THINKING THE CITY: a young old city
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
European society is becoming older and older. We have less children, especially in the southern countries, while our elderly, due to a healthy diet, pleasant climate and public healthcare live longer and longer. Before covid19 Spain had an average living expectation of 85,8 years, followed by Japan with 85,7 and -after Singapore and Switzerland- Italy with 84,5.
That means that a good part of Spanish society has 20 or more years of (partially) paid “holidays” after getting retired: A long period of official inactivity starts that has to be financed by a shrinking number of young citizens. When retiring, many elderly enter a somehow paradox situation. They have now much more time than before but less money to spend –leisure is expensive-, but cannot go on doing remunerated activities. The consequence often is a hard period of adaptation that nourishes physical and mental diseases.
Living quantity has increased, but also living “quality” -or better “way of living”- has changed. Until last generation most of the elderly, when becoming less independent in their daily routines, were directly attended by their children and even moved to live with them. Nowadays a big segment of seniors live their last years in elderly residences or, if they can afford it, hire a caretaker. Touch with the family is close and constant (maybe this explains why the Mediterranean societies have been struck so hard by covid19), but since women have entered the labour market, families can no longer take care intensively and extensively of their oldies.
A generation before, when most of the elderly lived together with children and grandchildren, despite their dependences and own need of care, they participated actively in the daily family live. They were and had the feeling of being useful. Their contribution often addressed housekeeping (cooking, maintenance, etc) and the youngsters (care and subsequent education). The mix and exchange between generations profits everybody: training in tolerance and empathy, as well as keeping young and active.
The studio wants to reflect on how these advantages can be integrated in our nowadays society. We will project a little neighbourhood that takes in account the specific necessities of the elderly and at the same time encourages the integration of the elderly in society. Housing will be mixed with working, with services and facilities. Hybridisation is the key to make towns alive.
The site is close to the city border at his highest (north) limit. The design is called to qualify a void surrounded by different tissues, a starting hill slope, and an urban highway, and at the same time will l contribute to connect these fragments. Careful reading and understanding of the place identity will lead the design process to an integrated proposal.
Focusing the site itself special attention will be paid to public and open space. Understanding that public space is what makes a town be a town, by providing the space for socialisation, is a crucial point. Public space will work both in city scale and in local scale, in leisure terms and in production terms. And it should also permit social distancing when necessary.
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 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.