The idea for this concept of an urban park as a cultural threshold by Theo. David Architects evolved from thinking about the nature of urban space, the need to create an iconic multi-functional accessible park, a dynamic architectural point of reference as threshold for the evolving cultural and civic center of the polis of Nicosia, a European capital. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Design Concept Urban Pact responds to the challenge of the competition brief to maximize the potential of the site in creating, along with passive recreational social and cultural activities and street life, a park as unique urban environment. To achieve this, we tilted up almost the entire footprint of the old GSP stadium site, creating a gently inclined planted plane gesturing towards the broad façade of the new National Theater. Within this, is carved a 49 meter wide oval void which becomes the central Square, the focal point of the concept with visual and functional links to the National Theater and beyond.
The pragmatic needs of any strategic investor to be provided with commercially viable spaces were also taken into account. Our concept accommodates these needs by recessing, at sidewalk level under the tilted plane, flexible interior and exterior spaces along the entire sidewalk perimeter of the site and oval Square, inducing street life along Evagorou Avenue, Vasileos Pavlou and Grigori Afxentiou streets. The entire proposal is supported by a proven automated parking system.
Integration with Surrounding Site Four primary pedestrian paths define the site concept: first, the 15m-wide Evagoras Avenue pedestrian promenade connecting a new Eleftheria Square to the sites of the future House of Representatives, proposed State Gallery and Cultural Center; second, a partially covered landscaped stoa lined with retail and exhibition spaces, that diverts you from Evagoras Avenue into the Square; third, the reflecting pool passage that links the ground level restaurants and entrances of the National Theater to Urban Pact. The fourth primary path is the wide folded down ramp that connects the corner of Evagoras and Vasileos Pavlou with the entire park.
Parking Concept The underground parking facility is accessed through two ramps near the northern edge of the site, one from Vasileos Pavlou Street on the west and the other from Grigori Afxentiou Street on the east, as per the competition brief. Drivers reaching the first basement have the option to either self park in one of the 180 conventional spaces or drive to one of the 9 car lifts located near the entrance ramp, leaving their car to be automatically transported and stored in the 3 levels below, utilizing a fully automatic robotic car parking system with a capacity of about 1250 cars. The adoption of this system offers a significant space advantage, as well construction period and operational savings to the strategic investor, without sacrificing service quality and the safety of the user. The car storage area in basement levels 2 to 4 is only accessible to maintenance personnel. An automatic car wash facility is also provided at the first basement level. After parking, drivers are led via stairs and lifts to the public Square or diagonal stoa with easy access to the commercial spaces of the project, the elevated park, surrounding streets, National Theatre and government buildings in the immediate vicinity.
Diversity of Experience and Use We propose a diverse mosaic of overlapping uses, avoiding rigidly delineated areas for any one use or user. This prototypical urban park, composed of planted surfaces integrated with wood and stone linear pedestrian paths includes an outdoor sculpture area integrated with casual built in seating, and soft surfaces where children can play freely up to the protected edges of the park, interacting with the art, plantings and trees, not unlike being in a natural rural landscape, as opposed to the fenced restrictions of conventional playgrounds. Government workers can at midday seek out the shade of the “forest” of wood gazebos with their seating and views over the urban landscape or in the winter recline in the sun on the south facing gazebo backs. Wood bleachers seating over 600 allow viewing of live performances and projected images. All these overlaps are anchored at the bottom of the park by dense shade trees, through which to view the dancing waters of the reflecting pool between URBAN PaCT and the National Theater. The dramatic space of the Square, ringed by indoor / outdoor cafes, bars and bistros, and a stage for impromptu or formal cultural events, along with overflow from the National Theater’s restaurant crossing over the reflecting pool into the Square, enriches this diversity. The rim of the Square’s oculus becomes flush with its pavement thus allowing seamless pedestrian park access. It accommodates glass elevators and open stairs providing a dramatic entrance for people from the self parking level below.
Urban Pact is also envisaged as a destination for tourists and others who come here to experience a different kind of city park, while viewing indoor and outdoor art exhibitions. Young people can socialize in full view making music or simply sitting on the planted slopes of the park. In the evenings the park and its Square would be enlivened by its proximity to the activities of the National Theater and during warm weather, the reintroduction of the outdoor cinema with seating for at least 300.
Commercial Utilization The required 3,000+ m2 of enclosed commercial and exhibition space is accommodated entirely at sidewalk level with all spaces opening up onto the existing street with partially covered, paved and landscaped areas in front of all commercial and exhibition spaces, the diagonal stoa and central Square. Only utility and storage spaces are located below grade. A basic column grid of 9m x 11m and the rectilinear footprint of most commercial areas allow for maximum flexibility for “divide to suit” prospective tenants. The 300 seat outdoor cinema and giant screen could also be income producing. Design Elements - Reflecting pool with dancing waters as linear buffer and water curtain between the Square and National Theater. - Transparent air/light scoops of reinforced plastic will serve as conical light fixtures illuminating the surface of the elevated park. The larger ones will incorporate works of art suspended within or rising up from bases at public parking level. - Giant Screen 35m long by 10m high steel framed bladelike plane serving as a news ticker and electronic surface for multiple images. A section will accommodate the projection screen for the proposed outdoor cinema. - Evagoras Avenue Promenade 15m wide with cobble stone pavers and reconstituted stone trim, incorporating the restored KEO clock as visual focal point and with a tree lined central median accommodating kiosks and street markets. - Diagonal Stoa serving as a partially covered landscaped extension of the public sidewalks onto the Square through which rises the iconic giant screen, along with elevator and stair access from the self parking level below. Sustainability - Preservation of existing trees including all along the North West corner of the site. - Implementation of “green” roof technology with natural ground cover of various densities and heights, along with the planting of mature deciduous shade trees. - Exclusive use of reconstituted stone paving strips and compressed wood fiberboard planks for all pedestrian circulation and seating within the park. - Incorporation of the reflecting pool as an environmental element which creates ambient cooling augmented by fountains and prevalent breezes towards the park. - The architectural integration of varying air/light scoops all oriented toward the prevalent winds of the site, inducing natural ventilation and light into most interior spaces, the diagonal stoa and self parking level. Deep overhangs shade all glazed facades. - Storage of grey water park runoff for irrigation. Mechanical/Electrical The electromechanical services will be integrated with the extensive landscaping and all public facilities, while responding to the climatic and environmental challenges of the overall site. The HVAC systems for the enclosed spaces will be with package units of the highest energy efficiency ratings. Air distribution, intake and exhaust machinery will be integrated under the park superstructure. A smoke exhaust and sprinkler system as per NFPA and local fire brigade will be designed for all car parklevels along with a mechanical ventilation system. Lighting design will respond to practical and aesthetical criteria. It will combine safe and secure visual surroundings with interactive and creative lightscapes integrated with the design concept thus generating a unique illumination effect during darkness. Luminaires selected will conform to EU energy standards. LED.