Week 8 - Programming the Urban Surface Chapter 15 Alex Wall...

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Unformatted text preview: Programming the Urban Surface Chapter 15 Alex Wall In recent years, a number of urban projects in Europe have fallen between the traditional categories oflandscape and urbanism. These works signal a shift of emphasis from the design ofenclosed objects to the design and manipulation of larger urban surfaces. They also indicate a renewed interest inyithe instru- mentalityof design——its enabling function‘sis opposed to representation and stylization. Here, the term landscape no longer refers to prospects of pastoral innocence but rather invokes the functioning matrix of connective tissue that organizes not only objects and spaces but also the dynamic processes and events that move through them. This is landscape as active surface, structuring the conditions for new relationships and interactions among the things it supports.1 In describing landscape as urban surface, I do not mean to refer to simply the space between buildings, as in parking lots, planted areas, and residual spaces. Neither do I want to limit the use ofthe term landscape to wholly green, natural, or recreational spaces. Instead, I refer to the extensive and inclusive ground—plane ofthe city, to the “field” that accommodates buildings, roads, util— ities, open spaces, neighborhoods, and natural habitats. This is the ground structure that organizes and supports a broad range offixed and changing activ— ities in the city. As such, the urban surface is dynamic and responsive; like a cat— alytic emulsion, the surface literally unfolds events in time. In this sense, the urban surface is similar to a dynamic agricultural field, assuming different functions, geometries, distributive arrangements, and appearances as changing circumstance demands. This adaptability derives in part from the planar character of the surface, to its smooth and uninterrupted continuity, but also from the equipment and services embedded within it. Thus, ifthe goal ofdesigning the urban surface is to increase its capacity to support and diversify activities in time—even activities that cannot be determined in advancefi—then a primary design strategy is to extend its continuity while diver» Sifying its range ofservices. This is less design as passive ameliorant and more as active accelerant, staging and setting up new conditions for uncertain futures.Z Fig. 1. The contemporary metropolis‘an endless cityscape. 234 3} the regional metropoli Alex Wall The Contemporary Metropolis f“ Much of the reason for revising practices of landscape and urbanism today a< derives from the changing nature ofcities. The traditional notion ofthe city as a i historical and institutional core surrounded by postwar suburbs and then open , countryside has been largely replaced by a more polycentric and weblike sprawl: (Fig. 1). Here, multiple centers are served by overlap— ping networks of transportation, electronic communication, production, and consumption. Operationally, if not experientially, the inh‘astructures and flows of material have become more significant than static political and spatial boundaries. The influx of people, vehicles, goods, and information constitute what urban geographers call the “daily urban system,” painting a picture of urbanism that is dynamic and temporal.‘ The emphasis shifts here fromfbrms of urban space to processor of urbanization, processes that network across vast iregional ifnot global—surfaces.4 The effects ofurbanization today are multiple and complex, but three are of particular significance with regard to planning and design. First is the rise of new kinds ofurban site. These are the ambiguous areas that are caught between enclaves. They may even be so extensive as to constitute entire generic zones. These might be called peripheral riter, middle landscapes that are neither here nor there, and yet are so pervasive as to now characterize the dominant environ- ment in which most people actually live.i In contrast, the old city centers are becoming increasingly themed around tourist and entertainment functions. A second effect ofmodern urbanization is a remarkable increase in mobility and access. This refers not only to the increase of private automobiles and trans— portation alternatives——that, for many, encompasses a fully fledged lifestyle— but also to the rising density of population, the increased instability of capital and investment, and to the abundance ofinformation and media. A third effect, and a consequence ofthe above two, involves a fundamental paradigm shift from viewing cities in formal terms to looking at them in dynamic ways. Hence, familiar urban typologies ofrqlmre,pczr/(, district, and so on are of less use or significance than are the infrastructures, network flows, ambiguous spaces, and other polymorphous conditions that constitute the con— temporary metropolis. Unlike the treelike, hierarchical structures oftraditional cities, the contemporary metropolis functions more like a spreading rhizome, dispersed and diffuse, but at the same time infinitely enabling.6 - These emergent conditions demand that designers and planners revise their approaches toward the making ofurban projects. A renewed concern with infra— structure, services, mobility, and with the provision offlexible, multifunctional Programming the Urban Surface surfaces promises a revitalized role for the design professions. The grafting of new instrumentsand equipment onto strategically staged surfaces allows for a transformation of the ground—plane into a living, connective tissue between increasingly disparate fragments and unforeseen programs. There is, ofcourse, a recent history to these shifts. In the 19505, architects and critics already were increasingly preoccupied with the larger urban environ— ment. The rapid spread of cities and the atomization of buildings across vast landscapes reduced the distinctions between city and countryside as well as the differences between places.7 During the Aspen Design Conference in 1955, the architect/planner Victor Gruen exhorted architects to look beyond the limits of the individual building to the environment, to the context in which the building was to function. He proclaimed: Architecture today cannot concern itselfonly with that one set ofstruc— tures that happen to stand upright and be hollow “buildings” in the conventional sense. It must concern itselfwith all man—made elements that form our environments: with roads and highways, with signs and posters, With outdoor spaces as created by structures, and with cityscape and landscape.8 Gruen’s context for these remarks was his view that it was less individual buildings that needed the attention of design and more the landscapes that were emerging as cities dispersed across the region. His work was aimed toward resisting decentralization and undifferentiated sprawl by creating new nodes of concentration and focus. Perhaps it was his European background that made it impossible for him to accept the idea ofa continuously settled, dispersed landscape. By the mid-1960s, the programs for rebuilding European cities following the second world war and American cities as part ofurban renewal policies stim— ulated new thinking about large—scale urbanism and landscape. Some of the more radical speculations proposed new forms of settlement type. The Floren— tine group Superstudio envisaged a continuously developed, artificial surface. In their project Supemufilce 5, the formal device ofthe grid was inscribed across a pure, planar landscape, providing both a metaphor and an instrument for the networks of energy and information that could extend to every corner of the earth (Fig. 2)." In contrast, the projects drawn by the British group Archigram Showed concepts ofplug—in communities and new infrastructural support land— 7 l0 ‘ . , , scapes. Their agenda was not only to empower the indiVidual but also to stage Alex Wall event-structures that could bring about new metropolitan dynamics. Depicted in many ofArchigram’s ideas were individuals plugging into larger networks of interactive information, education, and entertainment While projects such as Ro/rplzrig and Logplug proposed a transitory and flexible existence on the surface, others such as Instant City proposed large—scale infrastructures to support mass events and activities—an image inspired, perhaps, by the emerging technology ofrock concerts and festivals (Fig. 3). The strategic aspects ofArchigram’s work derive from the inherent flexibil— ity of the designed system; parts can be added, removed, or rearranged at will, accommodating a range ofuses at different times, from mass exhibitions and festivals one day to individual mobile homes and gardens the next. These radi— cal speculations demonstrated tangible, urbanistic techniques for making urban environments that used emerging technology to achieve individual freedom within new collective structures. A Field of Social Instruments Many of the above themes provided an early inspiration to Rem Koolhaas and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), based in Rotterdam. Since the 1970s, Koolhaas and his colleagues have continuously and critically developed the role that program plays in the making ofa project. More than aware of the highly changeable and unpredictable characteristics of the contemporary Fig. 2 (top). Five Tales. Supers udio, 197171973. Source: Superstudio and Radicals (Tokyo: Japan interior, 1982), 13. Fig. 3 (bottom). Instant City: Sequence of Effect. Archigram, 1970. The descent of the event— structure “instant city airships” on a typical English town intensifies, infiltrates, and stimulates new networks in the old, sleeping city. Source: Peter Cook, ed., Archigram (London: Studio Vista, 1972). Programming the Urban Surface metropolis, these architects have attempted, in a number ofways, to push ideas of program toward more dynamic and productive ends. Program is viewed as the engine of a project, driving the logic of form and organization while responding to the changing demands ofsociety. Ifthe problems ofurbanization had been identified in the 1950s and 19605 and the new technologies for rethinking these issues were developed during the late 19605 and into the 19705, then the specific development of new design strategies has occurred since that time, largely under the vision and direction ofKoolhaas and OMA. A seminal moment in this trajectory ofideas occurred in 1982, during the competition for the Fate dc la Villette along the industrial periphery ofParis. One ofthe first and most daring ofPresident Mitterand’s Grand: Prajetr, the Parc de la Villette awoke designers to the difficulties ofdealing with large—scale abandoned tracts ofland in the city, especially when the intentions of the corn- missioning agency were both ambitious and uncertain.” The 121 acres ofland were left over from the old nineteenth—century slaughterhouse complex that once occupied the site. There were many logistical problems, especially in terms ofsite reclamation and modernization ofservices. This was further complicated by a bewildering and exhaustive list of programmatic demands by the client, together with a sense ofuncertainty about what, how, and when different parts ofthis program would be developed. The problem, then, was less one ofdesign in terms ofstyling identity, repree sentation, or formal composition, and much more one ofstrategic organization. The surface had to be equipped and staged in such a way as to both anticipate and accommodate any number of changing demands and programs. OMA responded with the superposition offour strategic layers for organizing different parts ofthe program: the “east—west strips" ofvarying synthetic and natural surfaces, the “confetti grid” oflarge and small service points and kiosks, the various “circulation paths,” and the “large objects,” such as the linear and round forests (Fig. 4). The designers described their multilayered project as a “landscape ofsocial instruments,” where the quality of the project would derive from the uses, juxtapositions, and adjacency ofalternating programs over time.12 Rather than a fixed design, the project offered the city a framework for developing flexible uses as needs and desires changed. The strips and grids Fig. 4. Plan, Parc de la Villette, competition entry. Office for Metropolitan Architecture, 1983. Alex Wall Programming the Urban Surface across surfaces, the point services, and the larger structures were deSigned to be services and programs—the more amorphous connective web of road h r c s as bOth reSPOUSiVe and adaptwc- The acme“ 0f Slldmg one thmg over another rarely been recognized as a collective space unto itself. As the Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti argues: allowed for quantitative changes without loss oforganizational structure. This framework offlexible congestion, Whose character and efficacy lies in its capacity . . - I - , ~ l3 . _ I to adapt to change, set a Significant precedentin later formulations ofurbanism. We are trying to return a posrtive morphological value to the mad, ' .in One such formulation was proposed by Koolhaas and OMA in 1987 for the an attempt to revive it as a component ofthe settlement event and by new town ofMelun~Senai't, France.H This project reverses the formal and struc— restoring the road to the architectural realm [While] forcing one’s disci rural roles of figure and ground, building and Open SPRCC (Fig- 5)- Rather than pline to consider the problems it implies as its own specific ones.H ' concentrating on the planning and arrangement of buildings, variously pro‘ , ' . ‘ ~ x - c ‘ al as of existin - y ‘ r i t grammed VOids are outlined. These derive from a careful an 3st g One very clear example, in answer to Gregotti, is the second beltway of conditions, habitats, historical fragments, existing infrastructure corridors, and 238 Barcelona, completed for the 1992 Olympics. The northern arc, the Ronda de new Programs- Togfihcr they form 2‘ 50” OlimaSSiVC hisroslyph, “Chung "an' Dalt, extends between the interchanges at the Diagonal Avenue (northwest) Gus islands for future development. and the Trinitat Park (northeast) and was designed by a team ofarchitects and The voids exercise a greater effect on the subsequent btiilt envrronment engineers led by Bernardo de Sola (Fig 6ym The Ronda dc Dalt was conceived than does the design of particular building layouts. They provrdc 3 $51th to achieve not the highest through—capacity ofvehicles but the highest capacity structure that can withstand the unpredictable political and €C0- of collection and distribution among local and regional transportation net— nomic pressures that architects and urban designers are rarely able works. The desrgn also created opportunities to reconfigure the local conditions to influence. Melun—Senart continues a logic that progressrvely for new programs and open space. This is especially the case at the interchanges ( , , reverses the significance normally attached to buildings and Where new typologies between landscape and building have begun to emerge directs attention instead to the spaces in between. By incorporating Thus, the significance ofthe design ofthis highway is less its scenic and effi— ,, a - ‘ " »‘ har— '7 « ’ ' ‘ the Character and potultmi ofthe urban plan in the deagntd C clcncy value than the road 3 actual capacrty to stimulate and support new forms acteristics ofthe voids, the desrgners leave the building srtes open of urban space. This is achieved partially by the segregation of the sectional , i ' ‘ c g - r ' an r ‘ ' “ ' r and undetermmcd. Basmaiiy’ anything can take pl ice on the 151 Cl character of the road, With faster (regional) lanes in the center, flanked by slower sues as long as [he VOld frclmeQIkxs preserved. As With the 1 AFC ill (local) lanes that connect With new frontage and neighborhood streets. In some la Villette, the design is first a tactical strategy, anticipating the places, the space above the highway is occupied by new public buildings, espe— uncertainties offuture development. crally high—volume structures such as sports venues. New parks and recreational areas are also designed into the system, linking once isolated housing estates to Mobility and Access: Surface as Collector and Distributor larger PUbllC SpaCCS. The Ronda de Dalt thus demonstrates, in contemporary The design and integration ofnew transportation infrastructure is central to the terms, the forgotten idea ofthe 19205 parkway as an instrument ofconnection, functioning of the urban surface. The importance ofmobility and access in the convenience, and mobility. contemporary metropolis brings to infrastructure the character of collective A second example of new infrastructural design demonstrates how the space. Transportation infrastructure is less a self—sufficrent servrce element than space ofmobility may also be a collective space Amoncr the northern suburbs of . g , .. ‘ ' ‘ ' A' ' at' ew networks and rela— J. '~ . i ' , ‘ ~ ~ ~ ~ i an extremely ViSible and effective instrument in crec mg n I aris, between St. Denis and Bobigny, is a mix of industrial zones, large soc1al tionships. Whereas the railroad station and the airport offer a centralized infra— housing estates, cemeteries, hospitals, and areas of waste ground Existing structural condition a density that almost resembles the city, in terms of transportation infrastructure reflects the nineteenth—century pattern of radial Fig. 5. Planning diagrams, Melun-Senart new town. Office for Metropolitan Architecture. 1987- Fig. 6. Aerial view, Ronda de Dalt, Barcelona. Bernardo de sola |.M,P_U_3.A 1982 240 Alex Wall extension and effectively divides communities into separate sectors. Between 1990 and 1995, the landscape architect Alexandre Chemetoff and the Bureau des Paysages implemented the design ofa new trolley line running between St. Denis and Bobigny (Fig. 7).” This is a nine-kilometer line with twenty—one sta— tions, and it is the first tangential boulevard in this area ofParis, initiating new relationships among once isolated sectors. Because of this new transportation line superimposed across the urban fabric, the project forms the basis for a host ofother urban interventions. The tramline is, literally, a link that provides a coherent system across an otherwise fragmented field. It comprises three series: the material ofthe surface; the vegetation structure ofhedges, trees, and plantings; and furnishings, such as bollards, fences, lamps, trellises, and seating. Organized in different configura— tions, the families ofsurface, vegetation, and furnishings produce a contrapun— tal effect in relation to the untidy irregularity of the surrounding fabric. The integrity and continuity of these elements produces not only an image ofpublic space but also the necessary environ— mental conditions to support public activities. On a Sunday African, Arabic, and Asian background making their way to and from the street markets along the length ofthe line. Chemetoff’s design is a prime example ofhow infrastructure engages social and imaginative dimensions as much as it does engineering concerns. It effectively integrates parts of the city, reduces the marginalization and segregation ofcertain social groups, and stim— ulates new forms ofinteraction. An lnhabitable Surface The design oflarge—scale infrastructures such as those discussed above provides new conditions for other kinds ofsurface project. One such example is Eduard Bru’s Vall d’Hebron Park in Barcelona, completed in 1992 (Fig. 8). This is a 26—hectare site in the inner suburbs, formerly dominated by an oppressive land— scape of postwar social housing. Located directly north of the Gothic center and its nineteenth—century extension, the park spans the buttresses of the mountain chain to the north ofthe city. Bru understood that the beltway is the best location for leisure facilities that serve local and metropolitan users. Thus, Fig. 7. St. Denis—to—Bobigny Tramway, Alexandre Chemetoff, 198871993. morning, for example, the line is crowded with French families of Programming the Urban Surface the park is a collage ofsports surfaces, routes, and park elements. In particu- lar, the elaboration ofthe routes creates an intermediate landscape between the Ronda (Paseo Vall d’Hebron) and the surrounding neighborhoods. As Bru describes: This movement means that when existing elements permit, the streets become Whirlpools, widening and forming what we might call deltas in the public areas of the park. The streets are asphaltic flows; they find geometries contained between the interstices and move according to circle arcs and clothoids.18 Bru describes a dynamic and changing landscape, one where the demands ofchanging programs lead to a different reading ofthe site. Moreover, he reflects many of these uses through new techniques of material fabrication. in using grass, wood, metal, concrete, asphalt, and recycled rubber tires in new and unusual ways, Bru creates a lively surface that promotes a diversity offunctions. The automobile, too, is not excluded from this park, but rather fully incorpo~ rated into its design. As the designer describes: Driving to a super—market car park, and spending Sunday with the car door open, listening to the radio while the children play in the car park is a highly respectable custom. Here, the users surround them« selves with those objects most dear to them: the car, the children, the radio. And they spend their Sunday placidly.” Waiting for Appropriation The Netherlands, especially the city of Rotterdam, has proved to be a steady source ofinnovation with regard to addressing the increased complexity ofthe growing metropolis. Partly this is due to the culture of the country, essentially progressive and technologically oriented,‘but it is also due to the very real prob- lems ofdensity and growth since the end ofthe second world war. The work of OMA has certainly played a role in the advance of new approaches toward urbanism; recently a younger generation ofdesigners also has begun to make its Fig. 8. Aerial view, terraces and surfaces, Vall d’Hebron, Barcelona. Eduard Bra, 1982. Aiex Walt mark. Foremost among these is landscape architect Adriaan Geuze and his practice, West 8.2” The work of West 8 exemplifies the claims that landscape architects may absorb urban design into a newly synthetic practice of landscape urbanism. Rotterdam’s industrial context and Geuze’s particular aptitude for large—scale strategic thinking have contributed to the making of projects that support a diversity of uses and interpretations over time. Geuze prefers “emptiness” to overprogramming and argues that urban dwellers are more than able to create, adapt to, or imagine whatever they want to. In designing for indeterminate futures, he argues, new urban con! sumers may create and find their own meaning in the environ— ments they use. As Geuze writes: The urbanite is self—assured and well—informed, finds his freedom and chooses his own sub—cub tures. The city is his domain, exciting and seductive He has proved himself capable of finding his way around the new landscape and ofmaking places his own.“ If, in the traditional European city, the urban square was the place where civic and religious power was represented, then West 8’s contemporary Bin— nenrotte market square and Schouwburgplein are zones where the public appropriates and modifies the very surface ofthe city. These surfaces are extremely simple and spare, yet they are designed in such a way that many different events can be supported. A range of services and equipment is embedded in the surface and can be appro— priated at any moment. This is especially evident in the Schouwburgplein, coma pleted in 1996 (Figs. 9, 10). This great square is in the center of Rotterdam and is surrounded by the- aters, restaurants, cafes, and a new cinema complex. As in many public spaces Fig. 9 (top). Layered axonometric, the Schouwburgplein, Rotterdam Adriaan Geuze and West 8, 199471997 Fig. 10 (bottom). View of the Schouwburgpiein, Rotterdam. Adriaan Geuze and West 8, 1994-1997. Programming the Urban Surface today, the presence of an underground structure~in this case, a car garage~— imposes constraints with regard to weight and planting. Geuze turned this con— dition into a positive by replacing the existing heavy paving with a new lightweight metal and wood surface. Below this surface construction are a host ofutilities and services, including lighting that produces a Milky Way oflight across the floor at night. The square is also fitted with fence- and tent—post holes, enabling temporary structures and coverings to be erected. The principal the- atrical elements on the site are four 35—meter—high lighting masts, whose crane— like forms echo the great structures along Rotterdam’s docks. By dropping a coin into a machine, people can cause the light to move up or down according to their needs or whimsy. Flow and Surface A similarly conceived urban surface is the project for the Yokohama Design Forum produced by Koolhaas and OMA in 1992.22 The site is at the nexus of road, rail, and shipping traffic and is dominated by two large market—halls and car—parking levels. Here, a careful analysis ofthe existing use patterns ofthe site, including vehicular and population volumes, revealed that the site was really occupied only between the hours offour and ten in the morning; the rest ofthe time, the site was empty. To maximize the use of the site over longer periods of time, the design had to address the problem ofinventing new programs and pro— visions. Thus, the surface is itselffolded or warped in order to create a continu~ ous field that is then impregnated with new elements and structures. This concept enabled the design team to propose a twentyafour—hour use chart to show a more heterogeneous mix of functions and activities throughout the day (Fig. l 1). The space ofform is here replaced by the space ofevents in time. Another scheme in Yokohama, this time for the International Port Terminal and designed by Foreign Office Architects in 1996, also produces a continuous yet differentiated surface as a means of reconciling the complex— ity of the program.“ The various floors of the pier are folded and rolled one into the other through a building technology that allows for the construction of continuously convex and Fig. 11. Assemblage of programs over twenty-four hours, Yokohama, Japan. Office for Metropoli- tan Architecture, 1992. Alex Wall concave floors (Figs. 12, 13). This form is intended to mediate between the competing dimensions of the program‘the differences between land and sea, natives and foreigners, city and harbor, and public and private. Moreover, the changeable character and size ofships docked along the pier is accommodated in a scheme that is both flexible and open. Rather than a typologically defined building with discrete enclosure and limits, the design provides a field that creases and warps to allow for alternate uses and needs. The designers provided the city with a project that is at once private and secure and public and open, “a model that is capable of integrating differ— ences into a coherent system; an unbounded [and— razpe rather than an over—coded, delimitedplacc.”“ Surface Strategies The projects considered above are all located in pre— as in la Vil— Viously built sites, whether open space lette and the Schouwburgplein~or infrastructure, as in Ronda de Dalt or the Yokohama terminal. Even the projects of Melun— Senart, Vall d’Hebron, and the St. Denis~Bobigny tramline incorporate and link existing contexts. Rebuilding, incorporating, connecting, intensifyinga these words describe not only the physical character of these projects but also their programmatic function. They are instruments, or agents, for unfolding new urban realities, designed not so much for appearances and aesthetics as for their instigative and structuring potential. Their strategies are targeted not only toward physical but also social and cultural transformations, functioning as social and ecological agents.” It is possible to summarize the more productive principles and strategies for designing the urban surface as follows. Thickening. At the Schouwburgplein, West 8 conceived ofa thickened, multi— layer surface that solved not only technical problems, such as drainage, struc— Fig, 12 (top). Aerial view, Yokohama International Port Terminal, Japan. Foreign Office Architects, 1995. Fig. 13 (bottom), Plans, Yokohama international Port Terminal, Japan. Foreign Office Architects, . 1995. Impermanence. Progr of any city. Needs and desires can change overnight must be able to respond quickly without massively mrerhm' Programming the Urban Surface ture, and utilities, but also brought a greater dramatic e multiplying its range of uses. The expansion of inhabitation of subterranean networks in cities such as Montreal and Tokyo, and of aerial passageways in cities such as Atl anta and Minneapolis, effectively multiplies the number of public ground—planes. The multilevel movement of people, together with the connector flows of elevators, moving stairs Folding. Cutting, warping, and folding the surface creates geology that joins interior a kind of smooth and exterior spaces into one continuous surface. At the new port in Yokohama, Foreign Office Architects adopted a continuous, folded surface, as in a multil ayered laminate wherein each floor “rolls” into oth- ers. Sectional 10H]ng and definition varies as the program demands. Conse— quently, the flows of people and goods combine in newly visible ways, as traditional zonal separations become more fluid and interactive.26 Neil/172015111115. Developing new and synthetic materials brings a Welcome diver- sity to the pedestrian realm. At the Vail d’Hebron, the use of asphalt, rubber tires, wood, and metal in new ways expresses and provokes new activities. The appearance ofgraffiti, skateboarders, and boom boxes does not necessarily mean that the park is in any way compromised; on the contrary, the presence ofthese everyday features acknowledges certain trends in youth culture while extending the range ofuses typically associated with parks. 7 . . , , 1 i I . ' [\onplogmmmed rm. EqUipping the surface With serVices and furnishings that can be appropriated and modified by the public enables a diverse and flexible range of uses. Instead of comprising elements serving only one function, a design that can accommodate many functions is both economical and enriching ofsoc1al space. Eduard Bru and Adriaan Geuze are two designers who are espe— Cially interested in making things and places that are indeterminate in their functions and thereby allow their users to invent and claim space for themselves. Such investment by the users subsequently ensures a long and affectionate occupation ofpublic space. am and function are, perhaps, the most changeable aspects , and city administrators 246 Alex Wall land. Designing to create an indeterminate and propitious range ofaffordances replaces the traditional fascination of designers with permanence with that of the temporal and dynamic. The OMA projects at la Villette and Melun—Senart offer not only a designed landscape but also a framework capable of absorbing future demands without diminishing the integrity of the project. Indeed, the integrity ofthe project is predicated upon such changing demands, juxtaposing conditions as a great montage ofeffects. MOUL’IIIC’IZL ln popular culture, the instruments and spaces ofrnobility#espe— cially the automobile and the freeway have provided new sites of collective life. A real challenge to urban design is to accept that infrastructure is as impor— tant to the vitality and experience of the contemporary metropolis as the town hall or square once was. At the Ronda de Dalt, Bernardo da Sola exploited the section of the site to create a new and public type of urban corridor, collecting, distributing, and connecting a great range of users and functions. As we move into the twenty-first century, one ofthe primary roles ofurban design will be the reworking ofmovement corridors as new vessels ofcollective life. Conclusion The projects and ideas discussed above address the complexity and density of reconstructing cities and landscapes today. The emphasis is on the extensive reworking ofthe surface ofthe earth as a smooth, continuous matrix that effec— tively binds the increasingly disparate elements of our environment together. This synthetic form of creativity draws from all of the traditional disciplines of landscape architecture, architecture, urban planning, and engineering. The conditions these practices engage—mobility, density, congestion, instability—— demand new techniques of practice, new modes of representation, and new kinds ofdiscussion and conceptualization. Such activities can no longer be said to apply only to peripheral and derelict sites, as now even the most traditional city centers involve the same issues. Cities everywhere are competing to retain investment, capital, tax base, population, infrastructure, and amenities. The function of design is not only to make cities attractive but also to make them more adaptive, more fluid, more capable ofaecommodating changing demands and unforeseen circumstances. We are witnessing a recovery of certain landscape themes and techniques that seem to have particular applicability to these problems. First, of course, landscape is the horizontal and continuous surface, the field that is best appre— Programming the Urban Surface hended in maps and plans. Here, plans are of particular signific tl ance because iey organize the relationships among parts and activities; all things come together on the ground. But a second use oflandscape is the attention it draws to processes offormation and thus to issues of temporality, efficacy and change , t r . That many landscape architects study and are inspired by ecology is especially significant here, for ecology addresses the interrelationships of parts and dynamic systems.27 Also, landscape architects are taught early on to appreciate larger regional SCéll " ' ' ‘ ‘ i ' ' CS (watersheds, ecosystems, infrastructures, and SfitthIUCDt patterns for ‘3 instance) as well as understanding smaller, more intimate places as part of the larger framework. The surfaces they see are not just visual patterns but more mutable and thickened topographies, systemic and alive. lflandscape architec‘ ture has been thought of as merely an art ofamelioration, ofsecondary signify cance to buddings and urban planning, then today it finds itself assuming '1 more relevant and active role in addressing the regional and ecological ques- tions that face society‘questions about place, time, and process. In the aftermath ofthe 19805 building boom, the potential field ofaction today is l and significant ess the de5ign of monuments and master plans than the careful modification and articulation of the urban surface The surface is manipulated in two ways: as planar folds and smooth continuities, and as a field that IS grafted onto ’J SCK OfflCVV instruments and equipment. In ClthCI‘ C1156 t C 9 SUl'fLiCC becomes 11 staging ground for thC unfolding Of‘flthl‘C CV6HtS. l he is not merely the venue for formal surface experiments but the agent for evolving new forms ofsocial life. The projects described above suggest how the surface may support future bUildings and programs. Perhaps the synthesis oflandscape, architectural and 7 urbanistic skills into a hybrid form of practice may allow for the invention of newly supple and reflexive built fabrics, new landscapes.2K Such dyn {2 ice structurings may be the only hope ofwithstanding the excesses ofpopular amic surl cul =‘ ‘ " ' ' ' ' turc restless mobility, consumption, densrty, waste, spectacle, and infor— mation——whi1e absorbing and redirecting the alternating episodes of conccm tration and dispersal caused by the volatile movement ofinvestment capital and power. Notes lwould like to thank Iamcs Corner for his many suggestions in finalizing this essay. Nlany ofthc themes surrounding the Shift from object to surface were presented and discussed in a symposium and exhibition called “Cityscape: The Urban Surface ” i 248 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Alex Wall organized by Alex Wall at the Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsy vania, in April 1994. Participants included lames Corner, Bill McDonald, Sulan Kolatan, Laurie Olin, Susan Nigra Snyder, Steve Kieran, and Bob Geddes. I draw this formulation from James Corner, “Field Operations,” (unpublished lec— ture notes). See also Rem Koolhaas, “Whatever Happened to Urbanism?” in S,ML,XL (New York: Monacelli Press, 1995), 958—971; and Stan Allen “Infrastruc— tural Urbanism,” in Scroope 9 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Architecture School, 1998), 71—79. See 1.3. Adams, ed., Association of American Geographers Comparative Metropolitan Analysis Project: Twentieth-Century Cities, vol. 4 (Cambridge, Mass: Ballinger, 1976); and David Harvey, The Condition of Postnzodernity (Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell, 1989). See David Harvey, lustice, Nature, and the Geography of Diffirence (Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell, 1996). See Rem Koolhaas, “The Generic City,” in S,M,L,XL, 1238—1264; and )oel Garreau, Edge Cities: Life on the New Frontier (New York: Doubleday, 1991). See Gilles Dcleuze and Felix Guattari, “Rhizome,” in A Thousand Plateaus: Capital— ism and Schizophrenia (Minneapolis: University ofMinnesota Press, 1987), 3—25; and Corner, “Field Operations." See Vittorio Gregotti, “La Strada: Tracciato e Manufatto / The Road: Layout and Built Object,” in Casahella 553—554 ()anuary—February 1989): 118. Victor Gruen, “Cityscape—Landscape,” in Arts and Architecture (September 1955): 18—37. Superstudio and Moryami Studio, eds. Silpm'sttm’io and Radicals (Tokyo: Japan Inte— rior, 1982), 9—86. See Archigram, “Instant City," in Archigram, ed. Peter Cook (London: Studio Vista, 1972), 86—101. See Marianne Barziley, ed., L’Invention du Parc‘: Parc de la Villette, Paris, Concours International (Paris: Graphite Editions, 1984). See Koolhaas, S,ll/I,L,XL, 894—939; and Iacques Lucan, ed., Rem Koolhttas/OMA (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1991), 86—95. See Koolhaas, “Whatever Happened to Urbanism?" See Koolhaas, S,ML,XL, 972—989; and Lucan, Rein Koolhaas/OMA, 114—117. Gregotti, “The Road," 118. See Antonio Font, “Edng and Interstices: The Ordering 017 the Borders ofthe New Barcelona Ring Road,” Quadcms 193 (1993): 112—119. See lacques Lucan, “A Grand Boulevard for the Outskirts,” in Lotus 84 (1995): 88—101; and Alessandro Rocca, “Chemetofps Inter—Suburban," in Lotus 84 (1995): 86—87. Eduard Bru, “Untested Territories," Quaderns 193 (1993): 82—85. See also Iosep Parcerisa Bundo, “Vall d'Febron: Metamorphosis ofa Park," Lotus 77 (1993): 6—17. Bru, “Untested Territories,” 83. See Adriaan Geuze,Aa’riaan Gauze/[Vest 8 (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 1995); see also Bart Lootsma’s essay “Synthetic Regionalization" in this collection. Gerrie Andela, “Challenging Landscapes for Explorers: Estrangement and Reconcil— iation in the Work oflVest 8,”Archis 2 (February, 1994): 38—49. See Koolhaas, S,M,L,XL, 1210—1237; and Sanford Kwinter, “The Reinvention of Geometry,” Assemblage 18 (1996): 83—1 12. See Foreign Office Architects, “Yokohama Port Terminal Competition," AA Files 29 (1995): 17—21. Ibid., 7. Programming the Urban Surface 25 See Iames Corner, “Ecology and Landscape as Agents of Creativity," in Ecological Design and Planning, eds. George Thompson and Frederick Steiner (New York: )ohn Wiley 8: Sons, 1997), 80—108. ' 26 See Greg Lynn, “Architectural Curvilinearity: The Folded, the Pliant, the Supple ” in Architectural Design Profile 102: Folding in Architecture (1993), 8—15; see also Peter Eisenman, “Unfolding Events," in Zone 1/2 (New York: Urzone, 1986), 423—427. 27 See lames Corner, “Ecology and Landscape," and also “The Agency Nlappings, ed. Denis Cosgrove (London: Reaktion, 1998). 28 See Lynn in Architectural Design Profile 127: Architecture After Geometry (1997) Architectural Design Profile 133: HypersztrfaceArchitecture (1998) ol‘Mapping,” in and ...
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Week 8 - Programming the Urban Surface Chapter 15 Alex Wall...

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