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.
Openfabric has been selected to design the public spaces of Mantova city center in occasion of the first World Forum on Urban Forest (WFUF 2018) by FAO. The aim of the design is to engage with the two different levels of the forum: the academic one and the broad public. The project wants to critically represent a number of forest typologies rising both awareness on the importance of nature in urban environments and on the dramatic effects of climate change. Through the tools of ambiguity, juxtaposition, aesthetics and discomfort, Into the Forest aims to challenge the perception of nature and aspires to be adopted by cities, globally.
“Fallen Forest” is a memorial for the millions of trees victims of the cyclone that hit the North-Eastern regions of Italy on November 2nd, 2018. The installation confronts the phenomena of climate tropicalisation and its catastrophic effects on the environment, by recreating a portion of post-apocalyptic landscape. Climate change is real, action is urgent.
The Mediterranean sclerophyllous evergreen oak forest shapes the character of Mediterranean landscapes with a wide variety of formations and structures, according to climate, soil, and anthropogenic conditions. The dominant tree species are Quercus ilex, Quercus rotundifolia, Quercus suber, Laurus nobilis and Arbutus unedo, the latter two having rather often a shrub growth form. The evergreen oak woodlands have been a strategic resource along the history of human societies in the region, providing direct and indirect goods and benefits, as fuelwood, cork, food and fodder, timber, shelter. They range from sea level up to 800-900 a.s.l. and the tree and shrub species are generally very well drought- and fire-adapted.
The “Native Forest” recalls a fragment of the ancient forest formations widely covering the Po Valley (Pianura Padana) before the massive transformation to agriculture and urban land cover. In fact large part of Northern Italy was very likely covered by lowlands forests dominated by Quercus spp. and Carpinus betulus, referring to Sub-Atlantic and medio-European oak or oak-hornbeam forests of the Carpinion betuli, as classified by the European manual of habitats. The forests currently survive only in few, small patches, protected as nature reserves. The lowlands forests, although almost disappeared, should be considered for their strategic environmental value, as an intangible heritage of natural and cultural capital of local communities.
The Archipelago of Knowledge is a new spatial strategy for the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands, that reconsiders the relationship between port and city. Through the fragmentation of areas within the port, a series of islands are created, subsequently enabling the formation of a continuous, 100% accessible waterfront. Urban and ecological quality embedded in the direct relationship between city and water is re-established and enhanced, benefitting both citizens and the maritime cluster.
The new linear waterfront finally brings water back to the city – a city that often lacks a direct relationship with its largest water body, the Maas River, despite its close proximity and historical and cultural significance. The new system goes beyond administrative boundaries and fragmentation, unifying ongoing efforts of port revitalization and creating one coherent urban vision. The strategy itself, before its implementation, can be seen as a tool to bring together a diverse group of actors; from the city, the maritime cluster, the port, and local communities. Additionally, the waterfront can become a shared space for negotiation where the interests and needs of various stakeholders are discussed in order to find points of intersection and mutual interest.
The new islands are spatially defined areas where economic and planning scenarios unfold through time. Although their shape is fixed, their program, be it maritime, commercial, residential or recreational, can freely occupy the space according to future economic trends, needs, and decisions, ensuring a new beneficial relationship between port and city.
The port areas are fragmented into islands, resulting in the formation of a continuous, 100% accessible, waterfront
The waterfront is a system that goes beyond administrative borders and fragmentation but rather unifies the ongoing efforts of port revitalization into one, coherent urban vision
Port expansion has always implied dramatic transformations of the river landscape. The port has expanded and transformed through time, occupying more and more surface. The time has come, now, with changing conditions of the port economy, to re-orient land transformations to the advantage of the city and its people.
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/.
We centered the lecture around our interest in spontaneous colonization of public spaces (both by people and by nature) with a special attention to the city of Rotterdam.
In-fact back in 2012 we made several field trips in neglected part of the city as industrial areas an vacant lots studying the spontaneous wild vegetation growing there. Non-native plants thrive where native ones do not: their importance is crucial. We deepen our interest with our Diverse Networks project , a strategy for increasing biodiversity in Rotterdam by rethinking and reusing the public transportation network.
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.
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