programmatically dispersed. not homogenous or necessarily low-rise. privatisation and segregation – call for renewed interpretations of the nature and character of public space. research projects and built work by distinguished writers such as Bruce Robbins. the place of collective spaces within them has yet to be defined and articulated. and the change in our notion of the public on the other – due to globalisation. Neil Spiller and Ken Yeang . 4+ Interior Eye Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood Practice Profile KieranTimberlake Associates Userscape iO Agency Unit Factor AA New Media Research Initiative Regular columns from Will McLean. collective spaces? What is the current sociopolitical role of such spaces? How does the form and use of these spaces reflect the conception of the public as a political (or non-political) body? And can architecture regain an active role in formulating the notion of the collective? These and other issues are addressed through essays.
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