Architects for Urbanity propose an urban-rural frame for Zbraslav Square in Prague

Zbraslav square is too big and undefined in its current condition. It needs the introduction of a human scale and a better definition of its main square, while a set of activities and green pockets may unfold and wrap around it. The new condition offers a strong identity and functional solution that can engage the local residents and provide them with a feeling of belonging. The square fulfils the expectation for an urban and metropolitan layout that can accommodate large events, while at the same time it responds to the local character of Zbraslav and adds to its historic and austere character.

Team: Irgen Salianji, Andreas Anagnostopoulos, Stavria Psomiadi
Status: Competition project
Location: Zbraslav, Prague, Czechia
Program: Public space, public transport and landscaping
Area: 13.821m2

The current layout of the square is dominated by the crossroad and the four fragmented green areas that lack quality and iden­tity. The size of the square is disproportional to the height of the surrounding facades resulting in an unwelcoming space that lacks functionality and beauty. The existing landscape is poorly designed and maintained, while numerous barriers and obsta­cles interrupt the flow and reduce accessibility. We propose the elimination of the crossroad and the merge of the four triangular pockets of landscape into a 40x40 meters square that is open, accessible and proportional to the human scale of Zbraslav. The central square is empty and paved to allow for events and gatherings, while the space around it be­comes available for landscaping, urban activities and the traffic solution.

The square is surrounded by a light steel structure that frames it, while the WWI statue is relocated to the prominent centre of the western edge of the square. The traffic solution is efficiently developed around the square and includes two-directional roads for the buses and automobiles. The diagonal connection is des­ignated for pedestrian access but can be also used by lorries and trucks that service the events in the square. Between the square and the roads we develop a series of dif­ferent pockets that host activities areas, sports and recreational functions. The northern edge of the square meets the info cen­ter, public sanitary facilities and the bus stops. Designated pock­ets of activities can be used by the cafeterias and restaurants that are facing the square or can be rented out to third parties for special events and happenings.


The areas between the activities pockets are landscaped with different types of greenery and vegetation. Diversity and dif­ferentiation in the chosen types of soil and shrubs enhance the aesthetic presence of the organic pattern by creating an urban biodiversity and resilience at the same time. The aim is to have a low maintenance landscape that has a strong character and fits to the climate of Zbraslav and its vivid nature. The large pine trees located on the north-eastern corner of the square are preserved while most of the other existing trees are relocated within the square to allow for the new concept and to highlight it. Few new trees such as pine and platanus trees are proposed to provide shading to the activities pockets and further frame the open square.



The material of the central square is antislip recycled terrazzo for outdoor use with an anti-glare coating and over-scaled texture that provides domesticity to the public space. A floor-mounted water fountains installation is envisioned for the south-eastern corner of the square to provide cooling during the summer days and generate playful moments for children. The edges of the central square are characterized by the radical change of material and therefore create a clear distinction be­tween the urban and the landscaped zones of the proposal. The activities pockets are separated by metal edging and are cov­ered in natural materials such as soil, gravel, crushed limestone, wood chips etc.





The WWII statue is fully restored and slightly relocated to the centre of the western edge of the square, while the steel struc­ture that frames the square is bent around it to make it part of the public space. The continuity of the pattern on the landscaped areas is se­cured by the diversity of natural materials, while the pockets are equipped with standard and special urban furniture that allow for informal daily use and special events. Fixed benches and movable chairs provide sitting options while modular objects provide with flexibility and stimulate creative the use of the pub­lic space.



The bus station obtains a special character with the use of viv­id paint colours on its steel frame, making it clearly visible and iconographic. A linear steel bench throughout the whole length of the station provides for sitting, while the pavement on which it stands is a combination of water permeable cobblestone and limestone. The streets, parking spots and sidewalks are paved with wa­ter permeable cobblestones in a variety of tones that allow for the design pattern to be readable while making the distinction between street and sidewalks without employing obstacles or extra signage.




''The Rack of the Future'' proposes a radical future perspective for Rome's Piazza del Quirinale

''The Rack of the Future'' is our contribution to The Untouchables exhibition that is part of the Change. Architecture Cities Life festival in Rome, and suggests a radical future perspective for intervention in the city's Piazza del Quirinale, more information HERE



As a historic city, Rome enjoys an incredible body of well-preserved monuments, buildings and plazas that once taught innovation and responded radically to the political and architectural preoccupations of their era, with many of them still being relevant today. However, the blessing of heritage has gradually turned Rome into a museum of itself, raising questions about its future development and appropriation by the future generations.

The Rack of the future suggests creating a generic, informal, cheap, temporary and ever-changing new city on top of heritage which is specific, formal, precious, permanent and occupies most of the ground floor terrain of the city. The Rack – similar to scaffoldings - is modular, light, easy to build and recyclable. It can carefully touch on the historic gardens, plazas and palaces and rise vertically and diagonally into the sky, which is free and symbolic of culture, movement, migration, change and information. The Rack could grow with the city’s demand for development and innovation, connect history and future, migrate with the birds, change with the clouds and connect people, inaccessible places and information similarly to the way we already transfer data.  Through its porosity and modularity is can regulate its density and allow for sunlight to cross it through, therefore making it possible to be green and connect to the existing gardens of the city.

A characteristic urban space of historic Rome, Piazza del Quirinale is bound by the monumental Palazzo del Quirinale, currently serving as one of the official residences of the President of the Italian Republic. The eleventh-largest palace in the world in terms of area, the Quirinal Palace and its beautiful gardens could become and accessible sequence in the Rack’s three-dimensional network, extending diagonally and highlighting the merge of Rome’s old and new urbanity.

The Rack is inspired by the radical urban utopias of the 1960s and 70s, such as the Ville Spatiale of Yona Friedman and the provocative – yet pioneering - visions of the Italian radicals Archizoom and Superstudio. It suggests that ideas such as mobile architecture, vertical cities and big gestures in urbanism could be symbiotic to heritage and landscape, especially considering the technological advances of our era.

Thanks to 
TARI-Architects
 for the invitation, organisation and contribution, as well as the other 10 young offices that also contributed their vision for the city of Rome!

Vysocany residential block in Prague


Team: Architects for Urbanity with TARI-Architects, Local, Bianco Architects, Sara Simoska Arhitektura & Grupo H
Client: Penda Real Estate
Status: Competition project
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Program: Housing, commercial & public space
Area: 24.000m2




EGO + SYNERGY


We propose a distinct main idea in response to the competition guidelines, one that consists of a strategic approach , aimed at changing the paradigm of self-referential projects and that embraces a more collective and synergic dimension of architecture: -ego + synergy!



 We selected 5 young architecture firms in the European scenario that along with us, will constitute a special design team, able to respond to this important challenge in an innovative and original way! Each firm stood out in many international competitions, earning numerous awards and prizes. The complex will be divided into six buildings, each of them designed by one firm, with its own identity and past experiences, able to be part of a greater whole. As Aristotle said “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Distance and different nationalities are not weaknesses, but the real strengths of the project! As for the Funen (Amsterdam) or the Vila Olimpica (Barcelona), this strategic approach provides a team of different architects able to transform divergences, different aspirations and requests into synergic actions.


A GREEN HEART FOR THE CITY


The project area, placed in the north-eastern part of the City, is located within a distinctive urban fabric characterized by numerous courtyard blocks. The design starts from the existing building placed in the southern part of the area: the empty boundaries facing the adjacent streets will be built up in order to re-define the typical closed block of the surrounding fabric, outlining a closed courtyard that would become the central green heart of the project. The continuous facades of the complex will be interrupted to ensure a permeable ground floor, that can become a public garden accessible and freely used by the neighbours, contributing into making the entire project seen as a recognizable residential complex in the city. The courtyard will be a public garden that is how ever privately owned and managed by the commercial activities placed at the ground floor of the complex and facing towards the adjacent streets and the courtyard itself. This solution will not only provide a comfortable green space for the residents, but also it will decrease the managing costs, making the apartments of the new residence “blok šesti” more appealing.



The green central area is not a regular courtyard but a public garden where it is possible to meet and socialize not only with the other residents of the buildings, but with the entire neighbourhood, to play with your kids in the playground areas, to do different sports in the basketball field or in the open air gym, to relax while reading a book or having a drink in the cafeterias, or to simply cross through the courtyard. This is the way to make the complex become a new piece of the City!


THE POWER OF DIFFERENCE

The residence “blok šesti”, is composed by six buildings, each of them assigned to a different architecture firm, that present particular features: the corner solution, the relationship with the main street, the connection with the new central garden, with the surrounding residential and public buildings and with the near public park. All these characteristics inevitably required a “tailored” design, that with the sensibility and unique background of each firm, will generate six special buildings that together define a recognizable residential complex, one that stands out from the homogenous urban context.

The idea to have a well distinguishable place aims to ease the process of identification of its own inhabitants , empowering the sense of belonging not only of the residents of the complex but also of all the neighbours, and, at the same time, promoting a regenerative process of the whole area.




Gwangju Main Library, S. Korea

Team: Irgen Salianji, Liana Sofiadi, Andreas Anagnostopoulos
Urban Design & Strategy: Jonian Silaj (Studio JUAJ)
Visualizations: Pavlos Ventouris

Allegory: a poem…an object in which the apparent meaning of the characters and events is used to symbolize a deeper moral or spiritual meaning, 2. use of such symbolism to illustrate truth or a moral, 3. anything used as a symbol or emblem

Scriptamanent; written remains; The new library as an allegorical reply crystallizes the experience of story-telling grasping at a chance to take us to the journey of creating as the primal feeling of contributing to our world


Gwangju must be substantially transformed and operate in a capital of international radiation: the size and quality of its cultural innovation combined with technology and art is an unparalleled treaty. This proposal considers that the new library is one great opportunity to reverse this treaty: except of its configuration into a place of rest, study and recreation, turning the new public building into an area of public facilities is the first transition that our proposal is offering. This new cultural area will host events with fixed or changing paths that reach the ultimate facility, the new library. Making it easily accessible, activating the whole area (including also the energy park on the south of the site) and creating a network of small cultural “stations”, the cultural paths lead to the building in the most natural way and are extended up to the required program in a form of interior urbanism, through the different spaces of the library. Hence, the same way that visitors understand and read the city environments, the same way they will be able to visit the various parts of the library without contradicting the more private functions and even without exciting the routes that lead to the peak of the library; the astonishing e-café with the amazing view over the green fields. In this way the library becomes the point where the past and future make a statement through the routing and experience of places. The urban element is thus introduced in a meaningful way to experience the new library by creating a variety of new exciting activities, encouraging interactive participation of the public and creation of the new urban condition.


The open attitudes and the fluid conditions emerge from the necessity of capture the spatial forms of everyday living, systems of production and communication, and the topographical conditions of the city of Gwangju. In this way, rather than trying to mimic the architectural tradition, the library connects elementary dots of how the space itself emerges from the creative mechanism of stable and unstable knowledge in a nutshell of letters and symbols. Trying to escape from the trap of creating an exciting object, we drive our lines into creating an object of excitement that adapts “future oriented values” and leads towards an in-depth reflection of the experience of a requested “epoch-making” landmark.


This part of Gwangju city, full of vertical, dense development, impressive in scale buildings, uniform aesthetics, features concrete, high rise apartment buildings and fast constructed commercial malls. It is a focal design objective the need for less compact, horizontal development that will offer the residents a varied urban experience.


The north and east part of the city concentrates most cultural activity accommodating the majority of cultural institutions and libraries. The Sangmu-daero street is an important circulation artery because it connects cultural institutions from west to the east. Near the site there are hotels, shopping malls and business centres which reveal the touristic untapped potential of the area. The development of a cultural pole in this area will bring balance in an uneven urban identity. 



In the last twenty years hundreds of cities have tried to transform by a self-consciously iconic building; a statement that the city has arrived on the global scene. History has shown that architecture should be more than an autistic, form-exciting, instagrammable, urban logo. This simplistic approach has been creating de-contextualised buildings-objects that compete for their aesthetic uniqueness, being ignorant of the city vibration. People are to be excited users, not excited observers. Architecture and cultural institutions should be woven carefully in the city fabric. It is critical to become part of the urban contemporary culture, considering the local economy, habits, topography and city flows. Many architects and urban planners try to establish urban connections based on programmatic bridges. We would like to take a step ahead and propose a building that brings the city in its interior through its concept. We are talking about interior urbanism. Interior urban routes interrupted by urban momentum.


A linear zone, the cultural path that extends from the riverside on the West to the residential zone on the East is integrated in our masterplan’ s  five basic elements in sequence: the elevated square, the library, the main plaza, the factory building, and the green area.  In that sense the library and the factory become part of a mobility system, where the factory welcomes the dwellers on the east and the library offers a loop interior route, before establishing continuity beyond the river, to the developing side of the city. The design core is the urban plaza, defined by the structures around it. This public, open space acts as a flow capacitor, absorbing the mobility of the four complementary cardinal points: library, factory, energy-park, and city; re-arranging and dissipating the energy back.It is the starting point for multiple cultural paths that extend into the cityscape.



Cultural Paths - As cultural paths we define the long term perspective of the urban network that connects the cultural facilities in and out of Sangmu district. The opportunity for the new library can activate the area in different directions. Firstly, we want to bring in our area the mono-functional residential neighbourhood in the east of our site. Secondly, the energy park on the South is enriched and integrated not only as a green park but also as the intermediate functional space that points out the modesty of the new landmark, maintaining an independent domain of the library.   



The design proposal for the building of Gwangju library appears as a dichotomy and continuity;the main cultural path, that develops along our site, splits, creating a two-level loop circulation system. The upper level still brings strong and multiple connections to the ground. Its gradually extendable form creates an open, permeable urban landscape. Τhe ramp, a  narration of knowledge, escalates featuring educational and socialising events- urban momentum. Clear visibility between the different programmatic zones is possible through the gap-bearing ramp geometry; these spaces have the quality of internal, urban balconies.The building, inspired by the Korean garden pavilion typology, concentrates opening glass partitions, space continuity, unobstructed view to the river and the park,and a grid of columns that ensures the open plan functionality.This shapes our library’s manifesto: accessible, communicative, continuous, decentralised, democratic,open and transparent. The loop lower level, that is the ground floor ramp, acts as an open space to host constant change in time.Changing boundaries and shifting programs, the space is flexible and ready to accommodate the needs for diverse activities. The loop symbolises infinite potential and urban dynamics.


The west facade of the building bears elements and reinterprets modern architecture. The Corbusian, elongated box with the row, linear openings frames the van der Rohe transparent, ground floor. The space between the slabs hides under porous mesh and glass the most differentiated programmatic function; the sports area. The circus tent on top signals the introduction of the main thematic of the library. The concrete, robust volume on the left side comes in contrast and highlights the airy beauty of the internal landscape full of optical connections that reach far in the back.



Gwangju is in a growth rate, fighting unemployment, developing and expanding. The city’s new hub should become consistent with these principles. For the second phase of the masterplan, we propose a relocation of the whole educational programme of the library into the factory. The space left empty can be disposed for the expansion of the library.


The cultural cluster consisting of the complementary functions of library, concert and exhibition hall (Energy park)will generate a noticeable cultural impact. On the other hand, the factory dedicated to education, research and life-long learning, will create a financial counterweight for the city. We focus on establishing cooperation with the city’s technology labs and institutes on auto mobility and energy (Gwangju silicon valley) offering robotic, science, engineering  and cyber games seminars. A second part is life-long learning. This programme could range from traditional arts like story-telling, Pansori art, Bojagi, knitting and ceramics, shadow or puppet plays to Korean gardening/landscaping and plumbing. 


Concerning infrastructure materiality, the structure of the building would be worthy of preserving. The new façade should be in accordance with the aesthetics of the library. The factory ground floor should be opened to the public and hold public programme, transforming the space into a plaza continuity and the main East entrance of the complex. 



The building is organised in two levels. The upper level is dedicated to the library. The lower level is an open public space that accommodates the lobby, the exhibition and the multipurpose room. Three intermediate levels bear the cultural education and the sport facility programme. A scaled, orthogonal, solid volume on the north side acts as a backbone and concentrates the generic programme - secondary circulation, rest rooms, library service and library loading.



The building has two main entrances. Entering the building from the urban square on the east, one finds oneself in the beginning of the ramp. On the left of the ramp the space is organised for people with disability. Looking down, the space for books and docs is revealed along with the workstation for researchers. Climbing the ramp would lead to the Library Info Desk and to the following, consecutive library sections: elderly, infants, children, multimedia, general, local, periodicals. The last upper level with the spectacular view holds a mini café, exhibition and lounge space.Through the library ramp is possible to reach out to the rest functions: From the section Infants one can enter the Cultural education (club room-maker space), while from the department Multimedia one enters the sports area. 


Entering the building one has the choice to continue straight ahead in the café/lounge/free work space. On the right, following the space for people with disabilities, there is the multipurpose room. This is an open area, with a good size storage space and a control room next to it, for diverse events and activities. Μoving on, one can find the lobby area, where also the lockers, the residents’ information space, a small part of the MakerSpace and the main exhibition space can be found. The whole ground floor is organised with mobile furniture in order to ensure maximum flexibility. Therefore a grandesalles is possible to be arranged for events of high participation.


The library personnel enjoys a separate entrance (stairs, elevator) from the west side of the building, on the parking level. An adjoining entrance serves the loading function (elevator).On the ground floor level of the backbone, the library common spaces are organised, like the kitchen/lounge area, the meeting room and a small office. On the upper levels there are the offices. Each level offers a mini space for books and docs, rest rooms, and a baby changing room. 


The circulation is organised in an efficient way, in order to allow a loop navigation within the building. On the south side of the building there is a panoramic elevator, and a second one embedded in a circular stairs, both accessible from the lobby area that bring the visitors across the different levels of the library. The circular stairs with the elevator could also act as a separate service for the sports area during late hours. In the lobby one can find an escalator that brings the visitors straight to the cultural education space. In addition there are also two emergency staircases and a public elevator located in the backbone, accessible from the ramp levels, but also from the intermediate levels through stairs. 


Parking - The parking solution is based on the position and the phasing of the cultural complex. Strategically there are two positions for the parking. The first one, the one below the deck on the west side of the library (the elevated square), facilitates the required 10 service vehicles, 6 parking lots for handicapped people and 26 parking lots for visitors. The second parking lot, is almost hidden and becomes part of the landscape that surrounds the site from the north. It facilitates 34 parking lots with the space for expansion and becoming double (hence 68).