Social problems, pollution, climate change, dwindling public finances and international competition are just some of the complex challenges faced by today’s already congested cities that continue to draw new residents. Public space, intended as open space, under collective responsibility, accessible to everyone at any time, in all of its multifaceted and variegated forms is one of the fundamental elements of the physical and symbolic structure of the city. This system of void spaces between built elements is a common good, a collection of spaces representing a society. It is the backbone to the physical and social relations structuring the lives of citizens and the urban community. In today’s urban landscapes, wider and increasingly more multifunctional, subject to incessant processes of densification and reconversion, public space, as it was in the historic city, is once again playing a decisive role in defining the level of quality of life, a crucial factor for economic development and social and environmental balances for today’s societies. In Europe, in particular, where processes of urban substitution and regeneration prevail, the design of public space becomes fundamental for ensuring the positive outcome of interventions; it also helps to frame them within a comprehensive rather than partial vision of how the city should be transformed. Using evidence offered by a series of experiences in different parts of Europe, in particular France, Portugal, the Netherlands and Italy, this issue of the magazine wishes to reiterate the importance and role of public space in the development and refurbishment of the city, with the objective of promoting architectural quality and favouring a climate of wellbeing and civil coexistence between citizens. An emblematic situation can be found in Lisbon, a city that, little more than a decade ago, defined and implemented a strategy for its comprehensive transformation. This strategy identified the system of public spaces at different scales – the waterfront and a network of public squares spread across different barrios – as the trigger of a virtuous process of urban regeneration. The city also managed to draw an important quantity of private investment. These same factors were used to drive the regenerations of the metropolitan area of Bordeaux and the communes of Montpellier and Périgueux. The strategies and approaches adopted by urban planning policies concentrated on public spaces, beginning with the promotion of participatory processes and the objective of requalifying these spaces not simply as functional infrastructures, but instead focusing on quality and defining them as multi-use and multi-scalar spaces. In Rotterdam, the processes of urban renewal underway are intent on experimenting with innovative models based on close relations between the theme of public space and its quality and questions related to increased urban density and responses to issues connected with climate change.
PUBLIC SPACE AS A DRIVER OF URBAN AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION – Pg. 6
PUBLIC SPACE AND WAYS OF EXPERIENCING THE CITY – Pg. 12
LISBON. WHEN POLITICS TAKES AN INTEREST IN THE CITY – Pg. 18
Laura Valeria Ferretti
PUBLIC SPACE, DENSIFICATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: THE EXAMPLE OF ROTTERDAM – Pg. 54
Fabrizia Berlingieri, Manuela Triggianese
THE PUBLIC SPACE AS FRAMEWORK OF NEW URBAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS. THE EXAMPLE OF LEIDSCHE RIJN CENTRUM IN UTRECHT – Pg. 74
THE FIELD AND THE STREET. REGENERATIVE PROJECTS FOR NEW COLLECTIVE RITUALS – Pg. 82
Lisbon’s new Cruise Terminal is located along the quay inside the walls of the former Jardim do Tobaco dock, in front of Santa Apolónia railway station. Its construction triggered a wider process of renewal in the entire docklands area and helped re-stitch it back to the historic Alfama district. The design is based on the following themes: first, the reorganisation of the area, which comported an expansion of the existing quays, the construction of a new dock and the reorganisation of the spaces serving port activities and tourism; second, guaranteeing the continuity of urban space and relations with the existing city and reinforcing local identity by creating new permeable spaces and improving infrastructural systems and intermodal exchange.
The new headquarters of EDP – Energias De Portugal stands on a 6,000 sqm former urban void, once occupied by an electrical power plant, situated between the hills of the city and the banks of the Tagus River. The project pursues a total integration with its surroundings, to re-establish the relationship between the city and its river. Two blade buildings, almost thirty-six metres in height, are set perpendicular to the river and the hill. This move preserves existing views and the permeability between city and water; two ramps connect the vertical volumes and configure a hollow podium level, a true covered plaza accessed by passing beneath inclined planes that serve as connections. The ground plane is a fluid space fused with the street and the urban fabric to permit a pedestrian crossing along the north-west/south-east axis. Constant attention to environmental impact, costs and quality of spaces was intelligently maintained from the earliest stages of the project.
The new Museu Nacional dos Coches is located in the historic Belém district, on the other side of the rail lines and in front of the port. Over the course of the twentieth century this area was gradually occupied by a large number of port activities that left a strong presence of infrastructural networks and a fragmented historic fabric of small colourful houses. The Museu Nacional dos Coches began as an expansion of the historic Museu dos Coches to host the most prestigious elements of the collection of royal coaches and carriages from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The building is similar to an urban infrastructure that offers a new public space to the city by raising the main structure of the exhibition spaces above the ground to create a new bicycle-pedestrian crossing that reconnects the historic city with the port.
Designed by the Indian office Charles Correa Associates, this complex, situated in the fluvial landscape of Pedrouços, in the historic district of Belém, marks the point where the Tagus River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The architectural design, deeply rooted to the site, combines aesthetics and function to provide patients, researchers, scholars and healthcare professionals spaces of excellence and efficiency. The building is a work of massive and material contemporary architecture in which beauty become an integral part of research and therapy. The complex’s different functions are arranged in three different curvilinear volumes. The main building develops around a system of open spaces on different levels, independent from external public space, though interconnected to promote a sense of conviviality without compromising privacy. A tubular steel and glass bridge connects the first building with the second. This intermediate sized volume contains an auditorium, exhibition hall, offices and a restaurant with a panoramic terrace. The third volume contains a service block and cafeteria beneath a large outdoor theatre facing the Ocean.
Rotterdam Centraal is one of the most important urban hubs in the Netherlands. This project faced two challenges: allowing the sustainable development of the city by freeing it from heavy traffic and unifying the districts to the north and south of the central station. The competition-winning proposal by Team CS preserves the ideas of urban integration by creating a dual access to Provenierswijk, a typical nineteenth century Dutch residential area, and to the metropolitan city centre. The most iconic element of the new station is the large roof over the square and the tracks that welcomes travellers and directs them toward the city centre. The roof integrates the subway entrances within the building, facilitating connections with buses and trams. The area in front of the station is a continuous public space: buses, trams, taxis are integrated into the urban fabric. The construction of the new station thus becomes the promoter of a broader process of urban renewal.
In 2009, the Dutch office KAAN Architecten was involved in the renovation of a building designed by Van den Broek en Bakema in the 1950s. Respectful of the original structure, KAAN Architecten has managed to balance the initial intentions of Van den Broek en Bakema: the opening of façades and shop windows not only adds architectural quality to the building itself, but symbolically assumes the task of bringing a new vital impulse to a stagnant district. KAAN Architecten has carried out a discrete and effective operation, with great respect for the original structure and its proportions. Through simple interventions and the use of steel and glass, KAAN Architecten offers a contemporary reinterpretation of one the symbolic monuments of the economic and architectural renaissance of post-war Rotterdam.
Milan’s newest and recently inaugurated park was designed by the landscape architect Petra Blaisse of the Dutch office Inside-Outside. The idea presented during the competition was to realise a new generation of Botanical Gardens that would present a collection of trees using modern forms and geometries. The Park occupies a total area of 95,000 square metres, making it the third largest in Milan and the city’s first privately managed public park. It contains more than 450 trees and thousands of plants belonging to 100 different species. The Park is particular for its lack of a fence, making it an open space for use by the city. It hosts events, visited tours, educational walks and other initiatives. It is an open space where public life, not only that of the city’s inhabitants, finds an ideal space of representation. The Park is a condenser of social life, different uses and activities. It is a space of inclusive practices of sharing and participation.
Ten years ago, the Malgrate lakefront was little more than a sequence of different and disordered elements made from materials incapable of marking this point of transition. Today, eight years later, approximately half a kilometre of lakefront has been radically modified, transformed and renewed as a complex space offering various services. The effect is that of a succession of outdoor rooms, small and large fragments of a rediscovered common space that is inviting and friendly. Like all waterfront redesigns (fluvial, marine or lacustrine) a decisive step toward recapturing this threshold involved the introduction of new circulation for bicycles and pedestrians. Providing these new paths means working with themes of continuity and permeability. The entire project involves a 2 km long strip of lakefront. To date, the section in front of the town has been completed: 500 metres in length and with a total area in excess of 13,000 square metres.
In 2015, the Dutch architects Carve and Omgeving were awarded the international competition to design an adventure play park in Beringen, above one of the monumental spoil tips that are a particular feature of this city. The project is part of the be-MINE master plan, designed to breathe new life into Beringen’s coal mines, one of Flanders’s largest industrial archaeological sites. Starting in 2009, the city’s mining facilities were converted into museums, playing fields, tourism facilities, offices and homes. The result is a new multitasking district that conserves the memory of the city’s industrial past. The Dutch team of architects responded with a project that confronts the theme of the path and play as a narrative. The proposal creates a juxtaposition between three elements: an artificial forest, an adventure playground and a plaza, held together by a stair linking the various levels.
Lyon is also one of the largest testbeds of urban regeneration, this is the framework of the Parc Blandan, which reuses the spaces of an old barracks. Completed in 2019, the project involved a wide re-naturalisation project for the entire area to create spaces with multiple identities that favour gathering, sport, play and relax. Planted surfaces are mixed with historic fragments and elements such as walkways, playing fields and a skate park to create a true green lung for the city. The Park is colonised by wood benches and lamps with elementary geometric forms, while concrete surfaces, gravel and rammed earth in different colours identify paths and paved areas. The multilevel morphology of the Park offers panoramic terraces offering views over the surrounding landscape. Reusing existing materials was one of the important strategies put into play by the project. Removed asphalt was reused as kerbing in some of the gardens. Stone cutters transformed fifty pallets of stone from the demolition of old military buildings into chairs, tables and picnic benches.
- Gio Ponti archi-designer al MAD di Parigi – Pag. 114
- Qualità dell’impresa, qualità del progetto. Il premio Architettura Toscana 2019 – Pag. 118
- ”Macroscuola: la scuola che vorrei”. Il progetto della scuola del futuro promosso da ANCE giovani – Pag. 121
NOTIZIE - Pag. 122
LIBRI - Pag. 128
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