Tag Archive: public space

  1. Revealing Geometries
    Kaliningrad | Russia

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    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. 










  2. Commission | Jan 2018
    Litovsky Val
    Kaliningrad | Russia

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    We are happy to share that we have been commissioned to design the City Wall Park of Kaliningrad, Russia. The Walls are one of the few parts of the city that have survived the war. Constructed by the Prussian in the 19th century, when the city was called Königsberg, they have become one of the main public spaces of the city during the soviet period, before falling in the current state of decay.
    Kaliningrad is now undergoing a period of change, centered around public spaces. Other project areas have been currently commissioned, under the same program, to offices such as Topotek 1, West 8, De Urbanisten, Oasi Architects.

  3. Gridgrounds
    Amsterdam | Netherlands

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    Het Breed is a modernist neighbourhood defined by rational residential blocks, 5 stories with ‘streets in the sky’ in Amsterdam North designed by the architect Frans Van Gool in 1963.
    Our proposal ‘Gridgrounds’ creates an elongated public square of 88m x 17m, stretched across the central space so all paths converge here defining a new center for the neighbourhood. The asphalt square is based upon the original neighbourhood grid and the grid is made visual and tangible through the white marking lines running through the space. At the points of the grid we placed different play elements in-spired by the modernist playgrounds of Aldo van Eyck in Amsterdam. To create coherence all objects are painted Breedveld orange and blue, two colours that have been used in a recent renovation of the adjacent buildings. Through the cohesion of the colour, each object achieves a new identity, independent works that collectively form an open-air museum of play elements.

    The austerity and monotony of the context is broken by the new playscape while employing the same ele-ments and the layout of the Van Gool plan.
    The square is framed by the grid of plane trees and grass and planting along the sides, the rectilinear form is punctured at three points by two green circles (active play space developed with local schools and pas-sive green space that acts as a sustainable drainage point) and a rectangular multifunctional sports court.
    Given the very limited budget we chose to focus on primarily creating a good functioning public space, a meeting point for all residents at the centre of the neighbourhood. The careful placement of the elements creates different gathering points for groups big or small. Our material palette takes inspiration from road infrastructure, considerably cheaper than usual open space design materials, asphalt surfaces, white road marking lines and “traffic orange” (Ral 2009) and “traffic blue” (Ral 5017) colours. Colourful landmarks make the space identifiable from a distance, an important factor in children’s spatial awareness.
    The low cost materials don’t compromise the quality of the space and the range of possible activities, but rather –here in Breedveld- create a solid and durable playscape that can be use in many unpredictable ways by the many visitors, with a relatively limited economical investment.



  4. Ballyfermot Playground
    Dublin | Ireland

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    The Lawns are an important green space at the centre of Ballyfermot. Defined by large meadows, several prominent trees and some sports fields. But, as often happens, there is a lack of Identity and lack of variety in terms of playing types and sport facilities. Our proposal aims to propose a method to define a  new strong character for central public space. The Playground becomes part of a designed green belt around the sport area, than interacts with the city by fragmentation, creating new pockets spaces than can host different uses and activities. The project is organize around 3 central paved spaces surrounded by designed green spaces where the landscape becomes integral part of the play-scape. Users can explore and experience a variety of scenarios carefully organized in order to enhance interactions between different age and social groups.



    With the Ballyfermot Playground we address how the whole park could develop in the coming years, with the play park as a catalyst for the wider area. The plan fits into the framework, defining its North-East corner. Next we imagine the Lawns being defined by 3 different layers: The Green Belt, the Sport Core and the Green Mile.


    A series of paths connect the play park to the lawns, Le Fanú Road and the Plaza in front of the Leisure Centre. The Green Mile runs through the plan and traverses the main skate space. Carved out of the paths we have defined three Play Plazas. These spaces form the central meeting points in the plan and are designed to accommodate different user groups and types of play.  Finally we have the green spaces, each of which differs in its character, function and planting types.




    The Pallyfermot Park is organized around 3 main plazas- The largest is the Skating and BMX Plaza in the south of the plan. The primary users here will be older children and teens on BMX’s, skateboards and scooters and there is plenty of place for everyone to watch the action. A second space for younger children and families sits close to the entrance and in the shelter of the Leisure Centre. Finally a small pocket space under the trees caters for parents who would like to sit and keep an eye on their children exploring the Wild play area.





  5. Lifelines
    Berat | Albania

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    Approaching an island doesn’t mean to approach a defined fragment of territory. An island is part of the larger organism of the river, and is the river the natural element under our spotlight. The dependence of the Osumi Island to its river is so evident that is not even possible to define the shape of the island, continuously transforming with the varying water levels to the extreme of disappearing. In our proposal we consequentially start by addressing a more resilient water system that can absorb risks and vulnerabilities and develop its own cultural and recreational identity. Osumi Island is part of it; its context makes the island unique. The Unesco heritage site and the urban context integrates with the natural system of the river generating a all new range of possible scenarios and a new cultural gravity which is urban, by nature. 



    Our proposal aims to reconnect cities (in our case Berat) to the river, connection that has faded in many situations, if not even lost. Establish an interdependence is the trigger for addressing urbanites to sustainably take advantage of the water resource rather that a careless exploitation.

    The project redefines the public space of the city of Berat, introducing more space for temporary and fixed uses, related to different programs. Following the logic inTroduced by the project the new bridge, the “frame” and the path connecting Bulvardi Repulika are considered “fixed /established” spaces that offer ground to “temporary / mobile” events.


    The Island adapts itself to the different levels of the water generating an always- changing landscape around and in the pool. While the pool itself gives extra volume for the water to reduce flooding risk, it creates the conditions for a variety of new recreational scenarios.


    The planting species are selected on the basis of different aspects. First of all species are all indigenous and part of the local riparian landscape. They are divided is three categories: (1) plants and trees above the water level, (2) plants on wet soil, temporary flooded, (3) plants constantly on wet soil, often flooded. The species selection is driven by their biological and aesthetic characteristic as capacity to: increase the water quality, consolidate the slopes and decrease the erosion, capability of attracting wildlife, blossoming quality.


    The ‘filter embankment’ is the element that defines the new island. It consists of a layered structure of gravel and stones of different grain sizes. It works as a horizontal filter: the water of the river infiltrates into the embankment before gathering into the water basin. In the inner part, selected vegetation works as a second phytoremediation filter, oxygenating the water and reducing pollutants. The whole system is supported by a steel structure and has a path running on the top.


    The waterfront is a performative urban edge. The runoff water is addressed to the edge, where stepped phytoremediation planting purifies the water before it flows into the river. The sidewalk is enlarged in order to improve the pedestrian experience, and the waterfront is accessible allowing people to finally ‘touch’ the water. An urban dike is added by raising the sidewalk to avoid flooding where the current water edge is too low.


  6. River Pebbles
    Changsha | China

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    The difference between rocks and pebbles is deter- mined by the restless action of water which, with time, smoothens rocks into rounded, polished stones. The creative process can be seen as the stream of water: the unceasing effort to transform everyday life into something special, and the result can be compared to the elegant variety of river pebbles.
    In the Changhsa Creative Park, islands of activity are obtained within the functional flows of pedestrian, cars and emergency vehicles routes.
    Like pebbles are similar in dimension and shape, but all different to each other when it comes to colours and textures, a new variety of urban elements are spread over the site; they create the conditions for spontane- ous and creative use of the public space, for the benefit of the people who work in the offices and for the many visitors.

    A grid of trees is the background of the plan; the pedestrian flows are the functional streams that generate the pebbles, elements where people can meet, work and perform in a creative environment.


    The highest concentration of vegetation is located at the south side in order to take maximum advantage of the shading and cooling qualities of plants and trees.


    A variety of water feature are located at the northern side of the site in order to enhance the cooling effect of the prevailing winds that originates from the north-west.


    Like the river pebbles have similar size but are different to each other in colours and texture, in the same way a variety of public space elements defines the area. A great array of functions are spread around the site and allow a large variety of activities to happen spontaneously; in a pebble shape.

    The choice of the two main materials, the stone and the gravel is led by the aim of reinterpreting the traditional Chinese court-yards in a contemporary key. The juxtaposition of gravel and stone will enhance the sensory experience of the open space not only visually but also in a tactile and acoustic point of view.




  7. Into the Wild
    The Hague | Netherlands

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    Play is about finding ones place in the world and making sense of that world. We have created a plan that seeks to juxtapose two different worlds. The man made and the natural. The plan has an urban exterior and a wild natural interior, each space contains a different type of play.

    The formal exterior is a place for sports and structured ordered games, while inside the wild interior children are encouraged and free to construct and destruct their own play spaces using natural materials. A boundary “ribbon” between the two worlds wraps and protects the interior, while adapting towards the exterior to allow games and integrate traditional playground elements. This “ribbon” is the threshold, a place where children learn to move between the natural world and the man made world. The relationship between the man made and natural worlds is the essence of sustainability, forming an understanding of this dialogue through participatory play and creative interaction is an essential childhood experience currently missing in many urban areas.



















    The Ribbon separates the artificial and paved exterior from the internal natural part. Its shape creates a variety of pockets spaces that can interact with the urban context; it’s 3-dimensional character give to the ribbon extra playful quality, in-fact it can be climbed, crossed with a tunnel or slide, it serves as a sitting element and as a skating grind, and much more.



    In exterior area, lines create the matrix for a playful and active appropriation of the space. Some sport fields are defined, but the lines also create an abstract pattern that can be interpreted and can serve to set new rules and boundaries for new games.










  8. Dayun New Town
    Shenzhen | China

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    In contemporary Chinese society cars and motorized transportation systems have dramatically limited motor experience of people. Combined with the fact that most of CBD users have a sedentary work, and, cities to their best to reduce any physical activity (stairs have been replaced by escalators) the impact on public health could be substantial.
    The extensive use of cars, of course, is also affecting common health by increased air and sound pollution.
    That’s the background of our proposal: a model where active transportation methods, walking and biking, take central stage in the urban experience. We propose to enhance and make more efficient the public transportation network, and we create the base for a new relation between people and cars, not by separating them, but by reorganizing hierarchy in favour of bikers and pedestrians.
    Many urbanites have lost direct contact with nature. Nature in cities is becoming more and more limited to small patches of manicured green. Losing contact with nature poses several threats to our cities: low resilience to extreme climatic events and high pollution; and to citizens: the ‘lack of experience’ of nature, which has been scientifically proven to be fundamental, especially for kids.
    We propose wild nature as an integral part of the city: a dense vegetation layer of shrubs and trees that will assure a high level of biodiversity by creating the needed conditions for wildlife habitats.
    We take advantage of the sub-tropical climate to establish a lush landscape as an amenity for citizens, as an important ecological connection and to mitigate the meteorological events.



    Dayun lies between natural areas with high ecological value and the urban center of Longgang. Its position is crucial, in the urban scale, for extending the qualities and benefits of nature into the urban setting. A new green fabric follows the shape of the city: the streetscape. Its network structure allows certain resilience and flexibility, and a more extensive influence on urban-ecological.





    Each cluster is defined by its own identity; diversity meets in the streets: various atmospheres and situations distinguish a vibrant public space.









    The main plinth typology will follow the public space structure of the 2 plazas and the boulevard. The secondary plinth typology is meant to activate and regulate some important streets, second in hierarchy to the plazas and boulevard. 




  9. Rethink Athens
    Athens | Greece

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    The key to rethinking, and ultimately reviving, Athens is to be found from within. At a time when Athens is undergoing a severe test a close look at the city’s existing and inherited qualities reveals strong conditions for rejuvenation and self-belief. ‘Athens Acts’ does not advocate a radical revamp, but instead proposes a clear framework, a scenography if you like, that creates the conditions to enable the people of Athens themselves to take centre stage and determine their own city. The pedestrianisation of Panepistimiou Boulevard will finally make the completion of a pedestrian triangle together with Aiolou and Ermou Street possible. Each side of the triangle will carry its own identity with Panepistimiou becoming Athens’ premiere creative and cultural axis with dozens of historic buildings, theatres, cinemas, museums and galleries. Furthermore Panepistimou and Patission will be perceived as a new, unified boulevard that starts at the University and National Archaeological Museum, ends at Syntagma and links all the iconic squares in between. The atmospheres of the surrounding neighbourhoods will be reflected in the squares and boulevard to create distinct local identities. Reciprocally the axis will be an enormous boost to the revitalization of these local areas. This is particularly valid for Omonia that, when closed to car traffic and opened to pedestrians, will at last fulfill its potential as a vibrant metropolitan plaza and become a catalyst to regenerate the areas to its Northwest.



    The future identity of Panepistimiou Boulevard lies very much within the special program that can already be found along the boulevard, above all the trilogy of university, library and academy, and the opera. These provide the foundations for creating a vibrant cultural axis in the city centre.


    The design maximizes the positive impact of the local climatic and microclimatic conditions, whilst minimizing non-beneficial impacts, to ensure sustained pedestrian comfort through passive and low energy means. The strategy focuses on reducing direct solar access to street levels, harnessing prevailing winds to promote cooling air movement, using water to moderate the local climate, minimizing water consumption, maximizing the benefits of rainwater, using solar energy to power night lighting and promoting green roofs to reduce the heat island effect and promote biodiversity.









  10. Via XX Settembre
    Genova | Italy

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    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.









  11. Planting democracy
    Cairo | Egypt

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    Jury report: ‘…the project seizes a vital feature of the site: a connection which goes beyond symbolical geometries and designed boundaries. It’s a landscape proposal with a remarkable botanical report that reminds the earthly garden, the reconciliation place par excellence. The tree is the unit, democracy a garden to look after.’
    Our idea is to give to Tahrir Square the shape of what it represents today and what it can be tomorrow. An icon to the critical role that open spaces play in revolution and post-revolution era. It symbolized the revolt, and now it deserves to symbolize the rebirth of a democratic Egypt. As a new icon and space for interaction New Tahrir has the potential to play a role in consolidating a common cultural-historical background which creates an underlying identity of a community.



    Forestation is based on a selection of different trees that are relevant in the Egyptian tradition; the result is a sort of green museum, where each plant has its own specific history and symbolic role. The variety of trees aims to represent the wide variety of people who have gathered together during the riots for a common, unique idea.


    To make Tahrir Square an aggregation space, there is an ineluctable necessity: the creation of shade. During the period of occupation of the square, citizens sought shelter under the few trees present and they erected temporary shading structures. The need is clear: to foster social interaction in the open spaces in Cairo, you must create the conditions for climate comfort.