oasis-project

OASIS 1 Oasis is a project where one small scale engagement automatically brings about discussion about a larger scale. In order to revitalise a “dead corner” in the city we will create a catalyst of some sort, which has a positive effect locally and city-wide. Such a catalyst can be a sculpture, illumination concepts, temporary structures, a fountain, plants, a shelter, and so forth which affects actions and behaviour among its users.

There are numerous unused and unattractive corners of the city, how can we revitalise these?

Could one architectural element transform a whole square?
Could it bring about new actions and behaviours?

Could the designed situation contribute to a sense of community and well-being?


Corners in Berlin with high development potential

OASIS 2 We will study master plans made by prominent urbanists and try to identify our particular role and our project’s scale as part of such strategies. For example, we will use Secchi+Viganò’s concept of the generic, specific and active policies, that creates conceptual links between a city’s spirit, specific spatial areas and interaction between the built environment and inhabitants.

What is a “dead corner”? - An unused, forgotten square, a public transport building, a concrete parking lot or a dark space behind a public building?

What function should a public square offer? Light? Drinking water? Plants? Furniture?

Could we turn a train station into a cultural hub?


The strategic Spatial Structure Plan for Antwerp (s-RSA, 2006) — collaboration between Italian designers Bernardo Secchi and Paola Viganò and the city services for urban development. Illustration by Fredrik Skåtar
OASIS 3 High Lane, New York City, by Diller+Scofidio+Renfro
Design phase 1

● Lectures on public design that promote keywords such as interaction, community, sustainability and nature.

● Lectures on selected urban design strategies. A central concept is Secchi+Viganò’s Strategic Spatial Structure for Antwerp, Belgium, which is arguably well formulated, poetic and innovative as well as widely accessible, not only for professionals.

● Lectures on urban design, policy, culture and politics, putting the question if projects like Oasis could benefit from new types of high-level decision making. As an example, we will study the concept of the Belgian Bouwmeester / city architect. In comparison with other countries, the Belgian city architect arguably has more influence on the future of the city and ultimately the country. He or she creates awareness about the importance of architecture, promotes design diversity and concepts such as slow urbanism, all grounded in academic research.

OASIS 4 Parc de la Villette by Bernard Tschumi. Image by Pline, source.

Design phase 2

● Case study drawing workshop.
Students start to draw on possible design scenarios. We will work with hand sketches, collages and physical models. Continuously, the definitions of a “dead corner” and “revitalisation” are discussed.
The exercise has two main objectives: to define what topic one wants to follow and, based on that topic, start formulating a vision for a new kind of urbanism.

● Simultaneously, students explore the city to find “dead corners” in the urban structure that can be used for the project’s site. They take photos of and make notes about every site they visit. In seminar groups, we discuss the sites selected and try to pinpoint why they need a revitalisation.

OASIS 5 Green temporary installation, Place de la Comédie, Metz, France

Design phase 3

● Investigating the site.
We collect as much info as possible about the site. We make digital drawings based on measurements, we map its current usage and discuss how it could ideally be used, we look at functions available and lacking. Here, factors such as the site’s history, architectural style, infrastructure, and—more emotionally based—its spirit are highly important.

● Refining the idea. Students make site-specific sketches, combining their topic with the site. We work with hand sketches and physical models and ultimately test the ideas with Rhino/Grasshopper which offers algorithmically changeable design solutions. Topics such as material, construction methods, interaction scenarios, user analysis are vital.

● Design phase 3 is concluded with a midterm presentation

OASIS 6 Theaterplein by Secchi+Viganò, Antwerp, belgium

Design phase 4

● Components integrated into Grasshopper are used to create a rough cost calculation and an overview of construction methods.

● Students develop their designs:
        ○ Refining and clearly motivating the form(s) chosen
        ○ defining materials and functions involved
        ○ creating a series of images depicting activity scenarios.

● Design phase 4 is concluded with a final presentation and an exhibition.

How do we prevent vandalism?
Does design, and thus an appearance of care, offer a protection per se?

Prior generations saw concrete as the material of choice for the contemporary, progressive city.
The global urban population is growing rapidly. What do cities need now? More green, and more nature in symbiosis with our urban lives?


OASIS 7 "People, Plant, Places" by Camilla Marani & Virginia Professione, Free University of Bolzano, Italy, 2020.

Student project examples
"Torch 360° street lighting" by Claudia Martinelli & Alessandro Mariotti, Free University of Bolzano, Italy, 2020. "Oase - drinking fountain" by Sarah Troi, Free University of Bolzano, Italy, 2020. Images from Project PD4, Free University of Bolzano 2020.
OASIS
— revitalising forgotten urban corners