The Pentagon has been alienated from its identity, it’s hard to feel oneself at home in the metropolis’ beating heart.

But can an architect restore – let alone create – a home? If we look up the origins of this rather vague term, one can perceive a fundamental differ- ence between the mental and the material aspect of living man has made throughout history. The Greeks spoke about hestia, the religious midpoint of a dwelling, and oikos, the house as a structure. In German one translates the former as heimat, which doesn’t only mean home, but also the relation- ship of man towards a certain space. Henceforth an architect couldn’t be able to build a home, since it doesn’t concern something material.

Or can he? We divided the manifestation of the concept of home into three aspects: memory, that what one remembers as well as what one has been taught, identity, how one is or appears to be as an individual, and ter- ritory, the space one relates oneself to. Maybe we can’t influence home per se, but we can manipulate these manifestations.
The first brings us to the historical context of the site: rather than a revival of functions, we restored some iconic images, through the use of certain seemingly classical typologies like a courtyard, a gallery and a grand café. The second aspect concerns local (building) traditions: instead of thwarting an old habit, we reinterpreted the typical non-urban typology of housing.
For territory we formulated a solution against the privatisation and seg- regation in society.

These 3 aspects of home mainly focus on personal individual qualities but a fourth important component of being home is feeling part of a so- cial network. In our individualistic society this is a quality one has to re- establish and emphasise without losing the luxury of personal space. We introduced the concept of ‘hoodhouses’ as a communal space for a number of families to help them to create their own neighbourhood. By using this tool we give attention to a good gradual transition between public and private space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE 58. An urban alternative.  Brussels 2012

Exclusive spaces – Spaces of exclusion

Tutor: Martine De Maeseneer www.mdma.be

Theoretical component teacher: Dirk Jaspaert

Students: Simona Bontea, Albertina De Pelsmacker, Grace De Smet, Artyom Kravtchenko

 

In the face of the urban exodus from the center of Brussels towards the city fringes and countryside areas, alternative housing typologies in the city center are lacking. Growing mobility problems, a growing need for affordable housing for young families and a growing need for more valuable activities in the public space intensify the secluded character of qualitative living areas in Brussels.

The reallocation of Parking 58 is a compact ensemble of living units, collective spaces and green public area. Even though the monolithic building lies on an exclusive space, it functions as a space of exclusion: nowadays it is nearly impossible to design dominant large-scale architecture for the car on such a prominent place in the dynamic heart of the city. Parking 58 demands a thorough rethinking of its destination. The late modernistic architecture by D’Haveloose and Lipski (1958) with its emphasis on the circulation of the car – most apparent in the spatial experience of driving the car up in the building and thereby getting a panoramic view over the city – has been rethought on the level of living in the building. In other words, the ideology that once was applied for the car user, has now been approached from the perspective of the ‘slow’ user, namely the resident and the pedestrian visitor. The existing repetitive grid structure and the up-going spiral of the building are considered as valuable remaining elements to implement the strategy. Although it seems evident to fall back on the ordinary inflation of units and functions following the grid structure, this idea was excluded. From our personal conceptions and discussions, four guidelines were formulated to reply to the existing structure: directing the eye, meaning the visual experience one has constituted by architectural space in and outside the building; the extension of the rear side of the house, meaning the possibility to extend the living units of the residents; the pocket spaces, focusing more on the spatial experience of living in the unit; and the in-between spaces. Living this way leads to a more free use of the given space in which collective spaces contribute to it. Experiencing the building is translated, as making a promenade through a succession of spaces whereby the confrontation with the grid has not been put aside (see the passage, the pentagon and the spiral). From our point of view, it does not seem evident to change the average settled idea of people having their own mainstream house-garden model. This being said, our project suggests a new concept towards qualitative living and housing in the city.

 

 

In order to come up with an individual interpretation of the experiments that we conducted so far, we defined a brief, some rules of the game to cristallise a guideline leading our architectural proposals.

 

After the break, find two of the four proposals of our team.

DESIGN PROPOSAL 1 – By Antonios AMSPACH

The first proposal starts with a negotiation between the individual and the collective space. The divisions between them give clear site to work with. The challenge starts when the suburban facade, which used to hide behind hedges and fences in order to satisfy the user’s need for security, is revealed. This architectural proposal is focused on negotiating the face to face space between the individual and the collective user. Introducing alternative territorial depths as an alternative ways of using the suburban home. Strategies of social surveillance are suggested taking the issue of social and territorial control into account. The individual can satisfy his/her need for security. The proposal treats materiality as a subtle sequential gap trying to create patterns in order to distinguish the proper distance for privacy. Finally, emergent material patterns provide the possibility for desired overlapped scenarios ( people talking on the streets of suburbia, children playing in front of the houses and not only back to the private gardens) which can give life to the suburban community.

Learning from suburbia, learning from boundaries, facing the users, understanding their needs are some of the pieces which completed the puzzle of this project. Negotiating with the users in terms of individual and collective space, privacy and materiality to reform, upgrade the experience of living in suburbia. The upper aim of this project is the lost “Hello” which is missing from today’s suburb. People bringing the city’s urban culture, conflicting with the suburban one appears to rule upon the latter. Just by saying hello will reopen opportunities for social interaction and will give back to the suburb the gift of the “welcome”.

DESIGN PROPOSAL 2 – By Sarah POOT

The second design assumes that the current inhabitants of Wenduine will need specific arrangement in terms of daily accessibility. The proposal takes advantage of the tremendous amount of space availlable (15% only of
the garden area is actually used) to redistribute the existing functions on the groundfloor and hence to, increase elderly’s autonomy.

The proposal invests the existing upper floors to relodge new family patterns (single parent family, over educated young couples seeking a first job in their late twenties, …) with lower income.

The design takes into account the fact that suburbanites use to turn their outdoor space into sequential gaps, tend to use extra-space as a buffer between their individual sphere and the outsiders. However the strategy proposes to assert this behaviour and consider sequential gaps as possible benefit, it will reconfigure the sequences of spaces in order to provoke overlapping situations. The existing living spaces are relocated in such a way that they amplify a deconstructed space thanks to bufferings alternatively playing the part of sequential gap or overlap scenario given the seasonal behaviours.

With an eye to use architecture and design as agents for social change, the proposal will try to encourage new social relationship, practices and uses of the residential space trough the materiality of reconfigured boundaries. Today’s urban fabric in the residential area of Wenduine is roughly composed of an average detached house turning back to each other and endlessly repeated. Our various interviews revealed that the inhabitants of the residendential area of wenduine claim for privacy, solitude, exposure and security.

Reinvestment of the parcels generates a tangle of alternating full and empty, of accessible zones as well as unacessible. At the crossing of three parcels or more, the courtyards offer a potential for increased use that will allow the community to interact over the course of daily activities. The shelves integrated in the walls structure may host among other things storage for gardeners, bicycles racks, vertical gardens, informal seating, rabbit breeding or other little pleasures of spare time able to generate attractiveness for meeting and exchange.

The wooden light-frame building is based on a tri-dimensional grid of 65 centimeters, which integrates all the technical and structural elements. The modularity of the grid considers the eventuality of future additions and guarantees both low cost and rapidity of construction trough prefabricated elements. The unusual thickness of these walls can also integrate a system of storage, visible or invisible, and can be accessed from one side or the other, sometimes from both.

Short spans between those walls allow a effective provision of portal system, occasionally freeing some walls of structural frame. The design features large glass openings, bluring boundaries between indoor and outdoor space while maintaining visual contact that amplifies the perceived space. Horizontal filters combined to vertical openings generates overlapping sequences of space and light, and protect the inhabitants of different levels from unwanted visual contact.

Flat roofs that overhang thoses portals are vegetalised to provide to the upper level residents non accessible extensive ornemental gardens while ensuring an excellent thermic and accoustic comfort to the inhabitants of the lower levell. Pitched roofs are uncovered to offer accessible courtyards to the upper level unit. The remaining existing structure of the roof allow the passage of light while providing privacy to its users. In general, the doors are replaced by screens and windows with frames that go beyond the mere utility range. A large rotating doorshelf for instance, plays with perspective to increase the readability of reunited spaces, while a window facing its alter ego blur the boundaries from one space to another.

Over provoking social interaction and a solution toward sustainable development in those times of growing population, the main effect of the project would be to expand in space one’s sence of belonging while reinforcing his « privacy zone ».

People tend to appropriate themselves the space they are evolving in. For instance, the path one is used to walk trough to go his work place, the shop where he does his weekly grocery shopping, the bakery he goes to in order to bring back croissants to his wife on sunday mornings are refered as « my street », « my neighbourhood », « my living environment ».

At first, colloquial use of the multiplicity of paths and potential destination spaces proposed by the design strategy will complexify and extend the scope of their belonging sense to the next street, the next neighbourhood. On the other hand, the materiality of the architectural design will guarantee high intimacy in proximity (trough the multiplication of human-scaled rooms, enclaved courtyards, and alcoves in the walls among others) and high privacy levels (ensured by a specific configuration of space and a set of screens controlling the visual relations).

“Whenever elements of the built environment are sharply divided (physically, visually or mentally), complex relationships among spaces, activities and people on the scale of the community cannot occur”
M. Bobic

Continuing our exploration from the last stage, we have started mapping the following parameters : accessibility and inhabitants, (more precisely, the emergent patterns in the configuration of space, e.g., building buffers between public and private space) confronting conventional spaces, uses and materiality.

Interesting, is the need for residents in the Community to “mark their own territory”. Moreover, they suggest that physical territorial boundaries are there not only to avoid any physical and visual contact, but also to maintain ‘distance’ from the space abutting their neighbours’. As a result, defensive space is formed, privacy levels get higher, and social relationships (if any) are weak is at all.

From these readings of the above-mentioned patterns, emerged several micro-strategies we believe deserved to be tested.

This strategy challenges the existing relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces. As a matter of fact, people in Wenduine experience a strong delineation between those two postures, especially during winter. The strategy proposes to advance the very walls of the house further in the garden in order to expand the actual space used. The explosion of this strong and readable shell of the house in several places (of visual and physical boundaries) allows new practices and reduces wasteful consumption of space.

This strategy proposes to take the physical notion of the boundary to the extreme by expanding the thickness of the boundary itself. The aesthetic character of plantation is hijacked as a defense system to fill the entire plot. A niche is carved into this floral fortress, preserving a small pocket in which the house take refuge.

This strategy involves reconfiguring existing boundaries around and between individual lots. This notion is birthed from the idea that boundaries (physical and otherwise) are perceived differently and have different effects on those who engage with them. For example, a thick hedge might be perceived differently from a series of flower bushes. Also, rearranging the typographical layout of these different boundaries and testing the results, was an objective of this strategy. With this, we are seeking explore the notion of claims and ownerships of space; how people occupy and claim ownership of (physically) unoccupied space. The overlaps that result in multiple peoples implicitly and explicitly claiming ownership of spaces (private through public) is of particular interest and informs the micro urban strategies later developed. Zones/areas of inclusion and exclusion can be established, reinforced, diminished and even made to meld through manipulation of said ‘boundaries’; this is the core of these studies/tests.

The test challenges the notion of the external-barriers. This micro-strategy suggests a community free of barriers. The public-private diagram shows the radical changes between the high public and the high private. The complex notion of “entering” is eliminated and substituted by a simpler one which actually brings questions about the privacy levels of the home itself to the fore. The aim is to test the privacy levels of the house itself. Our exploration assumes that the more complex the territorial depths inside the house the more defensible it becomes the more the balance between the public and the private privacy levels. Can people feel more secure inside their own homes, instead of relying on their semi-private and semi-public space to protect them?

This strategy deals with the life of the street, and the life of the private space of peoples’ properties. We observed that in our chosen area there often the phenomenon of “defensive space” around peoples properties, and facing the street. We also wanted to address the fact that one feels uncomfortable walking on this semi-private area (“other peoples”-street) if one does not have business there. Here, we have tested a strategy of merging the often broad defensive space into one “compressed” single barrier. By applying this strategy the life on the street and the life of the private space become two distinct worlds; with no visual or physical interaction.

These strategies were submitted to locals’ opinion during our last trip in Wenduine. Although some of them were perfectly understood and accepted, we realised that we emphasized the concept of privacy vs exposure at the expense of the notion of security which should also be part of the equation. We defined four concepts to focus on in order to develop our architectural proposal : privacy, exposure, solitude and security.

// Catriona Macdonald, Carlota Marques de Amorim, Lambert Lempereur, Tom Smith

"What if we could strengthen our island's local conditions with a community building / cultural park?"

Between the Opera (Christina Nilssons gata), Sankt Eriksgatan and Casino (Packhusplatsen) is an area that is physically and functionally segregated and fragmented from the rest of the adjacent city centre due to poor infrastructure and dispersed islands of regeneration.

Göteborg has long been shaped by the development of its harbour. As Scandinavia’s largest harbour, the city has changed from being a significant port and industrial city, to one of industry in decline and one of the most threatened / exposed cities for sea level rise and flooding in Sweden.

In its current condition the site illustrates: a barrier to the riverfront; weak identity; inefficient use of space / lack of purpose; undefined access routes; anti-climax; and a topographical separation from adjacent urban fabric.

“Waterfronts of the Nordic are emblematic of the vitality and effectiveness of new cultural energies.” (The Building Art: The Social Art; Peter MacKeith; 2012)

A strong point of a city is its diversity, which facilitates meetings between people across interests, ages, social status and religious affiliation.

We see the potential of the site as a place for: varying circadian uses; mixed seasonal activity; city markers; a strong culmination point of Västra Hamngatan; emphasising the city’s relationship to the waterfront; and turning normally disadvantageous flooding risk into opportunity .

Our idea is to use the existing street patterns to delineate islands of activity, chosen for their cultural associations with the people of Gothenburg; with street confluences denoting important ‘nodes’. The site  itself determines location of function, from quiet to loud, wet to dry, in terms of the current activity and topography.

Aurora Fernández de los Rios Murillo

Victoria Patricia López Cabeza

Clara Natera Fijo

Beatriz Nieto Sierra

Week 2, “Ready made” model

 

Week 5, skeleton model

Group 5: Louise Lauwers & Antón Monedero

South of Gothenburg, the municipality of Mölndal is divided by the main highway that connects it to the city. The highway is the main barrier that splits our site, an abandonned paper factory on a 12,5 ha terrain, from the centre of Mölndal.
Mölndal is an old industrial town with a lot of factories and small worker houses. The dynamic river and topography shape the whole town and the organic shape of the paper factory.

The main topics we focus on are – connection
- make the river visible
- create an own identity for the area

To achieve this goal, we studied the site respecting the existing construction as much as possible, removing and restoring those in bad shape and filling the voids with small interventions, keeping in mind that users are the key point to trigger this transformation.

The proposal has the main objective of generation of  cohesive communitary relations between the divided territory. A void space that became residual within the arrangement of the current urban structure is the specific site within the community, with the intention to use this space from within to sprawl towards the rest of the city and articulate the project, Barrio Nuevo and Barrio Maria Auxiliadora with the rest of the urban structure. Constructive aspects of the proposal are on full development while the image and configuration of the building is more defined in general terms. Criticism is highly appreciated!!!

————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

La propuesta tiene como objetivo principal la generación de relaciones comunitarias de cohesión entre el territorio dividido. Un espacio vacío que se convirtió en residual en la configuración de la estructura urbana actual es el sitio específico dentro de la comunidad, con la intención de utilizar este espacio desde el interior para expandirse hacia el resto de la ciudad y articular el proyecto, Barrio Nuevo y Barrio Maria Auxiliadora con el resto de la estructura urbana. Aspectos constructivos de la propuesta está en pleno desarrollo, mientras que la imagen y la configuración del edificio están más definidos en términos generales. Esperamos críticas al proyecto!!!