Tag Archive: urban planning

  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. Into the Forest
    Mantova | Italy

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    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

    “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.

     

     

     

    Mediterranean Forest

    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.

     

     

     

    Native Forest

    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.

     

     

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

     

     

  5. Site Visit | Oct 2016
    Maritime Cluster
    Rotterdam | Netherlands

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    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.

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  6. 2πR
    Undefined | Italy

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    Post Rural

    The science park is a campus that will be located in the proximity of Italy’s National Deposit of nuclear waste, which will host the waste produced daily in the country by industries, medical centers, and research institutes. The location, thought, has not yet been defined, meaning that our project should be adaptable to different conditions and flexible to different landscape typologies. Working on the italian context gives us extra responsibility, as the italian agro-landscape is of great importance to national heritage. 

    The campus establishes new relation of mutual interest and inter-dependence by binding human settlement with sustainable exploitation of ecosystem services generated by the rural context.

    At the same time, reckless urbanization, if not downright illegal buildings, defaced this heritage making the ‘Bel Paese’, for large part a continuous ‘widespread’ city where the net boundary between town and country, the main quality of historic towns, has vanished. Our plan has the ambition of creating a new model of urban development in rural areas that can serve as an example. Starting with the urban vision carried out by the English Garden City movement lead by Ebenezer Howard at the end of 1800s, the design shares some of the movement’s principles, but takes into consideration the strong criticism that the movement has received over time. We made a move away from the very reasons that dragged the Garden City to a generic suburban ‘green’, which has lost over time its theoretical force, to propose a post-rural approach. An approach that is not an undefined hybrid between the two conditions urban-rural, but a defined system that establishes a new relationship between the urban area (the Science Park) and the rural areas.  The relationship is one of mutual interest and inter-dependence, binding human settlement with sustainable exploitation of ecosystem services generated by the rural context. The proposed Science Park is a new urban model that has as its main objective the preservation of Italian landscape heritage and indissolubly binds technological development to a sustainable use of natural resources.

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    Anti Sprawl

    ‘Sprawl’ is the product of  the ‘diffuse city’.  It is the endless  built space that has blurred the division between city and countryside, redefining cities as metropolitan areas. In the medieval city, for example, this separation was defined by city walls that divided the inhabited areas from the countryside serving as defence from foreign attacks. In our project we apply the same principle of the ‘functional limit’ which the purpose clearly not being for defence, but rather to satisfy the need for infrastructures and sustainable mobility.

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    The Science Park is conceived at the center of a network that links research institutes, the university and industries in a system of mutual benefit. Priority will be given to the companies dealing with renewable energy production.

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    The park is, though, in close proximity to, and will develop strong relationships with, the surrounding areas in which it will be located in order to become a driver of innovation far beyond its borders. The nearby cities and villages will take advantage of and benefit from the Science Park through job creation and improvement of (mobility) infrastructures.

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    Reduce, reuse, recycle.
    Each company located in the Science Park will produce a programmatic document to reduce CO2, employ energy saving measures, and develop a system to create awareness and training courses for employees, including classes and incentives.

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  7. Da-Ring
    Rotterdam | Netherlands

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    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.
     

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    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.

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    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.

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    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. 

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  8. Urban Currents
    Medellin | Colombia

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    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.

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    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. 

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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  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.

     

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    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.

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    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.

     

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