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Planning for the Return of Public Space
 

Planning for the Return of Public Space

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Following the 2008 "Re-imaging Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil symposium, Penn IUR solicited manuscripts on environmental and energy challenges and their effect on the redesign of urban ...

Following the 2008 "Re-imaging Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil symposium, Penn IUR solicited manuscripts on environmental and energy challenges and their effect on the redesign of urban environments.

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    Planning for the Return of Public Space Planning for the Return of Public Space Document Transcript

    • Working  Paper     Planning  for  the  Return  of  Public  Space   Martin  Haas     [INSERT  FIGURE  1]   Increasing  energy  costs  and  the  growing  expense  of  personal  automobiles  have  led  to  a  renaissance  of  inner  cities.  Now  there  is  a  growing  demand  for  attractive,  animated,  beautiful  urban  settings  offering  a  variety  of  uses  and  lively  neighbourhoods.     Once  in  urban  settings,  people  who  used  to  live  in  car-­‐dependent  areas  re-­‐discover  the  advantages  of  direct  contact  and  interaction  with  others.  It  is  quite  likely  that  the  dramatic  technological  developments  in  recent  years,  instead  of  depleting  social  capital,   Tmay  have  actually  spurred  people  to  engage  in  more  direct  communication  and  personal   AFcontact.   As  living  in  inner  cities  becomes  more  popular,  architects,  planners,  designers,  and  all  those  involved  with  city-­‐building  have  a  tremendous  opportunity  to  re-­‐imagine  cities   Rand  have  a  significant  impact  on  the  cultures  and  environment  of  the  world’s  metropolitan  areas.         D [INSERT  FIGURE  2]   It  is  challenging  to  create  the  public  realms  that  people  are  once  again  demanding,  since  such  spaces  no  longer  occur  as  naturally  as  they  once  did.  Almost  a  century  ago,  public  life  and  public  spaces  were  created  automatically.  People  were  constantly  interacting  in  order  to  earn  a  living  and  survive.     Before  the  invention  of  the  refrigerator  there  were  no  sufficient  technical  means  to  store  food.  People  left  their  private  dwellings  to  go  shop  once  or  even  twice  a  day,  as  opposed  to  once  or  twice  a  week,  as  today.  People  also  lived  in  far  smaller  spaces  which    
    • Working  Paper    forced  them  outside  to  complete  household  chores,  work,  and  engage  in  recreation.    Today,  roughly  the  average  private  dwelling  space  per  person  is  100  m²,  compared  to  10  m²  one  hundred  years  ago.  Back  then,  public  life  was  an  automatic  result  of  these  living  conditions  and  had  nothing  to  do  with  the  quality  of  the  public  space.     With  the  invention  of  the  car  and  other  technical  innovations  that  increased  the  availability  of  privacy  in  the  middle  of  the  twentieth  century,  this  hitherto  “automatic”  public  life  began  to  shrink.  But  because  many  of  those  technologies  continue  to  be  in  use  today,  and  because  their  long  usage  over  the  past  century  created  conditions  (e.g.  dispersed  settlement  patterns)  that  sustain  their  convenience,  restoring  that  public  life—making  it   Tthe  sort  of  thing  that  happens  automatically,  virutally  without  thinking—is  not  so  simple.   AFToday’s  urban  planners  and  architects  must  design  spaces  that  offer  activities  and  attractions  to  motivate  people  to  stay  and  use  the  public  realm.     [INSERT  FIGURE  3]   R When  we  talk  about  animating  public  space,  we  have  to  consider  several  aspects  that  matter  in  the  planning  process.  It  is  essential  that  attractions  and  destinations  are   Doffered  that  compel  people  to  use  public  space  and  to  stay  longer  than  they  perhaps  orginally  intended.  There  must  be  a  variety  of  activities  addressing  different  user  groups  at  different  times  of  the  day.  The  objective  should  be  to  use  the  public  space  24  hours  per  day.  Spaces  need  to  be  designed  to  be  used  during  all  weather  conditions  to  ensure  its  use  year-­‐round.  These  spaces  need  to  be  not  only  flexible  but  adapted  to  local  environmental  and  cultural  conditions.  These  spaces  need  to  be  at  home  in  the  places  they  are  located  if  the  public  is  to  feel  at  home  in  them.        
    • Working  Paper     [INSERT  FIGURE  4]     Architects  and  planners  need  to  create  public  spaces  that  are  themselves  active  participants  in  developing  the  cultural  and  aesthetic  character  of  a  place.  Aside  from  program  mandates,  “soft”  factors  such  as  beauty,  emotional  experience,  and  variety  of  setting  are  essential  in  creating  a  high-­‐quality  urban  space.       In  our  society  we  often  talk  about  quantities,  time-­‐lines,  and  budgets,  but  the  task  of  the  architect  and  planner  goes  beyond  metrics.  Is  it  a  beautiful  place?  Does  the  place  address  the  senses?  Does  it  offer  an  experience?  Does  it  surprise  the  user?  Does  it  offer  the  individual  person  something  special  in  his  daily  life?  Are  there  nice  vistas?  Does  daylight   Tplay  a  role?  Can  nature  be  experienced?  Does  the  place  have  a  special  character  and   AFambience  making  it  unique  from  other  places?  Often  such  non-­‐metric  items  can  be  small  interventions,  but  they  are  critical  in  creating  viable  spaces,  spaces  that  encourage  interaction  and  exploration.   R [INSERT  FIGURE  5]   Sustainability  is  often  defined  by  numerical  statistics.  But  while  energy  consumption   Dper  square  metre  per  year  provides  an  important  measurement,  it  is  also  the  qualitative  aspects  of  sustainability  that  determine  the  success  of  a  sustainable  building.  No  building  that  is  going  underused  is  sustainable;  no  building  that  is  going  to  waste  is  sustainable.  So  while  ensuring  that  our  spaces  conserve  energy,  we  also  need  to  ensure  that  our  buildings  also  conserve  use.   Are  there  operable  windows?  Are  there  niches,  places  for  a  few  quiet  minutes?  Are  there  outdoor  spaces  which  he  can  use?  Does  the  building  afford  nice  views?  Were  pleasant    
    • Working  Paper    materials  used?    These  features,  along  with  others,  affect  how  a  building  is  used  and  therefore,  its  efficiency.       Another  important  factor  to  consider  when  developing  sustainable  buildings  is  flexibility.  When  we  plan  a  building  today,  it  must  be  flexible  enough  to  adapt  to  our  rapidly  changing  society.  Flexibility,  high-­‐quality  public  spaces,  sequences  of  spatial  solutions,  exposure  to  daylight,  and  the  ability  to  individually  control  temperature  are  the  aspects  of  sustainability.     The  IBN  Institute  for  Forestry  and  Nature  Research  (pictured)  was  designed  to  be  a  building  whose  operations  would  work  in  concert  with  nature.  This  is  true  not  simply  in   Tterms  of  its  exterior  design,  which  embraces  the  landscape  by  putting  all  putting  all   AFperimeter  spaces  in  contact  with  the  outdoors,  but  in  terms  of  its  interior  design  and  even  its  building  function.  The  indoor  gardens  function  as  successful  public  places,  focusing  daily  activities  and  providing  informal  meeting  areas,  but  they  are  also  an  integral  component  of   Rthe  building’s  energy  concept,  improving  the  performance  of  its  external  enveolope.  The  project  was  realized  within  a  standard  budget  demonstrating  that  durable  and  sustainable   Dbuilding  techniques  can  be  applied  without  additional  costs.   [INSERT  FIGURE  6]   Having  outlined  a  few  general  ideas  advocated  by  our  practice  on  the  topic  of  quality,  city,  and  sustainability,  I  would  like  to  explain  our  approach  in  more  detail  in  the  context  of  one  of  our  projects.  In  2006,  Behnish  Architekten,  created  an  urban  redevelopment  plan  for  a  formerly  industrial  area  within  Pittsburgh’s  city  center.  The  Cultural  Trust  had  asked  for  a  plan  to  repurpose  existing  buildings  and  build  new  structures  into  a  vibrant  residential  and  commercial  district.    
    • Working  Paper     [INSERT  FIGURE  7]   Prior  to  developing  the  master  plan,  we  conducted  comprehensive  micro-­‐climatic  studies  and  explored  the  specific  local  conditions.  Our  team  consisted  of  Behnisch  Architekten,  Gehl  Architects  from  Copenhagen,  WTW  from  Pittsburgh  and  Transsolar.    We  spent  months  surveying  existing  conditions  to  help  us  generate  the  master  plan.    These  climatic  analyses  enabled  us  generate  building  massing  that  capitalized  on  natural  ventilation,  thereby  limiting  the  need  for  mechanical  ventilation  and  air  conditioning.  The  left-­‐hand  diagram  shows  the  building  massing  when  the  sun  is  directly  overhead.  Sun  and  shadow  studies  helped  us  determine  what  time  of  day  and  in  which  season  buildings  are   Texposed  to  the  sun.     AF These  analyses  helped  us  to  understand  the  site  before  designing  the  urban  space.  There  are  numerous  examples  of  public  spaces  that  may  have  been  well  designed  in  and  of  themselves  but  have  suffered  from  inattention  to  the  micro-­‐climactic  aspects  of  their   Rparticular  site.  One  example  is  the  Arche  de  la  Défense  in  Paris,  a  well-­‐designed  urban  space  in  the  abstract,  but  one  obviously  designed  without  knowledge  of  the  winds  crossing   Dthrough  the  site.  The  result  is  a  place  which  is  very  difficult  to  use  throughout  much  of  the  year  because  of  the  strong  prevailing  winds.  Town  planning  must  take  such  micro-­‐climatic  conditions  into  account.   [INSERT  FIGURE  8]   The  site  is  located  right  next  to  the  Allegheny  River.  We  immediately  saw  a  great  opportunity  to  re-­‐knit  the  citizens  of  Pittsburgh  with  the  river.    Right  now,  the  city  is  separated  from  the  water  by  a  highway.  The  river,  once  used  as  a  vital  industrial  transit  route,  has  not  been  used  in  decades.  We  proposed  connecting  the  site  to  the  river  with  a    
    • Working  Paper    grand  staircase  and  a  large  bridge  crossing  the  highway.  Once  the  city  is  reconnected  to  the  river,  there  are  several  options  for  recreational  activities,  attractions,  and  transportation  alternatives.  For  example,  a  water  taxi  service  could  be  offered  to  transport  sports  fans  to  the  Pittsburgh  Steelers  Stadium  across  the  river.  Aside  from  incorporating  several  sports  and  recreation  areas,  we  also  proposed  a  floating  stage  that  could  be  used  for  performances  throughout  the  summer.   [INSERT  FIGURE  9]   When  we  talk  about  an  active,  usable  outdoor  space,  we  talk  about  integrating  many  different  attractions  on  a  small  space.  We  avoid  creating  mono-­‐structures  with  long,   Tuninterrupted  façades.  Human  generally  only  perceive  the  first  ten  meters  of  a  façade  and   AFthe  higher  parts  of  the  façades  are  irrelevant  for  most  users.  Therefore  we  sought  to  vary  the  façades  with  several  entrances  and  differentiated  materials,  streetscaping,  and  street  furniture.  Aside  from  a  new  boulevard  leading  from  the  city  center  to  the  water,  the  entire   Rriverfront  is  a  pedestrian  zone.     [INSERT  FIGURE  10]   D We  had  to  reuse  old  industrial  buildings  within  our  plan  for  the  city  block.  The  Union  Building,  a  wonderful  old  brick  building,  will  be  redeveloped  as  a  theater  and  serve  as  the  center  of  the  proposed  development.  The  urban  space  between  the  buildings  is  designed  to  attract  a  variety  of  uses.  The  spaces  are  designed  with  a  keen  sense  of  human  comfort.  The  buildings  will  provide  minimal  shade  in  spring  and  autumn,  season  when  many  people  enjoy  being  outside  in  the  sun.  Water  features  will  cool  the  area,  creating  a  micro-­‐climate,  during  hot  summer  months.     [INSERT  FIGURE  11]    
    • Working  Paper     We  intended  to  create  a  three-­‐dimensional  garden  town.  All  south-­‐facing  facades  have  sun  collectors  and  photovoltaic  cells.  We  proposed  green  roofs  which  reduce  the  heat  island  effect.  The  apartments  and  offices  have  thermally  active  floors  powered  by  a  geothermal  heat  pump.     [INSERT  FIGURE  12]   The  Pittsburgh  example  shows  that  one  of  the  important  tasks  of  the  future  is  integrating  and  reusing  existing  buildings  in  urban  redevelopment  plans.  In  general,  the  superstructures,  the  shells  of  existing  buildings,  are  in  good  condition,  so  it  is  only  necessary  to  renew  the  facades  and  the  interiors.  These  tasks  can  often  trigger  a  process  of   Ttechnical  innovation.   AF   The  benefits  of  reuse  can  be  seen  in  a  project  in  Hamburg  where  we  had  the  opportunity  to  deal  with  such  a  situation  in  great  detail.  Hamburg’s  Chamber  of  Commerce,  an  institution  with  a  long  tradition,  owns  a  classical  building  with  three  large  halls.  One  of   Rthese  halls,  the  former  stock  exchange,  has  not  been  used  since  2003.  The  competition  brief  called  for  a  concept  providing  for  the  re-­‐use  of  this  hall  and  the  accommodation  of  several   Dnew  functions  within  the  Chamber  of  Commerce.  We  proposed  a  very  light,  very  transparent,  very  immaterial  architectural  sculpture  which,  by  contrasting  with  the  existing  classicist  hall  made  of  stone,  made  a  fascinating  appearance.     [INSERT  FIGURE  13]   Since  natural  daylight  does  not  adequately  illuminate  the  hall,  a  key  element  of  the  redesign  of  the  Hamburg  Chamber  of  Commerce  was  artificial  lighting.  Together  with  Nimbus  Design,  we  had  the  opportunity  to  develop  new  SMD-­‐LED  technology-­‐based  luminaires  which  are  90%  more  efficient  than  usual  luminaires.      
    • Working  Paper     To  create  vibrant,  sustainable  cities  and  neighborhoods,  we  will  have  to  develop  high-­‐quality  buildings  in  urban  environments  with  state-­‐of-­‐the-­‐art  environmental  technology,  while  considering  the  human  scale  and  creating  viable  spaces  for  future  generations  to  play  in  and  to  adapt  to  their  future  uses.   T AF R D  
    • Working  Paper     13.  Planning  for  the  Return  of  Public  Space   Martin  Haas     Figures     T  Figure  1.  A  lively  urban  neigborhood.     AF   R D  Figure  2.  The  challenge  to  create  high  quality  urban  spaces.  Source:  Gehl  Architects      
    • Working  Paper      Figure  3.  Animating  the  public  realm  by  creating  attractions,  activities,  protection  from   Tweather,  density,  spaces  for  diverse  user  groups,  and  urban  living  rooms.     AF R D  Figure  4.  When  it  comes  to  the  well-­‐being  of  the  user,  the  quality  of  the  space  is  key.      
    • Working  Paper     T  Figure  5.  IBN  Institute  for  Forestry  and  Nature  Research   AF   R D  Figure  6.  A  vision  for  Pittsburgh      
    • Working  Paper     T   AFFigure  7.  Tools  for  conducting  mirco-­‐climatic  studies  of  the  site     R D  Figure  8.  Features  of  the  waterfront  park      
    • Working  Paper       TFigure  9.  Each  circle  above  represents  the  size  and  importance  of  a  building  entrance.  Many  entrances  used  by  different  users,  ensure  a  critical  mass  of  people  throughout  the  day   AF   R D  Figure  10.  Schematic  plan  of  the  public  spaces  shows  a  variety  of  destinations  and  attractions.    
    • Working  Paper     T  Figure  11.  Rendering  showing  the  various  surfaces  that  will  have  vegetation.   AF   R D  Figure  12.  Interior  of  the  Hamburg  Chamber  of  Commerce    
    • Working  Paper     T   AFFigure  13.  Interior  of  Hamburg’s  Chamber  of  Commerce  showing  SMD-­‐LED  technology   R D  
    • Working  Paper         T AF R D