4 Cities of

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

Volume 77 No. 3 ISBN 0470031891

Volume 77 No. 4 ISBN 978 0470319116

Volume 77 No. 5 ISBN 978 0470028377

Volume 77 No. 6 ISBN 978 0470034767

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

Interior Atmospheres
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 .

except under the terms of the Copyright. Elmont.co. 200 Meacham Avenue. Rafi Segal (with Yonatan Cohen and Kate Snider). Mark Burry. 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. Postmaster Send address changes to 3 Publications Expediting Services. electronic. The Atrium Southern Gate Chichester.co. Jan Kaplicky. Michael Rotondi. mechanical. Ken Yeang Contributing Editor Jayne Merkel All Rights Reserved. Massimiliano Fuksas. Nigel Coates.uk Editorial Board Will Alsop. Israel. UK. Anthony Hunt. NY 11003 Individual rate subscriptions must be paid by personal cheque or credit card. Peter Cook. Front cover: Desert within a city: proposed plan for the city of Beer Sheva. Michael Hensel. El Caracol. Neil Spiller.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. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means. Max Fordham. Edwin Heathcote. All prices are subject to change without notice. Robert Maxwell. 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. scanning or otherwise. Mexico City Jose Castillo . photocopying. Michael Weinstock. Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under the terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd. Israel Rafi Segal 64 Peripheral Landscapes. André Chaszar. London W1T 4LP.uk Editor Helen Castle Production Editor Elizabeth Gongde Project Management Caroline Ellerby Design and Prepress Artmedia Press. NY 11431. 2007.co. PO22 9SA T: +44 (0)1243 843272 F: +44 (0)1243 843232 E: cs-journals@wiley.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.co. Denise Bratton.99 Single issues outside UK: US$45. © Rafi Segal Requests to the Publisher should be addressed to: Permissions Department. London Printed in Italy by Conti Tipocolor Advertisement Sales Faith Pidduck/Wayne Frost T: +44 (0)1243 770254 E: fpidduck@wiley. 90 Tottenham Court Road. Elmont. Individual rate subscriptions may not be resold or used as library copies.00 Details of postage and packing charges available on request.uk Subscription Offices UK John Wiley & Sons Ltd Journals Administration Department 1 Oldlands Way. No part of this publication may be reproduced. Charles Jencks. Bognor Regis West Sussex. Air freight and mailing in the USA by Publications Expediting Services Inc. recording. Teddy Cruz. without the permission in writing of the Publisher. Jayne Merkel. 200 Meacham Avenue. West Sussex PO19 8SQ England F: +44 (0)1243 770620 E: permreq@wiley. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica. Single Issues Single issues UK: £22. Leon van Schaik.

Marcel Smets. 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. Graz. Macau Manuel Vicente Urban [IM]plants Tactics for Recombining Landscape and Collective Space in Bonheiden. Belgium Els Verbakel and Elie Derman 100 102 Practice Profile KieranTimberlake Associates Jayne Merkel Mur Island.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 . Saint-Nazaire The Historic Periphery Manuel de Solà-Morales 110+ 114+ 120+ Interior Eye Reinvigorating Childhood Howard Watson 74 Nam Van Square. 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 .

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?

Veneto, Italy

Philadelphia, US


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

Macau, China

Saint-Nazaire, France


Yet this notion has undergone substantial changes.12 Mechanisms that have contributed to the privatisation of public space (at least within the American context). highly dynamic. as identified by J Habermas as having emerged from 18th-century bourgeois society. the shaping of public space has been considered the primary task of the architect or urbanist. With the rise of consumption culture. forms and programmes.Ørestad. With this understanding. processes that have been considered by some a threat to democracy. 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. political and cultural notions – in this case the notion of the public – and their architectural or urban expression. commercial main streets and other components of a townscape tradition within contemporary sprawled environments. the public today is better understood as a fragmentary interplay of multiple publics and multiple groups. While the public is an abstract. and discouraging long-distance commuting even when these are alien to the way we live today. and 8 . The Congress for the New Urbanism. the extension of undemocratic governance systems such as home-owners associations and development districts. continuous sphere or space. enables the publicising of dissent. Denmark Mexico City. Other approaches to urban dispersal understand and thus address contemporary notions of the public and public space but without projecting new urban configurations. doctors. maintains awareness of the needs of others. according to this conception. such as the reorganisation of collective space towards consumption. 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). urban space by its nature refers to concrete places that undergo slower processes of change in appropriating new conceptions and conditions. 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. for example. Public space. and allows the organisation of grassroots campaigns. diversity and flexibility. and jurisprudence13 – preoccupied with locating the boundary between public and private – can be seen as those mechanisms that also propagated urban sprawl. Rather than a singular. 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. critical reason is seen to have shifted to other groups (lawyers. Our changing notion of the public has thus allowed certain forms of urbanity to evolve. at times vague and unpredictable notion.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. They have seldom led to innovative work and have often contradicted contemporary notions of scale.11 This shift of rationalism and criticism has left the public sphere prone to stronger forces such as marketisation and privatisation.14 Many previous approaches to public space in sprawled conditions have attempted to impose traditional urban models rather than seek new types of spaces. enforcing pedestrian movement. and so on) who engage in it un-publicly. the public sphere has become an ‘arena for advertising’ channelled at pleasing various tastes and personal preferences. but on the other hand changes in the urban realm have contributed to creating new notions of public space. limiting social diversity. while mass consumers might have a public receptiveness but remain non-critical. The idea of a public sphere. academics.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.

It is not particular to any specific physical-spatial setting. presenting both research essays and design examples from different scales. The Netherlands Veneto. potentially leading to more innovative models and approaches of design and intervention. In parallel. 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. These critical observations are further explored by a series of much more speculative projects. while establishing a new balance of built and open space for ecological and infrastructural functions. It calls for an investigation of the public and/or collective dimensions of dispersed urban conditions. Reinterpreting Foucault.15 Yet a primary trait of heterotopia is its ‘mirror-function’. in ‘The Public and the V2’. but rather capable of taking on several forms/shapes/arrangements present in the existing environment. and the betterment of urban living. separating different communitybased neighbourhood islands. as a possible prototype for a new kind of public space. Grahame Shane and many others explain how the concept of heterotopia provides opportunities for hosting contemporary spaces of gathering or collectivity within the city. The notion of utopia also characterises the Beer Sheva (Israel) proposal by Rafi Segal. The essays. research and design projects that follow present an interpretation. Two framing essays open the issue. some of which emphasise a method for urban growth and renewal rather than offer one solution. which imagines the desert landscape as a site of shared. Cities of Dispersal is an attempt in this direction. Martha Rosler’s ‘utopian community’ challenges existing structures of interaction and advances the potential of the art project as space for social change. large-scale commercial complexes situated in lowdensity urban areas. agriculture. Identifying heterotopia as a type of public space does not therefore require a new urbanarchitectural setting. The dominance of bigness within urban sprawl is also examined by Kjersti Monson in a critical investigation of the Chinese superblock. Danish group MUTOPIA propose an interactive approach that utilises user-based computer software to aid in appropriating collective spaces. describes how certain literary ideas of public space can possibly inform urban thinking. Bruce Robbins. 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). meaning it does not carry a form or shape of itself. It mirrors an existing reality. 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. or projects under construction. 9 . one of the most rapid modes of urban expansion worldwide. The use of landscape. cultures and geographies. Italy without considering the need for a new urban/architectural expression. landscape becomes a strategy for urban peripheries. temporal programmes that function as urban voids. offering new ways of looking at the relationship between collective spaces and urban dispersal. The last section of the issue pulls together a series of built work.16 While these approaches have contributed considerably to the discourse on dispersal and the role of architects/urbanists within this type of environment. Albert Pope examines the morphological and structural processes that characterise the development of low-density urbanisms. understanding and/or critique of how new forms of collective space can be imagined. In other projects such as Jose Castillo’s El Caracol in Mexico City. Alex Wall outlines the emerging typology of lifestyle centres. the relationship between new publics and new urban spaces has yet to be explored. Both cases present the transformation of a ‘negative’ useless space to a positive attractor.Schiphol.

Whether in the form of super-size islands. a temporary floating bridge/gathering space. 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. suburbs and the diffused city. 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. The projects and explorations presented here point out the opportunities of what are commonly seen as negative characteristics of sprawl. Here there is room for broader discussions concerning the place of collective spaces in sociopolitical processes. sprawl has largely been initiated by the post-Second World War housing crisis. 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. 17 These questions provide a major challenge for architects and urbanists. These projects manage to overcome a restricted and problematic site. piecemeal implants or ad hoc and userbased events. claiming no responsibility for its outcome. utopian. voids become landscapes.Shanghai. where the conventional distinction between city. projects and built work raises questions on how to approach the ‘emptiness’ of the dispersed city. 4 Notes 1. they are spatialised not by streets and piazzas but by infrastructure and landscape. the Flemish Diamond. low density. ‘If we did not have a practical sense of what publics are.to small-size cities interspersed with former agricultural territories and rural villages. the question also arises whether the notion of public space may be replaced by spaces of collectivity. has been adopted to identify multiple regions in Europe such as the Dutch Randstad. 3. This collection of research essays. if we could not unself-consciously take them for granted as really existing and addressable 10 . The potential of public space as an island can be seen in the Nam Van Square project in Macau (Manuel CM Vicente. 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. 2. commercial complexes and suburban housing. Fragments become islands. building and landscape is questioned. France. Belgium From a more direct architectural point of view. Also in Europe. or by repeating conventional forms associated with past notions of the city. projects and buildings that appear in this issue of AD aspire to address the former rather than the latter. social. The selected essays. and the encouragement of consumption: a growing demand and supply of choice. Carlotta Bruni and Rui Leão) and in Vito Acconci’s Mur Island. transformed into a mixture of industrial parks. on different scales. In addition to the potential of the void. Originally introduced in reaction to Dutch government-controlled standardised housing. who have tended to ‘look down’ on dispersal. Similarly. the phenomenon of urban dispersal – the spreading out of existing metropolitan areas – is much greater in scope. a term invented during the 1990s to describe the spread-out urban fabric of Italy’s northern Veneto region. it came to describe the process of modernising the rural landscape as a means to prevent city growth. the democratisation of ‘the good life’. reproducing their own context and creating a sequence of inner voids/open spaces that are integral to the architecture. the term ‘wild living’ refers to the massive inhabitation of the dispersed European territory. These areas have grown from a network of medium. privacy and mobility. lack of context becomes an opportunity to create an artificial context. and consequently other regions in the world. how to use. the German Ruhr area and others. Even though much attention has recently been drawn to cities being built from scratch. and the non 24/7 lifespan of programmes opens up a redefinition of accidental places of gathering. appropriate and inhabit the space in between spread-out buildings. Both of these suggest. 4. rather than monofunctional structures intended only for movement from one place to the other. 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. and how to redefine this space as part of the public realm. large distances and building plots provoke super-size design approaches. conveniently avoiding it. China Bonheiden. In the American context. less dependent on designations of democracy and freedom. that infrastructure can generate multi-use spaces. whether in China or the Middle East. ‘Diffused city’.

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. definition. 10. Italy social entities. 2005. 2003 (www. This same setting is still used today to represent the public (as a political body). Arjen Mulder and Laura Martz. the more recent work of Bruce Robbins. suburbs. Bruno Latour. Karlsruhe. These forms of dispersed settlements have now begun to be transformed into a new type of urbanism. p 8(r) © Jose Castillo Ólea. p 103. The parliament’s architecture. p 7(r) © Dominique Macel. See Craig Calhoun (ed). as understood by Lieven De Cauter and Michiel Dehaene. Service du Communication de Saint Nazaire. TransUrbanism. in Malcolm Moor and Jon Rowland (eds). disputes involving natural resources. arquitectura 911sc. NAI Publishers (Rotterdam). 15. ‘Shaping public space is considered the first order of urbanism by the architect/urbanist. space and setting. 9. Publics and Counterpublics. p 8(l) © MUTOPIA ApS. It is a search for the materialisation of this emptiness. p 9(l) © Zvi Hecker.Beer Sheva. op cit. Even contemporary urban historians and theorists such as Marcel Smets and Manfred Kühn still raise the need to overcome this dichotomy. The fact is that new forms of settlements have been created. ‘Resisting the city’. from the garden cities to new towns. Routledge (New York and London). 2005. op cit. Willem-Jan Neutelings. 6. p 10(r) © Els Verbakel. 13. Urban Design Futures. A common belief is that we have not created any good cities since the 19th century. Many theorists and practitioners have studied the losses that have occurred during processes of dispersal. ‘Visual Publics.The layout of the parliament house. MIT Press (Cambridge. beyond the political. Yet publics exist only by virtue of their imagining. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. vacant of activities. photo Jonathan Cohen Litant. 17. Nancy Fraser. Rosalyn Deutsche and Michael Warner present a less definable singular public sphere but rather a fragmentary interplay of multiple publics and counter publics. p 10(l) © Kjersti Monson. and London). limits. 19th-century city boulevards and others.’ 11. wilderness or suburbia is no longer sustainable. Habermas and the Public Sphere. 16. ‘Introduction’ in Invisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture. specifying that of which it is vacant: vacant of buildings. edge cities. p 11(l) © Rafi Segal.html): ‘Our theoretical understanding of the public has changed since Jürgen Habermas introduced the high bourgeois public sphere (1962). The main argument presented by Margaret Kohn in Brave New Neighborhoods: The Privatization of Public Space. p 6(r) © Van Alen Institute. Images: p 6(l) © Paolo Viganò. See. Shane extensively discusses definitions of heterotopias and their potential use in city modelling and urban design. camps. leaving no middle ground. function and spaces of political activity/debate have changed drastically.rochester. p 7(l) © Macau Information Bureau. Richard Ingersoll’s Sprawltown: Looking for the City on its Edges. Routledge (London and New York). we could not conduct elections or indeed imagine ourselves as members of nations or movements. existing spaces are reinterpreted as ‘heterotopian’. One of the forefathers of urban design (town planning). and the ‘Shrinking Cities’ project – an ongoing exhibition and publications (2002–05) of the Federal Cultural Foundation. From this point of view. Renaissance piazzas. Patrick Geddes pointed out a hundred years ago that the antagonism between city and country. and London). See also Catherine Zuromskis. or re-created. there are many other kinds of assemblies that gather a public around things: church. Recombinant Urbanism: Conceptual Modeling in Architecture. thereby offering new descriptive models that stress the lack of coherence. 1988. Vlees en Beton Publishers (Ghent). under the direction of Philipp Oswalt (Berlin) in cooperation with the Leipzig Gallery of Contemporary Art. we could not produce most of the books or films or broadcasts or journals that make up so much of our culture. established an architectural expression to that period’s conception of political assembly. ZKM (Center for Art and Media). Mark Wigley. What is called empty should be understood in relative terms. In current urban design practices. or what Willem-Jan Neutelings calls the ‘density of the void’. p 9(r) © Claudia Faraone and Andrea Sarti. 1992. 2006. Graham Shane. etc). From Margaret Kohn. Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. Elie Derman of Derman Verbakel Architecture and Ward Verbakel Architect. Thus the primary role of urban design is to develop methods of doing so. since. even though the structure. Visible Publics’. in Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (eds). Princeton Architectural Press (New York). The concept of heterotopia. vacant of human presence. centre and periphery. the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and the magazine archplus. as it emerged during the Enlightenment (discussed by Bruno Latour in Making Things Public). ‘Territories of urban design’. leads to a reading of the environment as made up of binary poles. Zone Books (New York). Latour’s examination of past notions of the public as a political body suggests that in our world. De Ringcultuur. MIT Press (Cambridge. 2004. diffused cities and so on. for example. and so on. sprawled cities. Issue 6.’ Michael Warner. p 11(r) © Martha Rosler 11 . MA. Wiley-Academy (Chichester). MA. 7. Supported by recent discussions held during the conference ‘Visionary Power: Producing the Contemporary City’ at the 3rd International Rotterdam Biennale. supermarket. 2002. 14. 2005. p 8. 8. 12. either belonging to conditions of ‘hyperarchitecture’ (of the sanctuary) or in opposition ‘infraarchitecture’ (of slums. 5. Urban Design and City Theory.edu/in_visible_culture/Issue_6/issue6title. ‘From Realpolitik to Dingpolitick or How to make things Public’. pp 1–48. Israel Venice. p 22. 2006. for example.’ Alex Krieger. pp 14–44. In Chapter 4. made manifest a certain public-political activity. p 26. in Joke Brouwer. From Craig Calhoun.

12 . 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. Through his reading of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.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.

13 . the trail of another V2 on its way down. especially violence from a distance.3 A public that would include those who launch the V2s as well as those on whom they come down is hard to imagine. The public is usually described. thus seems its very antithesis. the greatest American novel of the past half-century. it will not qualify. And the interrelations of its multinational cast continue uninterrupted after the Second World War is over. it will devote many of its pages to those who develop and launch the rocket. also in London. warming? Bananas. Has urbanism been dispersed. In pursuit of this pattern. it is certainly a critique of the earlier notion of the public. As you begin to prepare your breakfast. seems reasonable enough. The explosions of the rockets and the ‘implosion of the urban core’ belong to the same story of what the novel will call ‘scattering’.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.Listing agents of what he calls ‘the implosion of the urban core’. rightly or wrongly. undisturbed by power differentials between the participants. and ends with ‘celebrated architects and the precise trajectory of the V2 rocket’. seeking the mysterious connection between the rockets and his sexuality. Under the V2s city and publicness have come apart. From one perspective. The V2 rocket is at the heart of Thomas Pynchon’s vision of the city in Gravity’s Rainbow. indeed. with the pre-implosion city. far off. And if you inspect those faraway places. and had responded by fleeing towards suburban privacy. its ‘secret entrances of rotted concrete’ and ‘trestles of blackened wood’. neglected infrastructure. the novel will send its protagonist abroad. which complacently or nostalgically assumed that the public was something that did its job and was ours to lose – in other words. like V2s.2 The first is a dream-like scene of Evacuation (the word is capitalised) that turns out to be. when the protagonist is ‘scattered’. thereby drawing together figures who did not seem capable of inhabiting one single story. the city at which the rockets are aimed cannot encompass so much. as a sphere in which there can be common conversation. He goes up to his roof garden to gather bananas for one of his famous Banana Breakfasts. The second is a morning scene. The miraculous bananas. 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. 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. It is as if ordinary citizens felt that the public decisions arrived at in the metropolis had failed them.) Isn’t it a good thing. roughly speaking. A pattern can be detected behind what would otherwise appear to be random dispersiveness – the dispersiveness of rocketry. one single conversation. the city in which you live is already the target of violence launched from overseas. transnational geography – what Pynchon names ‘the Zone’. and in the sky he sees. at least before global Defusing a Nazi bomb. the suddenly revealed urban space that the would-be evacuees must traverse.5 no longer visible ‘as any sort of integral creature’. the loss of centred public space. however. by emptying itself out. 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. London. marked with a pin on a London city map and dated. in the dream sequence. hence destroyed. 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. more properly democratic public? At the end of the novel. The phrase ‘dispersed urbanism’ has a no doubt calculated ambiguity. a dream. The tale begins with the sound of the V2 (‘A screaming comes across the sky’) and with two V2-related scenes. that the dreaming evacuee encounters the truth of London’s infrastructure. these two scenes also contain clues that Pynchon may be trying to tell a very different kind of story. It throws the dreamer into a sudden intimacy with the poor. For a vigilant reader. and of the city-destroying force we have come to call globalisation. sharing with them both their vulnerability and their experience of London’s grimy. then the city was already causally linked to faraway places before the rockets started falling. These are scenes of dispersal. If they are staples of the urban breakfast. this pairing of architects and V2s as agents of radical transformation. who has been dreaming. The Evacuation anticipates the rush to the suburbs after the Second World War during the precise years when Pynchon was writing. usually come from far away. in which a British officer wakes up after a wild party – it is he. of desire. and of both with the fate of the modern city.1 To a literary critic like myself. that before the era of rockets. If this is something less than a full blueprint of a transnational public sphere. And the city reacts. Indeed. Albert Pope begins with Allied bombers and aggressive freeway engineers. one might say. 1940. a story we are accustomed to think of as the loss of community. By definition. bananas and suburbs we were already firmly in possession of it. about matters important to their common welfare. Violence. corresponds in time as well as space with a map of the protagonist’s sexual encounters (hence the phallic rhyme between rocket and banana). for example: could they really grow in London. The novel will reveal that the site of each V2 explosion. This new story occupies a different. Gravity’s Rainbow might be described as an attempt to model the public – a radically and necessarily more comprehensive public – under stressful contemporary circumstances. apparently.

Or that which is done ‘in the service or on behalf of’ the community. The same ambiguity drives media research into how. And they are questions that are inherent in the very definition of the public. like the city. publicity) translates into what is public in a weightier sense like ‘sociability’ or ‘organised political will’. 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. as urbanism. Some of the term’s power lies in the confusions it makes possible between these different options. where access to infrastructure. the key question is perhaps whether the urban has been superseded by the digital.An aerial view of an area of London that suffered heavy bombing.7 Or must successful political action eventually move out of the digital and back into physical space. By switching. when and whether what is public in the minimal sense of ‘visibility’ (celebrity. Or we might say it is ‘already visible to’ and ‘viewed by’ the community. On the other hand. The word public has been most frequently used about collectivities. This switch encourages a tendency to inflate the degree and significance of agency available in the act of cultural consumption – the suggestion. what exactly do we mean by ‘pertain’? Some very diverse things. c 1940. however paradoxically. This fits its association with zones of actual conversation and self-consciously shared destiny. commuting time and the cost of fossil fuels matter? This is related to the ever more interesting issue of the public’s ‘scale’. We might say something public is ‘potentially accessible’ to the community. and 2) the public as what is merely observed by and relevant to the community – that is. decided upon. the concept of the public as a zone of causal 14 . For urban planners. leaving behind something that is not urban? Or is there a version of urbanism that persists. and managed by the community. that shopping and striking are comparable practices. 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. Or we might say it is that which ‘belongs to’ and/or ‘is controlled by’ the community. as we sometimes say. aestheticised context of spectatorship. Or we might say it is that which ‘affects’ or is ‘of significance to’ the community. in the words of Manuel Castells. but each also leads to a different moral appeal and a different mode of action. If the public is what pertains to the social whole. Each option overlaps to some degree with the others. up to but not exceeding the scale of the nation. whether ‘public space’ has come to be defined as ‘the space of communication’. Or that which is ‘authorised by’ the community. say. an urbanism that somehow takes a dispersed form? These are questions that Pynchon also addresses. which have historically been limited. participatory aspects of politics are present within the more passive. for example. between 1) the public as what is owned.

and the Public Sphere. always needing to be reimagined creatively. Constellations: Constructing Urban Design Practices. but the more expansive physical. but only if there is some way of alluding architecturally to the city not just as victim. and necessarily so. Thomas Pynchon. Among other things. social and temporal arenas impacted by their actions. They trace the logic by which this conceptual suppression of force leads Jürgen Habermas. UK. ‘is the opposition between reason and force’ (p 6). Thanks to Noah Brick for the reference. 5. Ladders. 2005. England. p 740. 3. 2007. 4 Notes 1. than as a sort of miracle. 1996. through some form of coupon democracy or world parliament. p 102. 7. Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. England 15 . Pynchon. 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. Ibid. MIT Press (Cambridge. whether or not the group is in conversation with itself or with the begetters of the actions – is much vaster. London. Nigel Thrift. and thus to support ‘defending them with force’ (p 7). power and counter-power in the network society’. connectedness – those actions relevant to. 9. 10. Manuel Castells. 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. 8. already functional and always in danger of being lost. MA) and ZKM (Center for Art and Media).’ Hill and Montag write. Gravity’s Rainbow. including the rockets it sends out. 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. Thus the restrictively national scale of the public (in the sense of conversation and control) is seen to be stretching. or significant for. wherever they live. In the era of the world market. ‘Absolutely central to the notion of the public sphere in all its versions. The novel has had to stretch to find a way to make these distant relations of force part of its form. Most novels don’t manage to be public in the strongest sense. op cit. 2. p 738. the public sphere? PostCold War reflections’. 2007. September 1940. 4. London. this is a question. p 811. Masses. c 1941. International Journal of Communication 1. but also as source of violence. It seems to me that the city’s vulnerability to rockets must be added. in Andrea Kahn. for example. including ‘the massive prolonged war against Iraq’ (p 7) – at that time still merely a reference to the violence of sanctions. and/or to need stretching. Columbia University Urban Design Program (New York). Penguin (New York). in Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (eds). 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. p 3. Classes. ‘What was. Enlarging the scale of international attention. It’s always a stretch. Perhaps we should all be able to vote Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. What criteria would have to be satisfied? The city’s degree of openness to strangers is something planners are already thinking about. the welfare of a given group. 6. this zone has become increasingly international. so to speak. conversation and opinion so as to match the scale of international causal connectedness – that is.’10 As a literary critic. Rice University School of Architecture (Houston). Andrea Kahn. of ‘the spatial grammar of the politics of who votes where’. Helen Baker and Doreen Massey.London’s Smithfield Market damaged by enemy action.’9 Or. Phu Duong and Els Verbakel (eds). op cit. Pynchon. a form that is much more comfortable following the fate of a handful of private individuals. Charlie Cannon. Karlsruhe. Albert Pope. 1973. pp 238–66. p 15 © CORBIS ca. ‘The project of urban design’. always in need of enlargement. are included in those invited to debate it. ‘Centers don’t have to be points: Political influence of US Republican Party overseas’. ‘Communication. what is. Images: pp 12 & 13 © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS ca. 1941. Ash Amin. to identify the enemies of the public sphere as those who use force. Mike Hill and Warren Montag. to quote an article in Latour and Weibel’s Making Things Public. not to speak of official and unofficial violence across borders. to put this differently: ‘The notion of an unbound site prompts designers to consider not simply the territory under their direct control. 2000. mainly outside the NATO countries. as well as the everyday violence of imported fruit.8 ‘Where you vote counts unequally in its effects. op cit. Verso (London). Pynchon.

it was imagined that an entirely new mode of subjectivity would emerge. the universal subject was seen as an agent for the emergence of a brutal and oppressive mode of urbanisation. the royal square and the village green all created the constituencies they contained. This led to the notion that the urban subject could be both anticipated and designed for. His conception of an individuated subject. the working class or mass society. but that it projected subjectivity devoid of recognisable features. the constituent of the modern city did not yet exist. In other words. to begin the list – they are rarely associated with contemporary urban form. Subjectivity It has long been argued that society constructs individuals. 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. individuated subject on the discourse of architecture and urbanism should have been significant. even today. Foucault redefined subjectivity around two key innovations: that the subject was both historically grounded and socially individuated.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. When the study of the subject is extended to the study of cities. If architects and theoreticians conceive of the subject at all. we can apply the analysis of subjectivity to modern urbanism. became a polemic. the Radiant City was imagined to create a unique subject. they usually conceive of it in collectivist terms. It will be the contention here that individuated subjectivity is more 16 .2 The implication of a historical. it becomes clear that the unique environment of cities constructs unique individuals.Terminal Distribution Could the late 20th-century rejection of Modernist planning. what is the role of urban form in their construction? Ever since Foucault’s cogent argument. we construct the world and the world constructs us. exist but as a figment of a utopian imagination. This devotion to the collective subject is nearly second nature. This subject – the ‘universal’ subject of Modern architecture and urbanism – was a subject like no other. It is generally understood that urban spaces such as the agora. 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. 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. but the question of ‘who’ nonetheless remains. exactly. These constituencies and others continue to exist in enduring urban form to this day. Moving forward. but it would be the ultimate result of its construction. In the language of the human sciences. In the 1920s. and it has all but eliminated any obvious alternatives. Out of this reorganisation. Over the past 30 years. 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. This naivety regarding an urban subject was largely overcome through the writing of French historian Michel Foucault. and the early 1970s critique of it was definitive. economic and political change of such magnitude as to require the reorganisation of the city at an existential level. the advocates of Modern urbanism saw technical. condemning not only the universal subject. This anticipation of a truly universal subject was hardly defensible. It can be argued that the problem of Radiant City urbanism was not that it projected subjectivity. With 50 years’ hindsight. this individual is referred to as the social ‘subject’. but the notion of projecting subjectivity altogether. Such a subject did not. specifically the Radiant City urbanism that emerged in the 1920s and was codified in the 1930s and exported worldwide following the Second World War. however. This begs the question of whether Foucault’s analysis of an individuated subject might point the way to an alternative subject position. was far more problematic. the prospect of a modern universal subject has been substantially diminished. Simply stated. on the other hand. The Postmodern critique. The study of ‘subjectivity’ attempts to understand how society constructs individuals by analysing the individual itself. Like all cities before it. for it answered much of the critique that modern urbanism was undergoing at virtually the same time. In the mid-1970s. 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. the parvis. Who. It is clear that Foucault’s conception of a historically grounded subject could help answer the contemporary question of ‘who?’. and could not. and along with it the notion of a ‘universal subject’. And while more recent examples of collective subjectivity exist – ‘the people’.

It operates. or walked out of like a film or a building.relevant to contemporary urban form – specifically infrastructural form – than its collective counterpart. or whether formal transformation brought about profound social change. a fundamental relation between infrastructural form and the construction of urban subjectivities. It determines. its ‘subliminal ubiquity’. infrastructure leaves us largely unaware of the mechanisms of social organisation that surround and define it. While largely a matter of civil engineering. 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. Because infrastructure is everywhere. it is especially illuminating with regard to the relation between infrastructural form and social organisation. of a large group of people upon a stadium or the retreat of a far-flung commuter. a district in Chicago. pedestrian walks. electrical and communications grids. at first. we are situated at the nexus of a social and formal negotiation. even where you are right now. And while he rarely speculated on an urban scale. Foucault found them encoded in various institutions such as prisons. 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 . It determines whether you walk fast or slow. in other words. In either case. As opposed to a work of architecture. This diagram shows. shut off like a computer or radio. Infrastructure Subjectivities are found encoded at all levels of the built environment. or go to church. The circles can also recognise fluid political constituencies such as the old ward system or today’s narrowly focused special interest groups. Infrastructure is a more potent means of encoding social organisation precisely because it operates subliminally. By street infrastructure I mean the layout of water and sewage lines. This difficulty in understanding. it is nevertheless true that powerful subjectivities are encoded. A major shift from open. all of these subjectivities are negotiated and renegotiated unhindered by an open and continuous urban matrix. Infrastructure provides the baseline to the elaborate choreography of social organisation. and because we take it for granted we fail to acknowledge its importance in the constitution of the lived world. You can see it when you sit at your desk. the significance of street infrastructure goes far beyond its technical specification. the gridiron form supported multiple subjectivities. The circles can indicate ethnic enclaves such as a Chinatown or a Little Italy. and so profound. With the gridiron. left or right. 24 hours a day. The substitution of the universal subject for a historical. This is unfortunate because urban infrastructure has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past halfcentury. especially in the case of the early 20th-century metropolis. This radical shift in form begs the question of whether social imperatives gave rise to form. along with unpaved or paved roadbeds. or go to school. I am referring to the subjectivities constructed by street infrastructure. I would like to argue here that street infrastructure – both historical and contemporary – embeds social organisation at the deepest levels of urban existence. 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. You feel it when you go to work. It allows us the very necessary fiction of unfettered agency that most modern societies require. we take it for granted. how collective subjectivities are supported by the gridiron infrastructure. It is. for example. 365 days a year. The large circles suggest social groupings of various sorts and sizes. whether it be the convergence. but also at the base level of urban organisation. whether you walk at all. It is important to note that in the gridiron city. Infrastructure is literally everywhere. schools). cul-de-sac cities has irreversibly changed the course of urbanisation. look out of your window and when you watch television. or be a direct reflection of class such as the colloquial expression ‘uptown’. There is. gridiron cities to closed. such as Midtown Manhattan or the Mid-Wiltshire district of Los Angeles. demonstrates what is perhaps infrastructure’s greatest strength. They can also indicate areas of development distinguished by density. factories. however. actually. or there is only a simple two-level hierarchy of STREET/DESTINATION. both individual and collective. there is no hierarchy. schools and factories. the gridiron street structured a century and a half of American and European urbanism. In this regard. in basic geometry. Through its many variations. its negotiation of the social is extremely clear. What is unique about the gridiron infrastructure is that the social groupings can be moved and sized independent of the forms that support them. Diagram 1 The first pattern is that of the urban gridiron. up or down. drainage capacity. as in the mass society. without effort. or the Flatiron district in Manhattan. Urban infrastructure is there every time you walk out of the door.3 Because this change is so recent. or indicate a district identified with a distinctive urban feature such as Marquette Park. not only at the level of individual building. 7 days a week. asylums. Up until the 1950s. 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. It exists all around us. Infrastructure cannot be put down like a newspaper or a book.

Diagram 2 The second. specifically in the open and infinitely extensible gridiron street. as follows: FREEWAY/FEEDER/BOULEVARD/SPINE/STREET/DESTINATION. 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 advent of the freeway and feeder road bring a fifth and sixth level of hierarchy into play. These transformations will be referred to as a process of ‘individuation’. It is not a coincidence that the gridiron underlies the most celebrated form of 20th-century urbanism – the metropolis. For the first time. but the dynamic between them is utterly changed. 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’. The elimination of the cross-axial field brings additional levels of hierarchy to street infrastructure. The line patterns on the left-hand side represent the planimetric base form of the infrastructure. demographic or territorial dimension represents not only a change in size. This significant increase in economic. The three stages – gridiron. 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. Lafayette Park in Detroit stands out as the primary example among many similar unrealised schemes. 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. a completely individuated subjectivity comes into view. Cul-desac organisation is also characteristic of the majority of contemporary North American subdivisions as well as European and Asian New Towns. The principal example of cul-de-sac organisation comes from the large planning projects of Mies van der Rohe and Ludwig Hilberseimer. or dead-end street. The diagrams are arranged in a split-screen format that directly juxtaposes the formal and the social. They are also characteristic of the immediate postwar subdivision in North America.4 The systematic disassembly of a mass society by the consumer economy is nowhere more evident than in the recent transformations of infrastructural form. the superblock shows a third level of hierarchy non-existent in the gridiron. but unlike the gridiron infrastructure. The superblock encodes another level of hierarchy within the urban infrastructure. a mass society was as open and infinitely extensible as the street infrastructure that supported it. This change in kind dramatically affects the subjectivities of the gridiron. the same groups can be formed. 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. Itineraries It is apparent from the first three diagrams that the relation between the social and the formal is far more than utilitarian. The ability for the gridiron to encompass the whole is what allows it to support the metropolis’ most characteristic subjectivity: an industrialised mass society. What succeeded the gridiron was the superblock. intermediate pattern is that of the superblock. With the addition of the access road. Such figures often depict the quantities of a statistical sampling representing 1X. With the introduction of urban motorways into areas of new urban construction. This is the case here. undifferentiated. Superblocks are the organisational unit of such well-known projects as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City and Llewelyn-Davies’ Milton Keynes. subdivision and classification come into their own. In other words. 100X and so on. The circles still indicate a number of collective subjectivities such as formed by political or ethnic identities. 10X. The subjectivities of the superblock correspond precisely to the infrastructural form so that a ‘lock’ between programmme and structure is created. various subgroupings to be taken as a single. Gridiron construction effectively came to an end in the period following the Second World War. In other words. But it is also the case that the figures suggest a specific place. 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. 18 . A superblock is an increase in the unit of urban aggregation beyond the characteristic of a conventional city block. Besides being locked into the infrastructure. and they can still indicate a district identified with a distinctive urban or natural feature. especially in a time of dramatic urban change. the broad range of social grouping allowed by the flexible infrastructure of the previous diagrams is diminished. This three-level hierarchy can be expressed as BOULEVARD/STREET/DESTINATION. superblock and cul-de-sac – reveal a change in the interaction between infrastructural form and social organisation. the groupings cannot be moved or resized independent of the superblock infrastructure that creates them. but also a change in kind. The correlation between social organisation and infrastructure is apparent in Diagrams 1–3). This subjectivity was encoded directly in the urban infrastructure. Through these levels of hierarchy. The exact same circles representing social groupings can be drawn as they were in the previous diagram. The diagrams on the right-hand side represent the familiar icons of statistical analysis. non-hierarchical mass.

These circles represent individual destinations rather than the large circles in the preceding diagrams that represented social groups. The left-hand diagram shows that in gridiron urbanism there exists a near-infinite number of paths that connect any of the six destinations. it is not the only effect of infrastructure. With regard to gridiron urbanism there exists a near-infinite number of paths that connect any of the six destinations. the impact of urban form Diagram 4 This pair of diagrams traces the paths of individual movement on top of the infrastructure diagrams. spokes and nodes of termination. more accurately depicts the contrast between the open. eliminating the direct (deterministic) correspondence and potentially tying the two together. 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. What this means is that the analysis of form alone does not yield the decisive characteristics of urban organisation. the same six destinations are drawn on top of the cul-de-sac infrastructure. Open urban systems are made up of networks characterised by circuits. the itinerary is interesting because it lies between the social entities and the formal infrastructure. then the daily routines that connect them are almost infinitely variable. It is possible to push this analysis into the existential realities that are the result of the ubiquitous nature of urban infrastructure. As a diagramming technique. market. As opposed to the infinite number of routes or circuits created between the six locations on the grid. yet there is something banal (read behavioural) in the equation of social organisation to a circle. the points on the closed system allow only a single connection between any two points. These observations in themselves may be sufficient to theorise a relation between social life and urban form. Planimetric circles limit us to mapping the social as a group. In this diagram. Nodes of termination forge a highly individuated subject position encoded at the ubiquitous level of urban infrastructure. often returning to a primary axis of organisation before descending again to one of the specific locations. including the ability to isolate and control them as well as the ability to understand them as a whole. market. In other words. the same six destinations are drawn on top of the cul-de-sac infrastructure. Unlike the infinite number of itineraries between all possible points on the grid. This diagram of gridiron itineraries is meant to contrast with the itineraries generated by the cul-de-sac. Any connecting path must move several levels back up the hierarchy. This drastic reduction of choice from near infinity to one. These small circles represent individual destinations rather than the large circles that represented social groups. and nodes of termination that characterise closed urban systems. Any connecting path must move several levels back up the hierarchy. the points on the closed system allow only a single connection between any two points. Unlike the infinite number of itineraries between all possible points on the grid. This drastic reduction of choice from near infinity to one is not revealed by the direct juxtaposition of the circle and the grid. The patterns generated by these paths are often at variance with the forms that support them.the historically specific subjectivities that rose and fell throughout the 20th century. Putting judgement aside. often returning to a primary axis (such as an urban freeway) of organisation before descending again to one of the specific locations. 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. It is important to remember that the organisational logic of any given urban system is not identical to the logic of form. or ‘itineraries’. Closed urban systems. If each destination represents home. The increasing isolation of the cul-de-sac destination due to the systematic elimination of connecting paths is clearly revealed by the itinerary. The difference between the nodes of continuation that characterise open urban systems. on the other hand. the cul-de-sac drastically reduces the connections between the six centres. are made up of networks characterised by hubs. and focusing on the analysis at hand. temporarily. gridiron and closed cul-de-sac organisation. school. office. the cul-de-sac drastically reduces the connections between the six destinations. loops and nodes of continuation. 19 . Individuation While the integration or separation of social entities is important to the working of a city. This is made clear in the next pair of diagrams that trace habitual paths of movement. As opposed to the infinite number of routes or circuits created between the six locations on the grid. office. school. cannot be overstated. six locations are marked by the small circles. We can proceed with a mapping of itineraries by locating six destinations marked by the small circles on the diagram (see Diagram 4). If each destination represents home. they privilege collective subjectivities as opposed to individuated subjectivities that are more characteristic of contemporary cities. Once again it is clear that the relation of social organisation to urban infrastructure far surpasses functional considerations. Furthermore. On the right-hand side. To this end. Itineraries are sketched on top of the infrastructure diagrams and are often at variance with the forms that support them. 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. What is important to remember is that these network nodes form utterly opposed subject positions. then the daily routines that connect them are almost infinitely variable. Here the drastic elimination of choice is so severe that it is in danger of cutting the analysis short.

on the other hand. the pattern of movement through urban space traces the figure of a discrete SPIRAL through a succession of the overlaid structural hierarchies described above. finally and without equivocation. The organisational logic of a cul-de-sac produces. This spiralling inwards constitutes the existential reality of terminal nodes. While such an answer is certainly not definitive. This is best revealed in another itinerary diagram. In order to extend the analysis. the grid offers only a series of arbitrary stopping points often described as coordinates in space: for example. is the need to update the Modernist conception of the ‘universal subject’. is the subject of architectural and urban design? For whom do we presume to speak? A first. on the last cul-de-sac. This path might begin on a primary urban freeway and from there turn inwards towards a singularly defined place. The organisational logic of a cul-de-sac produces. but at the end of a particular path. on the contrary. This is to say. At this juncture it is possible to provide a tentative answer to the question of ‘who’. As mentioned. at the very origin of the spiral. it does provide a less-than-arbitrary starting point for continued analysis. will never terminate because the gridiron is infinite in all directions. In the cul-de-sac city. Everyone now lives not on an anonymous grid coordinate. will never terminate because the gridiron is infinite in all directions. This in-turning spiralling path – from freeway to feeder to collector to development spine to driveway – forms the trajectory of a closed urban system. I would argue that the gridiron did ultimately sustain a collective subject even if that subject was defined as an undifferentiated mass society. Whatever characteristics of gridiron urbanism we may Diagram 5 This diagram maps the logic of the terminal node in cul-de-sac urbanism. This path might begin on a primary urban freeway and from there turn inwards towards a singularly defined place. culde-sac cities are made up of networks characterised by nodes of termination. This is not. it is important to understand how discrete locations are established in the extended urban field of the cul-de-sac city. that urban form is historically unique as are the subjects it produces. a distribution of terminals or terminal distribution. As opposed to the cul-de-sac’s termination of movement. This in-turning spiralling path — from freeway to feeder to collector to development spine to driveway — forms the trajectory of a closed urban system. however. The path to a specific place in the cul-de-sac city will always terminate in an exclusive destination or endpoint. 239 East 339th Street. Viewed from this perspective. 239 East 339th Street. The ability of the cul-de-sac city to establish fixed endpoints has significant implications for urban subjectivity. we are not able to ignore the fact that gridiron urbanism cannot support the individuated subjectivities that are prevalent today. The organisational logic of a grid produces points that are connected by an infinite number of circuits or loops. This spiralling inwards constitutes the mechanism of individuation that creates the existential reality that lies behind the nodes of termination. the path configures a series of discrete segments each more exclusive than the last. so much a change in urban form as it is a change in urban subjectivity. at the very origin of the spiral. on the last cul-de-sac. 20 . As opposed to the cul-de-sac’s termination of movement. 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. in a city whose overall form is unknowable. In the cul-de-sac city. each of our delicate egos seated at the base of a terminal destination. in a city whose overall form is unknowable. bringing to modern urbanism a workable alternative. on the contrary. 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 path to a specific place in the cul-de-sac city will always terminate in an exclusive destination or endpoint (see Diagram 5). Turning inwards on itself. there can be no greater contrast between the collective subjects the gridiron street produces and the individuated subjects the culde-sac produces. on the last driveway. on the last driveway. Who. nor does it suggest that individuation is an inevitable or even a desirable outcome. 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. More important. perhaps. In the cul-de-sac city. or even prefer. The path on the open grid. admire. Everyone now lives not on an anonymous grid coordinate. The path on the open grid. The cul-desac city privileges individuated subjects at the expense of any massification or incorporation. In the cul-de-sac city we are right where we have always wanted to be. the grid offers only a series of arbitrary stopping points often described as coordinates in space: for example. Turning inwards on itself. In the cul-de-sac city we are right where we have always wanted to be. this mode of subjectivity is no longer possible. 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.extends beyond the issue of interconnected parts to the construction of subjectivity at an existential level. The organisational logic of a grid produces points that are connected by an infinite number of circuits or loops. but at the end of a particular path. exactly. on the other hand. This is its historical uniqueness as it is the historical uniqueness of the city in our time. each of our delicate egos seated at the base of a terminal destination.

but a rupture of that typology that brings entirely new qualities into the urban environment. larger. Anti-Oedipus. 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. On the critique of the universal subject. It is instead seen to be constructed by the multiplication and displacement of itself. In this regard. to indicate the voluntary and docile submission to those structures of domination as the promised land of universal planning. non-hierarchised individual is offered by Foucault. Street infrastructure is one of the oldest and best demonstrations of the autonomous evolution of urban form. 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. It offers two opposing types of ‘individuals’. 4. It then follows that the gridiron infrastructure was characterised by a distinctive feature of mass society: the ability to grow without boundary. and this multiplicity produces a kind of unranked individual that is not subject to the type of disciplinary technologies that Foucault’s work reveals. He wrote: ‘Do not demand of politics that it restore the “rights” of the individual. I have argued elsewhere that the cul-de-sac is not a further evolution of the ancient grid typology. Before Foucault. 1983. 1976. 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’. or ranked. Against this hierarchised. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. and put into its place a subject that was historically defined. 2. positive and negative. preface to Deleuze and Guattari.5 Seldom do we question the fundamental value of the individual. It is as if our liberal heritage safeguarded the existence of our humanity in a world defined by the encroachment of mass society. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.and smaller-scaled spacings. no gridiron street infrastructures have been produced in the American city. 4 Notes 1. 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. By all accounts. 6.’ Manfredo Tafuri. He wrote that: ‘The problem was to plan the disappearance of the subject. 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. MIT Press (Cambridge. 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. The individual is therefore not seen as something that is ‘restored’ with reference to a series of ‘essential’ (philosophically defined) rights. again. it may be the case that individuality or ‘difference’ constitutes as much a threat to our humanity as it does to its safeguard. MA). While the link between neo-liberalism and individuated subjectivity seems reasonably clear. diverse combinations. 3. Collective subjectivity (political identity) was constructed by the open street. individual. but to eliminate it. The individual is the product of power. Architecture and Utopia. Instead of writing the history of kings and generals. This situation raises the stakes on the question of ‘who’ our discourses presume. he studied the factory worker. collective subjectivity was not established by the urban plaza or square. What is needed is to “deindividualize” by means of multiplication and displacement. political theorists have invented a placeholder for the emerging global subject called ‘multitude’. This process is accomplished ‘by means of multiplication and displacement’ and by replacing the organic unity of assimilated individuals with ‘diverse combinations’. 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. for the mass would always exceed its fixed boundaries. Following Foucault. The six-level hierarchy – FREEWAY/FEEDER/BOULEVARD/SPINE/STREET/DESTINATION – revealed in Diagram 3 allows us to readily identify this type of individual. Images © Albert Pope 21 . as philosophy has defined them. The second way in which Foucault reinterpreted the social was to shift the emphasis from an incorporated or collective subject to an individual one. a position that is still promoted (however unwittingly) today. orthogonal and curvilinear geometries. however. the social was defined in ‘essentialist’ terms. It has evolved since that time through numerous variations in pattern including regular and irregular syncopation. In other words. these subjectivities were socially constructed by specific disciplinary regimes that constituted and regulated society (by targeting individuals) on a one-by-one basis. Traditionally. a second type of unranked. In architecture. merely a technical or functional matter.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. The group must not be the organic bond uniting hierarchized individuals. cul-de-sac organisation has dominated urban development. The implication is that power produces a ‘hierarchised’ individual that is ‘organically’ bonded into the unity of a larger group. Foucault made the following remark about the construction of an individuated subjectivity. Instead.’ (author’s italics). to cancel the anguish caused by the pathetic (or ridiculous) resistance of the individual to the structures of domination that close in upon him. closed. but an individuation that is accomplished by a multiplication of individuality – a hyper-individuation. 5. And while the typology is ruptured. p 73. This quotation does a lot in four sentences. In the 19th century. p xiv. this essentialist subject was most often referred to as a modern. The individuation of urban infrastructure follows the decline of the welfare state and global embrace of neo-liberal economic policies. the group becomes not a hierarchical encoding of individuals. what is less clear is the specific constitution of a global subjectivity that may ultimately emerge from this condition. but as a multiplicity. Recently. the schoolchild. 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. Like these historians. The first pursued an understanding of subjectivity as a historical phenomenon. It has been suggested that the liberal conception of the individual is as dated as the conception of mass society itself and that. it is not the case that the infrastructure has become. The first type is one that Foucault claims to be the product of power. but a ‘constant generator’ of multiplicity. Foucault. The grid form typical of street infrastructure has existed since antiquity. Foucault’s reinvention of the subject can be broken down into two distinct features – historicising the subject and individuating it. University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis). but a constant generator of de-individualization. or the prisoner and the so-called ‘disciplinary regimes’ that made them exactly what they were. today. Foucault focused on an individual subject. creating a decisive transformation in what we understand to be street infrastructure. ‘universal’ subject. By autonomous form is meant form that follows prior form in succession over time. lunatic. Foucault undermined all such essential positions through a detailed study of the historic record. ultimately creating a stable typology. Since the late 1940s. and there are many. the multitude is highly individuated.In a short text dating from 1972. but the logic of the grid form has endured.

yet the expressions ‘urban’ and ‘urbanism’ seem inappropriate. Its spaces are a function of mobility and access. the low-density city has been the predominant urban form in North America and western Europe. 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. and what kind of urbanity do they represent? Can retail. and it seems to represent a lifestyle devoted to consumption. then moves to middle Europe where two current projects in Switzerland are using a synthesis of ‘branded urban district’ and intensively 22 . Sometimes it replicates or reinterprets aspects of the traditional city. For traditional urbanists. but rather because it has not yet found its own urban design practice. Alex Wall questions this preconception. The regional shopping centre epitomises all of these questions. In its latest manifestation as a ‘lifestyle shopping centre’. in combination with other functions. This is not because it is not urban. safe and clean outdoor pedestrian spaces that attracted many thousands of people. 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. otherwise it develops new forms of cityscape and landscape to suit the needs and desires of its builders. thus creating the basis for comfortable. it is a milieu served primarily by the private automobile. The low-density city is best understood as a process of urbanisation. There are three additional irritants: the lowdensity city does not seem to have a proper centre. the diffuse nature of the low-density city is a threat to the specificity of the historic urban cores. developers and inhabitants. yet it was the first postwar building type to effectively manage the flows of cars and trucks. It starts by looking back at the nascent American suburbs where the regional shopping centre first made its claims for centrality. shopping centres have come to represent many of the negative aspects of low-density areas.Public Lifestyle in the Low-Density City Much maligned. 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.

the developer and his architects. View from the highway showing the fractal public spaces piercing the shopping centre envelope. merchant builders. Switzerland. it assesses the potential of a specific phenomenon in the Southeast Asian city of Jakarta: shopping centre clusters as initiators of public space. In the European and Southeast Asian examples illustrated below. the renewal of the downtowns. the nation’s first indoor mall. they are built near upper-middle-class residential areas and 23 . Developers came to do what public authorities could or would not do. CityWalk posed questions for urbanists: for example. Masterplan. a street grid with sidewalks allowing some drive-up access. Gruen argued that the attractor was the public spaces with their sculpture. as agents of reurbanisation and as the starting point for the long and difficult negotiation towards a sustainable megacity. CityWalk is both private and artificial. Jerde’s project showed that the retail component could be scaled back and replaced by entertainment functions and narrative urban space. while being popular and urban.2 In his early centres. in Los Angeles’ Universal City. historic structures and tourism. originally a product of the regional marketing strategies of downtown department stores. there are indications that a new model of participation between private. New Urban Images The shopping centre. Rouse’s particular innovation was to link retail. Westside. a strategy that led to his trademark Festival Marketplaces. Who Builds the City? The phenomenon of low-density urbanism raises the question of who builds the city. the build out of the suburbs required the formation of a formidable cartel of bankers. the newly formed real-estate industry came to dominate questions of where. often beyond statutory boundaries. choreographed urban public space as a mechanism for restructuring the city region. thus the private not the public hand would build the city. and a place to both see and to be seen. how and what to build. for example Northland (1954) outside Detroit. 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. but its significance was in the extent to which the public space became a stage for events. was one of the agents that transformed the area outside American cities into a low-density urban cityscape-landscape. CityWalk (1993). has returned to the suburbs. and can it bring to market an equitable balance of housing? Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG. what is urban and what is city? Overturning private/public and real/artificial. This bewildering designation describes what is basically an upmarket shopping village with multiple buildings. wellfurnished outdoor spaces and a broad variety of consumption activities. Often described as ‘town centres’. Yet the balance between Commerce as the Generator of New Urban Space. It is an optimistic thesis yet a necessary question: Can private development take responsibility for the public realm. due for completion 2008 Superposition of regional centre and highway space. Lifestyle Centres: ‘Mix’ The shopping centre. In post-Second World War North America. having conquered the city. landscaping and modest community rooms. Berne. Even more explicitly than Rouse’s Festival Marketplaces. Southdale (1956). This evolution was picked up by the developer James Rouse and architect and planner Jon Jerde. recast as a ‘lifestyle centre’. and the spatial and programmatic order of the new metropolitan regions can be traced in the built work of Victor Gruen. was planned to function as the centrepiece of a planned community. public and community actors is emerging. was Jerde’s breakthrough project and amounted to a new development type – the urban entertainment centre. Its impact on the development of the suburbs. Finally. shopping centre developers and the ‘road lobby’. 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.public and private initiative and responsibility may be changing again.1 As cities spread out.

Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG. At Westside the larger urban organism is what is important.700 people to be built over the next 10 years. Holzer Kobler Architekturen of Zurich. The different spaces of the mall. Masterplan. the developer. Ebisquare include offices and some accommodation. Regional bus lines stop at the two plazas in light blue. focuses not on the building but on the performance of the internal public space. property owner and investor. or branded urban districts. will be animated by a public space that is intended to be in permanent transition. Westside. while at Ebisquare the selling point will be the ‘wild’ interior space. Berne. undertaken within a framework of public-private partnership. The core of the project is the shopping centre and a series of public spaces designed by Daniel Libeskind. In the low-density city. with a programme similar to Westside.8 If Westside reflects the complex participatory synergies that must be in play in order to equip the low-density city. and the surrounding communities have been involved in negotiations from the start of the project. and 800 apartments for some 2. They use architecture and urban space to create an ambience for a brand. including the surrounding communities. Switzerland. 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. Berne A project near the Swiss capital of Berne.3 In Europe. 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. the goal is to develop a robust long-term relationship with their client communities. their theme is a ‘relaxed’ urbanity. The shopping centre is flanked by a cineplex. On the land bridge over the A1 are the lifestyle shopping centre complex to the left. The complex interweaving of social and economic goals requires the cooperation of many stakeholders besides developer. The goal was to build consensus and support for the project on the part of all stakeholders. As the project is currently out to bid. and a regional railway station will link Westside to the Swiss rail network. due for completion 2008 The masterplan in 2006. juxtapose virtual landscapes and interactive functions with the adjoining consumption spaces. But what is certain is that the architects seek to offer space that is informed and restless besides being architecturally or urbanistically distinctive. Where Westside is dependent on the architecture.5 a lifestyle shopping centre complex sponsored by the Swiss department store group Migros. who has the right to use them and who is excluded? Social space in the low-density city is an endless variation of semipublic. more distinctive hybrids of the lifestyle centre are ‘Brandhubs’. and by extension all of the other participating retailers. The Westside complex should not merely physically link the fragmented western suburbs. For the Migros brand. yet in the case of Westside. The initial gesture is a major civil engineering work. Every large-scale multifunctional urban development has an impact on its city and region.7 Ebisquare. hotel and conference centre. with the architecture as the selling point. who owns them. revisits in European terms the postwar restructuring of the American city-region by the regional marketing strategies of the great downtown department stores. bridging over the A1 to provide a landlink for the existing and planned communities. They are defined by Kerstin Hoeger as developments at an urban scale. pool complex with a spa and fitness centre. mobile and virtual. and a garden centre. we will focus briefly on the intentions of the designers. From the beginning. Ebisquare. the credibility of these places as centres depends on the programmatic mix and the nature of the public spaces. while the suburbs to the west have above average numbers of unemployed and foreign born. Westside. and strategically implemented at a planning and government level to foster urban development. complex accessible to one million people within half an hour. 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. Ebikon. set to open in 2011 in Ebikon near Lucerne. conceived as a Möbius strip. The housing will consist of 80 flats for the elderly.4 Westside. the city and canton of Berne. At this point we cannot judge to what extent the public space at Ebisquare will be an instrument or merely spectacle. However vague the term ‘lifestyle centre’ may be. what is new is that Migros. The lifestyle shopping centre.6 Berne is a city of civil servants with stagnating population and growth. and housing plots to the right. scheduled to open in 2008. semiprivate. Brandhubs have required the equal partnership of the public sector. Lucerne A traditionally contested aspect of shopping centres is their ‘public’ spaces. A new interchange will make the 24 . but provide a thematic focus: contemporary lifestyle shopping in an architectural setting.

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. may demonstrate the continued vitality of public space even in the medialised. For the middle classes. Since the 1970s. consumption of energy. Ebisquare.11 Neither government. communications and culture. will be a series of landscapes.12 Similar to the emergence of the North American edge cities described by Joel Garreau. using sound and light to create both a real and virtual experience. Switzerland. ‘lifestyle’ is best expressed in the proliferation of restaurants and cafés where people come to eat. At the moment. thus they become an essential social meeting place. Lucerne. and the problems of traffic. in which the agenda of private development has overtaken the role of public planning. ecological and social cul-de-sac. Below: the mall incorporates the roofscape. 25 .13 To contribute to a new Jakarta identity and reframe their potential as social. Only a new synthesis of cooperative and collective action can begin to roll back the metastasising consequences of runaway development. formed into a continuous strip. For the developer. 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.9 They are practically the only place for ‘outof-home leisure’. a large number of shopping centres have been built. the shopping centre clusters in Jakarta have become de facto subcentres in an expanding cityregion. Holzer Kobler have inserted a Möbius strip of interactive mallspace that incorporates the roof of the building. and social segregation together present difficult challenges. air and water quality. Through an act of spatial surgery. Holzer Kobler’s goal is that the linear space of the mall. Top: a typical section showing a central internal mall. The retail market is already saturated. will lead the city into an economic. The space will be ‘curated’ to ensure the effect and meaning of real and virtual elements. media. due for completion 2011 Water + Meadows: continuous curated space. atmosphere and stage design. governmental weakness and the neglect of physical and social infrastructure. Ebikon. yet what is significant in terms of urban typology. private enterprise nor community pressure can resolve these problems on their own. cultural and commercial magnets.Holzer Kobler Architekturen. other than the shopping centres there is no public space in which to meet. Section through lifestyle centre complex. The buildings on the right are the Senior Living Center.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. urban structure and public space is that many of them are located adjacent to each other in ‘clusters’. automobile-oriented low-density city. Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. the starting point for the spatial concept should celebrate science. and indeed on Sunday the restaurants are crowded with families having sit-down meals. The chain of associations should extend to the product displays resulting in a fusion of communications. Yet merely continuing typical real-estate development practices of the last decades.

Mangga Dua district. The planned central pedestrian boulevard will require the building of new entrances to all the adjoining buildings. and legible connections to the surrounding neighbourhoods must be established. they should be extensively planted with trees. Along the shorter arm of the T is a new trade centre and a large shopping centre (both to the right). Due to market saturation. and the historic seafront (Ancol). with adjoining hotels and parking garages. Nearby two train lines serve a passenger station at the edge of a large.14 Lying just east of the historic centre of Jakarta. a site for future shopping centre 4 with a hotel. shopping centres 1. 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. Straddling its central boulevard. the urban value of the Mangga Dua district should be given by the spatial quality of the boulevards. while the other end is anchored by the spaces and products that can be found in a good-quality shopping centre in the West. 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.Cadiz International. the cluster consists of La Piazza Entertainment Center and Gading Food City (village). Rather than an internal pedestrian concourse as at Kelapa Gading. Enhancing accessibility and diversifying the functional mix of the different centres can prevent duplication and redundancy. Not merely traffic arteries. To what extent will the facades to the street be opened. the Mangga Dua cluster consists of four trade centres interconnected by bridges. If the adjacent freight railyards could be developed into a new mixed-use residential quarter served by the two train lines. the monumental public buildings and spaces commemorating independence (Monas). the management at Kelapa Gading contributes to the security and maintenance of the nearby streets. Under constant expansion since 1987. a network of public places can be created consisting of the shopping centre clusters. now disused. Kelapa Gading is near to being an integrated district centre. which will require new facades and entrances to the existing buildings. Yet these new large-scale commercial ensembles raise many of the same problems and questions that were levelled against suburban and urban shopping centres. By reinforcing both its external and internal accessibility. the historic colonial centre (Kota). 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. freight railway yard. such as education and training. 1988– Google Earth view of Mangga Dua district. ‘Living boulevards’ would bind the different trade and shopping centres into a single cityscape. Indonesia. more and more people have come to expect urban space that is not only multifunctional and urban. both of which are open-air and have their own public spaces. equipped with pedestrian amenities and be well served by various forms of public transport. and PT Perentjana Djaja. Closely surrounded by compact middle-class neighbourhoods. shop houses and La Piazza parking. The potential for Jakarta is that. 2 and 3 with parking (forming an L-shape). the Mangga Dua district is larger and more complex than Kelapa Gading. All of these need to be linked by coordinated public transport. Reimagining the Relationship Between Mall and City While global entertainment and media corporations are developing ‘branded’ urban spaces and even ‘branded’ urban districts. Kelapa Gading Mall. and how will the complex contribute to the liveliness of the surrounding boulevards? Envirotech Indonesia. the Summit Apartments. 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. 1987– Google Earth view of shopping centre cluster. at the scale of the city. all of these fragments will be united by a central pedestrian boulevard. but also safe and convenient. then Mangga Dua could develop into a selfsupporting urban district. By 2010. Manila and Anggara. The surrounding district is structured by a T-junction array of boulevards. thus supporting social equity. Jakarta. developers need to innovate by adding non-retail functions. A concept needs to be developed for the spaces between the buildings. Jakarta. both of these new complexes are having difficulties. a traditional bazaar. Can the design of the marketplace lead to urban and 26 . Cannibalistic retail development is an unsustainable practice. with four trade centres and hotels straddling the long arm of the T (left).

Director. New York. Given the forecast of growth over the next three to five years. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. For example. posted January 12. and.15 In the context of Berne. p 25 © Holzer Kobler Architekturen. 5. 2003. In the trade the consensus building and planned regional restructuring of the Swiss examples. apartment buildings and offices. In contrast to Notes 1. Zurich. in Jakarta where questions of sustainability and the effects of climate change are creating pressure. and the resulting demand is exacerbated by immigration from the rural hinterland. City land consistently falls to big investors. Shopping centre owner-operators and their investors face market saturation: with a further 1. General planning Burckhardt und Partner. Boston. 4 centres. Here the City Governor. Trade centres are large multistorey buildings housing up to several hundred ‘mom and pop stores’. and the devastating floods of 2002 and 2007. 3. at the Taman Anggrek Mall. There is a lack of political will and inadequate tools to mediate spatial segregation and social inequality. 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. 300 housekeeping. Local communities need to lobby support for housing. 400 security. Finally. 12. there are 4. 6. the participation takes place at different levels: local landowners could register their ideas as the basic programme was being developed. and because of their reliance on air conditioning incur high energy costs. housing. communication and participation structures need to be developed. and masterplanned by Daniel Libeskind. Parija Bhatnagar. managed by Neue Brünnen AG. Kemal Taruc. city planner in Berne. including the decking over of the A1. alterations were presented at hearings attended by cantonal civil servants as well as local citizens’ groups. kindly answered a questionnaire. Los Angeles. and Victor Gruen for the JL Hudson Co of Detroit. Architecture and Facade Peter Völki. and Barbara Holzer of Holzer Kobler Architekturen. education and small businesses. Shopping centre clusters are agglomerations comprising two or more shopping centres of different generations. The building of the Westside complex has had to overcome a number of difficulties. affected merchants or citizens could raise objections. The largest trade centres have several hundred shopholders. For local communities there is a lack of purchasing power.or shopholders buy outright or lease their space long term. ‘Corporate urbanism and sustainability’. Westside is owned by Migros Aare. These figures do not include sales staff for the shops and restaurants. and everyone who gave me their advice and time. and allotting 20 per cent of retail space to street vendors. guidance and regulation. one or more trade centres. See. the real-estate crisis of 1997. 9.com/id/2116246/). Berlin). 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. and supporting increased public transit. Kerstin Hoeger ETH. could take part.social renewal? Under what conditions do corporations want to play a more positive social. Universal City. health and education.1 million square feet) in the pipeline. 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. 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. and the Sony Centers in San Fransisco. Direct precedents for our discussion of branded urban districts are CityWalk. p 26 © Adapted from Google Earth 27 . It Now Looks Like A City Street’. now is the time for stakeholders to begin these transformative processes. 4. Birkhauser (Basel. Three examples of the first generation of regional shopping centres. 2005. D Hayden. 7. 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. hotels. Based on the practice in Taiwan. Migros. exhorted the real-estate industry to work with all stakeholders to engage the problems of the city. copyright Washington Post 2007. from the shopping centres I thank Soegianto Nagaria of Kelapa Gading and Andreas Kartawinata. the masterplanning model and urban design concept were developed by professionals of course. Public and private consultant organisations must provide critical inputs. 14. Herlambang. in practice this means balancing regulatory and tax conditions. Fauzi Bowo.com/ 2005/01/11/news/fortune 500). Shopping centres pay extra taxes. which precipitated civil strife between ethnic Chinese and Indonesians. 2. Pantheon (New York). real-estate investors. such district management. Christoph Rossetti. 2006. Jakarta. Project partners are the city and canton of Berne. and finally the client. to create centrality. new cooperative and participation models and equitable development strategies. the number of staff needed to run the complex is 200 administration. ACTAR (Barcelona). working in partnership with city government and the local communities. 15. for example. for example at Pasar Pagi. Current problems include the city’s concern that the explosion of retail space represents a bubble economy. or citizen group. Jo Santoso. Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth 1820–2000. academics and members of local and national government. creating incentives for affordable housing. ‘The Mall Goes Undercover. the strategic and economic power of private developers must be harnessed for implementation.cnn. Government must provide vision. and hopefully to create opportunity across the social spectrum. Westside is the largest private construction project in Switzerland. 100 parking and 200 building maintenance engineers. See two recent articles posted on the internet: Andrew Blum. Commerce is being used to rebalance regional settlement. they have open floors for a large number of small shops.000 staff and sales personnel. Can the collective ownership of the shopping centre clusters. Berlin and Tokyo. yet any citizen. Real Estate Indonesia sponsored a conference on trends in real-estate and shopping centre development that was attended by shopping centre developers. 2005. CNN (http://money. Renderings Edit-Bilder für Architektur. were John Graham’s Northgate for Bon Marché of Seattle. These arguments and the pivotal role of Victor Gruen are further developed in my Victor Gruen: From Urban Shop to New City. pp 165–8. and again at Southdale for the Dayton Co department store in Minneapolis. in Built Identity: Swiss Re’s Corporate Architecture. Renderings Art Tools. Massachusetts.5 million square metres (16. These problems are exacerbated by the effects of the Asian financial crisis of 1990–2. PRUDEV (The Role of the Private Sector in Urban Development). Kees Christiaanse and Kerstin Hoeger. 10. Liong. which left the city littered with ‘rotten buildings’. 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. Images: pp 22-3 & 24 © Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG. I thank Eduard Tjiahadi. Disney’s Times Square Development. 13. KGS for Jordan Marsh in Framingham. primarily offering textiles and/or electronic goods.slate. St Gallen. the middle classes and the working poor. 8. diverse in their location and form. asserted its claims during the planning and especially with respect to the infrastructure contract. has proved difficult to implement. The programme of integrating small and mediumsized enterprises. 11. culturebox (http://www. Professionals and critics may debate the merits of the architecture. There is no supply of affordable housing. existing planning structures were modified to enable the creation of the ensemble at Westside. was conceived by Nuesch Development AG. In November 2006. Nuesch AG. posted 6 April 2005. stall. Lippo Group. Also. Conversations with Klaus-Peter Nuesch. The study of the role of urban shopping centres for the future development of Jakarta is a joint project. pp 134–7. the department of City Planning and Urban Development at the University of Tarumanagara. Zurich. between Real Estate Indonesia. and the Chair of Urban Design at the University of Karlsruhe.

Bruno De Meulder describes the underlying logic of this unbroken urbanscape. 28 . and the opportunity it affords for re-editing and reinserting informal social spaces in areas of wasted land. 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. 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. 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.

and nor does it generate the synergies that concentration and accumulation allow. Development equals incremental mutation. a multitude of small-scale provincial cities. and so on. railways. the commercial ribbon development along national roads. tramways and. sprawl. completeness and accumulation of this different nationwide network created in a certain way a ‘universal’ accessibility for each spot of the territory. any crossroads of two national roads.The nearly total urbanisation of the territory of Belgium surely makes it an emblematic case in discussions about ‘dispersed urbanism’. Belgium has since unremembered time been a country of laissez faire.7 the ribbon fragment along whatever road. of incredibly dense. due to the negligent/secondary urbanisation 29 . concentration of labour. creating such a redundant variety that the territory becomes isotropic. express roads and highways). residence and agriculture negligently cohabitate.4 miles) apart. economical and political power. the bulk of development takes the form of incremental. commerce. Its continuously reproduced undefinedness renders permanent its character of wasteland.and medium-sized enterprises). Nevertheless. housing and labour market. On the other hand. and so many other terms that attempt without too much success to grasp the reality of the contemporary urban condition. as a forum of public debate. Given the general laissez faire attitude. a terrain whose potentiality is unconsumed. consequently. usually only 20 kilometres (12. undefined by over-definition. a train station. Both centre and periphery vanished and were replaced by an almost omnipresent ‘secondarity’. plots varying in size. This at the same time incredibly chaotic and urban landscape seems at first sight to lack any coherence whatsoever. step by step. 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). 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. piecemeal additions or transformations. incremental and unconsolidated. which spread over the whole territory. nor an established (hegemonic) order. juxtaposing housing. and the intensive division of land property. In concrete terms. all have the same rights and powers – from hamlet to village to the larger city. and broke the monopoly of the city as the centre of production and consumption. most of the spatial patterns are endless recombinations of the aforementioned figures. it does not create any significant public space. where an intense poetry – this is Magritte territory – lurks side by side with a nauseating banality of everyday habitation. Put simply. and so on. ‘citta diffusa’.4 Historic cities became merely insignificant relicts in the isotropic territorial continuum where industry (dense networks of flexible small. tramway stop or a highway exit acquired the same competitive advantage as the traditional city. an embryonic territorial constellation that always remains receptive. Everywhere – on the periphery of the capital city or in remote hamlets – an emerging. and eventually the development of urban strategies to deal with it. the notorious corner with (by now closed/shut down) pubs at the tramway stop. Because it remains dispersed. since the municipal law of 1838. they remain permanently emerging. 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). yet. it eroded the notion of centrality. This process of unification and equalisation distorted the traditional settlement pattern. The landscape by definition becomes the defective interplay of simultaneous and contradictory landscape forms: urban and rural. Conventional wisdom condemns this ‘secondarity’ as a burden. national roads. a closer look allows at least an insight into the ordering logics that determine the continuous production and reproduction of the seemingly chaotic territory. which gave rise to the very dense occupation of the countryside since the early Middle Ages. where the cacophonic juxtaposition of built fragments delivers surprise after surprise. permanent type of urbanity was generated. industrial. industry and commerce. As a result. quality and character (residential. In terms of development potential.3 While the catholic ideology promoted home ownership in the municipality of origin. The territory is administered by a multitude of municipalities which. this generalised condition of ‘secondarity’5 in opposition to ‘primarity’6 – generates an ambiguous space. Each spot embodied the same accessibility and. and the implementation. and consequently the absence of any centrally imposed town-planning regulations. commercial) have been filling in the remaining open meshes of the multitude of urbanised nets that cover the territory. nationwide networks of different complementary infrastructures (canals. This urbanity has generally never consolidated – it is permanently emerging – given the mismatch between the disclosed development potential and the effective development capacity required. Factors1 that explain the unusual situation of the Belgian territory include: the extraordinary fertility of the soil. Since practically no sites have consolidated and become ‘primary’ land. It creates an ‘open city’. Over the last decade. the oversized and only half-developed perimeter block8 that results from urbanisation without any urbanistic restructuring of former rural road networks. The ‘unification’ of the national territory resulted in a unified national land. the density. as it does not allow economies of scale. this absence of rules and norms. population. after the Second World War.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.

2002: Ferraris 1777 map of Ypres. The countryside is characterised by a dense network of evenly distributed farms of relatively small scale.4 miles) apart. and the surrounding area The late medieval territory here is intensively occupied. with a very fine division of the land and a large number of cities. West Flanders. often less then 20 kilometres (12. 30 . 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.OSA. Atlas Southwest Flanders.

Oversized perimeter blocks. Wevelgem. railways. stations. as each of the crossroads creates an equal accessibility and is hence a potential point of centrality. tramways. tramway stops. a dense network of national roads. exits on highways and so on distorts the spatial structure of the territory. 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. warehouses. 31 . highways and expressways is superimposed on this territory. The proliferation of crossroads. West Flanders Over time. and a territory of secondarity is generated. industrial buildings or. with allotments that consume the last of the open space. In a second phase the second order behind the ribbons is sometimes filled in with additions.Territory of West and East Flanders: from archipelago to rhizome (1770–2000) From the 18th century onwards. garages. in recent decades. The archipelago of cities mutates in a heavily infrastructured rhizome of secondary centres. this parasitic incremental urbanisation process leads to the formation of redundant figures in the landscape.

attempt such a re-editing exercise in Southwest Flanders. 2004: Buda intimacy/exposure–public/private The urban fabric that is generated by rather ad hoc and unconsidered infill. by OSA (the University of Leuven’s Research Group for Urbanity and Architecture). chaotic juxtaposition of open spaces offers on the one hand all conceivable gradients between public and private space. demolition. By no means do they aim for a comprehensive requalification of the territory. The urbanistic project consequently becomes an intertextual work of re-editing (a weak embryonic) text. However. and on the other opens up a register of spaces ranging from extremely exposed to intimate. and are. A re-editing allows the articulation and exploitation of this richness of open-space qualities as what is conventionally only seen as residual space. reconstruction. conflicting functions. relief and contrast. waste(d) lands that hopelessly try to mediate between different scales. process. 32 . and so on leads to a large variety of open spaces with very different relationships to the private constructions. This unordered. with its zero degree of spatial quality. contradictory qualities and spatial paradigms: ribbon development versus allotment. including the protodemocratic character of its spatial constellation. traditional building block versus Modernist composition. in one way or Buda block/element The urban fabric is generated by ad hoc infill along ribbons and the unconsidered induction of freestanding. In this territory. necessary structures and missing public spaces. These are neither urban nor rural. The projects presented here. construction. large-scale buildings often in a first order/second order relation. conglomerate versus template. while at the same time avoiding an overdose of structuring and definition. a lot of residual landscape fragments.OSA: Atlas Southwest Flanders. urban versus rural. they do focus on potential sites of condensation (in the sense of subconcentration and precipitation – the fallout of new material) that allow articulation. which would eventually destroy the fundamental quality of the open city Belgium has become. and so on. 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.9 They attempt to use new development to insert minimal spatial qualities.

Bruno De Meulder et al. 4 Buda secret garden The Buda Island project exploits and articulates the coincidence of opposing morphological logics (oversized perimeter block versus freestanding buildings. 4 Transformator. 3 Wevelgem. 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. urban. 4. ‘Secondarity’ refers to the non-functional and irrational concretisation of a desired spatial experience. These open ‘signifiers’ have the ambition to unlock the latent potentiality of waste(d) land. See. but at the same time everything but overdefined and deterministic. For a more elaborated history of the Belgian urbanisation process see. an inviting space that can accommodate a variety of different uses and atmospheres side by side. 9. 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. Jean Remy. So far it includes a study of the municipality of Wevelgem. 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. Bruno De Meulder and Michiel Dehaene. ‘Primarity’ characterises a condition where the production of space is dictated by the necessities of subsistence and survival. 7. Bruno De Meulder. the Leiedal intermunicipal association in South Flanders. Anno 02. the Buda Island project in the city of Kortrijk. pp 40–3. PUF (Paris). Notes 1. It is a modus operandi that assembles utilities to create efficient environments. for example. 2. a network of quays. the redevelopment of the St Amandscollege in Kortrijk.another. 2002. La condition municipale. Le Travail (Verviers). Canalscape. the secret gardens project on Buda Island. The project requalifies this infrastructure in a canalscape. 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. 4. Atlas – Fascikel 1: Zuidelijk West-Vlaanderen. the redevelopment of the power plant site in Zwevegem. Atlas – Fascikel 3: Wevelgem. 5. Oase. 1951. as a support for an open city. ‘Lintbebouwing: Algemeen én Belgisch’. a space that is created by processes of bricolage. They are far from neutral. ‘platforms’. and so on. a landscape development strategy for the E17 highway in Southwest Flanders. a landscape development strategy for the Bossuit-Kortrijk canal. gardens. fields and forests that inscribe themselves in the netcity and in doing so restructure the netcity and introduce spaces for public appropriation. rural). 6 Kortrijk Buda. Ville: Ordre et violence. 1981. For more detailed information see. intended to substructure the open city mainly via the introduction of public spaces of a new kind. SRO (86). What all of OSA’s projects have in common is the search for new types of scenes – ‘secret gardens’. 1. pp 78–112. for example. for example. In short. In the end. and a study of the ‘Pand’ in Waregem. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. social practices are the sole creators of public life. 33 . 8. the latent urbanity of the open city. the case study in Bruno De Meulder and Oswald Devisch. 52. 2005. 3. in collaboration with and commissioned by. and hence public spaces. 1999. 7 Gelijktijdige Landschappen. the subconscious and subversive trial-and-error production of new common grounds. ‘quays’. ‘Patching up the Belgian Landscape’. p 59. Zwevegem. mostly regulated by an engineering rationality. 2 (on architecture). 2002. Kortrijk. 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. Project voor de Electriciteitscentrale. 6. ‘fields’ and ‘parks’ – that without too much emphasis invite and facilitate new types of social interaction. railway lines and national roads generated the mutation of the countryside into a rhizomatic urban landscape composed of simultaneously present landscapes (industry. Results of this urbanistic work are published as fascicles of the Atlas Southwest Flanders: fascicles 0. Fernand Brunfaut.

this is an ancient landscape of evenly scattered development that has grown up alongside roads and waterways. Venice. Water and Asphalt: The Project of Isotropy. which has developed out of untamed growth of metropolitan areas. Paola Viganò provides an alternative definition of the dispersed territory. in northeastern Italy. Rather than archetypal sprawl. P Viganò and students of the IUAV PhD in Urbanism. B Secchi. 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. 2006 Water and asphalt: the project of an isotropic territory.Water and Asphalt The Project of Isotropy in the Metropolitan Region of Venice Through an exploration of the Veneto region close to Venice. 34 . 10th Architecture Biennale.

or separately defining opposing features. partially reconstructing it and bringing it into the modern era. dry and permeable plain. In the metropolitan region of Venice. the second deals with traditional conditions of dispersion – for example. horizontal instead of vertical. using. sprawl concerns the spreading out of the city and the commuting of its inhabitants.6 And in the 1930s. cultivated fields divided by minor drainage lines.329 feet). Water and Asphalt: Rationalisations In the territory around Venice. 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. In a very short and simplified overview. fragmentation and homogenisation. society and cultures are related to an extended way of experiencing. filling and reclaiming. the fishing valleys. constructing the same landscape. twisting and turning to reach the draining slopes. In the Middle Ages the Benedictine order reclaimed the abandoned system. the mid-wet and impermeable plain. 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. Starting from the 2nd century BC. 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. as mentioned above. work. the extended use of the territory3 and the mix of functions differ: ancient as opposed to recent. They are no longer considered adequate for contemporary needs and for contemporary imagery: new projects bring to bear a logic of hierarchisation. a plot subdivision and a road infrastructure. The phenomenon of dispersion in Europe can be interpreted in at least two different ways:1 the first emphasises the breaking of an equilibrium. constructing the same landscape. and has a long and heavily connoted history. The utopia of an isotropic territory lies within the character of this as of other territories of dispersion. and the low reclaimed plain. or separately defining opposing features. can be related to the spatial configuration of diffused and isotropic infrastructures. for example. but to forget the latter in favour of ‘sprawl’ means. but the process of diffusion. houses and factories. and living in a place. the longue durée dispersion has been related to the presence of specific infrastructural configurations. whatever the direction and wherever the point of observation. It is a term pertaining to English-speaking cultures. This third great rationalisation was strong enough to completely change the physical and ecological character of the area. three main periods/events can be identified. water and asphalt are today in deep crisis. Following the former. the high. Movements of different kinds can percolate through them. 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. 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 traditional relationship between town and country. the building of roads. the river diversions and rectifications. have supported the original economy and territorial form. roads and. tramways and so on – a process in which different forms of rationalities have been superimposed on each other. water and asphalt today have different types of relations: they run parallel. The supports of a population whose social mobility has been very high in recent decades. 35 . The first important rationalisation was the Roman centuriatio.Territories of Dispersion ‘Sprawl’ cannot adequately describe a territory of dispersion where specific economies. 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. There are similarities between sprawl and the territories of dispersion. the Fascist period. and proceeds along the mid-wet and impermeable plain. water and asphalt today have different types of relations: they run parallel. Each rationalisation has created its own landscape: the centuriatio. The two interpretations often coexist and overlap. at least for many European regions. the waterways excavated in the lagoon.4 To understand this hiatus we started by naming. 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. since the 1960s in several parts of Italy.5 Our vocabulary is ever less rich and ever less suited to understanding how the various devices that make the plain. In the territory around Venice. highways. it developed at the same time as a drainage system. integrated more than juxtaposed. more recently. the second insists on development ‘without fractures’2 that distributes resources and creates opportunities for individual undertakings. a dense network of infrastructures – which. combines rows of trees. accepting oversimplified and generic explanations.

combines rows of trees. View from the hillside towards the plain in the proximity of Vicenza. but in relation to the geological features. cultivated fields divided by drainage lines. European Post-graduate Master in Urbanism (EMU). In the metropolitan region of Venice. Top left: The aggeratio. showing the way in which houses and industries merge with agricultural features. in the Veneto region. fall semester. a dense road network and an even denser water system. roads and.B Secchi. Old pits and dumps are dispersed. for example. houses and factories. Today the role and function of these areas can be rethought. Left: The landscape of reclamation. water and asphalt define the isotropic conditions. more recently. New processes of rationalisation are today modifying these. Water and Asphalt. 2006 Water (red) + asphalt (grey) + pits and dumps (black). and can be reused to design an extended net of public spaces in relation to water and asphalt. 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. The picture is quite exemplary. P Viganò and student S Favaro. 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. Each rationalisation has created its own landscape. 36 .

isotropy reveals traditional aspects of economic. public green and so on represent an impressive isotropic distribution that can match with and reinforce a mesh of railways. The Venetian territory has been invested with strong processes of rationalisation: the Roman aggeratio. Today a new project of isotropy is at the same time the acknowledgement of a territorial specificity. schools. sport fields. tramways. on roads and public transport. after the EU policy of subsidies. forms of diffused welfare. both social and ecological. The paradox of public spaces in the territories of dispersion is clear. alternative mobility. waterways in the lagoon. the building of roads. The research here is based on the hypothesis that new conditions now exist for redevising the isotropic space in the metropolitan area of Venice. the fragments. tramways and so on – a process in which the isotropic features have often been reinforced. the future of agriculture. The schemes here show the complex hydraulic system of the reclaimed land of the low wet plain. and the energy crises can be tackled with decentralised production. Isotropy is an extreme and ideal figure: the territory is not perfectly isotropic and it is not homogeneous. often marginal and dispersed. innovative agriculture and the decentralised production of energy.Processes of rationalisation. playgrounds. a scenario to be investigated in its manifold consequences. an increase in territorial porosity and permeability. of the modern concept of public space and the limits of a strongly individualised way of life. of the modern welfare state. filling and reclaiming. 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. is to become a multifunctional landscape. waterways and paths. The landscape of reclamation. and a design hypothesis that can be concretely devised in terms of intervention on the water system. Although not fully accomplished. 37 . This is not a big urban project. but an incremental series of undertakings beginning with water and asphalt: the problems of flooding and scarcity demand more space for water. revealing at the same time the crisis of traditional urbanity. river diversions and rectifications. In this framework. highways. political and ecological rationality: less costs due to flood damage.

Minimum 10 per cent new woods.1 miles). 1. 6. waterways and paths. More space for the water. and the fragments of the modern welfare state represent an impressive isotropic distribution that can match with and reinforce a mesh of railways. Roads + railways (in black) + waterways (in red). tramways. 4 38 . after the EU policy of subsidies. 2. Water and flooding areas. 5. 4. A new mesh of public transport (each circle is 5 kilometres/3. The future of agriculture. Existing woods.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. New woods and agricultural areas. 7. 3. is to become a multifunctional landscape also for decentralised energy production and woods.

nor the village community space. 1989. A weak structure of small squares. 1995. and has remained a predominantly functional space. Landscapes of Water research project. U degli Uberti. 1983. where more than 70 per cent of the land is still cultivated (only producing 2. Un progetto per l’urbanistica. Q2. new forests. 2. Anthropos (Paris). 6. and modern facilities often in marginal and disconnected areas. much investment has been made to requalify public spaces within a traditional urban framework. 2006 Redesign of a gravel pit as a public space and water reservoir (section). 3. Paola Viganó. B Secchi. M Gronning. 5. 2006. and utilises flood control to introduce a new type of landscape within the widespread territory and with it a new connection between differing environments. A Scarponi. New Territories. pp 34. is dispersed throughout the territory. P Bevilacqua. In the European dispersed territories. former gravel-pits. see in particular the introduction to the third edition (1986). G Zaccariotto. M Brunello. L Stroszeck. P Viganò and students of the IUAV PhD in Urbanism (M Ballarin. T Lombardo. 1974. M Patruno. They are not related to an idea of centre and periphery.P Viganò. M Pertoldi. minimal and large-scale projects can produce denser environments. D De Mattia. but to the construction of a field of horizontal conditions for contemporary practices and ecology. E Dusi. Venice. 10th Architecture Biennale. 2004. Industrializzazione senza fratture. H Lefebvre. highly standardised and isotropic. Einaudi (Turin). the reference cannot be Times Square. See in particular my introduction. Officina Edizioni (Rome). S Giametta. Paesaggi dell’acqua (Landscapes of Water). Venice. See P Viganò. M Tattara. Yet it is a social space that we consider our own. IUAV. S Porcaro. J McOisans (Centre de recherches sur l’espace sonore & l’environnement urbain-Grenoble). A Zaragoza). Water and Asphalt: The Project of Isotropy. 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. P Marchevet. revealing at the same time the crisis of traditional urbanity. Venezia e le acque. but to larger symbolic representations. irrigation devices. It is not only related to urbanity or to the modern idea of welfare. C Renzoni. Donzelli (Rome). E Giannotti. 4. G Lambrechts. 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. Public space is something larger. G Fuà and C Zacchia. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. of the modern concept of public space and the limits of a strongly individualised way of life.8 per cent of GDP). The welfare city. T Lombardo and G Zaccariotto. The Territory: A New Scale for Public Space The paradox of public spaces in the territories of dispersion is clear. 36(tl). N Dattomo. V Ferrario. T Lombardo and G Zaccariotto. F Verona. roadside churches. They are dispersed elements that could support today’s different activities connected to an extended use of the territory. along the isotropic network of water and asphalt. P Viganò (ed). G Lambrechts. 37. La production de l’espace. The canal has a variable section. In a metropolitan region such as Venice. In recent years. Images: pp 36(tr&br). p 36(cl&bl) © TerraItaly™ by Pictometry. U degli Uberti. to new forms of collective representation and free time. 38 © Bernard Secchi. Il Mulino (Bologna). © Compagna Generale Riprese Aeree 39 . 39 © Paola Viganó. It is an infrastructural space that individuals cannot afford on their own. 4 Notes 1. has found it difficult to represent the peculiar mix of rurality and urbanity of the Venetian territory. Flooding areas. F Vanin. B Secchi. forthcoming. often inventing them where they had never existed and in competition with new places of consumption.

On Waiting Spaces and How to Inhabit Transforming Cities 40 . ready-made urban culture.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.

Mogliano Veneto and Marcon. Upper middle: Beside a productive and commercial area. 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. Claudia Faraone and Andrea Serti. The waiting spaces will build on the existing infrastructure of roads. Intermittent Cities: On Waiting Spaces and How to Inhabit Transforming Cities. 41 . tend to change and grow incessantly. produced by different economic. further south. exchange parking lots and bus lines to create an interconnected network. Exemplary results of this process can be clearly found within the European territory. or diffused city) between Venice-Mestre. within a consolidated neighbourhood in Marghera. on the edge of a development in Marcon. Lower middle: Disused bus depot in Mestre. Looking at a satellite image of the European territory. Veneto. and the transformation of the heavy-industry based economy into a service one. compose an even yet small-grained entity. Four different examples of waiting spaces: Top: Near a construction site but disconnected from the surrounding urban transformation. Bottom: Close to a residential area. cycle paths. from well-contained urbanities to the dispersed territories we live in today. the development of technology and communication. social and political conditions. The industrial progress in building constructions. the mixed diffused city of the Veneto region of northeast Italy. especially their dispersed parts.Contemporary cities. the mass diffusion of individual privately owned cars. where different types of sprawling cities. 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. we recognise the Dutch structured dispersion or the Flemish diamond and. 2004 Map of waiting spaces in a portion of the dispersed city in the Veneto region (the so-called citta diffusa. Italy. close to an exchange parking lot and a bus stop in Mogliano Veneto.

Spatial configurations depending on waiting space availability and location. 42 .

self-sustainable infrastructure as a possible means of ‘awakening’ the space (for example. For each waiting space. and a basic. Spatial configuration of modular units according to different activities. 43 . Each is provided with a city info-point or a modular unit situated at the entrance to the waiting space. the location of the space and the requested activities.A duration sequence in the network of waiting spaces. parking lots with solar panels). a series of spatial configurations is made possible depending on how much time is available.

One of these was organised by Esterni. bicycle paths. and using wireless technologies and selfsufficient energies. exchange parking lots and bus lines. university classes and public lectures. an emerging kind of urban space can be recognised: ‘waiting spaces’ – a definition that comes from their main characteristic of standing empty or unused. On the one hand. performances. and running parallel to Milan Design Week 2004 for 10 days. 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. 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. using the existing infrastructure of roads. exchange parking lots and bus lines. On the other hand. near Garibaldi station. this waiting space was ‘turned on’. Since they have the ability to re-create themselves endlessly. This newly imagined intermittent city will be produced by temporally networking a series of waiting spaces at the scale of the urban region. In Piazza Freud. a sociocultural association that promotes non-profit public and cultural activities in Milan. the intermittent city can be switched on or off. These can be found in peripheral commercial centres and new city extensions around Mestre and Venice city. assembled or dismantled based on demand. using the existing infrastructure of roads. ‘Catching’ intervals of time will allow for a 44 . waiting spaces can be found in abandoned structures and places now ready to be used again: the ACTV bus storage in Mestre. 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. and therefore waiting. or in contested urban spaces such as Piazza Freud in Milan.Among the outcomes of this consuming and recycling of the territory. This newly imagined intermittent city will be produced by temporally networking a series of waiting spaces at the scale of the urban region. or beyond the Veneto region Battersea Power Station in London. and using wireless technologies and self-sufficient energies. Interpreting the dispersed city as composed of intermittently functioning waiting spaces. bicycle paths. As a continuously changing entity. with concerts. while their immediate surroundings are growing. we observed and participated in similar projects that were a real test of the short-term organisation necessary for a waiting space. evolving and being used. While preparing the Intermittent Cities project. reclaiming the space.

activities.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. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. conferences. along with their management and regulation. through events such as concerts. temporary transformation of waiting spaces into public spaces: from a matter of fact to an urban design proposition. Working with mobile and changeable architecture. Small-scale private or public actions with a high amenity value will improve waiting spaces by hosting currently missing urban public activities. it allows single users and small public/private institutions such as art galleries. to libraries that might need to close their central building for a while. with Bernardo Secchi as promoter and Stefano Munarin as co-promoter. Individuals. or the school nearby requiring a new playground for its pupils. between Mestre and Venice airport. 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. near a settlement with few facilities and very close to the airport and the main road to Venice. libraries and community associations to contribute towards building a collective urban and cultural awareness across the territory. Architecture University of Venice. bicycle sharing points and so on. 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. Images © Claudia Faraone and Andrea Sarti 45 . Sustainable. Artistic. art galleries. similar or complementary. 4 Note This project has been developed as part of the authors’ thesis at IUAV. and with a parking lot nearby. A possible testing location for a long-term waiting space is a site in Campalto. Acting as a territorial interface. as well as public activities and facilities like playgrounds. sports performances. and once a series of activities becomes linked to the waiting space it will begin to attract other. small modular units equip the waiting spaces with flexible devices capable of various spatial configurations to host different users. small satellite libraries. we tested our space configurations by organising them in thematic strips. Because of its edge conditions. cultural associations. Temporal ways of inhabiting and experiencing the city would be possible inside these spaces. recreational. self-sufficient elements and infrastructure will guarantee that the intermittent city will function.

superblocks function as the ultimate in gated communities – truly wonderful tower-in-the-park environments. while challenging it by proposing an alternative ‘stringblock’ approach. they can be relentless in their standardisation and repetitiveness. Alternatively.String Block Vs Superblock Patterns of Dispersal in China The superblock in China has become the dominant unit of urban planning. At the high end. 46 . allowing for rapid urban growth while also meeting the needs of state and property developer alike. Whether a project becomes one or the other is often entirely up to the developer. rooted more in collective culture and addressing the demands of the market-driven economy. Kjersti Monson explains the conditions that have given rise to the superblock.

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. Buildings within a superblock project tend to be standardised. large and homogenous cells – a ‘candybox urbanism’. and this will provide the economic premises for the extinction of the family as an economic unit. although the result of this process sometimes leaves a lot to be desired with regard to public space. NA Miliutin in Sotsgorod: The Problem of Building Socialist Cities. 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. 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. Communist Manifesto2 A history steeped in collective culture.The superblock represents the DNA of urban expansion in China. The LDI system is designed for maximum efficiency through an institutionalised preference for using templates and standards instead of pushing design innovation. K Marx and F Engels. The land is parcelled and planned by the government at a scale that requires large financial transactions. its spatial logic is practical from a planning. informed how China ultimately structured its land lease and development regulations. and must also possess the operational and financial capacity to produce a megaproject. construction and leasing point of view. 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. 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. In the end. laundries. Because the superblock type is so dominant as the vehicle for Chinese urbanisation. 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. streamlining the design process and reducing costs. In addition to defining a legal and political process for bringing land to market. 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. So does the superblock lay the foundation for transactions that are in keeping with Chinese values related to the state and collective culture. Collective culture. and why the individual remains peripheral to land development in China. public space and sustainability. In order to understand why transactions are occurring only at this scale. and therefore for urban expansion under the current system. kindergartens. single developers could house entire small cities in one project. became a tangible characteristic of each 47 . performance is harder to gauge. This phenomenon is underscored by the requirement in newly planned expansion areas (Pudong is such an area. which allowed for a real-estate market to emerge in the late 1980s. The dominant typology for land transactions. The sheer scale of a typical superblock requires that the developer has large capital reserves and high political standing. sustainable city-making and social justice. Basic cultural institutions and assumptions underlie the superblock form. long an underlying component of Chinese civilisation. 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. is the superblock. This precludes multiple blocks from relating to one another with a cohesive streetscape. it is here that any discussion should start by considering improving the qualitative outcomes of new development as it pertains to the public interest. As a type. and repair shops will really break radically with the existing family attitude toward property. 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. it is useful to explore the country’s history as a collective culture. However. 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. The lack of a finer grain of parcellisation ensured that development would continue at the scale of the collective rather than of the individual. 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. often duplicating the existing road and encircling the inner block. Standard superblocks create an urban fabric characterised by discrete. and furthermore necessitates frontage roads to be built within the green buffer. the will to change it is hard to find since it has thus far functioned adequately from both a state and private development perspective. Because the typical superblock morphology is cellular. LDIs are typically a required partner for projects of any scale on the Chinese mainland. 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. 19741 The Communist Revolution is the most radical rupture with existing property relations. Given the allowable densities. nurseries. As cities expand ever further into the hinterland. which was not born in China but has perhaps reached its zenith as a megatypology within that context. dormitories. both in the sale of rights as well as in the ensuing land improvements and construction. no wonder that its development is the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.

Collectivisation meant more than the pooling of labour and the communal allocation of resources. circulation and open space. 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). 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. cafeteria and school. They were defined first and foremost as centres of production. As a type. it was the core of communist identity. Nevertheless. In the countryside. which was rural or suburban. the superblock defines the new Chinese city in the same way that the grid defines New York. or danwei. was not only the building block of the socialist city. clear terms of transaction and strong formal likeness to the collective compounds of China’s recent history. an industrial village was linear. including the workplace or factory. environment and existing conditions. due to its high efficiency for rapid expansion. When the People’s Republic was formed. danweis constituted the basic social and built structure of the Chinese city. it has difficulty coping with context. The work unit was the nucleus of the political and social life of a village. and is typically disconnected from other blocks by large and fast-moving roads. Land and resources were not held individually. Throughout most of the pre-marketisation communist era or. An urban danwei provided the worker members with everything they needed within a defined and controlled area. 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. Standardising communal living arrangements underscored the national dedication to instilling socialist values at every level. It represented social identity through work. with the basic and most important unit of socialisation being the ‘work unit’. and was the building block of Chinese socialism. under the law. and the production team (a designated group of peasant labourers working together towards production goals). Under the law. land was nationalised. it was the ‘production team’. it is likely to remain dominant and should be considered as a formal and functional type ready for urban design innovation. An agricultural village was cell-like. The production team was the legal representative of collectively owned land rights. closed-loop and collectivised walled compounds. the Chinese population was collectivised. but by the state or commune. familial ties and national ideology. In the city. 48 . from 1953 to 1984. Nevertheless. officials). Each block is distinct with regard to massing. residential dormitories. and most likely sited along a canal. two kinds of land were recognised: state-owned land. land rights were necessarily represented by designated parties – those with standing to negotiate in the event of a dispute or landuse change. The work unit was at the core of everyday life. and had spatial implications depending on the means of production employed. which was either urban land or a nationally significant natural resource. and collectively owned land.The enormous model of downtown Shanghai at the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum reveals a large-grained cellular pattern of development typical of superblock fabric. The work unit. this building block was called the ‘danwei’. The state was the legal representative of urban land rights and natural resources. the production brigade (administrator of the ‘natural village’ – often a group with familial ties – and coordinator of production teams). resulting in a sort of insular ‘candybox urbanism’. more specifically. It also meant common eating and living spaces – a standard feature of the dormitory living units built at this time. As large-scale.

China still perceives itself very much as a socialist state. ‘marketisation’ is the correct term. 19964 Marketisation is a legal and political process by which stateowned land in China becomes developable. giving it the stability and predictability that is a prerequisite of any serious investor or developer. necessitating substantial relocation and compensation to be undertaken by the developer. When marketisation began as a result of new legislation in the early 1980s. however. 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. it is considered incorrect to refer to developable land as ‘privatised’. A key difference under the new system. albeit one that has floated a market of tradable land rights. and through which real property is brought to market. At the time of the initial land transaction between public and private. government planners have already defined the scale. 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. The laws and processes of development for state-owned urban land have been quickly and precisely mapped out over the past 20 years. key financial districts or new residential units to meet projected demand. Marketisation Land parcels are the most important State-owned assets valued at 25 trillion yuan (US$3. more than triple the total value of other State-owned properties. Whether a project becomes one or the other is entirely up to the developer. was that no legal representative of collective ownership rights was identified under the law. … a natural resource (land). construction and lease-up that bring new real estate to market. such as easements facilitating public space or environmental goals. As new expansion areas are identified and approved by Beijing. 25 June 20023 Instead of moving toward a completely capitalist socio-economic system. entitlements. The two forms of property remained: state owned (urban land) and collectively owned (rural and suburban land). People’s Daily Online. expanded industry and logistics around a new deep-water port.or municipal-level design institutes where land uses and infrastructure are planned and approved. but its form creates enormous disruption to existing natural and cultural systems. Indeed. ‘administrative village’ and ‘natural village’. In the current regulatory climate in China.As China turns its attention to the ever expanding periphery and the countryside. At the high end. These plans typically – and sometimes rightfully – have no relationship to the fabric that existed before them. The marketisation process in China has heralded a period of unprecedented urban expansion. the broad-axe development framework represented by the superblock will necessarily have to adapt. 49 . ‘People’s commune’. It has also resulted in the resettlement of large numbers of people and the loss of agricultural land as cities and infrastructure rapidly expand. 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. State-owned urban land has a clear delineation of use rights and specific quantitative planning and entitlement regulations. these blocks function as the ultimate in gated communities – truly wonderful towerin-the-park environments.019 trillion). general land use and scope of what will be built. Privatization of Urban Land in Shanghai. An auction occurs in which land-use rights are sold to developers who proceed through the site planning. Masterplans are produced according to top-down planning agendas. This should be an important subject for advocates of the ‘good city’ in China. ‘production bridgade’ and ‘production team’ became ‘township’. 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. among Chinese planners and officials. Plans focus on major infrastructure and land uses. China is in transition to a market socialism. whether the creation of new government centres for peripheral new towns. At the low end. they enter into state. 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. the communes of the People’s Republic were decollectivised and political structures and organisations were renamed. The government rarely imposes additional conditions that could forward the public interest. whose monetary value had been neglected since 1949. they are relentless rows of standardised housing. but rather has established a system of long-term leases and rights of use. exactions or performance-based rules. The superblock is highly efficient for planning and land transactions. Because the state has not in fact turned over ownership of land. using the superblock as the basic structural and transactional unit.

where the population may be sparse. the land has by default been subject to land grabs and wasteful development practices by local officials throughout China. or how land can be reclaimed by the state. One area under the collective land law that has developed quickly is the land impressment process. or more precisely the New Socialist Countryside as outlined in its ‘11th Five Year Plan’ in 2006. with a dense residential centre and surrounding farmlands. Residents would work in the factory or farm that defined their commune. although individual farmers have been granted leases. 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.5 but has yet to clarify collective property ownership rights. 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. migration minimal and buyers hard to come by. Meanwhile. 50 . live in the commune. or danwei.The basic unit of collectivisation in China was the production team. The social and political system made communal decision-making a way of life. 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. and obtain services in the commune as a collective. and the basic unit of social organisation was not the individual but the collective. which was granted communal land rights under the law.6 Evolution Creation of a centralised system of planning. or work unit. a top-down hierarchy of architectural institutes linked to the state. Rural and suburban villages are still largely functioning as collectives. moving towards a system of market socialism. what villagers can do to improve their own situation or benefit from growth. When China implemented the land-use regulations (LURs) of the 1980s. Market reform in China has led to a specific form of collectively owned enterprise in rural areas (Town and Village Enterprise). awaiting state intervention. From the perspective of an entrepreneur. Here. The superblock may differ in the way it engages the private sector in order to be produced. converted to urban land and its residents resettled. the simple questions of who owns the land. settlements in the latter half of 20th-century China were defined first and foremost by the means of production employed in them. it created a revised system of land rights. With no recognised legal owner-representative. 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. and the problem of how potential investors might engage this territory remain vague. As it currently stands. The refined process of land development via the superblock does not fit rural or suburban land. The fate of collectively owned land has been different from that of state-owned urban land. resulting in major hurdles for sustained economic growth and investment. and limitations. These differences are about to become significant barriers as China turns its face to the countryside. The revolution sought to shift definition of the basic economic building block and property rights from being family-based to being commune-based. There are differences in both the social frameworks and legal frameworks governing urban land as compared to rural or suburban land. a suburban industrial commune has a linear form. A farming commune takes on a cellular form. the countryside is frozen from a land rights point of view. taking advantage of a large canal. this hinterland represents too many legal grey areas. The process of creating land supply and parcelling newly developable land In both city and countryside.

one might be surprised that there are not more severe conflicts arising. the project turns its back on the public. and entrepreneur Francis Yum. if at all. fish and toads reside. in this first surge of growth. 51 . Indeed. Fengcheng is one of the nine towns in Shanghai’s ‘One City Nine Towns’ 2020 Plan. The superblock is highly efficient for planning and land transactions. I created a Hong Kong company with two partners – Aaron Loke. 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. not suburban and rural land. As China turns its attention to the ever expanding periphery and the countryside. The small scale of the block (around 7 hectares/18 acres) makes for an intimate and gardenesque centre. for a system only around 20 years old. This is not because officials deny or do not care about the apparent problems inherent in the type. suburban Shanghai. 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. Given the right regulatory framework. as well as attract development interests who prefer the predictability of the superblock planning model. A lot of trouble has been avoided through the government’s focus on urban land.for transaction took the form of superblocks and maintained the fundamental powers of the state to implement top-down control. signed a memorandum of understanding with Fengxian District. while living in Shanghai. It also preserved the basic principle of planning at the scale of the collective rather than the individual. less inherently damaging forms. The company. We evaluated the existing landscape structure north of the town. When applied in rural settings. since no one can predict the kind of density a superblock will assume on a site that is entirely peripheral to the city. A Masterplan for the Fengxian District Suburb of Shanghai In 2005. but its form creates enormous disruption to existing natural and cultural systems. 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 community maintains a newsletter and encourages residents to get to know one another through planned events. Design Community China. to undertake an experimental planning process and possible development for Fengcheng town that culminated in an 80-page planning document. noting that where Top of City in downtown Shanghai is a good example of relative success in superblock planning. A man-made lake is maintained as a living habitat where turtles. As the superblock is not designed to coexist but to replace. 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. Ltd (DCC). it is a destructive force that can be considered speculative at best with regard to real-estate markets. I propose exploring the superblock as a malleable type that may adopt alternative. the broad-axe development framework represented by the superblock will necessarily have to adapt. However. a business leader and McKinsey consultant.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. with sentries posted at each entrance.

the breadth and limitations of suburban and rural residents’ rights will have to be clarified under the law. 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. we endeavoured to create a plan that could be built. so will urban form. allowing existing farmlands to continue functioning. Once this happens. It presents as more of a string than a cell. Insufficient land quotas. agricultural bureau and party secretary) but has as yet failed to be approved by Shanghai Municipality. Masterplan for Fengcheng town. circulation. there would already be some village mortality. 2005 In a planning study for an area of 150 hectares (371 acres) in conjunction with the town of Fengcheng in Fengxian District. a suburb of Shanghai. Formally. This project is a tentative first step. Design Community China (DCC). Ultimately. As land rights and regulations are fleshed out and become more complex under the law. and low-grade commercial edges. use. it is highly unlikely that the superblock will persist in its current ‘candybox’ form as a development type in peripheral areas. phasing and leasing are the same. leaving hydrology intact and respecting the boundaries of communal lands. 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. The principle at stake is that a new development should not necessitate the demise of functioning webs of activity at its edges. 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. China. It does not assume or even advocate that these lands remain active farmland in perpetuity – indeed this seems unlikely. Fengxian District. 4 52 . ‘Developable land’ consisted of out-of-date industrial uses. public planning role and financing. but with different structuring rules. Ultimately. The circulation hierarchy. our plan was supported by officials in the district (including the offices of the planning bureau. defiance of typical planning processes and political barriers have all played a role in the delay. superblocks are already planned and infrastructure under construction. Using this matrix as an organising structure. in order to allow adjacent uses to coexist with the intervention. 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. it differs from the traditional superblock. Our proposal reflects the basic DNA of the superblock in terms of density. and we continue to await a final outcome on the venture.The Fengxian plan maintains the basic DNA of the superblock but presents as more of a string. 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. The string block maintains the fundamental components of standard development. Functioning farmland and small villages were largely preserved. villages that were already facing demise due to existing superblock development. Shanghai. The plan was composed of focused development areas. phased and financed like a superblock but that would interact more positively with its context. the relative insignificance of the project from a municipal point of view.

Hong Kong University Press (Hong Kong). People’s Daily Online. Enrico Perotti et al. increasing pressure to ensure social justice and address the very real concerns about environmental degradation in China. 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. 7. Qingpu District.cn/special/rd_index. the team envisioned existing structures as reuse opportunities with a unique scale and fabric.The Fengxian masterplan sought to create a positive interface between agricultural lands and new development. p 81.people. 25 June 2002.shtml) 4. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. op cit. 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. Privatization of Urban Land in Shanghai. 5. Sotsgorod: The Problem of Building Socialist Cities.gov. Notes 1. 1998. Images © Kjersti Monson As development pushes further into the Chinese countryside. Maps and documents are not publicly available in print form. The author documented key elements of the plan through photographs of this exhibition. Shanghai’s ‘One City. 1996. MIT Press (Cambridge. p 2. 53 . (http://english.com. pp 24–5. The United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research. ‘Working Paper Number 150: State-Owned versus Township and Village Enterprises in China’. ‘Land Market Reform Advances. NA Miliutin. 6. policy research. but can be viewed on display at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center in downtown Shanghai. MA). 2. 1974. Where village mortality was occurring. studied and in two cases worked in focus areas of the 2020 plan. and views to them were designed into the plan. Li Ling Hin. Chongming Island and Fengcheng. As quoted in NA Miliutin. But Calls for Fair Play’. and as the New Socialist Countryside concept of China’s 11th Five Year Plan takes shape in the coming years. and interviews with Chinese planners and academics over nearly three years spent living and working in China. Fengxian District. Fields would provide vista opportunities for key public spaces. A farmers’ market acted as the heart of the development and the most direct interaction between new residents and farmers. 3. including Anting Newtown.cn/200206/25/eng20020625_98507. 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 superblock type will have to evolve and adapt to a new set of regulatory issues.htm. p 81. The author also visited.

Molly Nesbit and Rirkrit Tiravanija. imagining an alternative public through a new transnational/postnational collectivity. Oleanna was a project for the ‘Utopia Station’ exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2003. a number of public and private discussions. that joined together students and artists in imagining alternative publics to ‘rescue the utopian hopes of modernity’. and I invited the students to collaborate on a project for Venice.In the Our Beautiful Future Martha Rosler describes Oleanna. 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. a collaborative project. at the Royal Academy (in Mur og Rum. 54 . a school noted for communal action and social projects). I proposed that we think together. Considering Scandinavia’s recent history of utopian design and social engineering against a centuries-long backdrop of fratricidal war. only Obrist is a professional curator. respectively. an art historian and an artist. The attraction of this exhibition was its origin in a discursive project: a proposed book. the other two are. That year I was teaching a project class in Stockholm’s Konstfack and another class in Copenhagen. The exhibition was organised by Hans Ulrich Obrist. manifested in part at the 2003 Venice Biennale. Of these.

) A building to house our projects. dreamed up by Norwegian violinist and adventurer Ole Bull. Foucault. to act as a base. Buck-Morss. whom I had met mid-project in New York. The group’s idea was selfeffacing infinitude. in imaginary spaces. led to the construction of the space/ship/ station – nothing like a blob. manifestos and mottos. 55 . Kiesler and utopian feminist science fiction. a 1950s vacuum-formed plastic holiday house. we raised our building like a barn. to work with us online. spaceship and space station. I learnt of it through Pete Seeger’s version in the 1960s.) Arguing Oleanna’s attributes. after a failed mid-19th-century colony in Pennsylvania. (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. by hand. We carried building sections in teams on unbuilt roads from the canalside. Chris Marker. seemed necessary. we considered Hardt & Negri. Debord and fellow Situationists. as well as documents and manifestos of resistance and of everyday utopian life on earth. writing constitutions. and even in outer space. we considered Futuro. Benedict Anderson. a season of widespread protests and boycotts of classes and refusal to participate in exhibitions. who encouraged Scandinavian farmers to join him there without ascertaining arability. open structure and hospitality. Forbidden to use mechanical equipment. We interviewed local activists and Free University theorists. finally. Herscher’s plans. (Oleanna was memorialised in a satirical song by Norwegian newspaperman Ditmar Meidel in 1853. and to provide a watering station in summertime Venice. Niemeyer. We decided on an unfinished building that would be a hybrid space bridge. Buckminster Fuller. as well as a few of the renegade Scandinavian (‘Bauhaus’) Situationists – those expelled from the movement for refusing to renounce the art world. (During the Biennale of 1968. calling themselves a Trojan horse. Tafuri. members of this group held a brief ‘sit-in’. after many consultations and adjustments (incorporating Biennale-imposed strictures). Lefebvre. or a more updated blob. to commemorate this 35-year anniversary.We named this imaginary post-place collective space Oleanna. I invited the Massachusetts-based architect Andrew Herscher. we flew a Trojan horse banner over our spiral-adorned seminar hill top.

produced a 10-issue newspaper (in Copenhagen and Venice). 56 . Our project. read. Interior seating was provided by cushions sewn into strips. think. art students sewed an array of direct. 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. We saw our building as a symbolic bridge and way station to utopia. and construct the building sections in Copenhagen before Venice (where we were joined by Flea members from Australia. argue. Germany and the US). performances and quite a few posters on the theme of utopia. 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’). who came together to work. solidarity. of 1956. drink beer. in alphabetical order. reclaim democracy …). We reported on intentional communities in Copenhagen and Jutland. produced for us by the Vienna-based Museum in Progress. power. the names. hosted other projects centred on social space. On pillows or ‘thought balloons’ attached to the cloth. 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). Canada. watch and produce movies and tapes. about post-apocalyptic Mars-bound colonists catapulted into deep space. of the project’s Venice participants. do research and design work. and a bicycle wheel. from the Aeneid to the space age (cf the Swedish poet Harry Martinson’s epic poem Aniara. water. The walls were painted in representative colours and bore painted ellipses – shadows of the absent Futuro – folk-based Danish cutouts. since the Scandinavians missed their bikes in canal-crossed Venice (our main poster showed the participants on bikes spiralling into the cosmos). such as I had seen at a Copenhagen graveyard. We flew the multicoloured PACE flag displayed throughout Italy that summer. prepare meals. space. in addition to a poster. Our group project. which began anyway and continues on – matters of exodus and exile. gross national happiness. and made videotapes. was a 9-metre (29.5-foot) long banner on the theme ‘In Our Beautiful Future’. allusive or ironic slogans (reclaim public space. hosted by ‘Utopia Station’ within the Biennale. a meditation on art and civilisation). friendship. But the bulk of the project was accomplished with the Scandinavian students. 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.The roof was a drape of transparent plastic dotted with metal circles.

4 Note 1. a seminar for curators on art projects outside institutional walls. Horit Herman Peled. Nanna Debois Buhl. p 68. Mille Rude. pp 55. Erik Åkesson. Maria Werger. Martha Rosler. Ellen Moffat. Kasper Akhoj Pedersen. Deborah Kelly. 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. Charlotte Bergmann Johansen.In addition to providing rest. Mia Joo Vo Rosasco. Julie Sinding. 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. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Tarje Eikanger Gullaksen. Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West. Lilach Weiss Zach. artwork by Deborah Kelly Oleanna: My Andersson Lind. Images: pp 54. Ulrika Sparre. Molly Haslund. ‘Speculations and Speculative Fictions’. Nanna Starck. Martha Rosler. where we also held a talk on women and science fiction. we provided a shady spot on our seminar hillock. shade and water. Tamar Guimarães. and I did a performance. 2000. Susan Buck-Morss. Ulla Hvejsel. furnished with our seminar cloths. Christina Hamre. 57(br) © Oleanna/Martha Rosler. Per Nyström. MA). MIT Press (Cambridge. Jens Hultquist Laursen. Fleas: Daniel Blochwitz. Annesofie Sandal. Our unfinished project was meant finally to provide an archive and to create a network for work to be done elsewhere and otherwise. Jill Dawsey. Karoline H Larsen. Line Skywalker Karlström. p 57(bl) © Fleas/Martha Rosler. recapitulating some of our themes. Mary Jo Walters 57 . because ‘we cannot afford to let them 1 disappear’. 56 and 57(t) © Martha Rosler. Trebor Scholz.

Archipelago of the Negev Desert A Temporal/Collective Plan for Beer Sheva. Israel .

Beer Sheva in southern Israel is made up of segregated communities with no central core. Beer Sheva is currently one of the most run-down cities in Israel. Beer Sheva’s architecture and urbanism disregard its unique natural setting. missing opportunities to benefit from this resource. leading to segregated communities: utterly disconnected from any sense of urban identity. during the early 20th century. culture and sociopolitical conditions have not allowed the development of a traditional city core. 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. Later attempts to house new immigrants in the city increased social and ethnic separation. Countless efforts to establish a dense and active city centre for Beer Sheva have failed. under Ottoman rule. It became the emblematic tabula rasa.4-mile) radius of Beer Sheva. its peripheral location and desert setting served as a site of urban and architectural experimentation. for political and strategic reasons. in an area with access to water. Historically. 59 . 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. 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. and so on) The fact remains that although situated in a beautiful desert landscape. 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. Notable here were the attempts to appropriate Modernist concrete housing slabs to the extreme arid climate. 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’. Sketch exploring urban erasure. and under the motto of ‘blooming the desert’. ‘neighborhood d’. they are still referred to by the alphabet describing the land plots on the city’s masterplan (‘neighborhood c’. favoured other towns and settlements that were situated closer to territorial conflicts and thus considered a higher priority for national security. as well as lack of government support which. 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. Its extreme desert climate. with a population equivalent to the number of Israelis living within the current city boundaries. Inhabited by diverse groups (such as Ethopian Jews. Within the early years of the Israeli state. Russian immigrants and oldergeneration settlers) in neighbourhoods socially set apart from each other.Known locally as the ‘non-city’.

Bottom: The proposed plan. Beer Sheva. developed with Yonatan Cohen and Kate Snider. Israel. Rafi Segal. 2007 In this proposal. Archipelago of the Negev Desert. 60 . the residential neighbourhoods of Beer Sheva become ‘islands’. Public buildings/institutions are in red.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. shifted apart by the entry of the desert into the city. Top: Existing neighbourhoods.

allowing the desert to flow through it. Since the programmes are temporal. usually understood negatively as interrupting the livelihoods of people. this inner void prevents the city from becoming one large mass. in many cases occupying the same space at different times. as a place of passage from one part of the desert to the other. The Bedouin tribes take part in activating this space. 4 61 . From an environmental and ecological point of view. Within it are formed designated collective areas/zones. (4) market areas/trade zones. 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. These neighbourhoods are set apart from each other. Segregation. becoming ‘islands’ floating in a desert landscape. 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. (3) community agriculture. The existing inner voids are expanded to a point where they become continuous. The collective zones/programmes intersect and overlap. they can overlap and occupy the same space at different times. (6) tent camps. here allows coexistence. allowing both desert and city to ‘breathe’. creating an ‘ocean’ of desert space in which the island-like neighbourhoods are scattered. each with its own cycle. each inscribed with a new temporal programme with its own cycle/time frame of activity.1 2 3 4 5 6 New collective spaces are created by giving shape to different programmes within the expanded inner-city voids. It perpetuates flow and enables distinct modes of living and diverse groups of people to occupy the same space. (5) four-wheel drive recreation routes. This ocean of unclaimed land becomes a transient public space. (1) zones for Bedouin herd movement. (2) flower tourism (flower fields that bloom in the desert aproximately three weeks a year). the proposal here introduces a decentralised urban scheme in which the city is fragmented into distant neighbourhoods.

2007. The collective programmes are shown simultaneously although each occurs at a different time/season. Existing inner city void.Overlay of all temporal collective programmes within the inner voids. Existing public buildings are in orange. Beer Sheva. 62 .

Israel. Text @ 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images © Rafi Segal 63 . 2007.The Negev Desert.

64 . Mexico City In Mexico City. El Caracol. 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.Peripheral Landscapes. unplanned illegal development exists cheek by jowl with developerdriven housing.

El Caracol is such a site – a palimpsest of histories. New Caracol. Ecatepec. as well as social and political following the logic of real-estate and informal processes. the urbanisation that characterises Mexico City’s periphery is the materialisation of a twofold process. An area of agricultural fields. arquitectura 911sc’s project for the New Caracol recognises the site as a space between city and landscape. In the mid-1990s the plant shut down. arquitectura 911sc (Jose Castillo and Saïdee Springall). On the other we see a more recent phenomenon. city and landscape. illegal sales and subdivisions of underserviced land. regulatory and professional frameworks through different forms of occupation such as squatting. between the natural and the post-industrial. Just next to them is the informal settlement of El Salado. has been produced outside the legal. and 10 years later 13. para-legal community. between the suburb and the shanty town. Historically. Mexico City. On the one hand informal urbanisation. By densifying through specific punctual interventions in the northwestern part of New Caracol and leaving the southeastern section as a hydrological infrastructure. the formerly dominant model of citymaking. characterised by the large-scale transformation of greenfield and brownfield tracts of land into developer-driven housing. with no housing. would become a settlement of close to two million people in just five decades. it also acts as a rapport between formal and informal development. just infrastructure. such as the public need for preservation and the private thrust for development. geological. and a working hydrological infrastructure. Aside from functioning as a park for leisure and contemporary art. 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. El Caracol became a quite productive industrial landscape. a continuously growing self-built. the project strives to erase the distinction between infrastructure and park. 2007 Render: View from the southeast.000 new units of low-income housing were built. 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. 65 .During the mid-20th century. It is also the space of negotiation between conflicting forces. hydrological and industrial. El Caracol introduces a new kind of open space that supports the coexistence of multiple forces.

dis. Caracol remains the most visible geographical marker. The transition from greenfield/brownfield to (sub)urbanised land is always an incremental process with complex dynamics over time.Satellite image showing the different patterns of urbanisation. Development diagrams. and the other urban dynamics operate around it.and sub-urbanisation operating in the northern periphery of Mexico City. 66 .

achieving improved performance even within the context of low-density growth. Images: pp 64-5. 67 . the project strives to put infrastructure on the front burner. geography and infrastructure become a more relevant urbanism for the outskirts. In arquitectura 911sc’s proposal. and the hydrological and the leisure park. including workspaces and retail spaces. and charging it with programmes and use. In the context of large megacities. The New Caracol project is a landscape of negotiation: between the formal and the informal. 66-7 © arquitectura 911SC. the natural and the urban. 4 Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. p 65(t) © Aerofoto México Plan: scale 1:10.000.The multiplicity of conditions at El Caracol show the ambiguous nature of the periphery. the autonomous 13. By preserving the defined geometry of El Caracol. open space and infrastructure.000-unit development and the adjoining informal settlement are complemented by programmes in the New Caracol that they currently lack. where sprawl is the dominant mode of growth and where there is always a battle between nature and urbanisation.

Urban Voids: Grounds for Change Reimagining Philadelphia’s Vacant Lands 68 .

can simultaneously experience contraction and expansion.000 acres). describes how the URBAN VOIDS competition was launched in order to trigger public discussion and the reimagining of a greened city. p 1. 4 Notes 1. resulting in lower urban density. December 2003. deindustrialistion has prompted urban abandonment at the same time as the growth of urban sprawl.org). 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. Brookings Institution. Philadelphia is an example of a cityscape that has been greatly impacted by both deindustrialisation and suburbanisation: the city currently has more than 30. 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. Philadelphia’s present vacancy crisis is a result of urban abandonment and extensive sprawl.Dispersal is most often regarded as an upshot of population rises as the demographic grows and spreads outwards of the city centre. Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. The URBAN VOIDS: grounds for change international ideas competition attracted 220 entries from 27 countries. Back to Prosperity: A Competitive Agenda for Renewing Pennsylvania. an area roughly the same size as its city centre. Competition advisor. Despite being the sixth largest city in the US. though. It offered an opportunity to design in relation to shifting human and urban marks on the land.landvisions. 69 . Van Alen Institute. 2. 2006. New York. 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. Cities. Deenah Loeb. City of Philadelphia: density of vacant properties. Similar to the way that land and water resources have historically drawn people to settle.000 vacant plots totalling around 405 hectares (1. 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. executive director of the City Parks Association of Philadelphia. Philadelphia is a ‘shrinking city’. 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. the ecology of a place can again be a force that can shape urban form. The competition entries featured here investigate and illustrate how this low-density urban environment can be reoccupied.

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). 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 . Farmadelphia.

new communities. The mounded forms could also support new energy-efficient housing models. at their summits.Thaddeus Pawlowski and Srdjan Jovanovic. employ sustainable practices for managing storm-water treatment or. Hilltopia: new topographies. 71 . turbines for new energy. These new landforms – hill-bounded neighbourhoods – would guide the city’s evolution of new boundaries providing spaciousness and privacy . 2005 The Hilltopia team suggest taking the excess soil from rapidly developing suburban areas to build new topographies in the city.

and dynamic living surfaces. Philadelphia will sculpt new multifaceted working landscapes that support greenhouses.com: engineering a new surface. Bio-Philadelphia. 2005 Bio-Philadelphia is poised to champion the transition from technology to biotechnology. environment and economy. The new landscape will blur boundaries between industry and habitation in every sense.Anuradha Mathur and Dillip da Cunha. experimental fields for energy. This shift of industry will open new frontiers in science and in the nature of human settlement. 72 . from making inert things (such as manufacturing) to making living things. ‘reactivating the American frontier toward the cultivation of a new living surface’.

while looking skyward as a strategy to cultivate density. City Parks Association of Philadelphia 73 . The 3-D sidewalk is a specific development of this investigation. Timescapes: densifying community activities. pp 69-73 © Urban Voids: grounds for change.Jill Desimini and Danilo Martic. gathering together a range of activities in a vertical spatial element that engages the edges of the neighbourhood. Images: p 68 © City of Philadelphia. 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.

74 . lies in a region known for its exceptional natural beauty. 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’. Elie Derman and Ward Verbakel propose a more flexible.Urban [IM]plants Tactics for Recombining Landscape and Collective Space in Bonheiden. interactive and dispersed approach of pinpointed interventions. Each intervention can occur independently of the others and can function as a catalyst for its immediate surroundings and beyond. Belgium Bonheiden. Els Verbakel. as the built environment has been subject to a process of banal suburbanisation. in the province of Antwerp in Belgium. Urban [IM]Plants Instead of a masterplan. Though the surrounding rural setting has remained protected this has often been to the detriment of urban life.

In the autumn of 2005. Bonheiden is an island surrounded by a peripheral void. a town of 14. 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. thereby ‘freezing’ the present situation and encouraging the current tendency for grey. In recent years. 2005 Landscape vs public space While the current urban fabric of Bonheiden separates the public from the landscape. Elie Derman and Ward Verbakel. According to traditional ways of studying the city. 75 . a new vision for the town can play an exemplary role within the region and beyond. pulls the public into the landscape and creates hybrid living typologies between urbanity and nature. Bonheiden becomes an important player in what could be seen as the dominant urban condition in western Europe. boring and generic towns. However. marshland and forests. Els Verbakel. The Belgian township called for a vision that could cope with an ageing population and development pressures without losing its rural character. 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. At the scale of western Europe. Designated by the Flemish Structure Plan as a ‘Built Peripheral Landscape’. Bonheiden’s future does not look very bright. Bonheiden. using its original landscape as the base material. floating in the mazes of a network of cities.000 inhabitants in the Flemish periphery. leaving the town the power to control its own progress and ‘master’ its own future. Image Quality Plan. It is just one example of many Flemish towns undergoing the aftereffects of the countryside’s massive postwar suburbanisation. fenland. Bonheiden is an insignificant suburban island floating in a peripheral void. deeply rooted in the economic and political history of the region. Belgium. Yet when this new dispersed urban condition is recognised in its own right. 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. 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. thereby creating a ‘collective landscape’. Flanders: Traditional urban model vs dispersed urban model When looking at Flanders according to the traditional urban model. the town is now gradually losing its raison d’ê tre. The Flemish policy for this town and similar areas in Flanders limits future urban growth and preserves the existing green space. Once famed for its landscape of heath. Ward Verbakel’s proposal brings the landscape to the public spaces. In accepting the new dispersed urbanised territory as part of this urbanity. Flanders has become a prime case study of urban dispersal. the Old World version of suburbia has become the standard model for living. in between larger urban cores connected by highways and trains. Bonheiden. organised an invited competition to rethink the spatial quality of its centre.

The project offers an alternative future where the introduction of hybrid living typologies. combining urbanity and nature. by reclaiming the landscape as collective and. allowing the inhabitants direct interaction with the primary natural condition of the place. a collective landscape will stimulate new urban life. can attract a mixture of inhabitants. thus becomes the main component of the renewed public space. through combined programming. in addition. Former town hall: before and after Bonheiden’s centre currently suffers from an ageing population and development pressures. In the long term this will discourage new inhabitation. in its most primordial sense. It thereby reintroduces the formerly wild heath landscape back into the city centre through specific. the reintroduction of a wild heath landscape remoulds and reactivates the town centre into a new and surprising type of urban space.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. Landscape. particularly high-end multi-unit housing projects that are quickly turning the town into a generic. Recovering this initial attractor neither replaces nor erases the identity of recognisable public spaces. 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. However. 76 . grey and boring place. highly tangible design interventions. turns the centre into a vertical landscape and. transforming the existing public spaces.

parks. contribute to a new and green collective street facade. providing outdoor seating areas that can be closed off in the winter and. For example. a floating pergola can be added on undeveloped sites adjacent to commercial properties to create a new vertical landscape in the centre of town.urban [im]plants = hybrid interventions Modifying relationships between built fabric and nature produces new hybrid urban conditions. A café-terrace can be added to existing restaurants or bars. The hybrid implants are organised according to three spatial registers. parks and natural domains. and Points – structures and art installations. One such example is the ‘parking plus’ fields. 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. characteristic of the urban configuration of Bonheiden: Fields – surfaces such as squares. Lines – continuous spaces along streets and paths. Every component can be implemented independently as a stimulator of the surrounding urban space. 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. and so on. 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. Parking plus Both in the public and in the private domain. hybrids between parking lots and fields of nature such as orchards. again. and can be rented for private events or for commercial promotions. In the core of each design intervention. the project proposes a series of ‘urban hybrids’ that formally and programmatically recombine urbanity and landscape in small-scale interventions. small-scale agriculture. 77 .

but also offers space for close collaboration with inhabitants and other user groups. and permits the town to instantly imagine a future quality for its centre through pinpointed proposals. small and larger buildings and public spaces to building regulations. Through a feedback mechanism. architecture. Instead of a fixed predefined document such as the traditional masterplan. A piecemeal and guided approach provides greater flexibility. 78 . The regulations range from ‘virtual parcellation’ to ‘green fingers’ and ‘parking plus or minus’. type of intervention and morphology. Elie Derman and Ward Verbakel translated their vision for vertical green space and hybrid living typologies into a series of building regulations. Each intervention was tagged with an ID card specifying the component location. formulating nine principles for any new building in the town. the town and its inhabitants. the results of the interventions are continuously evaluated and redirected before further investments are planned. urban impact and revenue.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. urban [im]plants = toolbox strategies To achieve flexible and innovative design and policy strategies. Els Verbakel. a matrix organises all of the interventions according to location. urban design guidelines and communication projects. The interventions range from art projects. which operates as a ‘toolbox’ of design interventions and principles. Derman Verbakel Architecture and Ward Verbakel Architect suggested an opensource method that could be ‘mastered’ by the design team. in which the landscape serves as a point of departure. This allows components to be assessed in communication with the town and its inhabitants throughout the process of implementation. Building regulations In a second phase. investment.

2007 As a result of the case study exercises above. Images: pp 74-8. Project Hoek Kerkplein Berentrodedreef. the execution of ‘test projects’ such as ‘parking plus’ locations and more. 79(t) © Els Verbakel and Elie Derman. The proposed collective landscape has therefore already entered the imagination of the town’s officials and inhabitants.Building regulations case study For specific project proposals. 4 Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The practices’ approach of strategic [IM]plants has proven to be an effective method not only to formulate an appropriate vision for the town. 79 . Belgium. Derman Verbakel Architecture and Ward Verbakel Architect. without having to wait for slow and after-the-fact policies. The project is currently being implemented through different mechanisms such as the creation of a legally binding structural execution plan. the image quality plan influenced the architecture of new building. Bonheiden. p 79(b) © Architectenbureau Reginald Schellen BVBA Architectenbureau Reginald Schellen BVBA. 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 team applied the principles of the building regulations by visualising them for specific locations such as the church square. but also to implement this vision in small steps with immediate results.

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. crisscrossed by three blue paths and one of asphalt. Hovedstaden. audaciously puts the ‘garden’ back into the ‘garden suburb’ by relocating the transport infrastructure to the rooftops. while the practice’s housing for LyngbyTaarbæk. 80 . Each path forms a socalled activity space with a theme of its own. The Mikado Plaza consists of a green area with grass and fir trees.User-Focused Public Space (M)UTOPIA in Denmark The Danish practice MUTOPIA brings to public space a strong sense of delight and playfulness. while demonstrating an overriding concern with the end user.

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


As Rafi Segal describes. with a built area of 33. Zvi Hecker’s new police campus for the Royal Dutch Military Police is located in the Randstad area. the ‘rim city’ conurbation that comprises the four biggest Dutch cities – Rotterdam. Client: DVD (Ministerie van Defensie). Amsterdam. 84 . The Hague and Utrecht – and has come to epitomise the most intensive European condition of dispersal. Zvi Hecker.500 staff stationed at Schiphol Airport. Programme: multifunctional complex of living. Royal Dutch Military Campus (KMar).209 square feet) on a 77. working and training facilities for 1.821-square-foot) site.000 square-metre (828. Amsterdam.Royal Dutch Military Police Campus Zvi Hecker’s Landscape Urbanism Situated close to Schiphol Airport.000 square metres (355. Schiphol International Airport. 2002– This project unites in a single location the various branches of the Royal Dutch Military Police. Structural engineer: Arup. responsible for maintaining security at Schiphol International Airport. the Netherlands. Hecker chooses to address this context by providing the campus with ‘a notion of the urban’ that creates ‘a city within a wall’. Project manager: DHV bouwadviseurs. Amsterdam.

multiple scales. It draws a line that oscillates between these while incorporating them into one architectural-urban thinking. dormitories. clusters and other elements – a sequence of spaces defined by buildings and linked by routes of movement. Highway no 4 defines the northern edge of the site. The ‘bar’ buildings that form the structure accommodate offices.View from the southeast. it is. Although placed outside the traditional urban context. freeing the central space for common facilities and sports fields.8 feet) – as is common in the Netherlands. restrictions on building heights. The bars are layered and juxtaposed one on top of the other. set along the edges of the site forming a peripheral structure that gradually opens up towards the centre. In addition to the requirements to combine living. 85 . elevated buildings. and other more general conditions such as building on a site that is below sea level – in this case by 3. and second to provide an architectural expression for an institution of state power and control in a 21st-century democratic society. to create an environment of good working and living conditions in an unfavourable and restricted site. seen from the air and the runways.6 metres (11. 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. courtyards. this site is situated within the dispersed Dutch Randstad. with streets. It does so while provoking a new expression for the public institution of the state’s military police. KMar is conceived of as a continuous wall-like bar building. creating both a larger scale massing that relates to the linearity of the runways and highway. the line between building and landscape is blurred. 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. In this sense. also played an important role. the symbolic presence of the project as the main gateway to the Netherlands. the campus resembles more a kind of city. radar limitation on the location of the various programmes on site. The project thus challenges the traditional distinction between city. Hecker’s KMar campus offers an integration of building. which are for the most practical reasons located in low-density environments. landscape and building. In contrast to the concept of the campus as a collection of individual scattered buildings implanted in green space. The architectural challenges of this project were therefore twofold: first. The long greened roofs of the bar buildings merge with the surrounding fields and create a series of terraces. educational facilities and other programmes. Characteristic of airports and their surroundings. air and space to enter. working and training facilities in one complex. connections and inclusion of diverse routes and speeds of movement tie it more to the notion of the urban. but also through its external presence and location – representing a government institution. These programmatic demands came with a problematic site and several constraints: exposure to the invasive noise of air and highway traffic. and smaller intimate spaces that shield and protect from the external disturbances. of which the walls have split and shifted to allow light. Yet from a functional point of view. as its designer Zvi Hecker called it. From the air and at eye level. the project’s complex programme. ‘a city within a wall’ or an emptied-out fortress. landscape and infrastructure. bridges. Its public dimension is not only evident in the variety of collective gathering spaces created within it.

86 .Studies and sketches of the site plan as it developed.

The campus located along highway no 4. and runways 1 and 2 of Schiphol International Airport. recalling his statement in the commission interview for the project. building and landscape. April 2007. open and porous. Zvi Hecker. the architect should find a way to express this need. It is only in dictatorial regimes that one does 1 not know where and how police operate. Note 1. this peripheral ‘wall’ is permeable. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. collective and private spaces. which does not enclose a thing but meanders around open spaces. allowing the campus to remain ‘exposed’. control and supervision. A main element of enclosure – the peripheral wall – becomes here the building itself. Site plan.’ 4 Detailed views of the courtyard spaces. As Hecker himself noted: ‘Given that democratic society requires an army and police. The campus’ horizontal. by its mere shape and configuration it creates a form that interweaves and connects open and closed. letter to the author. Images © Zvi Hecker 87 . 2001. dynamic and dispersed nature counters the concentric. symmetric. hierarchical and enclosed buildings commonly associated with state power. Here lies its programmatic and symbolic strength. Sketch of the overlapping ‘bar’ buildings. Furthermore.The KMar campus as a continuous wall-like structure.

88 . Manuel de Solà-Morales.Ville-Port. 1998 Aerial view of the project intervention. France. Saint-Nazaire. Ville-Port. Manuel de Solà-Morales describes how his Ville-Port project seeks to address the structural. 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.

The Ville-Port project in Saint-Nazaire. Yet the obvious tension between monument and city. as portrayed by Tati’s Monsieur Hulot character. places that history has considered central. 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. its vast holding capacity. muddled and filled with conflict. and the submarine base built by the Germans as a refugee camp and arsenal in the Atlantic Front fortification plan from Burdeos to Brest. the ramp 89 . The references are.201 cubic feet) and a continuous and homogeneous town. and of centripetal retreat in the face of growing suburban dispersion. There are also more recent histories of segregationist zoning in order to maintain the conformist banality of the beach. aimed to defy this broken city–port link and peripheral perception with the introduction of new collective uses. turns the apparent conditions of the periphery on their head. because they are inconvenient. one that retains the existing differences and the empty expanses as a pregnant expression of space. There are geographic peripheries that have given rise to the term ‘peripheral’. Intervening in such a spatial and psychological tension is a delicate operation. it would come to 1. 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. both within the submarine base and on its roof. the urban unconscious masks the areas that it doesn’t want to recognise. voids even in use. parking lots) between the centre and the military base. and completed in 2001. composite and active relationship. between a mass with a volume of 900. In fact. stemming from the effort required to rebuild the town after it was bombed during the war and from the presence of the submarine base. The new semantics remain on the margins. of industrial crisis at the legendary Chantiers de l’Atlantique. especially when one is a foreign architect. and its docks as broad as its horizons.000 cubic metres (31. The shipyards. drawn up in successive competition and execution phases between 1994 and 1998. History has thus turned the French port of Saint-Nazaire into a periphery: a history of memories of suffering and destruction. Voids on the ground and voids in space. always well received but also subject to the perennial suspicion of insensitivity to local problems.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. even though relatively central in their location. if we were to calculate the total volume of buildings in the central area (75 hectares/185 acres).400 square metres (13. and there are historic peripheries.247. And yet these zones can be absolutely central to the topographic viewpoint.426. Saint-Nazaire’s postwar reconstruction (the Maresquier plan) focused on a leisurebased beach/city centre relationship.902 square feet). a sense of waiting for things to come. which is a concrete symbol of occupation and tragedy. altogether. there are also peripheries constructed by history. the empty spaces (squares. Sometimes. Just as there are ‘historic centres’. thereby became peripheral to the uses of ordinary life. than the enormous truncated pyramid of concrete. The desire to tackle the periphery of the port again is above all an act of intelligence on the part of the town. which does not amount to much more. Situated at the Loire‘s estuary end. and the urban fabric appears to be no more than reassuring support for the mysterious presence on the industrial edge of the water. but one constructed with a very low density. well known for its Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyards since the 19th century. Identifying the periphery will signify assuming the hybrid condition of the space of the harbour.783. places that time and memory have pushed to the margins of daily life. and establishing a controlled relationship at a distance with the centre of the town. in the immediate surroundings.

Project masterplan. 90 .Night lighting and reflections on the water basin. Implementation in Saint-Nazaire’s urban fabric.

91 . Ramp and esplanades to access the submarine base.Longitudinal section and detail.

Parking and transparency through the submarine base. 92 . Glass wall and transparency.

93 . 91 © Manuel de Solà. cinemas and restaurants). are traces that. owing to their size. and establish the scale and the new peripheral condition of the territory. even though far away. involving this perimeter that delimits the base. Service du Communication de Saint-Nazaire Night view of interior spaces. The twin access routes to the military zone. culture and commerce. the towers (both existing and new) that rise above the harbour and the reinforcement of the avenues that run around it. And. but mixing them with – just a few – regional and civic functions of recreation. the manufacture of fishing nets and moorings). 92-3 © Dominique Macel.providing access to the roof of the base. 4 Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 90(t). with its platform roofs and small cells at water level. This is a structure of visual and functional relations that effectively mark a territory on the periphery. maintaining all the vitality of its industries (storage facilities. and the ‘atrium of the barber’ created in the transparent interior of the base (vestibule of exhibition halls. the landmarks of the silos and high-rise buildings accentuate the extent of the empty spaces in between. fusing the entire area into a structure that is both loose and strong. pp 88. refrigeration plants. in the distance. link the centre of the city to the open horizon of the harbour and estuary. with its incorporated buildings (hypermarket. housing). All around. Images: pp 90(b).

lying 60 kilometres (37 miles) to the southwest of Hong Kong. As Manuel Vicente explains. Macau A peninsula.Nam Van Square. 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. 94 .

In the south. the poetic essence of which becomes. This was even more irrefutable given the immediate vicinity of the newly built Macau Tower. and a true icon with no connotations with the city’s past. Designing a public site requires recognition of a place prior and beyond the invention of its space.’ Overview of the Macau peninsula before the construction of the third bridge. successively ascertained through the interplay and manipulation of hidden geometries waiting to be named. 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. not only from a symbolic point of view. as a simple landscaping of the access areas for the new (third) bridge to the outlying islands. in a whole complex concoction pregnant with unsuspected urbanities. each finding a design pattern to divorce itself from its proximity to the roads. From the core of the roundabout’s inner square. distinctly postcolonial. like a palace in an Indian fairytale. This project organises two different park areas along the two waterfronts. even in mere capacity terms. as meninas a saltar …’1 After all the noise and excitement over Macau’s administrative transition settled down post 19 December 1999. a children’s playground stretches along the water. a quintessential modern and abstract structure. ‘Horses are galloping.‘Os cavalos a correr. On the lakeside. to harbour the collective rites and rituals of the new Macau. in an adjoining stretch of causeway. 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. the new local government was faced with the requirement for a new public square. 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. one can walk through the series of familiar typologies that irradiate from it – esplanades. 4 Note 1. gardens. in the course of time. the formal hard-surfaced floor that represents the real foundation of the public space. When VLB Arquitectura & Planeamento LDA were appointed to design the project. 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. The values VLB proposed for Macau’s new Nam Van Square were mainly those related to the plural and diversified fruition of the site. along a path shaded by the traffic flyovers that form an important part of the design of the new civic square. walkways and embankments – to the lake’s shore. An urban park was commissioned two years after the square. And on the riverside. but also and most urgently from a functional point of view: the inherited historical civic space was clearly inadequate. simultaneously circulating. terraces. 95 . 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. the creation of public space traditionally begins almost as a casual accident in the urban fabric.

.A flyover as shelter.

Nam Van Square is between the two western bridges.Plan of the whole territory of Macau. 97 . and flies by when seen from above. Nam Van Square is shown at the intersection of the two lakes and the river. 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. The reclamation between the two islands is the location of the new megacasino strip. Map of the city of Macau showing the Nam Van Lakes reclamation scheme and its integration within the historic Praia Bay. showing the water beds and major gambling investments (in orange).

98 . The landscape areas bind the different levels and functions.View towards the lake. The curved complexity transverses different levels.

pp 96. 98(b) © Rui Leão. Carlotta Bruni and Manuel Vicente. photo www. which has produced in the architectural field a culture of typological hybridism.com 99 . 98(t). 99(r) © Rui Leão. Carlotta Bruni and Manuel Vicente. Macau.The modelling of the floor. General plan for the urban park under the third bridge. with the ambition of moving away from a South China nostalgia into a regional economic player. between China and the Asian archipelago. which creates an organic movement along the lake shore. p 97(b). Carlotta Bruni and Manuel Vicente. pp 97(t&c). thus becoming the Special Administrative Region of Macau. Its geopolitical status. photos Carlotta Bruni. 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. has historically been a place of miscegenation and deviation. up from 14 square kilometres (5. 99(l) © Rui Leão.3 square miles). Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: p 94-5 © Macau Information Bureau. It comprises the peninsula of Macau and two islands.4 square miles) 20 years ago. provides a means of simultaneously alienating and integrating the massive presence of the pre-existing bridge flyovers. a total area of 24 square kilometres (9. 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. was a Portuguese-administered enclave from 1557 until 19 December 1999: the date when it was returned to the People’s Republic of China.almosterstudio. located on the South China coast.

Austria The New York artist Vito Acconci has chosen to work through architecture. or from below into the restaurant/bar area. He explains why he believes the location of his highly successful cultural centre for Mur Island. on to a terrace. seeing the potential of it as a medium to engage ‘the public with the world around them’. Graz. Austria. Acconci Studio. 2003 The dome functions as a café/restaurant. A canopy above the lower entrance twists down to create lounge seating around the edge of the dome. .Mur Island. It is entered from above. Graz. Mur Island. Graz. in Austria missed the opportunity to rejuvenate areas of the city beyond the historic core.

was the River Mur. a node in the river. a field to climb up and crawl through and hang on to. As with other projects. the bowl functions as a public space. a playground is formed by the warp. the organisation behind the initiative. which runs through the Austrian town. Where the dome morphs into a bowl. When not being used as a theatre. This choice of site was determined by its proximity to the town’s bridges. thus instead of sitting facing straight ahead. and expands and contracts. there is a slide that cuts through the grid. Each line of bleachers waves in and out. collective space to function independently of the continuous urban fabric. Acconci Studio’s own preference would have been for a different location. In this sense. and very much hoped. and allowed the island as a public. photo Elvira Klamminger. 101 . a small café and children’s playground. This in between space is a threedimensional grid that functions like monkey bars. Acconci Studio is interested in engaging the public with the world around them. © Acconci Studio. and is lined with transparent bleachers made of grating or perforated metal that step down to the stage below. would happen. Temporality was never much of an issue during the design process. The selected site. in the middle of the river. photo Harry Schiffer. © Acconci Studio The bowl functions as a theatre. without tying into existing public spaces. the world they are in. In addition. which was chosen by Graz 2003. 4 A twist in the river. which provided an additional river crossing on Mur Island at a point where there are currently no bridges. contrary to art. Images: © Acconci Studio. Plan of Mur Island. 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. a plaza. and vice versa. is oriented towards users rather than viewers: design and architecture deal inherently with participants and inhabitants. This would have allowed for an alternative strategy to be pursued. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. visitors can sit face to face and enjoy everyday conversation. which it assumed. away from the existing bridges and the urban centre. They are involved with design and architecture because design allows the possibility of dealing with (at least some of) the occasions of everyday life. anchoring the island to the bottom of the river allowed it to respond to the rise and fall of the changing tide. 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.This floating island for the 2003 European cultural capital included an open-air theatre. Architecture. 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. the town centre and the planned Peter Cook and Colin Fournier’s Graz Museum (now completed). it would have acted as a device for drawing activity beyond the established city confines. The greatest consideration was put into the river context with its water and tides and floods.

as Robert Venturi pointed out. in parallel. 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. as Allen proposes. Architects here become ‘interpreters’ of the public ‘good’ – their client being the ‘public’ itself. In my view it’s more important to think first about publics. 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. markets. in their tendency to invent ways to use the spaces that are given to them. In the larger sense. Margaret Crawford.’ writes de Certeau. That’s a dangerous combination. 2006 Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG. they act on behalf of the collective interest. we cannot conceive of the urban without a conception of public space. 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. beyond the whims and particular desires of the individual client. I would start by signalling my scepticism about the concept as it is usually evoked – especially in the American context. Space is an abstract notion that acquires specificity in relation to specific practices. ‘Place. but what do we mean? It is worthwhile to look at the traditional city. and directly engage in giving shape to public life. and on the other never questioned as to its value. Westside. Can urbanity exist without the production of public space or vice versa? And. ‘is practiced space. another interesting thing about de Certeau’s views is that he has a faith in the collective creativity of subjects. etc. guest-editors Rafi Segal and Els Verbakel curated a discussion with Stan Allen. 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. If we look specifically at the American city. Public space is a concept that is on the one hand hardly ever defined with any degree of specificity. Veneto. Yet in the current reality of urban environments at low densities. squares. So. Marcel Smets and Sarah Whiting. Italy. historically. We think of the traditional city as the locus of public space. and ask what was the notion of public space.Discussion Architecture and Dispersal To close the issue. 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’. This notion of spatial practice derives from Michel de Certeau’s. it can’t be criticised). Switzerland. what and where are these public spaces. Berne. in all their specificity and multiplicity. due for completion 2008 102 .’ 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. and then look at their spatial practices. with full awareness that I am treading on a sacred icon (public space is like motherhood or apple pie. and how are they used? We would find that each one has a very specific and often very different pattern. The concept of public space enables the architectural profession to go beyond the sole service of the private sector. the romantic notion of the European piazza (as the emblematic public urban space) is something that never really existed in the American city. who also elaborates a distinction between space and place. the interdependence of urbanity and public space as we know it can be questioned.

These sentiments invariably feed futile ‘retrieve and recover’ missions that share success/failure rates with other contemporary missions based on myths.’ In short. Saint-Nazaire. to business than to its presumptive origin in government or some variant of public organisation. While colonial cities such as Savannah were organised so as to create miniature cities within a city. ‘is a practice. spaces that touch and connect people with other people. dense. if not more. that allows for the unexpected. while always leaving some noise in the system. This fact simply cannot be avoided when discussing public space. 2007 Manuel de Solá-Morales.’ In this sense it can be given space. each centred on a public green. I don’t see this as a problem for architects. Nam Van Square. understanding flow and access. Places of gathering that used to be associated with city centres are splintering. As much as we may want to believe in the altruistic alignments of public space and public agency. The privatisation of public space finds a willing accomplice in programming – in the definition. Whether this is necessarily a highly concentrated space can be questioned. and putting themselves under government. by definition. Sarah Whiting: Lament-drenched. That potential is in turn activated by the way in which the space is put to use – put into play – by the public itself. ‘Public’ space does not disappear but multiply. China. has long been directed primarily by monetary concerns. In Flanders. Even in high densities we see a tendency for isolation. now more than ever the public sphere invariably finds easier alliances in private partnerships than it does in public policy. for example in the form of events and festivals. 1998 103 . from its inception. the Washington DC MacMillan Plan of 1902 (also designed by Burnham). an individual yet shared experience. The main square that used to host political demonstrations is now only a place for entertainment and tourism. In a certain way. who has pointed out that there are architectures that constrain freedom and free expression. For me. etc causes urbanity to disappear. but rather to create the precise architectural conditions where those practices have the best chance of survival. 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. organisation and construction of what happens in that space. but there are no specifically ‘liberating’ architectures. It’s for this reason that I’ve always been suspicious of the attempt to overscript the use of public space. the space of the American urban landscape – urban. Carlotta Bruni and Rui Leão. ‘Freedom. it loses its hierarchy and has become more temporary. In many Flemish towns. even civic services such as post offices and administrative centres are moving away from the centre based on a false idea of efficiency. Cities are now concentration points in urban nebulae. Manuel Vicente. education. Macau. creating the right measure. but it cannot. There is an important paradox that has been articulated by Michel Foucault. sports fields. beginning with Daniel Burnham’s Chicago Exposition of 1893. The architect’s job is to create spaces with potential. In each type of urbanity. etc. post-lapsarian narratives about a lost public sphere that needs to be ‘recovered’ appear to have wormed their way even into AD. of men’s uniting into commonwealths. The American urban landscape. therefore. illustrating John Locke’s observation of 1690 that: ‘The great and chief end. or beginning even earlier with the nation’s land surveys and acquisition policies. Marcel Smets: The classic answer would be that the church square no longer works. Ville-Port. The public sphere in the US has. the incentive for cities planned after independence has arisen from the private sector. Public space has become a ‘telanovela’. imagining and projecting potential uses into the space. The flocking together of programmes such as sports. So the job of the architect becomes calibrating the right mix between specificity. since people no longer go to church.freely exercise its collective creativity. be dictated from above. France. Collective space gets to be pre-coded if not privatised. we are talking about places where we frequently spend time. places that are shared can be considered public spaces.’ writes Foucault. from cemeteries to recreation places. but rather quite the reverse – it means that our job is not to script spatial practices. transport locations. a successful public space is precisely a space where something unanticipated happens. been tied as much. this has created a new type of city centre where recreation is the only urban activity left. is the preservation of their property. suburban. or not – utilises the delineation of property ownership as its base map. a degree of ‘play’.

STACK THE DECK: If lawns and asphalt are irresponsible. a wealthy suburb of Santa Barbara. there are several obvious types of sites that cry out for a little more public-ness. But. LOVE YOUR SKIN: Revel in surfaces. ‘pure’. multiply. without that time. MAKE A PITCH: Sell the public to the public. Let it make a profit. Chicago’s recent Millennium Park is fully programmed with music. and working-class Medford. Add a piazza or town green. close the bar 104 . limited access and high security environments. The fleeing of the public from the city. One is the ubiquitous strip mall. now. Colours. Denmark. vehicle registration department. frames and tones of public space. 2005 But as the programming of contemporary life accelerates. close or far from a city. Mikado Plaza. Montecito. 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.’ we are fast becoming a culture with no time or space. multiply. say. textures. Trying to understand how people live. in general. raises questions about the relevance of previous forms and expressions of public space to contemporary culture and settlement patterns. include some public functions (library. still. KNOW YOUR MEDIUM: To know your image is to know your public (even when it looks funny). let alone public. and give them a space to say it in. particularly in the dispersed environments that are the focus of this issue of AD? Lamenting an absent idealised public sphere is futile. suburbs can be rich or poor. 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. Alex Wall seems to suggest that in Southeast Asia. Ecatepec. the small aggregates to create the large. More and more we see the emerging of a wide range of collective spaces produced by a highly advanced private market. points out that the US is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacations. MASS MARKET: Multiply. Mexico City. 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. Although the diversity of suburban lives and circumstances demands specific strategies. a coffee shop or café. To discuss. New Caracol.arquitectura 911sc. They also need to acknowledge the enormous variety of dispersed urban conditions. architects know almost nothing about suburban life. and that 61 per cent of workers in the US take less than 15 days vacation a year. Copenhagen. outside of Boston as equivalent examples of dispersed urbanism does justice to neither. wildflower paths. as architects. Ørestad Nord. How do we. the programming of contemporary public space cannot keep pace. 2007 MUTOPIA. The Center for Economic Policy Research. a green and sandy strip between the city and the lake. the strip mall’s current form is a bar of programme surrounded by a sea of parking. Unlike Burnham’s Grant Park of 1909. Accompanied by constant headlines such as ‘Is your child too busy? Make sure to schedule family fun time too. city offices). the ensuing questions need to be retooled. as described in this issue of AD by Bruce Robbins’ reading of Thomas Pynchon on the one hand. wholly public sphere and accept that. discover the new horizontal. Home to virtually every suburban commercial function. the lifestyle shopping centre has the potential to become a model of a new type of public space. Let them speak. to name just a few distinctions. In the US. skating and eating. California. at least in the American context. foster new possibilities in the public sphere. based in Washington DC. work and interact in dispersed areas should be their first priority. And the large is just fine. we’re seeing how small that sphere may be. Their design and organisation is based on mechanisms of high profit. patterns … these are the plinths. with or without a centre. from grocery stores to restaurants to local boutiques. Yet with a little tweaking it could become a public place. Massachusetts. If we drop the false narrative of an original. Like Ladybird Johnson’s wildflower campaign. art. It was easier to believe that we had a public sphere when we felt that we had time for it. and Albert Pope’s analysis of changes in the organisation of settlements from grid to cul-de-sac on the other.

In the current boredom of banality. Waiting Spaces/Intermittent Cities. Nevertheless. we can identify attempts of the urban plan to employ landscape as an active urban force that can give meaning to otherwise loose. In several projects presented in the issue. design is always running behind the fact. they can be comforting yet not challenging. unexpected. the government could play a more active role in increasing accessibility to public spaces. Not everybody finds the current developments that interesting.Els Verbakel. The space of infrastructure is usually accessible for all. As designers we can draw attention to small. For example. Our perceptions have become private experiences. not only shared by equally minded users. such as the primacy of the automobile. Image Quality Plan. As architect to the Flemish government. everyday commercial activities like supermarkets can enliven street life). I myself make an effort to raise awareness about making collective spaces more accessible. unclaimed space seems to offer more possibilities. In dispersed areas. 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. On the other hand. is extremely fascinating yet also very depressing. Buses are cheaper. can be seen as public. This is the kind of urbanity we should strive for. although not always equally. and even well-designed bus stops. 2005 Claudia Faraone and Andrea Sarti. Italy. But at the same time residents should also be offered alternative means of access by creating bicycle and pedestrian paths. neglected voids within the larger low-density environment (for example. multilayered. the Roman forum or the Greek agora were also never fully accessible and we should be careful not to fall for a myth. walking in Manhattan it is surprising how the New York University compound has become so much more predictable than it used to be. Other projects (such as KMar and Mikado) incorporate the landscape feature 105 . where a more layered collectivity can take place. and in parallel there exist microworlds that are more 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. sports complexes and parks). rather than the increasing cocooning of privatised public space. in projects such as the Philadelphia Urban Voids competition. Belgium. Bonheiden. the anonymous main street. teasing and provoking the current state of terrifying banality. more flexible. All the ingredients of a university campus have been provided. but it can also be a confrontation. After all. Belgium. by providing sufficient parking. Marcel Smets: To turn this question around. Veneto. Although there are many mechanisms that make claimed spaces such as supermarkets more multivalent. the space that does not belong to anyone is potentially the most public. where the camera follows a plastic bag flying in the air. As designers we have the responsibility to make people imagine and realise that beauty can lie in very small things. In Brussels’ 19thcentury belt we can find examples of unclaimed space. architects can challenge these expectations and strive for a surprise effect. A beautifully designed strip mall? Why not? Other suburban sites whose public-ness could easily be amped up include schools (by adding functions. Bonheiden. shared experiences of beauty. architects will have to give up their dream of fixed rail transit as a generator of public spaces. To a certain extent. or even monofunctional civic centres (whose lives can be extended beyond working hours with new public and private programmes such as theatres. a pseudo-urbanity that has been fixed ahead of time. the menu of a ‘nice neighbourhood’. 2004 with two wings. this kind of approach is very much needed. rather than the neighbourhood street. And without disturbing the mall’s necessary commercial functions. The scene in the movie American Beauty. and El Caracol in Mexico City). and with new forms of electronic scheduling can nearly reproduce the door-to-door capacities of private automobiles. All of these transformations should acknowledge the realities of dispersed urbanism. and rearrange the parking. often. Elie Derman and Ward Verbakel. The street. introducing after-hours uses or even commercial activities). where beggars and homeless walk side by side with inhabitants and visitors. existing but faded main streets (where. while the public sphere requires the sharing of experience. Voila! a new public/private place that would satisfy most urbanists. We can work with micro-interventions and lost spaces that function as implants. accessible.

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). between buildings. rather than existing as fixed points in spaces. public experiences. and therefore possibly a new type of public space. In the suburbs. Venice Biennale. life in the new dispersed city depends on time as much as space. roadways. accumulate over the course of the day and night. for example). Landscape. a catalogue of projects. Much of the built space starts to look similar. infrastructure and what has been traditionally called landscape. and experiment with the non-built as a generative element. Temporality and transience. in working with dispersed urban conditions. So landscape urbanism has already emerged as a serious field of study: it has a 10-year history. Landscape architects can design parks. but as an amplification of possibilities. Several projects propose a non-permanent approach to design. For example. As a discipline. A promise of continuous change can now be found in the landscape. 2003 as an integral part of the urban thinking. The attraction of landscape urbanism is that it offers a new set of tools to be deployed in the design of the void spaces. These tools – new ways of thinking and working – are ideally suited to this emerging dispersed field. trees. Margaret Crawford: Landscape architects. 2003 Martha Rosler. landscape architecture has the potential to become a kind of synthetic discipline that incorporates the insights of ecology. Again. have now become an important aspect of designing public spaces in dispersed environments. Mur Island. this would require them to acquire a deeper knowledge of the circuits and cycles that constitute suburban lives. open space design. 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. on the other hand. are clearly more adept than architects who are obsessed with filling space. which makes landscape into a place of identity. and its own literature (at least two well-conceived collections have appeared recently. the so-called empty spaces. It doesn’t seem accidental that the rise of landscape urbanism 106 . becomes very much related to the question of identity. used to dealing with open spaces. Venice. architecture and urbanism. This suggests that we are urgently in need of a new discourse of ‘landscape suburbanism’. landscape has become a place of escaping the predefined. but is today something beyond the mere design of gardens and parks. gardens and green spaces of all kinds are among the suburbs’ primary attractions. Austria. The flocking together of similar programmes and activities creates a highly developed system of connections that can receive a new meaning as public space. subdivisions and roadsides. Graz. all staples of the dispersed landscape. infrastructure and urbanism – landscape architecture is situated at the point of intersection between regional ecologies. At the same time. in part because of its ‘minor’ status and lack of history. In fact. The challenge for designers is to weave more of these public moments into the built and unbuilt fabric of dispersed urbanism. traditionally attributed to nature and ecology.Vito Acconci. As Robert Fishman has argued. adding a temporal dimension to design in the suburbs should not be viewed as a compromise. week and weekend. Italy. 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. Oleanna/Utopia Station. This is a very promising development. a number of recognised practitioners. Thus. the festival emerged as an attempt to break out of the theatre into the landscape. winter and summer. parking lots. Landscape offers an ‘unclaimed’ territory. infrastructure. Time as much as space should be a key component of this new discourse. and it opens up a lot of interesting territory. 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.

yet where. What an ecologist will tell you.’ This approach can be seen analogous to the notion of 1960s universal space – a space. This is of course attractive but naive. Israel. It’s triggered by differences and imbalances in the initial conditions. p 102(r) © Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG. Service du Communication de Saint Nazaire. I just want to point out three areas that. Recognising that attraction. demonstrations. To my mind these are the real contributions of landscape urbanism. continuous flows. 2007 parallels the emergence of the city as a dispersed field condition in the late 20th century. In part this is because the institutional realm – those who commission large-scale projects – have yet to catch up. picnics. etc. p 103(r) © Dominique Macel. The architect’s obligation to design those initial conditions with a high degree of precision and specificity remains. Amsterdam. To my mind. ‘Don’t worry about programme. paradoxically. 2007 Zvi Hecker. Archipelago of the Negev Desert. Surface is the territory of landscape. a kind of loose thinking where it is possible to say. for me. Indeterminate programme or multi-use: Here. etc. discontinuities and separations – and their social/programmatic value – in both landscape and architecture. p 104(r) © MUTOPIA ApS. in a vacuum. Landscape urbanism is enormously promising. too. it is something of an abdication of responsibility. they haven’t actually been doing urbanism. In the urban or landscape realm. p 107(r) © Zvi Hecker 107 . Emergence: In both architecture and landscape there has been a fascination with self-organisation and emergence. This suggests closer attention to breaks. ideas are still being worked out. 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. landscape urbanism is an important emerging field. is that emergence does not happen all by itself. doing away with architecture’s vertical dimension. It’s a young field where things are still in flux. above all. there is this attractive idea that on an open field anything can happen – sports. which has become associated with partitioned space. The idea that self-organisation and emergence are associated with lack of specificity and lack of design is itself a misunderstanding. and there is an idea that the warped surface promises total connectivity. Images: p 102(l) © Paolo Viganò. Schiphol International Airport. That’s what makes it exciting. because programme take care of itself. This is based on a loose appeal to ideas of ecological succession. On the other hand. where anything can happen. but. p 106(tr) © Martha Rosler. What is interesting is that each of these areas has both an enormous potential and some room for error. Carlotta Bruni and Manuel Vicente. the notion that the architect supplies a kind of infrastructure and then you just let things happen over time. p 105(l) © Els Verbakel. you don’t get emergence without very carefully designed initial conditions. there is no need for the architect to determine anything. p 106(tl) © Acconci Studio. it is possible to look somewhat critically on the actual practices of landscape urbanism: most practitioners have been doing large-scale urban parks. festivals. but we haven’t yet seen the full impact in practice. Elie Derman of Derman Verbakel Architecture and Ward Verbakel Architect. constitute both the areas of greatest promise. p 103(l) © Rui Leão. It has the potential to change our notion of urban design by making available a new set of tools and. concerts. where we are talking about artificial ecologies. in theory. p 105(r) © Claudia Faraone and Andrea Sarti. as was often the case. We are still waiting for projects that show a real synthesis of landscape and urbanism. p 107(l) © Rafi Segal. arquitectura 911sc. photo Carlotta Bruni. by foregrounding the question of time and the question of process.Rafi Segal. on the contrary. p 106 (bl&br) © © URBAN VOIDS: grounds for change City Parks Association of Philadelphia. 4 Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. the potential pitfalls of the landscape urbanism approach. KMar. Beer Sheva. It becomes easy to fall into a false utopia of total connectivity. p 104(l) © Jose Castillo Ólea. nothing happens. The Netherlands. The architect’s obligation to specificity and design remains. So for me.

1999) and his theoretical essays in Practice: Architecture. His work and writing have been published in Praxis Journal. Architectural Record. He is currently a professor at UPenn’s School of Design. She has more than 25 years’ experience in programme innovation and implementation in the environmental field and the arts. She has been a guest professor in several European schools (EPFL Lausanne. Marcel Smets is the Flemish government architect. São Paulo. the studio seeks to combine mathematical. and has held visiting positions at Harvard. while working on the pavilions and strategies for the Lisbon Expo 98. She received a BA from the University of California at Berkeley. He has taught at the Universite Laval in Quebec. In 1991 he also set up a practice in Berlin. in 2001. Els Verbakel founded Derman Verbakel Architecture. mainly the social housing schemes. a Graham Foundation Grant. 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. biological and other models with narratives and action. Stemming from Vito Acconci’s background in writing and art.com he carries out commercial work as well as research projects dealing with city transformations and public spaces. and has published widely.cityparksphila. Martha Rosler uses photographs and montages. and the crossroads of practice and theory. Ch Buls. He has published many books. 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. He studied architecture in Technion. Neumann. She is also a partner. as well as a range of innovative urban and architectural designs promoting social and environmental sustainability. His most recent book is Upward Mobility and the Common Good (Princeton. an architect and photographer. Leuven. He has lived in the US since 2004. 2000). and later established his own practice while also working in partnership with Eyal Weizman. Current research projects include SHAKTI – Research for the Sustainable Development of Hyderabad. a graduate diploma from the Architectural Association. are still a strong reference for Portuguese and Macanese architects. His urban projects have been published in Points and Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City (Princeton Architectural Press. Current projects include a retractable bridge in Boulognesur-mer and housing folded inside a hill in Beaumont. Israel and New York. 2000). Israel and New York. He has also taught at the universities of Geneva and Lausanne. 2005). Nakuru: An African Town (Leuven. Stan Allen is a registered architect and Dean of the School of Architecture. Bruce Robbins is a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. he has developed an extensive catalogue of urbanistic strategies. and contributed to organising the Fudan University International Urban Forum in 2006. As a practising urban designer. in 2001. She obtained a professional degree in architecture (Belgium) and an MSc in architecture and urban design (Columbia University).cast1466. Alex Wall is an architect and Chair of Urban Design in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Karlsruhe. Georgia. During the 1990s he was co-editor of the journal Social Text. Poland.org). along with Ron Witte. using space as a fluid. Elie Derman founded Derman Verbakel Architecture. Rafi Segal studied and taught architecture at the Technion–Israel. with projects in Belgium. with Elie Derman. Albert Pope is an architect living in Houston. the Belgian Garden Cities and the reconstruction of Belgium after 1914. an architecture firm based in Princeton. a research group in urban morphology. installations. India. of WW. He is the author of Ladders (Princeton. and as tutor in the Advanced Course in Visual Art at Fondazione Ratti in Como (2006). Their most significant projects include the Coloane Island masterplan. He has taught architectural design at the Bezalel Academy. He has won several awards for excellence in design and his work has been exhibited internationally. Jose Castillo is a practising architect living and working in Mexico City. Cornell and NYU. He received professional degrees in architecture and urban design from the universities of Ghent and Delft. a project for the new opera house in Harbin. in Rennes. This has spawned new types of dialogue and process tools. changeable and portable instrument. and at Rutgers University. Haifa. Texas. His research is situated at the crossroads of urbanism and urbanisation. an architect and urbanist. His most recent publications include Victor Gruen: From Urban Shop to New City (Actar. and the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven. His buildings in Macau. with Alan Berger. and a member of the board of the PhD in urbanism. Manuel Vicente has been working simultaneously in Macau and Lisbon for the past 45 years. and holds a Masters of Landscape Architecture. since 1968. and at Princeton University where he is currently completing a doctoral dissertation. He has published and lectured extensively on contemporary architecture and urbanism. China. 108 . an old military area. working on competitions and projects such as the reuse of the disused railway area in Spoornoord. Zvi Hecker was born in Krakow. war-making and the built environment. and the design of new housing in La Courrouze. 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. a working method and architectural strategy that challenges the role of the architect while welcoming citizens and professionals into the design process. 1998). Milan. Nansha Coastal City (Harvard Graduate School of Design. 1996). Jerusalem. Israel. and coordinates the Master of Architecture thesis programme. performances and critical writing to investigate social conventions.Contributors Acconci Studio is a collaborative studio that undertakes design and architecture projects. of arquitectura 911sc. 2006). text works. After her PhD (‘La città elementare’. Kjersti Monson is a planner and urban designer with EDAW/AECOM. Responding to the complexity of the modern city in creative ways. Within the collaborative and interdisciplinary studio www. Uzbekistan. He worked for several years with Architect Zvi Hecker in Tel-Aviv. Nam Van Square. She has published several books including Building the Workingman’s Paradise (Verso. and has established its distinct profile through ‘user-focused design’. His design partnership with Rui Leão and Carlotta Bruni began in Lisbon. She is a professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (Städelschule) in Frankfurt and at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Porto Marghera. 2007). MUTOPIA was founded in 2004 by architects Serban Cornea and Kristina Adsersen. She is a visiting professor at the Technion University and Bezalel Academy. with Els Verbakel. Deenah Loeb is the executive director of City Parks Association. Kuvuande Mbote: A Century of Colonial Urbanism in Congo (Antwerp. Israel. Venice. TU Delft and UPC Barcelona. an attempt to define the components and design strategies for European low-density urban regions. France.org in Venice (2003–04). and a President’s Citation from the Cooper Union in 2002. Princeton University. videos. of the Laboratori d’Urbanisme de Barcelona. and in 1990 she founded Studio Bernardo Secchi Paola Viganò with Bernardo Secchi. an independent architectural and urban practice. uses and meanings of urban space. He is also co-author of Zwischen_Stadt_Entwerfen (Mueller + Busmann. He works with photography as a tool to describe and therefore to interpret the reality of cities and territories. among them ‘Studio OpenCity’ in Brussels/Kortrijk (2000) and www. in the office of Trav do Noronha. UNESCO-WHS. 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. Paola Viganò is an architect. and grew up in Samarkand. 1999) she became an associate professor of urban design and urbanism at the IUAV. He is chair professor of Urbanism at the School of Architecture of Barcelona. Belgium. Claudia Faraone. and is the Gus Sessions Wortham Professor of Architecture at Rice University. Venice and Canary Islands biennales. 1996). and is currently living and working in Atlanta. She has taught architectural theory and design at KU Leuven. Germany. Bomb. 2005). and is a PhD candidate at Princeton. a historic organisation whose work acts as a catalyst for change by advancing visionary thinking about natural resources in the urban community(www. mostly dedicated to urban design matters. Arquine. including books on H Hoste. He is the principal. Sharon. KU Leuven). He has been awarded fellowships in architecture from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. and a founder and head. He obtained a professional degree in architecture (Israel) and an MSc in architecture and urban design (Columbia University). Canada and Universität für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna. the media. the renovation of the Moorish Barracks. France. Skira. Bruno De Meulder is a professor of urbanism at Katholieke Universiteit. 2G and Domus. From 2003 to 2006 she was based in Shanghai where she worked as a consultant and designer on projects throughout urban and rural China. in particular looking at field theory. 2000) and De Kampen van Kongo (Amsterdam. Margaret Crawford is a professor of Urban Design and Planning Theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Columbia University. alongside Saidee Springall. New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Pratt Institute. He has published widely. and painting at the Avni Academy in Tel Aviv where he set up the practice Hecker. currently works as a freelance in Venice. 1996) and. a Design Arts Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. with projects in Belgium. and obtained a PhD at the University of Leuven where he was appointed to the chair of Urbanism in 1978. Andrea Sarti. Antwerp. in 1931. the Sai Van Urban Park and.bordersproject. he was in charge of large urban design projects in Belgium and Italy. Her research focuses on the evolution. Technique and Representation (G+B Arts. Manuel de Solà-Morales is an architect and city planner. more recently. including The Brussels Mont des Arts Reconsidered (Rotterdam. Pratt Institute and Princeton University. has participated in various architectural and artistic projects on the subject of cities and urban space. and a PhD in Urban Planning from UCLA. She was a 2006 Fellow of the Fudan University Center for Urban Studies. landscape architecture and ecology as models to revitalise the practices of urban design.

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. drawing their inspiration from ‘the regimented order of grand Victorian museology’. graceful subtlety’ of Caruso St John’s redevelopment of the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood in east London.Interior Eye Reinvigorating Childhood Howard Watson is uplifted by the ‘brave. .

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 variety of quartzite. forming perhaps one of the best-kept examples of the Victorian desire to bring health and culture to London’s poorer regions. Formed in three parallel sections. and a glass roof. graceful subtlety that draws on the regimented order of grand Victorian museology. peering at a mistyped paper label beside a dusty. the main exhibition space evolved somewhat haphazardly to become a charming. The facade creates a new relationship with the community and geographical setting. iron columns and girders. is now uncluttered. it was a large iron building. They even dimmed the lights. 2007 The main exhibition hall. which is run by the Victoria & Albert Museum. The three parallel sections were not divided. It was constructed in 1856/57 by Charles Young & Company as a temporary structure for the new South Kensington Museum. highlighting accessibility and reflecting the street and greenery of the surrounding park through tall windows. 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. but the materials are exquisite. 111+ . which became the V&A. It became a familiar sight to witness children banging buttons. with corrugated iron walls. touching screens and interacting with displays. with the original ironwork helping to regiment the space. as a working venue. Caruso St John. while jealous adults would stand elsewhere. comprising three sections with curved ceilings. an impoverished part of east London. It would be tempting to expect the refreshed Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood to be an excessive den of bright lights. In 1865 it was replaced and the temporary structure was moved to Bethnal Green. but his plans were never completed due to a lack of funds. JW Wild designed a new entrance and additional facilities. Bethnal Green. 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. at the request of local philanthropists. 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. The Museum of Childhood. 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. but cluttered and disorganised space. computer wizardry and child-friendly chaos. Consequently. involving a twophase redevelopment of a Victorian building. colour. V&A Museum of Childhood. so the museum principally comprises one large. The museum resides beside a park. The pattern has now been repeated and enlarged on the mezzanine ceilings. the museum has been dogged by its incompletion. The architects have combined their ability to construct cultural permanence in sometimes unlikely settings with ground-breaking exhibition design. has been one of their longest-running projects. Caruso St John was established in 1990 and has gained respect in Britain for its innovative arts-related buildings.In the last decades of the 20th century. Meanwhile. 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. porphyries and limestone draws on the red of the Victorian brick behind. London. almost tunnel-like volume. badly lit display. and the iron walls were replaced by typical Victorian red brickwork. deceptively simple design solutions. It carries through the realisation of the museum’s contemporary ambitions with a brave.

Section of the new entrance. The charming but somewhat disorderly main display area before the redevelopment. 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. 112+ .When reorganising the main museum display system. The museum is full of elements of physical interaction. including the original cases of the Natural History Museum. but these are mainly pushed to the outer wall. creating a new level of accessibility to the facilities. architect Peter St John says he drew upon the best of Victorian museum architecture.

and Hotel Revolution: 21stCentury Hotel Design (2005). with its rearranged displays and improved circulation. grand. Formerly all white. He is coauthor. The simple entrance interior. Images: pp 110-11. 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 first phase of the redevelopment concluded in 2003. of the new 2nd edition of Fashion Retail (WileyAcademy. Inside the main building. community and outreach: each of the three components of one shape form a component of an adjacent one. the Museum of Childhood has managed to get itself in step with contemporary needs and prepare itself for the future through an intelligent. 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. £34. The cool. the chaos has gone. The redevelopment of the museum is not quite complete. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The ad hoc.wiley. large wooden and glass cabinets that consciously draw on the museum’s Victorian past. Previous books include The Design Mix: Bars. the interior is now a soft. and cures some of the prime logistical problems.com. The new entrance replaces its shambolic predecessor with one that addresses the immediate surrounds. 4+ Howard Watson is an author. journalist and editor based in London. visually connects to the design of the main building. including crucial renovation of the roof and ceiling. via stairs. porphyries and limestone in a decorative pattern that is emblematic of connection. 113(l) © Hélène Binet. 113(r) © Caruso St John Architects 113+ . The facade is clad in quartzite. evolved lighting that added to the disarray has been replaced by a neatly ordered system that complements the interior’s ironwork structure. This has been combined with practical. down to the new learning centre and facilities below. 112(t). with its granolithic terrazo floor. provides an exhibition space for local children. 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. 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. accessible entranceway to these resources on the level below. while the overall impression is of building blocks – a ‘constructive’ reminder of the learning processes of childhood. Largely.99. By contrast. introducing order without partitioning. with Eleanor Curtis. See www. pale pink that calms the spatial threat of the huge main volume and creates a warmer environment. completing the design of new collection displays. pp 112(bl&br). the director of the museum. calm interior of the new entrance which. Diane Lees.The plan of the main hall. as well as refocusing the orientation to the facilities. It has consequently won Caruso St John a 2007 RIBA Award. 2007). There is now also a direct. large windows and decorative grilles that pick up the pattern of the exterior. The result is a natural grid.’ 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. the displays are now housed in freestanding. but subtle approach to interior architecture. inclusive design that has enabled a wide range of visitors to access the museum physically and intellectually. both also published by Wiley-Academy. the reordering of the main display space and a new exhibition display area on the first floor.

Practice Profile KieranTimberlake Associates James Timberlake (left) and Steven Kieran (right) in their studio. 114+ .

a material that the architects are developing with Composite Technologies. the University of Michigan and other schools). near the Art Museum and Free Library. Traditional materials being used in new ways are being tested alongside experimental ones. is built of factory-made components that were hoisted into place on site. Yale. such as grey ductile concrete. 115+ .Nothing about the beautifully detailed buildings that Steven Kieran. and exterior wall panels being considered for various projects. Just as Venturi was reacting against the Modernist disregard for symbolism and history. Rauch and Scott Brown. sparing most of the nearby forest. 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. The office even has ‘a full-time shop director who was trained as an architect. 2006 KieranTimberlake’s expansion and renovation of a bland. models on pedestals. The aesthetic. across the street from a neat row of 19th-century town houses suggests a rather traditional architectural practice. and a parking lot with two wings and a functioning wetlands courtyard. Shelves are filled with product samples. as Timberlake explains. at the American Academy in Rome. research and teaching attempts no less than to change the way that buildings are made. Here. a 2. 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. where they found that what interested them most was the fabric of ancient buildings. Their interest is in part a reaction to the emphasis on imagery that they saw at Venturi. suggests that they have a radical agenda. and introducing methods of collaboration and fabrication drawn from the automobile. There are no crazy shapes. mostly for schools and colleges. Washington DC. the location on the edge of downtown Philadelphia. boxy. 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. In a small room on the right. as something they wanted to explore. Kieran and Timberlake saw the lack of interest in building technology. which was typical of the time. A ceiling mock-up for the Yale University Sculpture Building hangs overhead. In addition. near Washington DC. Maryland. which blends rather seamlessly into the landscape. a threedimensional printer transforms drawings into plaster models. raw material racks. dayglo colours or other attention-grabbing devices in them. a porous white material the architects are considering for a house in Texas. subjects often neglected in American architectural education. Taylors Island. But what these architects are doing in their built work. but gets his kicks from making things’. it takes the shape of an Ionic column and of bubble wrap.137-square-metre (23. their firm’s first commissions – low-budget additions and alterations at Loblolly House. it fostered a new commitment to environmental efficiency at this progressive day school. site specific and unique. and conference areas formed by tilted steel walls with absorbent inner surfaces for pin-ups. Another little room with cement board walls houses a welder. James Timberlake and their colleagues are creating. they emphasise materials and the construction process. exposed wiring. where they worked in the late 1970s after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania architecture school. There is also a compressor. Here. He and Kieran are pretty obsessed with making as well – in the largest possible sense. modern brick middle school replaced an ugly mansard roof with a flat ‘green’ one. The pleasant. behind a glass wall.500-square-foot) open loft with 6. a laser cutter. aeroplane and shipbuilding industries. Around the corner. 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. In the 1980s they both had fellowships.7-metre (22-foot) ceilings contains movable workstations. Sidwell Friends Middle School. demonstrates that prefabricated construction can also be ‘natural’. 2006 This holiday home for the Kieran family on the eastern shore of Maryland. As teachers (they have taught at Penn. But the space that reveals the unique nature of the practice is the shop at the end of the room. independently. tables stacked with models abut workbenches strewn with tools. If anything. In doing so. such as autoclaved concrete.

patching. hinging. The architects’ work involved converting the old dininghall kitchens (intended for waiters) to self-serve cafeteriastyle spaces.559-square-metre (189.Yale University Sculpture Building. Carefully proportioned. a single-storey art gallery around the corner. and a four-storey concrete parking garage for 280 cars with open steel and Cebonit walls and shops at the base. One example of ‘joining’ is the Melvin J and Claire Levine Hall. enlarging the study areas in the libraries. East Stroudsburg University. 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. and to a few houses – forced them to think about details and construction. While trying to decide which unusual brick pattern to use to give student rooms more privacy. Here they replaced old pipes. 2002) focuses on various aspects of building (framing. Connecticut. storage rooms 116+ . 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. ventilated curtain walls provide visual connections between the activity inside and campus life outside. They are sheathed with stone and detailed in a Neo-Gothic style on the street facades. Their first book. New Haven. and connecting the two colleges underground to provide more types of recreational facilities to be shared by students of both colleges. The two building complexes. which was built in 22 months instead of the university’s usual 48. scaling. often with a healthy dose of self-criticism. 2007 This 17. joining. Haverford College. and made of red brick with Neo-Georgian shutters and classical colonnades on the inner courtyard sides. selecting. Chestnut Hill College. profiling. glass-walled studio building in the middle of the block. steel-framed. It provides numerous examples of different approaches to each category taken from their own work. which was built by Cope and Stewardson in 1899 and 1901. libraries and dining halls (separate ones for each college) built around generous courtyards on the Oxbridge model. Manual (Princeton Architectural Press. slipping and weaving). consists of three separate structures: a four-storey. so there are some quirky contrasts even in the original fabric. lining. $42 million project. consisted of dormitory rooms. 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. 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. transparent. designed by James Gamble Rogers in 1930.000-square foot).

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. though. all one has to do is move one’s hands above the surface. of which only 100 examples were produced.Userscape Natural Methods of Interaction Or Natural Interaction in the Everyday Digital World Computers. a system of interactive projections. To interact with the projection. questions our use of mechanised interfaces and the language that they require us to learn. iOO Design. 120+ . without touching it. iO Agency. which includes iOO. mobiles and automatised machines are so omnipresent that the means by which we interact with digital devices is now generally regarded as a given. Valentina Croci explains how iO Agency has developed more natural ways for people to interact with digital environments through physical or tactile ‘triggers’. Italian practice iO Agency. 2006 iOO Design is a series of products developed in collaboration with the 3M Corporation.

the user. Here. Interaction requires no specific technical skills. founded in 2004 in Treviso with the aim of developing interactive spaces. his or her attention passes from the process of using digital technology to the experience that it can generate. in 2001. Given the increase in the number of digital instruments in everyday spaces. part of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Florence. we must design new methods of interaction between users and technology. 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. part of an environment in which digital instruments dialogue with one another. 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. a form of interaction between users and technology-enhanced spaces that is based on the imitation of reality and common gestures. natural interaction takes place through a process that involves the simplification of possible operations. For iO Agency. in addition to boasting a collaboration with the Centro di integrazione dei media (Media Integration Centre). of the concept of ‘natural interaction’. This creates an immediate relationship between the user and digital technology. touching or pointing become the ‘triggers’ of the digital system. 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. handheld devices. The resulting manipulation of information is not direct. The office now has 22 associates. more simply. The approach taken by iO Agency is different from that taken by other offices involved in the creation of digital installations or interactive objects. With respect to other digital installations. the result of the direct manipulation of the latter by the former. The fact that the user must adapt to the language of the machine often generates frustration. or even the display screen on automated ticket machines. Given that the user carries out familiar actions. for example the computer screen. actions such as walking. iO Agency’s final objective is the creation of spaces in which technology is integrated with the everyday. These interfaces use methods of interaction based on an analytical language composed of icons and access panels. An example of this approach can be found in the work of the Italian office iO Agency. mobile phones. unlike with traditional media. varying the atmosphere and colour of the spaces. is not required to learn how the machine functions. Alessandro Valli. One of the centre’s members. 121+ .iOO can be applied to the horizontal surface of a carpet. such as keypads. removing their attention from the sensorial experience in favour of the effects of the digital environment. many of whom were involved in the ‘Net Economy’ (the virtual arena in which business is conducted that emerged in the mid-1990s). The user can also periodically update the contents. buttons or a mouse. is also one of the founders of iO Agency and the theorist. the projects by iO Agency do not seek the complete immersion of the user within altered or exasperated sensations. Interaction between digital tools and those who use them is generally managed by graphic interfaces. Each project is calibrated based on the functions it is to perform – conferring information or.

iO Agency. and non-analytical. The space also includes an interactive floor surface. The system also simultaneously created a personalised brochure of the car. The office designed a series of workstations that visitors could use to configure a version of the new Fiat 500 and. the gestures used to indicate products and the movement of elements on surfaces are natural movements for this category of users. 122+ . via the exaggerated symbolism of interaction. later. iO Agency was asked to design an installation that would represent the car without actually presenting the physical product. Sensitive Space System objects include devices connected to a central system that unties their various operations. view it at 1:1 scale inside a dark room. Another of the Sensitive Space System devices is the interactive 3M catalogue. interaction. The semantic nature of the interface. Milan. The installation focused on the effect of surprise and the shared. 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. Installation for the New Fiat 500. Cappellini Temporary Store. iO Agency. The catalogue also includes ‘touch-less’ products such as this information stand. At the Italian headquarters of 3M it is possible to visit their showroom: a space with translucent walls. playful experience enjoyed by a group of people. The final objective of the showroom is that of demonstrating. Sensitive Space System. the colour and intensity of which can be modulated and used to project interactive displays. the various methods of accessing digital content. 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. Milan. which provides a gallery of images accessed through visual. 2007 Three months before the launch of the new Fiat 500.

a space filled with integrated. interactive methods of using space and alternative mechanisms for accessing services. inserting. with whom they collaborated on the design of the range of Sensitive Space System products. together with the sequences of accessing its functions. within our everyday habits. Cosmoprof Fair. 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. a sales support station that uses bar-code recognition and projects interactive information about the product being purchased. above all for public spaces or spaces of social interaction. allows for the construction of a richer experience that leads. sound and the emissions of odours using interconnected interactive objects. interactive elements. turning a routine event into a spectacular and theatrical experience. She graduated from Venice University of Architecture (IUAV). to new design possibilities. 2005 This environment was designed to support sales and track client behaviour. p 123 © L’Oréal Paris 123+ . Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. for which iO Agency studied the possibility of simultaneously modifying light. as iO Agency points out. capable of implementing serial applications based on a client’s needs. It is thus important to define the final objectives of the device beforehand. the definition of the interface and the functional specifications are calibrated for each single application. and the Colour Studio. as much as the development of applications for everyday life. on the one hand. while the interface makes reference to a precise number of gestures – point. in technological innovation and. 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. a client management system that offers personalised suggestions for specific purchases. in the maturation of a new culture that is interested in this research. which employ metaphors (the desktop or the operating system) that are held to be satisfactory for the functions that they must perform. its devices are partially manufactured elements with advanced levels of engineering.Part of the modular concept designed for L’Oréal. For the definition of products at the industrial scale. 4+ Translated from the Italian version into English by Paul David Blackmore Valentina Croci is a freelance journalist of industrial design and architecture. grab or walk – connected to a precise operation performed by the machine. Their partially manufactured products operate based on the logic of uniform interaction. This type of interactive object. Digital applications do not replace traditional computerised objects. for example. and the reduction of the number of actions that the user must make using the interface. move. but also to the creation of a synergic process involving architects and designers. the Colour Studio is an instrument of support for the sales of haircolour products. The design challenge for interactive spaces is not simply the creation of temporary installations with a significant impact. The final objective of these devices is that of introducing new services within everyday spaces. iO Agency works with external partners. the 3M Corporation. London. 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. However. iO Agency does not produce standard products. Bologna. The form of the instrument ‘attracts’ the user by clearly representing its function. the design challenge is to be found. or better yet. and attained an MSc in architectural history from the Bartlett School of Architecture. 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’. Sales clerks can use a handheld device or PC tablet to display the various colours being proposed on a video wall. Modular concept for L’Oréal Professionel Salons. on the other. Images: pp 120-22 © iO Agency. in turn. Italy. Thus. 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. She achieved a PhD in industrial design sciences at the IUAV with a theoretical thesis on wearable digital technologies.

A Neapolitan historian and philosopher. At the root of this Radical Constructivism is Giambattista Vico (1668–1744). the gaze and the body are not excluded from the work. she produces a subjective ‘synthesis of architect. This can take on an almost religious aspect. I don’t know what anybody else likes for sure. He celebrates the spatial experimentation of the work of Charlotte Erckrath. The space of desire. 124+ . So if digital design is so revolutionary. I don’t believe in ‘Styles’. I only know what I’m like aesthetically and intellectually. 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. We are all different. and this is great.Spiller’s Bits Putting the ‘I’ back into Architecture Neil Spiller gets personal in a bid to put the ‘I’ back into architecture. 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. If I were cornered I’d probably say ‘Radical Constructivist’. you are different to me and I am different to you. Creating a space of desire. exciting and cutting edge. body. The fundamental notion that makes Vico memorable is his ‘versum ipsum factum’ (‘the truth is the same as the made’).000 Britons declared themselves ‘Jedi’ in respect of their religion. space and view’. Is it because architectural fashion often precludes the personal approach? Of course. Vico was appointed by Charles III of Naples as his historiographer in 1734. I like ‘I’. something like 100. 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. as in the case of much contemporary architecture. In the last UK government census.

This conclusion should be the aim of all architects and their work. of near misses and of desire – a nomadic. The Photographer. V Burgin. The photograph resonates back in time to Las Meninas of Velázquez.2 Erckrath has identified the various modes of observation illustrated by the picture and the act of viewing it. earthshaking architecture. points of view. and its theoretical content was sketched out by Victor Burgin in 1992. Notes 1. The Voyeur and The Backdrop. The New Press (New York). tame. space and view. So in this particular ‘Bits’ I would like to honour spatial experimentation. The earth never moves for me unless ‘I’m’ involved. Making the Idea: Subjectivity and Objects in SelfPortrait with Wife June and Model by Helmut Newton. 1:5–6. This is an anthropometric scaled. Here is a detail of one of the movable junctions. Sexuality and Space. G Vico. expedient pseudo-science. Perhaps unsurprisingly. De antiquissima Italorum Sapientia. ‘As God’s truth is what God comes to know as he creates and assembles it. The inspiration of this piece is a photograph produced by Helmet Newton in 1981: ‘Self Portrait with Wife June and Models’. 1858. thresholds. his treatise De antiquissima Italorum Sapientia. body. parallax and the engagement of the viewer. vibrating bachelors divided from an unobtainable mechanised bride – no sexual binary opposites. This world is not the controlled. She has then taken these ideas and included herself and her body in the act of viewing and interpreting in her architectural work. University College London. intimate project that cannot be separated from its architect. chapter I. acetic world of science. more a personal synthesis of architect.’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. Images © Charlotte Erckrath 125+ . These are: The Spectator. It in turn is readjusted in the individual’s dealings with others and other world-views mediated by cybernetic conversation. but here are no illusions to masturbatory. The Mirror. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. We all construct our view of the world as we navigate through it. ‘Perverse space’. Thus Vico is sometimes called the first Radical Constructivist. 2007 The piece is produced by exploring boundaries. pp 219–41. ‘I’ and the space of desire by introducing Charlotte Erckrath’s work. 1992. 2. It is a world of experimentation. her work can be seen in comparison to Duchamp’s Large Glass. and not the impersonal taxonometrically similar designs that so many of our profession perceive as inspired. in B Colomina. 4+ Neil Spiller is Professor of Architecture and Digital Theory and Vice Dean at the Bartlett School of Architecture.Charlotte Erckrath. Stamperia de’Classici Latini (Naples). its geometries inscribed with further bodily syntax and vectors. so human truth is what man comes to know as he builds it shaping it by his actions.

Techne. Joel Newman. 2002–04 These explorations.Unit Factor Radical Interface AA New Media Research Initiative At the Architectural Association in London. Theodore Spyropoulos and Vasili Stroumpakos. 126+ . 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. performed by Nick Puckett. 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. 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. Theodore Spyropoulos and Vasilis Stroumpakos are spearheading the New Media Research Initiative. AADRL Research Fellowship.

a device that could embody the company’s philosophy: the interface is the product. What you see is what you use. Interface experimentation certainly did take place within labs and research centres. driving the development of better and powerful software. students were asked to develop limitation devices. both in terms of scientific research and in public applications. function does not have to be boring. with the introduction of a new generation of more complex devices such as Apple’s iPhone and the BenQ Black Box. a small but growing number of users became more interested in the interface itself. people started to create personal pages. so contemporary design education ought to be prepared for that. on the physical characteristics of the case. showing photographs of their friends and families. 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. One of the briefs was to design an instrument as a seeing stick for the blind. Thomas Chan. and the product is the interface. leaving the content to evolve from the words and images of the Web population. substantially it is rigorous research through experimentation. However. creating an image of their lives and perspective on the world they live in. Creating experiences refers to the real target of interface design: to generate new forms of engagement with information and communication. smart kids and professionals alike were also deeply engaged and loosely hooked together by the Web. For a long time. primarily. In the design of devices. and the aesthetics of form and material are secondary. Shape. The interface is the new material. Function in contemporary architecture is the creation of an environment of experience. devices such as mobile phones were judged During a design workshop at the AADRL. Interface rarely featured strongly in the design process or in the critical evaluation of the design. the way that space is inhabited today. or still is. physicality is still perceived as the main reference for judgement. and so they are a grand and continuing experiment. but many dedicated amateurs. Java and later Processing) led this generation of dedicated amateur experimenters to contribute greatly to the evolution of user interfaces. Although this was a reasonable mode of thought for the design of building in the past. Function and Experience However. Interface is both function and performance. This requires consideration and understanding of the complex aspects of perception and cognition. an addendum at best. 127+ . to excite the human intellect with new forms of interaction. Director. their opinions and feelings to the world: writing about their likes and dislikes. but do not pass C’. if not exclusively. Many pages were simply just people wanting to put forward their voice. while embedded 2-D design is treated as a secondary or subsidiary consideration. 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. characterised as Web or computer art by some. Interface Catalogue. With the introduction of the internet. contemporary design should adopt the mode of experience. the separation between the threedimensional form and the interface is under question. the appearance and feel of the materials. or ‘go from A to B.In architectural and product design. This continues today in the blogsphere. the practical and ergonomic parameters were all important. Today. interface has found its apotheosis in the new physical space of the screen. Form and Graphics When the iPod was released. Interfaces have existed for a relatively short time. and certainly does more than merely respond to route planning. Fascination with the new tools (Flash. This is the residue of an older paradigm in which structure is matter and fresco is decor. Although this kind of work had been. Apple described it as the product the company was created to make. but a logical progression of 10 years of experiment on the World Wide Web.

2004 and the AA. Joshua Davis. and still affects. 2006 Fabricated by the authors and a group of DRL students. First through the agendas of several studios in the undergraduate and graduate school. Jared Tarbell. London. Dextro. Selfridges. and the momentum that these types of works has created affected. a wide range of creative disciplines. Golan Levin. but rather an outrageous lack of compromise. Experimentation does not need to be beautiful. and this is reflected in the formation of its New Media Research Initiative. Martin Wattenberg. where student research undertaken at the AA Design 128+ . Radical interface design by innovators such as Yugo Nakamura. Lia. London. including architecture. which emerged through the continuous engagement of the school’s various programmes within the domain of interface. Zachary Lieberman and Ben Fry provides distinctive examples of direct and applied ‘research’ for architects working in computation. Facebreeder software/installation. This takes place on three levels. They adopt extreme and radical modes in their engagement with experimental design.Theodore Spyropoulos and Vasilis Stroumpakos. AA Method as Practice The Architectural Association (AA) is at the forefront in nurturing these approaches. Simultaneous experimentation by a multitude of people produces innovation through evolution. Ed Burton. Their work defines a new understanding of interface design and screen-based interaction. Facebreeder emerged as an aftermath of the Techne research fellowship.

London. London. Greece. London. who is Academic Head and Head of Technical Studies at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. And finally through explorations conducted in the Media Studies programme. He is a visiting research fellow at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies working with the Interrogative Design Group. Research Lab (AADRL) and Emtech as well as undergraduate units such as Int 3. 2007 The cross-programme event brings together interface-related student work from various departments of the school. 128(t&br) © Theodore Spyropoulos and Vasilis Stroumpakis. and has worked as a project architect at the offices of Peter Eisenman and Zaha Hadid. 127(t). 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. AA New Media Cluster Kick-Off Event. He has run the AA’s audiovisual department since 1994. and also a visiting professor at Yale University and at ESARQ Barcelona. 129(b) © Architectural Association. ‘Unit Factor’ is edited by Michael Weinstock. p 129(t) © dextro. CCdb project. Interactive applet. He also runs the practice 00110. Int 6.Dextro. 2007 Pioneer in contemporary computer art. and teaches video-making.org 129+ . 4+ Joel Newman studied fine art at Reading University and has exhibited his work widely. p 128(bl) © Theodore Spyropoulosz and Vasilis Stroumpakis. Christopher Lindiger and United Visual Artists that took place during 2006/07. Architectural Association. but also developing approaches that blend digital interface with spatial and experience design. Dextro. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 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. Theodore Spyropoulos is a co-director of the AA Design Research Lab (AADRL) in London. photo Sue Barr. AA New Media Laptop Sessions.org. Architectural Association. Zachary Lieberman. 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. pp 127(b). presented his work at the AA. Ed Burton.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. Dextro. Int 8 and Dip 14 clearly depicts a shift in the architectural design paradigm employing methods and concepts. 2006 Stelarc performs involuntary acts with student volunteers at a new media clusters launch event at the AA. 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. Brian Dale and Luis Fraguada. Images: pp 126. He is co-author of ramtv. He is currently writing a book on the architecture of emergence for John Wiley & Sons Ltd. He directs the experimental design practice Minimaforms. Vasilis Stroumpakos studied at the AADRL (MArch) and at AUTH in Thessaloniki.

to those that are conceived in ‘productive mode’ producing their own energy. University of Technology Petronas. Foster + Partners.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. Malaysia. It provides shade from the heat and shelter from monsoon rains. without the need for any electromechanical systems. 2004 The campus’ crescent-form roof responds to the climate of the Malay peninsula by covering pedestrian routes. He covers the full gamut of choices and hybrids from buildings that are constructed in ‘passive mode’. Ken Yeang turns his attention to the alternatives that are on offer to designers who want to ensure comfortable internal conditions in their buildings. 130+ .

Singapore. Passive mode requires an understanding of the climatic conditions of the locality. the designer should not merely synchronise the building design with the local meteorological conditions. Passive mode means designing for improved internal comfort conditions over external conditions without the use of any electromechanical systems. full mode. productive mode and composite 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. 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. then we can move on to mixed mode. Moulmein Rise Residential Tower. speculative housing block. mixed mode. as this can significantly influence the configuration of the built form and its enclosure systems. as in full mode. The practice of sustainable design requires that we look first at passive mode (or bioclimatic) design strategies. the incorporation of natural ventilation and the use of vegetation are also important. Building design strategy must start with passive mode or bioclimatic design. while also applying the same thinking to the operational systems of the greater built environment and our own businesses. 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. Examples of passive mode strategies include the adoption of suitable building orientation and configuration in relation to the local climate. productive mode and composite mode. full mode. thermal insulation values. the last being a composite of all the preceding modes. This horizontal opening lets in the breeze but not the rain. It clearly demonstrates the potential of the monsoon window as an effective passive cooling device in a contemporary urban setting. issues of solid-to-glazed area ratios. as well as the selection of appropriate building materials. When considering the design of the facade.Yeang’s Eco-Files Yeang’s Eco-Files WOHAA Architects/Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell. 2003 Here the traditional monsoon window is adopted in a 28-storey. There are essentially five ways of doing this: passive mode. Yeang’s Eco-Files As designers we should be looking at ways of configuring individual built forms as low-energy systems. The internal environment often needs to be supplemented by the use of external sources of energy. all the while adopting progressive strategies to improve comfortable conditions relative to external conditions.

as an alternative. we should seek to do the same. Thus matter cycles continually through the web of life. In mixed mode. all living organisms feed on continual flows of matter and energy from their environment to stay alive. and wind turbines that harness wind energy. If ecodesign is to be ecomimetic. in turn. recycling and their eventual reintegration with ecological systems. a design solution is developed that has not previously optimised the passive mode options. the further refinement of a design should lead to the adoption of choices that will enhance its energy efficiency. it remains at an improved level of comfort during any electrical power failure. Ecodesign also requires the designer to use materials and assemblies that facilitate reuse. increase the use of material resources. Currently we regard everything produced by humans as eventual garbage or waste material that is either burned or ends up in landfill sites. This is the option chosen for most conventional buildings. Productive mode is where a building generates its own energy. If. while establishing a relationship of different volumes to maximise air circulation. It must be clear now that low-energy design is essentially a user-driven condition and a lifestyle issue. Furthermore. we should think. 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. The new question for designers. at the very early 132+ . double facades. however. Ecosystems use solar energy that is transformed into chemical energy by the photosynthesis of green plants. if the design optimises a building’s passive modes. To be truly ecomimetic. manufacturers and businesses is: How can we use this waste material? If our materials are readily biodegradable. then whenever there is no electricity or external energy source the building may become intolerable to occupy. this will inevitably lead to full mode design. which in turn drives the ecological cycle. Full mode relies entirely on the use of electromechanical systems to create suitable internal comfort conditions. Yeang’s Eco-Files Yeang’s Eco-Files conditions without the use of any electromechanical systems. the inorganic content of the built form. The inclusion of systems that create productive modes inevitably leads to sophisticated technological systems that. the materials we produce should also take their place within the closed loop where waste becomes food. and all living organisms continually produce ‘waste’. Such a remedy would make a nonsense of low-energy design. The design addresses the challenges of the tropical climate by incorporating monsoon windows and the perforated wall.Yeang’s Eco-Files Typical floor plan illustrating the location of the monsoon windows. However. ecosystems do not actually generate waste since one species’ waste is really another species’ food. 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. If we want to be ecomimetic. If the passive modes have not been optimised. then these non-energy efficient design decisions will need to be corrected by supplementary full mode systems. full mode conditions. If clients and users insist on having consistent comfort conditions throughout the year. we will need to do so on a much larger scale. The fundamental nature of these decisions clearly dictates that once the building configuration. Composite mode is a combination of all the above modes in proportions that vary over the seasons of the year. We must appreciate that passive mode and mixed mode design can never compete with the comfort levels of the high-energy. the embodied energy content and the attendant impact on the environment. flue atriums and evaporative cooling. orientation and enclosure are considered. buildings use some electromechanical systems such as ceiling fans.

in addition to being easily demountable. rather than welded so that the joint can be released easily. Kuala Lumpur. and how the materials can be reused after the building has reached the limits of its useful life. see www. a large number of theoretical and technical problems to be solved before we have a truly ecological built environment. Unfortunately. we should integrate both the organic waste (eg sewage. For details of the award scheme and other award-winning projects.Yeang’s Eco-Files Yeang’s Eco-Files TR Hamzah & Yeang Snd Bhd (a Llewellyn Davies Yeang. the connection between the components should be mechanical. waste water.akdn. its components and its outputs can be reused and recycled. If. There are. These are the exemplars for what our buildings and our businesses should achieve: the total physical. A surgical prosthetic device also has to integrate with its organic host being – the human body. The Moulmein Rise Residential Tower and University of Technology Petronas were two of nine projects presented with awards this year. If we consider the last point. Kenneth Yeang is a director of Llewellyn Davies Yeang in London and TR Hamzah & Yeang in Kuala Lumpur. Images: pp 130-32 © Courtesy of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. of course. let us say. many of today’s buildings only achieve eventual integration through biodegradation that requires a long-term process of natural decomposition. However. These design considerations will determine the materials to be used. the ways in which the building fabric is to be assembled. Yeang’s Eco-Files design stages. While manufacture and design for recycling and reuse relieves the problem of deposition of waste. which has been modified to accommodate a number of small jets within the middle of the blower. ie bolted. food wastes. we come to an increasingly important conclusion. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Ecodesign is essentially design that integrates man-made systems both mechanically and organically with the natural host system – the ecosystems. There is a very appropriate analogy between ecodesign and surgical prosthetics. which has its roots in sustainable design. etc) and the inorganic waste. operational systems and internal processes with the natural ecosystems that surround us. UK. systemic and temporal integration of our human-made.org/architecture. the components were modular. 2001 This glass pavilion is an example of mixed-mode design. These emit a fine spray of water that evaporates and creates a misty cloud around the doorway. rain water run off. Malaysia. 2006). To facilitate the reuse of. we should draw encouragement from the fact that our intellect has allowed us to create prosthetic organs that can integrate with the human body. It gives a sensation of cooling to passers-by. p 133 © Dr Ken Yeang 133+ . sister company). then the structure could be easily demounted and reassembled elsewhere. a structural component. Standard Chartered Bank Priority Building Pavilion. Failure to integrate will result in dislocation in both cases. reuse. It has an aircurtain above the entrance. This lowers the ambient temperature of the zone around the entrance. how the building can be adapted over time. Malaysia. inviting them into the pavilion. This leads to the concept of ‘design for disassembly’ (DfD). in a little more detail. Such integration is crucial because without it these systems will remain disparate artificial items that could be potential pollutants. He is the author of many articles and books on ecodesign. The next challenge will be to integrate our buildings. how a building. including Ecodesign: A Manual for Ecological Design (Wiley-Academy. built environment with our organic host in a benign and positive way. our cities and all human activities with the natural ecosystems that surround us. 4+ Kenneth Yeang was Chairman of the Master Jury of the 2007 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Another major design issue is the systemic integration of our built forms.

or Aldo Rossi’s Teatro del Mondo (1979).McLean’s Nuggets The De. Detail of Cedric Christie’s ‘Documenta 4’ car parked in a London street. Aside from the Europewide doyens of a trade formerly known as road haulage such as Willi Betz. 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. We can take to the water with French artist Daniel Buren’s sailing sculptures. The business and total amount of artwork in transit (measurable in weight. Norbert Dentressangle and the UK’s largest private logistics company ‘brand’ of Eddie Stobart. monetary value or the more complex measure of human happiness) we will leave for another time.and Re-Materialisation of the Art Object The logistics of art is an international business. which consisted of his trademark Voile (stripes) decorating the sails of a series of sailboats at Lake Grasmere (July 2005). It is the self-recognisable art logistic (or the art of logistics) that seems more pertinent. where the art lover. or not. a floating theatre for 250 that visited Venice and Dubrovnik. 32 years after his premature death. may saunter past a good work. 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. which may have been interesting. there are independent artists who operate in the field of artworks that are designed to move. finally realised in 2005. 134+ . or someone trying to keep out of the cold. with galleries and museums functioning as temporary stops or viewing platforms. 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. but without the artist looks like a late delivery. 100-day international art Olympics of the ‘Documenta’ exhibition. For the land-based movable feast we find London-based artist Cedric Christie’s elegant collection of mobile art.

Whether through some transcendental detailing or a more robust appreciation of need and appropriate servicing. 135+ . Town and Country Planning. seemingly unwilling to submit to a Las Vegas-style upgrade. offering ‘natural habitat and exotic culture’. 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. 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’. There are currently 400 such designated biosphere reserves throughout the world. not expensive) prosaic or ‘real’ experiences. for the exploration of sustainable development. If the UK were not still so dominated by short-termed entrepreneurship and the desire for difference so well represented in the proverbial ‘twist’. 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. 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. Employed by the firm as a psychologist. designers should begin to manufacture more stimulating and more physiologically tuned environments. No 3. whereupon the company may or may not be allowed (by various advertising standards organisations) to make substantiated claims for their new wonder drink. 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’. 4+ Note 1. Text © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The Balearic island of Menorca was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1993. 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. Will McLean is joint coordinator of technical studies (with Peter Silver) in the Department of Architecture at the University of Westminster. are British holiday towns (and in particular the seaside variety) the doomed economic blackspots of our current imagination. 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. Hall points to the tourism successes of the previously esoteric ‘adventure’ destinations of the Galápagos Islands or Machu Picchu. but the designed tools and mechanisms for the traffic and comfort and ultimate enjoyment of the user seem simplistic and largely symbolic. and hardly need another reinvention. This kind of psychological assessment of architecture. Images © Will McLean A beach ashtray distributed free by the Menorca reserva de biosfera. March 2007.Performance-Enhancing Architecture? During a recent conversation with a former employee of a large multinational food and domestic goods combine. Vol 76. 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. We must all be careful so as not to miss the point (or the destination). then we and our incoming tourist visitors might well be able to enjoy the regional differences and delicacies that are so prevalent. 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.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). is not so obviously deployed. or perhaps not qualitatively. you are left with a faintly moribund invented tradition that owes its existence more to the tachometer proximities of the logistics industry. and its subsequent consumption. The space syntax mob may or may not be able to predict and somewhat guide us around the large peopled environments of stadiums.

in a constant process of expansion and contraction. 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. suburbs. this issue of AD explores emergent types of public space in lowdensity environments. and practitioners including Zvi Hecker.4 Architectural Design Cities of Dispersal Guest-edited by Rafi Segal and Els Verbakel Questioning the traditional boundaries between cities. Martha Rosler and Manuel Vicente in a search for new collective architectures within the dispersed city. The physical transformation of the built environment on the one hand. The concept of public space needs to be examined: replaced. Manuel de Solá-Morales. What is the place of the public in this form of urbanism. re-created or adapted to fit these conditions. While functionally and programmatically dispersed. settlements operate as a form of urbanism. Albert Pope and Alex Wall. Vito Acconci. typology or pattern. privatisation and segregation – call for renewed interpretations of the nature and character of public space. the place of collective spaces within them has yet to be defined and articulated. MUTOPIA. and how can architecture address the notion of common. 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. research projects and built work by distinguished writers such as Bruce Robbins. It describes this new form of urbanism: decentralised. and the change in our notion of the public on the other – due to globalisation. nor guided by one mode of development. countryside and wilderness. not homogenous or necessarily low-rise.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful