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Public Space: The Latest Architecture and News

BIG Unveils Bow-Shaped Design for National Theatre of Albania

12:00 - 15 March, 2018
BIG Unveils Bow-Shaped Design for National Theatre of Albania, Courtesy of BIG
Courtesy of BIG

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has released images of its bow-shaped National Theatre of Albania, responding to a thriving performance art scene in the nation’s capital. Situated in the cultural heart of downtown Tirana, the scheme seeks to create new urban gathering places for a pedestrian-focused district, while casting the theater as a performer in its own right.

Situated on a cultural axis, adjacent to public landmarks such as Skanderbeg Square, the National Opera, and the National Art Gallery, BIG’s scheme will replace the existing theater while adding three new performance spaces, a rooftop amphitheater, and a covered public space underneath the building.

Courtesy of BIG Courtesy of BIG Courtesy of BIG Courtesy of BIG + 6

Construction Begins on MVRDV’s Redesign for Europe’s Biggest Urban Shopping Center

12:20 - 13 March, 2018
Construction Begins on MVRDV’s Redesign for Europe’s Biggest Urban Shopping Center, © Kréaction
© Kréaction

In the 3rd Arrondissement of the French city of Lyon, construction has begun on Lyon Part-Dieu, an MVRDV-designed scheme seeking to transform the city’s main shopping center. Featuring partly-transparent glass and a public green roof, the MVRDV scheme will revitalize and integrate what was formerly an introverted complex built for an era dominated by the car.

At 166,000 square meters, Lyon Part-Dieu is the largest downtown shopping center in Europe, built in 1975. In order to improve the existing outdated complex, MVRDV worked with co-architects SUD to produce a design that offers a contemporary update to the existing façade and a re-organization of the interior program.

How Sou Fujimoto Promotes Community By Uniting Seemingly Opposite Elements

09:30 - 7 March, 2018
How Sou Fujimoto Promotes Community By Uniting Seemingly Opposite Elements, Architecture meets the outdoors in Sou Fujimoto's L’arbre Blanc housing tower, under construction in Montpeller, France. Image Courtesy of SFA+NLA+OXO+RSI
Architecture meets the outdoors in Sou Fujimoto's L’arbre Blanc housing tower, under construction in Montpeller, France. Image Courtesy of SFA+NLA+OXO+RSI

This article was originally published by Redshift as "Architect Sou Fujimoto Has Radical Ideas for Familiar Communal Spaces."

The destruction wrought upon Ishinomaki by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami damaged the city’s civic hall and cultural center beyond repair. To rebuild, Ishinomaki City wanted to create a landmark combining these two facilities into a new complex—one that would be like a city unto itself, serving the community.

In 2016, design proposals were screened in a process that included public presentations, with many locals participating. In the end, Sou Fujimoto, a leader among the next generation of Japan’s architects, was selected for his innovative design.

UAE Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Biennale to Explore Human-scale Landscapes and Social Spaces

06:00 - 2 March, 2018
UAE Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Biennale to Explore Human-scale Landscapes and Social Spaces, Children playing soccer on sandy street outside the boundaries of bigness. Image Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE - la Biennale di Venezia
Children playing soccer on sandy street outside the boundaries of bigness. Image Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE - la Biennale di Venezia

As part of our 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale coverage we present the proposal for the UAE Pavilion. Below, the participants describe their contribution in their own words.

The National Pavilion UAE will present “Lifescapes Beyond Bigness,” an exhibition exploring human-scale architectural landscapes, at the 2018 Venice Biennale. The exhibition aims to highlight the role of architecture and urban design in forming the choreography of people’s daily routines. It particularly investigates the role of ‘quotidian’ (every day) landscapes in accommodating, enhancing, and facilitating social activities across different places in the UAE.

Zhulang Huagai: A Figure for the Nantou Urban Village / NADAAA + Cooper Union

19:00 - 1 March, 2018
Courtesy of UABB
Courtesy of UABB

Courtesy of UABB © Jeremy Son © Dongmei Yao © Jeremy Son + 27

Call for Entries: PocketSeat 2018 Design Competition

13:55 - 19 February, 2018
Call for Entries: PocketSeat 2018 Design Competition, Pocket Seat 2018 seeks to discover and champion fresh designs that can help people recreate a “seat” adaptable to the changing needs of the user within its spatial limitations.
Pocket Seat 2018 seeks to discover and champion fresh designs that can help people recreate a “seat” adaptable to the changing needs of the user within its spatial limitations.

In today’s crowded world, the aspect of finding comfortable seating in a public arena is a major part of one’s daily activities. A comfortable seating in public helps one relax and reduce fatigue. This social activity, however, may vary with each individual and the kind of space he/she occupies. Most importantly, the nature of the seat ought to cater to every individual irrespective of their age, size or gender.
The act of seating is an opportunity for many to boost inter-personal communication and encourage social and cultural bonding between individuals.
Over the last few years, public spaces offering avenues to sit, relax and strike a conversation with fellow people have drastically reduced, sparking an urgent need for alternative methods of creating personal seating arrangements. It’s imperative that the seat is ideated with the utmost sense of creativity and innovation. Recreating a seat that goes by every individual’s preference and fits within its spatial limitations poses a challenge to our generation.

Urban Equipment for Public Spaces Helps to Build a Bike-Friendly City

06:00 - 30 January, 2018
Urban Equipment for Public Spaces Helps to Build a Bike-Friendly City, Bike Lockers | Reliance Foundry
Bike Lockers | Reliance Foundry

Designing public spaces without considering the circulation and parking of bicycles is no longer an option in today's world. Accessibility for the free traffic of cyclists must also be accompanied by adequate security conditions, incorporating these devices in the best possible way to parks, sidewalks, parking lots, and the streetscape as a whole. 

Are you designing an urban space, or do the exteriors of your project require a correct link with the circulation of bicycles? Check these support elements that can help you to generate a better city for the urban commuter on wheels.

Run, Jump, Hide and Slide on ELEMENTAL's Newly Designed Urban Children's Game

06:00 - 18 January, 2018
Run, Jump, Hide and Slide on ELEMENTAL's Newly Designed Urban Children's Game, La Serpentina en el Parque Cultural de Valparaíso, Chile. Image Cortesía de ELEMENTAL
La Serpentina en el Parque Cultural de Valparaíso, Chile. Image Cortesía de ELEMENTAL

A new children’s urban playground has captured the attention and energy of children of all ages in the center of Valparaíso’s Cultural Park (Chile). The metallic structure is 40 meters long and has a colorful undulating path where children can run, jump, hide and slide.

La Serpentina is one of the public space projects designed by ELEMENTAL (Alejandro Aravena). It was built for Somos Choapa in Chile and is currently in Valparaíso as part of the XX Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism of Chile.

La Serpentina follows a similar design to the equipment at the Bicentenary Children’s Park (2012) in Santiago. La Serpentina is one of two interventions entered by Somos Choapa in the Biennial. The second project is a prototype with a series of touch screens installed in the main area of the Cultural Park of Valparaíso, accounting for over 100 concrete initiatives of the project.

Sharing the City: 5 Takes on How We Should Create and Use Public Space

09:30 - 17 January, 2018

On December 1st 2017, reSITE invited a handful of intellectuals to Berlin for the My City / Your City salon held in partnership with Airbnb, spending a day and night with them brainstorming about public space, sharing, and inclusiveness. To close the event, we served them a cocktail of simple questions that were not always easy to answer.

In the following text, artist Charlie Koolhaas, the architect and founding partner of Topotek 1 Martin Rein-Cano, the curator and writer Lukas Feireiss, the curator and architect Anna Scheuermann, and the professor Ivan Kucina, share their various opinions on issues ranging from how best to create public space to their thoughts on the very principle of sharing.

Placemaking: Movement, Manifesto, Tool, Buzzword—or What?

09:30 - 2 January, 2018
Placemaking: Movement, Manifesto, Tool, Buzzword—or What?, The High Line in New York has arguably been one of the great successes of placemaking principles. Image © Iwan Baan
The High Line in New York has arguably been one of the great successes of placemaking principles. Image © Iwan Baan

Amongst other placemaking-related news this year, the Boston Society of ArchitectsPlacemaking Network celebrated its 10-year anniversary by launching the Placemaking Manifesto in November. Co-authored by Christina Lanzl, Robert Tullis, and Anne-Catrin Schultz, the document set down six key ideas: “quality of life,” “sense of place,” “community identification,” “collaboration and communication” between “individuals of all backgrounds, interests and talents,” “inclusivity” and “greater civic engagement,” and “awareness of tradition with an embracing of new and emerging technologies.” While the basic principles that placemaking espouses are often hard to question, this manifesto in particular begs one question: Is placemaking understood and defined clearly enough for it to be a useful tool for urbanists?

In the past decade or so, placemaking has gained considerable momentum, spewing forth an array of approaches, countless lists of best practices (including, in essence, this new manifesto), and complicated sub-categorizations. It is simultaneously a much-lauded global movement, an academic discipline, a field, discourse, process, and tool, but is also, among other charges, heavily criticized for being an “ill-defined buzzword.”

Canada's First Ever Funicular Opens in Downtown Edmonton

16:00 - 23 December, 2017
Canada's First Ever Funicular Opens in Downtown Edmonton, © Brock Kryton
© Brock Kryton

Last week marked the opening of Canada’s first ever funicular in downtown Edmonton, a cable-mechanized incline elevator aimed at making the city’s largest green space more accessible.

Publically funded, the $24million project features the 100 Street Funicular to transport mobility aids, strollers, and bikes, as well as a generous staircase for walking, running and lounging. Concrete sitting blocks are dispersed up the 170 steps from a promenade at the bottom. Visitors can walk along the promenade to a lookout point or ascend the stairs or funicular to the raised lookout for extensive views of the river valley.

© Brock Kryton © Brock Kryton © Brock Kryton © Brock Kryton + 11

A Close Look at the Gehl Institute's Free Toolkit for City Planning

09:30 - 19 December, 2017
A Close Look at the Gehl Institute's Free Toolkit for City Planning

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "The Gehl Institute’s Toolkit for the Creation of Great Urban Spaces."

Jane Jacobs was arguably the most important “citizen” planner in the 20th century. If we were setting up a related category for credentialed planners, then the great Danish urbanist Jan Gehl might just top that list; inspired by the ideas of Jacobs, the architect and urban designer has spent nearly a half-century studying and writing about public space. He helped his home city of Copenhagen become a kind of model for walkable urbanism and has consulted for cities all over the world.

Two and a half years ago his firm, Gehl, launched a nonprofit arm, Gehl Institute, dedicated to public engagement, and the use and creation of public urban space as a tool of both economic development and political equity. Recently the institute published what it describes as “tools for measuring public space and public life, in the form of free, downloadable worksheets.” The toolkit is beautifully executed. Last week I talked to Shin-pei Tsay, executive director of the Gehl Institute, about the tools and what her group hopes to accomplish with them.

Heatherwick's Copper 'Vessel' Tops Out at New York's Hudson Yards

16:00 - 7 December, 2017
Heatherwick's Copper 'Vessel' Tops Out at New York's Hudson Yards, Courtesy of Related-Oxford
Courtesy of Related-Oxford

Heatherwick Studio’s glimmering staircase monument, ‘Vessel,’ has topped out after eight months of construction at New York City’s Hudson Yards development. Consisting of 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings, the sculptural public space has now reached its full height of 150 feet, which will allow it to offer sweeping views of Manhattan’s west side when it opens in early 2019.

Courtesy of Related-Oxford Courtesy of Related-Oxford Courtesy of Related-Oxford Courtesy of Related-Oxford + 24

MVRDV Collaborates With School Children to Complete Graphic Public Play Space for Gwangju Folly Festival

12:00 - 30 November, 2017
MVRDV Collaborates With School Children to Complete Graphic Public Play Space for Gwangju Folly Festival, © Gwangju Biennale Foundation
© Gwangju Biennale Foundation

MVRDV has collaborated with Korean school children to complete a new permanent urban installation tor the third edition of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation’s Gwangju Folly Festival.

Aimed at exploring how architecture contributes to urban regeneration through both decorative and functional means, the I LOVE STREET was developed through a participatory process that asked students from Seosuk Elementary School to contribute drawings expressing their desires for the street. The end result was a graphic, sensory-stimulating design featuring zones in multitude of materials including grass, fountain, sand, wood, a trampoline and a giant chalk board.

© Gwangju Biennale Foundation © Gwangju Biennale Foundation © Gwangju Biennale Foundation © Gwangju Biennale Foundation + 10

Medellin’s Comuna 13 Shows Why All Great Public Spaces Should Be Kid-Friendly

08:00 - 6 November, 2017
Medellin’s Comuna 13 Shows Why All Great Public Spaces Should Be Kid-Friendly, Comuna 13, Medellín. Image © Ingrid Truemper [Flickr], used under CC BY-NC 2.0
Comuna 13, Medellín. Image © Ingrid Truemper [Flickr], used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Jaime Lerner defines urban acupuncture as a series of small-scale, highly focused interventions that have the capacity to regenerate or to begin a regeneration process in dead or damaged spaces and their surroundings.

Rather than urban acupuncture, the intervention that took place in the rugged geography of Medellin’s Comuna 13 was like an open-heart surgery, a large-scale action aimed at bringing about physical and social change of what was once one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in the world’s most dangerous city.

The bilingual guides take us through the neighbourhood, showing us the escalators that gave the intervention worldwide fame. At the same time, in one of the many refurbished squares, a CNN team records interviews with locals and foreigners who visit by the hundreds what was, until recently, an unlikely tourist destination. A drone flies over the scene, we do not know if it is operated by the omnipresent police, CNN or tourists.

All-In-One Structure Solves Flooding, Parking and the Lack of Green Space in Cities

08:00 - 25 September, 2017
All-In-One Structure Solves Flooding, Parking and the Lack of Green Space in Cities, Courtesy of THIRD NATURE
Courtesy of THIRD NATURE

As Earth’s population continues to grow, so does car traffic and issues related to climate change. It has been estimated about 30% of urban roadway congestion are drivers searching for a place to park. Car culture puts the pressure on cities to build more parking garages, which usually win out over green parks. Meanwhile, climate change continues to challenge cities to handle a great deal of stormwater. The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is proof of this - as of Monday, 13 named storms have formed in the Atlantic ocean, costing 210 lives and counting.

THIRD NATURE, a Danish architecture firm, designed a solution for the modern-day urban issues of flooding, parking and lacking green spaces with their project, POP-UP. A stacked green space, car park, and water reservoir, from top to bottom respectively, POP-UP uses Archimedes’ principle to store water and create floating space to store cars.

Courtesy of THIRD NATURE Courtesy of THIRD NATURE Courtesy of THIRD NATURE Courtesy of THIRD NATURE + 14

Kleinewelt Architekten and Citizenstudio Envision Moscow's Gateway to the Five Seas

12:00 - 16 September, 2017
Kleinewelt Architekten and Citizenstudio Envision Moscow's Gateway to the Five Seas, Courtesy of Kleinewelt Architekten bureau
Courtesy of Kleinewelt Architekten bureau

Kleinewelt Architekten in partnership with Citizenstudio / Gorozhane Group, created a re-design proposal for the Northern River Boat Station Park, also known as the Park of Five Seas, in Moscow. Built in the 1930’s, the current park is supposed to act as the city’s gateway to the five seas: the White, Baltic, Black, Azov, and Caspian Sea. However, the park is removed from city life and separates Moscow from it’s historic waterways.

Courtesy of Kleinewelt Architekten bureau Courtesy of Kleinewelt Architekten bureau Courtesy of Kleinewelt Architekten bureau Courtesy of Kleinewelt Architekten bureau + 20

Call for Entries - Student Design Competition: New San Francisco Federal Building Plaza

19:30 - 31 August, 2017
Call for Entries - Student Design Competition: New San Francisco Federal Building Plaza, Photo of the 90 7th street plaza. Photo credit: Tim Griffith
Photo of the 90 7th street plaza. Photo credit: Tim Griffith

Continuing a legacy of outstanding public architecture, the General Services Administration (GSA) Design Excellence Program seeks to commission our nation’s most talented designers and artists to design federal buildings of outstanding quality and value. These projects are to demonstrate the value of true integrated design that balances aesthetics, cost, constructability, and reliability; create environmentally responsible and superior workplaces for civilian federal employees; and give contemporary form and meaning to our democratic values.