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Public Place: The Latest Architecture and News

Lina Bo Bardi and the Generosity of the Streets

Projects for public buildings and infrastructure must always ensure the best possible forms of access and connection with the surrounding streets, particularly regarding access routes for pedestrians. However, some architects have managed to overcome the pragmatic aspect of this connection between architecture and the streets, when designing projects that have a strong duty to provide public space, by using this bond as the core of the design concept.

The Story of How Medellin Turned Its Water Reservoirs into Public Parks

While developing a master plan for Medellin's urban lighting system, EPM, Medellin's public utility company, analyzed the Colombian city's infrastructure and nocturnal lighting system by superimposing a map of the system over a map of the city. What they found was an urban landscape blotted by "islands" of darkness.

Much to the surprise of the utilities company, the dark spots were actually 144 water tanks that were initially built on the city's outskirts; however, thanks to the progressive expansion of Medellin's city limits, the tanks now found themselves completely surrounded by the informal settlements of the Aburra Valley. Even worse, they had become focal points for violence and insecurity in neighborhoods devoid of public spaces and basic infrastructure. 

UVA La Esperanza. Image Cortesía de EPMUVA La Esperanza. Image Cortesía de EPMUVA La Imaginación. Image Cortesía de EPMUVA La Imaginación. Image Cortesía de EPM+ 23

What Makes a Great Public Place?

This article was originally published by Project for Public Spaces as "What makes a successful place?", a brief guideline about how to develop great public spaces by following four qualities: Sociability, Uses & Activities, Access & Linkages, and Comfort & Image.

Great public spaces are those places where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges occur, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. They are the “front porches” of our public institutions – libraries, field houses, schools – where we interact with each other and government. When these spaces work well, they serve as the stage for our public lives, but what makes some places succeed while others fail?

Yangpu Riverfront South Section Phase II / DA Landscape + TJAD Original Design Studio

Bike Parking Design Guidelines

Studies show that public investment in integrated and safe cycling networks promotes urban transformation, providing more humanity, health and quality of life in urban spaces. While cities in the Netherlands and the Nordic countries have already incorporated bicycles into daily life, with a significant portion of the population using the means of transport for daily commutes, much of the world is still seeking a model to reduce congestion and increase its use. According to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), investing in non-motorized transport allows congestion reduction, improves air quality, physical and mental health of residents, and local trade and brand visibility, once that cyclists tend to pay more attention to local commerce and take up less space than cars.

But along the cycle lanes and cycle paths it is essential to provide suitable places so that bicycles can be parked at the end of the trails. While bike stands are enclosed spaces, usually with some kind of surveillance and additional infrastructure, paracycles are the structures that allow to securely support and lock the bike. They can integrate in the urban furniture of a city, next to benches, plates, lamps and informative totems.

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Nikos Salingaros: 'Contemporary Public Spaces Are Designed For Lifeless Beings, Without Any Sex Or Sexual Desire'

Within the framework of Espacios Oscuros research project, focused on observing and analyzing the experience of sexual diversity in public spaces of Santiago de Chile, architects María González and José Tomás Franco spoke with Nikos Salingaros, a mathematician and thinker known for his alternative theoretical approach to architecture and urbanism. Salingaros promotes design focused on human needs and aspirations, combining rigorous scientific analysis with a deep intuitive experience.

Our cities are, for the most part, hostile to the sensibilities of their citizens. (...) Almost everything has been aligned, standardized, emptied. So, how to meet different people, and how to expect a mix between strangers?

In this interview, Salingaros not only questions the way in which architects are designing the private and public spaces of our cities, ignoring –perhaps unconsciously– the human being in its diversity, but also suggests the emergence of a series of private community spaces that would be supplying the needs of expression and appropriation of all the inhabitants of the city.

Carlo Ratti's Prototype for Sidewalk Labs Shows How the Design of Streets Could Change in Real Time

Carlo Ratti Associati, working in collaboration with Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, has unveiled their design for a modular paving system named “The Dynamic Street.” Intended to make streets “reconfigurable, safer, and more accessible to pedestrians, cyclists, and tomorrow’s self-driving vehicles,” the project will be on display at Sidewalk Lab’s office and experimentation space in Toronto throughout the summer of 2018.

Manifesting as a series of hexagonal modular pavers, the project explores the various patterns which can be created by reconfiguring modules, with a potential future “allowing a street to create an extra car lane during rush hour before then turning it into a pedestrian-only plaza in the evening.”

Courtesy of Carlo Ratti AssociatiCourtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati© David Pike© David Pike+ 13

Call for Submissions: Six Sites Another Landscape, Design Workshop on Contemporary Landscape 2018

The Chinese Culture University, Taiwan, in collaboration with the municipality of Maccagno con Pino e Veddasca, Italy, is offering to a limited number of architecture and landscape architecture students the opportunity to take part in a seven-day design workshop in Maccagno, organized by the Landscape architecture department, College of Environmental Design, the Chinese Culture University as part of the CCU summer 2018 workshops program. This workshop is the third and last installment of the collaboration between CCU and the municipality of Maccagno con Pino e Veddasca, that began with the August 2016 workshop and repeated with the August 2017 workshop, involving more than 50 students.

Renovation of Chiayi Railway Station Square / Shen Ting Tseng Architects

Courtesy of Shen Ting Tseng architectsCourtesy of Shen Ting Tseng architectsCourtesy of Shen Ting Tseng architectsCourtesy of Shen Ting Tseng architects+ 14

ODA Unveils Images of Bamboo-Inspired "Dragon Gate" for New York's Chinatown

ODA New York has released images of its proposed “Dragon Gate” pavilion for New York’s Chinatown, seeking to act as a symbolic gateway to the famous Manhattan neighborhood. Using modern materials and forms to invoke symbols of traditional Chinese culture, the scheme seeks to capture Chinatown’s remarkable duality: a community of tradition resistant to change, yet one regarded as a uniquely contemporary phenomenon showcasing New York’s inclusive diversity.

Situated on a triangular traffic island at the intersection of Canal, Baxter, and Walker Streets, ODA’s scheme seeks to activate a currently-underused pedestrian space. The Dragon Gate consists of a triangular form adhering to a three-dimensional, gridded structure formed from interwoven, tubular, bronze steel inspired by bamboo scaffolding. As the structure densifies, selected pieces will be painted red to create the illusion of a dragon in mid-flight.

Courtesy of ODA New YorkCourtesy of ODA New YorkCourtesy of ODA New YorkCourtesy of ODA New York+ 5

The Waterfall / BIG + Cobe

Danish firm COBE has released images of their proposed aquatic center in Copenhagen Harbor, a scheme entered for a design competition which was won by Kengo Kuma. The proposal, designed in collaboration with Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG), formed part of COBE’s competition-winning masterplan for Paper Island, which was chosen for development in 2016.

Courtesy of COBE / BIGCourtesy of COBE / BIGCourtesy of COBE / BIGCourtesy of COBE / BIG+ 11

Awareness of the Importance of Public Spaces is Increasing—Here's How We Can Capitalize On It

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "How Public Space Can Build Community and Rescue Democracy."

Public spaces are having a moment. People from outside the field of urban planning are beginning to notice the vital contributions that they make to our quality of life: inserting nature and cultural memory into the everyday, reminding us of our collective responsibilities, supporting democratic expression. People are also beginning to notice the subtle ways in which those contributions are being eroded by threats of privatization, corporate appropriation, and apathy.

Most acutely, this moment is brought to us by Apple, which has begun an aggressive retail rebranding effort to re-conceptualize its stores as “town squares,” and wrought a wave of well-founded concern. Technology continues to beckon us away from the need to leave our homes or interact face-to-face with other humans. If for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, it would follow that opportunities for such interpersonal interaction become a luxury we begin to seek, a call to remember our origin as social beings.

TOPOTEK 1’s Martin Rein-Cano On Superkilen’s Translation of Cultural Objects

Founded in 1996 by Buenos Aires-born Martin Rein-Cano, TOPOTEK 1 has quickly developed a reputation as a multidisciplinary landscape architecture firm, focussing on the re-contextualization of objects and spaces and the interdisciplinary approaches to design, framed within contemporary cultural and societal discourse.

The award-winning Berlin-based firm has completed a range of public spaces, from sports complexes and gardens to public squares and international installations. Significant projects include the green rooftop Railway Cover in Munich, Zurich’s hybrid Heerenschürli Sports Complex and the German Embassy in Warsaw. The firm has also recently completed the Schöningen Spears Research and Recreation Centre near Hannover, working with contrasting typologies of the open meadow and the dense forest on a historic site.

Mecanoo Reveals Plans for Massive Green Train Station in Taiwan

Netherlands-based Mecanoo Architecten has unveiled its plans for the new Kaohsiung Station, the centerpiece of the massive Kaohsiung Metropolitan Area Underground Railway Project in Taiwan.

The project, which will occupy an 8.5-hectare site, will act as a green connector unifying different modes of transportation and represent Kaohsiung’s vision for its future as a sustainable city.

Urbane Mitte am Gleisdreieck / Cobe

Collaborating with Man Made Land, Knippers Helbig and Mafeu Architektur Consulting, COBE Berlin has received 1st prize in an international competition to design Berlin’s “Urbane Mitte am Gleisdreieck,” a master plan located at the gateway to Gleisdreieck Park in Berlin, Germany.

Innovation Center at Merck / HENN

HENN has broken ground on the Innovation Center at pharmaceutical company Merck's corporate headquarters and factory in Darmstadt, Germany.

The new Center follows the site’s pre-established master plan, also designed by HENN, placing the new building complex between two existing company buildings and at the end of what is to become a spacious public square.