THINKING THE CITY:
The “model” city – an “open” prison
Barcelona since the Olympics in 1992 has gone through an important renewal of its cityscape, becoming a reference for the urban development of consolidated towns. The different proposals and the way they have been carried out, as well as the areas that still have to be arranged, mostly at the city borders and at the former industrial sites, provide a large range of opportunities to think upon urban space and civic life in the 21st century.
Barcelona has also changed its character; it has developed from provincial town to international city. People of all parts of the world share space and services, sorrows and joys.
The fact that the responsible of this master course (Prof. Karin Hofert) comes from Barcelona invites to use the town as case study and living laboratory. BCN offers us the opportunity to research on specific issues developing a plausible proposal from city until detail scale.
Aim: an approach to the complexity of the city
The workshop will introduce to the complexity of the city structure.
Working in successive approaches, from city scale to architectural scale, forth and back, will allow understanding the urban form and its determining aspects: the morphology of the territory, the incidence of climate, the pressure of infrastructure, the traces of history, etc.; and of course the socio-economic aspects, related to human activity and its translation to space.
Barcelona is rich and complex, structured by all kind of patterns different in geometry, size, shape and contents. The working area is chosen strategically to give the opportunity to reflect on these contrasted realities; we will check in what amount they influence/determine our intervention on the site.
The pedagogical aim is to get the skills and knowledge to be able to propose a piece of town; of course a simplified piece of town, but capable to support the discussion about its borders and about its relationship with the neighbour pieces, and capable to allow the reflection on diverse building typologies and their (physical) relations.
To achieve this aim special emphasis will be given to the understanding of space in its three dimensions. Sections, perspective drawing and models shall be used from the very beginning, understood as tools more then as result representations. The learning process, participative and experimental, will be taken very much in consideration. At the same time skills concerning the best way to explain aims and results will be trained.
Topic: proposal for a sustainable micro-town
Within our society there is a human collective on which architects and planners seldom have the chance to reflect. A main issue in the activity of social workers, healthcare professionals, lawyers, and security workers is the one related to re-education of people who heavily failed in their co-living with the rest of society. But we hardly ever discuss about the space in which this re-education aiming re-insertion into society should take place. The term “prison” is evocative and wakes up a lot of connotations, but referring its physical layout it is undefined or at least ambiguous.
Reinsertion in society takes place out of society. We all accept this contradiction based upon security reasons: we argue that somebody who has trespassed the basic coexistence rules will do that again unless (s)he is taught not to do it. So we detach the trespasser from society both for punishing her/him and for protecting society, by creating a temporary and physical space to teach how to behave in community.
The last aspect, which should be the determining one, very often hasn’t been or isn’t taken into consideration. That leads us to imagine a prison as something close to what many movies tell us: a cut-off storage of “inhumans” living in inhuman conditions. We have this common but limited vision of the jail typology also because by obvious reasons most of us never had the chance to enter a prison. Like a fortress, it only shows its blind exterior walls, the rest is hidden.
The studio is not going to discuss the pertinence of the enclosure. Assuming the sharp boundary, on one hand we will reflect on how to relate it to the closer surrounding, and on the other on how it offers the site for a “model” town: both an exemplary town and a in-scale town. Commonly when we insert or extend a piece of town we use it to connect and saw the existing tissues. Here it is just the opposite: by definition the “new town” is an island surrounded by a physical barrier. One big challenge is how to deal with that.
As for the interior program, we will understand the prison as a piece of town that reproduces its main features: residential tissue merged with working spaces and “public” services. We will discuss if mixed-use -hybridisation is the key to make towns alive- makes sense here.
As a transversal requirement the concept of sustainability will inform any decision taken. Non-sustainable architecture/urbanism is useless; infrastructure and buildings should achieve solvency and comfort by passive means as much as possible.
By working both multiscale and multiuse we pursue the integration of diverse components of our discipline: landscape, sociology, technology, economy, art.
The complexity of this kind of decisions calls for an evaluation framework able to integrate information on effects and impacts of the design alternatives under investigation, with values and preferences of stakeholders and by eliciting the needs of the context. Multicriteria analysis (MCA) offers such a framework and it is increasingly used in combination with several evaluation techniques. Given these premises, the goal of the course Multicriteria Analysis and Project Appraisal is to provide students with theoretical principles and methodologies for projects sustainability (economic, social and environmental) evaluation.