March 2, 2009

Permanent Flexible Infrastructure

In the third category of spacemaking typologies are permanent flexible infrastructures. These are full scale customizable environments built to last. These spaces are characterized by features that are interactive or open ended or are built to take advantage of a specific anticipated and sanctioned use.

The Schouwburgplein (12.250 square metres) is situated in the heart of the city of Rotterdam and is surrounded by shops and flanked by the City Theatre and the City Concert Hall. The design emphasizes the importance of a void, which opens a panorama towards the city skyline.
The square is designed as an interactive public space, flexible in use, and changing during day and seasons. Its appearance is a reflection of the Port of Rotterdam. All of the necessary ingredients were present; it only had to be brought to life. By raising the surface of the square above the surrounding area, the void was retained and the "city’s stage" created.
One of the major features of the square are the four hydraulic lighting elements that can be interactively altered by the inhabitants of the city.

The Parc de la Villette is a park in Paris at the outer edge of the 19th arrondissement, bordering Seine-Saint-Denis. It was designed by Bernard Tschumi. It was built on the site the former national meat market and slaughterhouse as part of an urban redevelopment project. At 25 hectares, these former grounds constitute the largest park in the city of Paris and its second largest greenspace (after the Père Lachaise cemetery). The park houses public facilities devoted to science and music, playgrounds for children, and 35 follies.

The park has received a great deal of criticism and has made it on the Project for Public Space's Hall of Shame list.

Both of the above projects illustrate the difficulty of creating permanent flexible infrastructures that attempt to create or fulfill very specific programmatic objectives. These projects have received some of the same criticism leveled at many public art projects. The sites are welcomed for their adventurous design and temporarily fulfill contemporary needs , but before long, as tastes and user needs change and they lose their utility and meaning.

On a smaller scale, if you have not experienced the work of master manipulators of space / object / meaning exploration, you must check out the groundbreaking work of Droog.

One of my favorite pieces is the Do Hit Chair and their recent Space to Take Place project

Also check out the brilliant work of INOUT .

So...with these topics we've attempted to lay the groundwork and outline the scope of the investigation for the workshop, and there is more to come. This is an exciting, expanding field and its great to be able to explore it with you all in the coming weeks.

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