Preparing for the Future
‘When future is unknown, the most logical course of action is to propose something flexible.’ The complexity of a city can be difficult to accurately project. Cities are dynamic and ever changing entities. We can think about a city like a network of climbing plants that grow organically. When their organic growth is coordinated, they can grow in a logical and coordinated way. Such is the case with urban environments. Their growth can be coordinated through the use of basic principles to achieve a desired result. The question is: how do we define those principles.
If we assume that a city has a positive growth over time, the most important goal in planning is to ‘control’ or ‘predict’ which direction and form the urban growth will take. With this in mind, we can create a spatially and functionally flexible development strategy that can adapt to incorporate diverse elements and define it within a module. The first step is to define a module and arrange it in a way that allows infinite programmatic combinations, a full range of typologies, the ability to phase the development over time, and adaptability to different urban contexts. This can be diagramed in a basic grid. This grid may be further subdivided to a scale that is appropriate for urban plots. This division allows the module to accommodate different programmatic typologies. This will create development at a variety of scales, densities, and typologies and promote diversity, adaptability, and resiliency in future development.
Variety as Adaptability
The next step is to create a series of flexible typologies that could work for very different programmatic scenarios, allowing change of use in the future and promoting mixed use within. The planning solution will therefore have the capability to quickly adapt to changing market demand. By mixing different typologies, the sites will grow organically into a city of diversity. This will improve its capability to adapt to changes and restructure its functional logic. It will eliminate districts that ‘die at night’ by providing 24/7 activity, creating rich spatial qualities and most importantly, a diverse community of people. We believe in the natural complexity of life.
A mixed programmatic and typological proposal has the advantage of a more efficient use of space. The goal is to ensure that areas have 24/7 activity. All public spaces and circulation spaces will be used by different users at different times and also at the same time. For example, a public space surrounded by a kindergarten, a residential building, an office building and a pub, will be function in the morning as playground and circulation space for workers and residents, in midday as an outside canteen for the workers and the kindengarden sports activities classroom, and during the evening as terrace for the pubs and pick up area for kindergarten and office workers.Another example is the use of empty residential buildings during the working day. In contrast, an office building is most active during the day and early evening. It is usually empty at night. We propose a rigorously mixed typology: the Active Office. An office and residential mixed use building, will share lobby, corridors and vertical connections between workers and residents. Even parking will be shared since most residents will work close to where they live and thus the dependence on cars will be reduced. Those who do commute will leave at the same time that office workers come to the building in the mornings. Thus the building in all its functions will be used more efficiently.
The present can be understood as the intersection between past and the future. It is the brief moment when one experiences the influences of both conditions. The past and future are two conditions that combine to define the present. Our proposal is the intersection point of these temporal conditions. We propose to create a spatial strategy to transform the sites and offers a platform of urban growth for the future. By preserving some of the existing structures and respecting Amstetten’s local typologies, we incorporate the past into the proposal. Building on this heritage, we propose the future by projecting urban strategy to guide future development. Thus we define the present by synthesizing the past and future and defining it with our proposal. All of the layers of collective memories of the past and present needs and future visions, are present at the same time in the same space, making the urban fabric richer, more complex and adaptable.
The existing urban fabric of Amstetten follows a clear separation between public and private functions. This isolates the programmatic areas and the users. As it exists, there is little to connect these areas and no sense of circulation. Our proposal breaks with that old zoning concept to create a more open use of space. We propose to rigorously blur the boundaries between public and private space, the definition of inside and outside, and the designation of local and non-local users. We also propose to analyze the ownership of property over time. Does someone own something forever? Or perhaps only during specific hours of the day? Those spaces can be open terraces in residential buildings that become semi-public spaces, private gardens that become public gardens when owners are not using them, school playgrounds that are fully public when school is not in session, office lobbies that are used as multipurpose rooms for cultural activities, and a long list of other sharing possibilities.
This strategy of breaking down the psychological and physical concepts of public space can be defined within the concept of Transparency. We think that Amstetten needs very permeable and communicative buildings and spaces that are open and easily show what’s happening. They must demonstrate their function and what they can offer in a very transparent way to effectively blur the lines between functions and engage the public.
Urban density of a given area is determined by connectivity, ease of use, and proximity. The equation is circular and ever changing, constantly reinforcing itself. Because of Amstetten’s strategic position and potential, we propose an intensification of the existing city fabric through a progressive implementation process in the sites during the next years with the goal of building higher density nodes that will drive the growth of new urban centers in a new scale and quality. This strategy ‘will’ act as a catalyst or seed that will start to grow and create new value and allow new functions to develop as it expands outward to regenerate the Amstetten city image, programmatic offerings and use ability for its people.Location: Amstetten, Austria
Architects: Ramon Bernabe Simo+ Tomas Labanc Project name: ‘OPEN’ Europan12 winning proposal Team members: Alex Camacho,Minghui Chang,Yang Huang,Eric Marcuson,Francesc Montosa,Matus Radiansky,Miguel Vilacha
Rendering company: idealarch.com