· Area of study: Undergrad in Architecture and Urban Design Studio.
· Beginning and ending date: August 01 – November 8, 14 weeks
· Number of students: 20-30
· Schedule: every Monday and Thursday 5:00PM-9:.30PM, semester 1
· Credits: 15 ECTS credits (10 Designstudio / 5 Theor. Component)
· Teaching team: msc. arch. Rodrigo Resck (coord.), msc. arch. Julio Diarte , msc. arch. Pablo Ruggero. + Visiting professors.
· Cluster: Paraguay – Belgium – United Kingdom
Theme: Strategies for Urban Regeneration
We will approach the theme of Sprawl by mapping its main axis, which is the intercity “highways” established for the automotive transportation system that set the basic directions in which the city expanded in these last 50 years. It will serve as a linear guide to start studying this phenomenon and which will help us to measure its extension.
The main objective of the exercise is to reflect on the processes of urban expansion and develop strategies for regeneration of the cities that make up the metropolitan region’s capital.
To understand this process we have to take in to account the fact that Asunción as a Capital city of a “developing country” faces different challenges compared to “developed” ones, being infrastructure one of the main issues to consider. It isn’t an approach based in a naïve conception of global political and economical affairs, understood as a simple step towards the implementation of known solutions. It is rather an exploratory confrontation with the fact that a city must enhance its productive output in a sustainable way while dealing with scarce resources and inherited social problem of a long lasting dictatorship. Its not a minor issue to consider while proposing a theme, it means the lack of accumulated collective effort towards a better quality of life for the majority wasn’t an issue taken seriously and that it’s clearly reflected in a chaotic metropolitan area. It means most importantly, that basic information (from cartographical accuracy to trustable statistical data) is dispersed or nonexistent. It implies that with out a clear “model” to follow for “development”, what is exactly the best strategies to follow today should be our main objective.
To grasp the complexity of the urban growth in the particular Paraguayan context we will use four pre-identified sub-themes that shaped the metropolitan growth.
1-Axis of Sprawl (mobility infrastructure)
2- Low dense sub-urban growth (12×30 Units)
3-New Centralities of capital investment (Villa Morra)
4-City Limits (Real and Perceived)
These 4 sub-themes will serve as group tasks division so as to have multiple areas of interest cover in a single semester. As with any complex theme we aim also that from the initial discussions new ways to approach the metropolitan growth will be develop, and new themes will emerge.
Objectives of the local design studio
1-Understand and map the process of expansion of the metropolitan area of Asuncion with a considerable degree of accuracy.
2-Work with concepts and clear definitions of a basic vocabulary. Define a research approach that extends to interviews, public and private institutions so as to grasp what information already exists.
3-Explore an appropriate language to synthetise visually or by other means the information gathered.
4- Generate a brief material that allows us to share these insights with the community and becomes a first reference for the other design studios of following years.
5-Develop strategies that take into account the city as part of a regional/global element in a system (big picture).
6-Develop the habit of switching scales of analysis while approaching a problem-solving situation.
7-Approach the interdisciplinary work beyond what was currently been practiced in the studio.
8- Generate projects and strategies, that aims at a sustainable city through Architecture and Urban Design.
ADU aims to be tested
1. Interdisciplinary working dynamics (mixing different professional disciplines): testing the ability to integrate the visions, working methods of different disciplines in the parallel design studios and its related production of knowledge. eg. how does the incorporation of a sociologist affect the outcomes of a design studio? Please define what is the difference between trans/cross/inter-disciplinary. Is trans-disciplinarity a work method to tackle complexity, while interdisciplinarity is merely appropriate for simplicity? Please elaborate.
2. What is the relation of this studio to creative thinking? How is this stimulated in the design studio? How does it affect the working dynamics and outcomes? What is the relation to experimentation and innovation? How do you deal with critical thinking as a mean to generating new ideas? Creative learning environment: different ways of producing and discussing knowledge: is there a relationship between the used working methods and the outcomes? Can we stimulate creativity by applying variations in the way we evaluate the different proposals? Which part of the studio refers to “artifact oriented” studio and which parts to “research oriented studio”, the first referring to produce knowledge, the last to question the already obtained knowledge? What method do you use in order to promote innovation and creativity? How much focus is put on research in order to investigate the design situation and on the problem solving in order to design the artifact?
3. Learning environment and working methods.The level of involvement in academic, professional or pragmatic environments, in a simultaneous and parallel way: are the PPP/WS requirements based on top-down learning models or do they occur on an emergent basis? Which learning activities are part of traditional master-apprentice relationships, which ones are based on a non-hierarchic way of producing knowledge? Which are advantages and disadvantages in each case?
4. Relation with recent phenomena in ADU: how is this PPP/WS activity connected to recent phenomena in ADU? How does the link with “hot topics” affect the outcomes and abilities of students? (Eg. fencing, programming public space, new keywords and concepts)
5. The social and cultural relevance of the contents and outcomes: is the creative process based on social and cultural references, provided by site choice, program, theme? Does the international dimension of the participants and its inherent socio-cultural understanding of reality affect the project’s outcomes?
6. What is the understanding and how is dealt with “materiality” in the studio: from the process (making physical models, impact of site visits,…) till the proposal (scale 1:1, prototypes, simulations, hand on studio…)
Methodology and relation with partners
Our first action will be towards the analysis of basic “functional” layers of metropolitan Asunción.
By mapping these initial elements, we can start to visualise the process of growth and sprawl since the mid-twentieth century until today.
Some of the layers that we aim to analyse are:
Layer 1_Road Structures (expressway: national / regional, sub-regional, metropolitan, arterial: avenues collector roads and local roads).
Layer 2_Natural Systems (topography, hydrology, plant geography, geology).
Layer 3_Mobility Hubs (ports, airports, stations, terminals).
Layer 4_Energy (hydroelectric, solar, biomass).
Layer 5_Housing (types and densities).
Layer 6_Historical Evolution (historical maps)
Layer 7_Production (primary production: extraction, Secondary and tertiary industry: services).
This initial layering is expected to change, part of the idea is to aloud extensions if necessary once the discussions with students start. Especially once we understand the amount of time needed to generate these layers.
Conscious of having to explore methodology as a theme itself, it will be an exercise for the teachers to re-think how its currently been done in our studio.
By sharing the process and results of these Urban Design and Architectural studio we raise various questions to our partners, one of them stands as to what are the main lines that aloud or create sprawls in their own regions?
Our context also could stimulate a debate about types of “low-density”, for example; to what extent does the low-dense can be sustainable is something that acquires a different meaning since the semi-rural is still very present in Asunción. A country that simultaneously have to deal with a growing population, progressive industrialization in a world which start to configure its strategies to a “post-industrial” age is an interesting source of debate as to what model (if there is any) should we use as reference. Is there a linear process that can predict the future “de-industrialisation” of a city or it just a shift in the global structure of production? It will be a different aspect to look at part of global phenomenon and might serve to broaden the work spectrum of Architects and Designers as an international workforce. Our partners can benefit at least by the proximity of different realities that should be confronted with similar professional tools.