urbanus vulgaris

urban life & culture / ideas & insights / innovation & development

Category: spatial structures

Brutalist architecture

by gailiute

brutalist-ski-resort_flaine-france_photography-essay_alastair-philip-wiper_dezeen_936_0

Today I came across an interesting article about 60s brutalist ski resort by Marcel Breuer, architect, known for Whitney Museun NY builbing among others (which recently reopened as the Met Breuer) and his iconic chairs – Wassily and B32.

This article is a photo-essay trying to explain the ambivalence of this architecture and in general is a nice way to spend few minutes of your time.

Alastair Philip Wiper finds “noble failure” at Breuer’s Brutalist French ski resort of Flaine

Robin Hood Gardens – one of the most hated buildings in UK

by gailiute

“As it faces demolition, the Architectural Review‘s history editor Tom Wilkinson considers the legacy of London’s Robin Hood Gardens– one of east London’s most notable brutalist housing projects. Although consistently voted some of the most hated buildings in the country, Wilkinson delves beyond the style debate to consider the values and intentions which underpinned the building of this controversial estate and others like it.”

– says SustainableCitiesCollective.

 

 

More on the building here.

We really need some big institutional housing programs again. ;)

by jiookrednav

 

 

 

 

And as a dessert a Japanese Gem from the 80’ies:

E.Howard’s garden city vs. URBED’s garden city: spot the difference

by gailiute

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The Wolfson Prize, initiated in 2012, this year asked competitors to explore “the best delivery plan for a new garden city”. This years winning entry from British urban design consultancy URBED (Urbanism, Environment, Design) proposed to reenergise the Garden City (GC) movement, first conceived by Sir Ebenezer Howard in 1898.

“David Rudlin and Nicholas Falk’s submission argues that forty cities in England, including Northampton, Norwich, Oxford, Rugby, Reading and Stafford, could benefit from ‘GC status’. The award comes in the wake of polling conducted for the prize showing that 68% of the 6,166 Britons polled thought that  would protect more countryside than the alternatives for delivering the housing we need.” (quote from here).

If you read URBED’s proposal (can find it here) it seems that their are not really trying to re-invent a wheel, instead just merely adapt what was once written and drawn by E.Howard.

So my question that arose while checking this award and winning entry is this: why competition asks to revitalise Garden Cities idea? wasn’t it long ago rejected as romantic utopia?

As Richard Rogers, strong opponent to this movement points out: (this) “ridiculous concept” risks “emptying out existing cities and that is a ridiculous idea.” One of his arguments is that GC idea – the play toy of major political parties  in recent years, would bring benefit first and foremost to the developers, as greenfield is much easier and cheaper to develop in comparison to numerous brown-fields within existing cities and their centres. R.Rogers says ““We have 61,000 hectares of brownfield land in England and the government has approved half of it as potentially suitable for development. That would allow 1.3 million dwellings to be built even at a low density.” (You can read more here or full article here)

So again, even this one argument (not to mention revitalisation benefits of inner cities, cost for traveling from new suburban cities to city centres, benefits of existing social, spatial and economic tissue in the inner cities, etc) gives me a strong feeling that something becomes fundamentally wrong in UK if they want to revitalise GC idea.

 

Or do I miss something?

 

Strelka Talks. From welfare city to neoliberal utopia

by gailiute

One more interesting talk from Crimson Architectural historians. Enjoy :)

Retrofitting suburbia

by gailiute

This is quite an interesting talk on the possible futures of suburbia. I really liked her statement, which goes something like “urbanism does its job, we only have to make architecture to look better” :D

Die Zeit: New life on the Stalin Allee in Berlin

by jiookrednav

henselmann

“Berlin, this post-war rubble. Today it is mangy and sexy, cheap and showy, brash and noble. A city of contrasts, which is converting towards the most exciting city in Europe. The signs are everywhere. And especially in one particular street. A street whose history reflects the post-war history of Berlin.

The Karl -Marx -Allee begins near the TV tower at Alexanderplatz, extends nearly three kilometres to Friedrichshain and is wider than the Champs- Élysées with 90 meters. “The last great European boulevard built”, said the Italian architect Aldo Rossi about it.

Built as the Stalin Avenue in the early fifties in “Soviet-pastry-house style”, Germany’s first socialist main road should impress the rest of the world. The workers of the GDR should be awed and delighted. A few months later these workers lit the popular uprising of the 17th June 1953 on the Parkway . The Red Army had to help quell the launching revolution.

More than two decades after the street was renamed Karl -Marx -Allee, East Berliners again demonstrated on their boulevard, now for the fall of the wall. Then: the German unification, euphoria, disappointment, unemployment, the rediscovery and Gentrification of the avenue.

There are still people living here, who have experienced it all. And many newcomers. We have visited them. For the portrait of a road.”

Beautiful website by the influential German newspaper “Die Zeit” presenting the Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin:

http://www.zeit.de/kultur/karl-marx-allee/index.html#prolog

Tip: Google Chrome offers automatic translation!

Immersive ugliness of everyday’s environment in America

by gailiute

Such a good talk. And very hilarious :)

Pedestrian friendly suburb without cars – Vauban, Germany

by gailiute

Recently I came across a nice example of working design that favours pedestrians and bicycles more than cars.

800px-Ecoquartier_Vauban_Freibourg3

The new (started mid 1990’s, construction finished in 2006) suburban development –  Vauban neighbourhood is based on a fused grid (first introduced in 2002, it offers the best of two widely known street patterns: grid and radburn) that favours active movement by foot or bike inside the neighbourhood and filters out the cars.

VaubanTraficNetwork-Schematic

Cars can enter local streets to access the houses, but the parking there is strictly forbidden. Car owners can park their vehicles only in two spots: the large garages at the end of location. In addition to that, residents of Vauban have to declare whether they own a car yearly  and in case they do, the are obliged to buy a parking space as well (which is not extremely cheap). However restrictions on car parking and such disfavouring of car ownership is compensated by a tram line which is within easy walking distance from every home.

Positive effect of this design is already visible in statistical data: “As of 2009 around 70% of the households had chosen to live without a private car. The level of car ownership has fallen over time. An earlier survey showed over 50% of households owned a car; of those who were living carfree, 81% had previously owned one and 57% gave up their cars on or immediately after moving to Vauban.” (Nobis, 2003, cited in wiki:)) 

And. Besides smart selection of pedestrians over cars, this neighbourhood is built according to low energy consumption standards: “100 units designed to the Passivhaus ultra-low energy building standard. Other buildings are heated by a combined heat and power station burning wood chips, while many of the buildings have Solar collectors or photovoltaic cells. Perhaps the best example of sustainable building is the Solar Settlement in Vauban, a 59 PlusEnergy home housing community. It is the first housing community world wide in which all the homes produce a positive energy balance. The solar energy surplus is then sold back into the city’s grid for a profit on every home.” (again, source: wiki). 

This project sounds great! Agree? ;)

 

Solarsiedlung_von_oben 327737739_b1bb1f8927 smart-urban-planning

 

Designing the speed, not limiting it

by gailiute

This is a great example how traffic can become less of a problem in a living environment. In this case this is a story about a village of Poynton that used to be on the crossing of two extremelly busy roads. Well, it did not vanished anywhere, it is still in the same place, however the new approach to the crossing seemed to be such a good investment, that it started pay off right from the very first days, both by reducing risks of crossing the roads and by improving liveability of the village public space.

The idea is quite simple, yet genuine and brave – to get rid of the traffic lights  by designing the speed instead of limiting it. The concept of shared space is already in some countries, like the Netherlands, but for the village of Poynton it was quite challenging experience.

Looks that it works just great!

I found the video here.

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