Think Public Space
Work title: Evaluate the past, think of today & design for tomorrow
The meaning of public is defined by anything associated with the common interest. As a concept, public space is a subjective content, which has multiple interpretations, whereas in urban space is linked with squares, streets, parks etc. However, in any case, public sentiment links public space with civic rights, incarnating man’s second nature as being a member of a whole.
Public space mutates in each historical period. The ancient Greek city made public space the symbol of democracy, whereas the Romaine Empire adds the characteristic of its monumentality. During medieval era, public space was used for aristocracy’s power illustration. Later, the Habsburg Empire’s grandeur is strengthened by Renaissance era, creating large parks and squares. Moreover, Napoleon’s imperialist ideals sparked large boulevards, parks and public works, while Hitler’s rise is associated with an architectural shift in classicism. Furthermore, Modern Movement, based on mass production, housing and infrastructural needs, transforms the square into a roundabout, dividing public space into green zones. Modern movement raised questions for mono-functionality and social segregation, which were answered by the postmodern movement’s collective nature. Later, economic development invested on prestigious public space, serving the increase of marketability. The traditional city is replaced by homogeneous urban fragments and public space loses its centrality sense. Additionally, the globalized capitalism turns consumption into lifestyle, substituting traditional public space for leisure centres. Last, digital media redefine social reality, showing cities incapable of direct involvement. Thus, public space’s production is always linked to political sovereignty or to socio-economic transformations.
Today, given the global economic-political instability, public space cannot “hold” the certainties with which it was historically associated, losing its institutional and representational dynamic. In this context, regarding the technological impact, the boundaries between private-public are blurred. The architectural form is called to find common aspects with other disciplines, redefining and reactivating the role of public space that depends on the quality of the strengthened social, environmental and cognitive relationships. The ability of public space to organize appropriation forms (open to different social groups), depends on architecture’s ability to formulate a proposal with critical importance for the collective life.
In this context, is proposed the notion of public space as a hybrid exchange, where private interest will "cooperate" with public benefit, granting financial aid for urban issues and public space’s production. Prerequisite of the proposal is the free access and use of the generated public space by all potential users. This proposal attempts to activate public space, constituting various users’ action field and considering technological developments, while answering to major city problems; lack of space and financial resources.
The proposed Urban-Tetris installation suggests the creation of a light-weight structure that accumulates multiple urban facilities. The logic of the design relies on the reproduction of a single-unit – component-, which is basically a metal cube of 1x1x1. The generic cube component has four alternatives: standard, green (integrated with soft materials), screen (integrated with led screen) and locker (cube’s interior used for storage). Depending on the configurations (composition types) and on the number of the component’s repetition, the structure can inherit various forms and sizes. Thus, it can be a large composition (platform, square), a small one (street stop) or a linear one within and above the street width.
Regarding the structure, the composition relies on the junction of prefabricated metal boxes, made of metal sheets. The metal sheets are replaced towards the use of every component type – where screen, metal sheet is replaced by led screen and safety glass on top, where green, metal sheets on one side are removed and the interior gap is filled with insulation layer and soft material. Depending on the form, the installation can work as a load bearing structure (street stop) or as a supported one (passage, platform). In the second case, steel columns are placed in relative distance in order to support the lifted components.
The various component types in combination with the alternative form possibilities, offer a flexible, transformable installation, able to be integrated within any city-context that has public facilities’ needs, seeks to revitalize public space’s quality or illustrates luck of space. Offering possibilities of storage, advertising, shelter, amphitheatre, concert, passage, green, info point, pavilion expo, playground etc., this structure seeks to correspond to the needs of nowadays society, accumulating multiple users within the same space. Moreover, its ability to incorporate private investment (storage space rent, advertising, land value increase etc.) with the common benefit (public facilities), permitting actors’ partnerships, creates its hybrid and dynamic character, illustrating our vision for the public space of the future.