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?
What function should a public square offer? Light? Drinking water? Plants? Furniture?
Could we turn a train station into a cultural hub?
● 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.
● 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.
● 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
● 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.
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?
— revitalising forgotten urban corners