Located amid Lagodekhi Natural Reserve in eastern Georgia, the Tree Top Trail is meant to maximize the experience of nature, intended as -in the words of David Attenborough, “the greatest source of excitement, beauty and intellectual interest”. The trail, takes advantage of the topography in order to avoid the use of an elevator. The access point is located on a higher point of the uneven terrain and, from there, it ramps up to reach greater heights, gradually showcasing the forest as a vertical ecosystem.
Its defining circular shape, sharply contrasts with the forms of nature, avoiding any simplistic mimic; furthermore, the trail trajectory is always curving, constantly disappearing within the forest canopy, generating a desire to discover the forest, step by step.
Three main attractions are placed within the trail: a copper sphere which functions as a multimedia room for 360 degrees’ projections, a large net, for visitors to lay or play and a panoramic tower which allows a view over the forest, and integrates a half-spiral staircase to exit, as an alternative to walking back through the long ramp of the trail.
The columns of the structure are organized in clusters, abstract simplifications representing group of trees in the forest and are made from cor-ten steel. In total there are 17 column clusters that support the trail and the additional elements.
Kaliningrad is a city defined by a long and complex history: the palimpsest of the different trances of the past have been –for the most part- erased by the World War. Nevertheless, the project site is one of the few parts of the city that have survived, and is currently witness the different epochs that the city has gone through; the upper and lower pond of Teutonic’s Knights, the military defense infrastructures of the Prussians and the Soviet public park. Despite its cultural relevance, the park has been left abandoned for decades, and the historical infrastructures have turned into ruins.
“Revealing Geometries” takes shape physically and conceptually, from the fact that ruins can become –as a radical form of preservation- the matrix for a new identity, and similarly, untamed nature the matrix for a rich natural ecosystem. The recognition of the site as a form of archeological park – gives the opportunity to secure in time and space the traces of the past, transforming them into a new cultural/education infrastructure at public disposal.
While radical preservation defines the general approach, two design actions are re-defining the park(s): (1) retracing the former path system of the Prussian’s Wallpromeade and (2) defining new geometries that can enhance the rich cultural/environmental context of the area while hosting new programmatic opportunities.
The geometrical spatial definition of the “devices” -responding to the military defense infrastructure and Prussian landscape gardening design language- overlaps with the parks in seven different locations. They are as intensive design interventions centered around the main features of the site (water, ruins, topography, etc.); they are program-less objects that create the conditions for temporary occupation, while permanently highlighting the cultural and environmental diversity of the park, and more broadly, of the ring to-come.
The park is in-fact a system of 2 parks defined by autonomous identities: Kashtanovy Park and Litovsky Park, tight together by a comprehensive strategy. It bears the potential of rethinking the former ring as a whole: a new infrastructure that can host social and ecological interaction, while bringing back the historical layers as evidences to pass-on to future generations.
We have been commissioned by Delta Metropole and Erasmus University to investigate with a research-by-design process, the spatial consequences of the different economic and environmental scenarios that he harbor of Rotterdam is facing.
The scenarios under our spot light include the shift from the leading global oil economy towards a more local, ‘home-made’ one; the potential shrinking of the harbor activity due to the pressing competition of Asian shipping industries and harbors; and eventually, disruptions caused by major climatic events.
Ring roads are motorway systems build around a town or a city. Such infrastructures are often barriers that separate the city into an internal and external part; they reduce physical connectivity between parts and they disconnect functions. The areas next to these infrastructures have a very specific programmatic typology. With time they have attracted program that was not disadvantaged by the disturbed conditions that the highway creates (noise, pollution, disconnection…) such as industrial areas and warehouses.
On the other hand, these areas have also been occupied by large scale open and recreational spaces such has parks, allotments gardens, golf courses, and Zoos. But, even more interesting, ring roads have created ‘no man’s land’, unused leftover spaces where it is not possible to build (yet) and that haven’t been dedicated to specific functions. No use, and no identity.
But, if we look at the trends in mobility, we know traffic conditions will improve: smart mobility technologies and sharing systems might reduce the number of cars and the needed space for traffic. Furthermore, the diffusion of the electric cars will reduce noise and cut environmental pollution. Assuming such trends won’t be disregarded and the environmental conditions of these areas, next to and within highways, will dramatically improve in the coming 1 or 2 decades, what is the future of motorway landscapes in cities? What is the future of ring roads landscapes? What is the future of the A20 and the Northern part of Rotterdam?
Rotterdam will build a new by-pass by 2023 that will reduce the traffic on the northern part of the ring road. We strongly suggest refraining from the temptation of closing the loop and forming a new ring. We disagree with the trend of expanding infrastructures more than needed, which often results in pushing the problem outwards to the next periphery. By reducing investments in new infrastructure, the city can upgrade the existing infrastructure and improve the conditions of the areas adjacent to the ring road.
On their own, the left over areas and large recreational spaces next to the ring road are valuable landscapes. By creating a system enabling accessibility based on active mobility, these landscapes can finally become usable by citizens. Overlapping these landscapes with the existing urban green network generates the ‘Rotterdam Necklace’, a system of public and accessible open spaces centered around the principle of reclaiming left-over spaces for urban communities.
The forthcoming by-pass will lead to a decrease of traffic on the A20, and, with time, smart mobility technologies will reduce the space needed by vehicles, decreasing the environmental disturbance of the motorway. The new condition will bring about possibilities for the reuse and reprogramming of infrastructures which will have become redundant. We propose repurposing the highway as an urban road, potentially reducing the amount of the ring road needed to be removed completely. This would allow for the road at city level to be transformed into a park.
Looking back, in the city recent history it is evident that top-down processes associated with large infrastructure were detached from small scale community-lead initiatives. With our proposal we address the need to connect the large scale with the small scale – government decisions with local community needs. Re-thinking infrastructural spaces can increase quality and generate opportunities for the inhabitants, while providing a larger urban and regional service.
A new planned by-pass road will decrease the traffic intensity on the A20 part of Rotterdam’s ring, moving away from the city a large amount of through-traffic. If the smart mobility trends are also taken in consideration, new urban scenarios are possible in the Northern part of the city. Check out our proposal here: http://www.openfabric.eu/da-ring-rotterdam-nehterlands/.
Longhua District is located on the symbolic central axis of Shenzhen north of the Civic Center and Futian. However so far the district developed informally, as it was not part of the original Special Economic Zone. Its setting surrounded by green hills offers the opportunity to match the rising desire of Shenzhen people for a better living environment with close connections to nature. The open space masterplan connects a number of independent parks into a landscape system that reaches to the nearby mountains, reservoir and river. Shenzhen’s iconic hills and the Guanlan River Eco Corridor [link] will become accessible for recreational outdoor activities. Urban design guidelines link the park system with the adjacent development plots in a way usually not achieved in China. The experience of the natural landscape will become part of everyday life, offering relief from hectic urban life, and giving people the opportunity to learn from, appreciate and care for their surroundings. The project was supported by an ecological impact assessment to address storm water management, reduce the heat island effect, and positive ecological effects in order to create a healthy and ecological city environment.
The Green Heart is the area framed by the two Long Lines and is the place where the highest ambition for the integration of landscape and development is concentrated. Very visible from the over-ground metro line, is the core of the Green Valley where the built structure and open landscape interact harmoniously. Five different finger parks, cross the Green Heart in the east-west direction.
The Water&Hill Park is a highly sustainable park. The eastern part of the park is standing in a low topographical area that allows water collection: recreation here is directly linked with nature and with the educational value of the ecological landscape.
The Low Line is a vibrant sequence of different urban spaces under the metro line viaduct. The shadow casted from the metro line viaduct protects the underlying part from the strong heat in summer creating a more pleasant microclimate underneath. Different urban spaces are located in the Low Line: sport fields and playgrounds, seasonal and wild gardens.
A river, by definition, refers to movement. Only if we interpret the Medellin River area as a single geographic entity composed of natural elements (fauna and flora) and artificial (history, culture, mobility) we understand that the opportunity presented by this call goes beyond the area defined for the contest. Ideas of history and identity are key to any city. Currently many cities choose to erase/cover ‘undesirable’ history and forms of the city with classic forms of public space. Our proposal is to reuse, as much as possible, the existing city forms and to reinterpret them in a more contemporary, people friendly manner. This is will remain more true to the city’s collective memory, provide a richer public space and be massively more efficient in terms of investment spending. Working with ‘found objects’, as it is called in the art world, the proposal grounds the design in its place. Much of the land available along the riverfront is trapped in cloverleaf car interchanges, unreachable spaces for pedestrians. By simply removing the ‘inner leafs’ of the interchanges, pedestrians can access these spaces. In combination with the removal of half of the roadway next to the riverfront, much more space is given to people. The existing asphalt is reused and reinterpreted for pedestrian paths, activities, etc. The existing road bridges are adapted to provide grand pedestrian access points to the riverfront. Further, this removal of the ‘inner leafs’ steam lines the amount of cars given access to the riverfront. It can still function as a driving corridor but is treated as a boulevard and no longer permits drivers to do every single movement. It allows on, off movements, which will transform the riverfront boulevard to a place to cruise, not to commute.
The road infrastructure along the river is maintained and new sustainable public transport systems, as BRT, are proposed. By re-balancing the traffic with a parallel roads’ system, the car traffic at the riverfront can be dramatically decreased, generating new urban scenarios.
Recycling old industrial buildings, in combination with new housing developments, foster ideal conditions for the creation of a vibrant public space. The river connects the sequence of clear public spaces. The BRT stations will be directly connected with the new Riverside.
The meeting between the river and its tributaries becomes an opportunity for water management. The quality of the water is improved with the biological function of various plant species. An innovative landscape becomes a public park where people can learn in-situ about ecology and sustainability.
Once the mobility system is re-structured and re-organized, some infrastructures are unnecessary and therefore abandoned. The infrastructural ‘clover leaves’ can be colonized by cyclists and pedestrians. A variety of activities can occur in these new facilities and become the symbol of a city that has reclaimed the forgotten spaces.
Public transportation is a shared passenger transportation service which is available for use by the general public. Different systems overlaps to reach every corner of the city forming a network made of lines, nodes and points. Rotterdam is very well connected by public transportation system which is formed by bus, metro, railway, tram and covers in total 634 km in length. In a biodiversity point of view, the network is a key point for conserving habitats: wildlife (whatever are the species dominating a certain habitat) has to be free to reach ecological cores, the steppingstones, using connections. DIVERSE NETWORKS is based on a very simple question: Which is, in an urban environment, the most extended, existing network? Public transportation! Human networks, in centuries developed and diversified to reach even the more remote part of the city. DIVERSE NETWORKS propose to reuse, adapt and reinvent public transportation network to make them suitable for both humans and biodiversity. Intriguing new designs can be developed for flexible structures, like bus stops and metro stations which provide shelter for the passengers and forage conditions for birds. Street profiles can be smartly re-imagined to be useful for busses and trams and in the same time highways for insects. Railways will grow greener and will be repopulated with butterflies and dragonflies.
By reusing public transportation infrastructures, Diverse Networks aims to restore biodiversity. In facts, in our cities built areas, industrial sites and transport infrastructures fragmentise natural habitats. This disconnected landscape results in an extremely poor urban ecosystem made of unconnected ecological niches. Diverse Networks it’s not a new green superimposed green infrastructure, but rather a new hybrid system that can combine the need of a shared passengers networks together with a densely spread ecological system.
GIS mapping are showing the scientific base of Diverse Networks. The typologies of vegetation, the location and extension of the different species, the maintenance regime to which they are subject are all informations needed to understand the ecological potential of the city and consequently guiding the strategy.
The project “Living in the City in the City” is the outcome of the international design competition organized by the Municipality of Genoa for the enhancement of Via XX Settembre. The elimination of private traffic on Via XX Settembre becomes an opportunity for Genoa to create new places to live in the city within the city, generating urban gravitations and reverberating existing functions in the neighbourhood. In addition to rethink the system of mobility referring to functional and logistical requirements of traders and residents, the project produces a system of urban relationships stretched on the axis of Via XX Settembre, through a series of new polarities detected at the cross-roads, developing three themes: Culture – Information – Meeting. The idea of the project promotes a strong sense of self-identification by the Genoese, recovering the essential meaning of living seen as taking care of their city. As the inhabitant lives his own home, so the citizen lives his own city: Via XX Settembre becomes the “urban living-room” where a renewed community can share their own identities. In this sense the project fosters a process of urban renewal with expanded benefits on the body of the city (in terms of real estate development also), rediscovering Via XX Settembre as a very urban place, with strong environmental and social values.
Social gravities are a variety of attractions spread along the boulevard. They are gathering points for people and their influence is reflected in the design which unfolds and adapt accordingly. Stages, wi-fi areas, benches and bus stops are just few of the ‘episodes’ that will re-activate the central pedestrian axis.
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