In Common III
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This issue is part 3 of In common, a special series on collective spaces.
In a context governed by mobility and centers of consumerism, operations carried out within the urban fabric are exercises bordering on the heroic. In a society where fear of the Other prevails over desire for interaction, and where closed, protected spaces are invading the public domain, it becomes more and more difficult to create open-air places of encounter.
The importance of the series In common, hence, lies in the selection of projects, both right in urban cores and in outskirts, where the merging of architecture and landscaping has yielded encouraging results.
...Though customs are constantly evolving in accordance with fashions or social and economic transformations, the appearance of new uses has become the main agent for the invention of new spatial or architectural typologies. Thus, are stations, pedestrian passages, department stores, airports, and shopping centers an enlargement, a limit, a reduction, or a mere refuge of public space? Such ambiguity, and even interference, of the indicators of and limits between public and private space, magnified by the urbanistic heritage of the Modern Movement, gives the impression that public space belongs to everybody and nobody at the same time.
This is surely one of the reasons why these places are now being sequestered, privatized, and usurped. The voids, depending on their potential, have become like rooms of a large house that are for everyone’s use, receptacles or spatial translations of new social customs...
...The test site is located on the former site of the Berlin Wall, at only a few kilometres away from the Alexander-Platz. Abandoned military wasteland, the place is nowadays an empty urban space. Today, it has become a rupture within the traditional urban structure. At the time of the wall, the enclosure of the wall tore the town in two and was a physical void, the so-called “Corridor of Death”. The spot, formerly called “km
25-26”, according to the wall’s positioning system, is now called “Ost Strand”, East Beach.
Formerly, it separated the neighbourhoods of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, reunited since 2001. It is composed of both a sandbank, the reminder of a short-lived industrial activity after the fall of the wall, and wasteland now taken over by spontaneous vegetation. The site is located between the Spree river and one of the most important relics of the wall, The East Side Gallery. For the traditional city, this is just vacant space, without any special vocation, an abandoned no man’s land, a forgotten place...
...Shenzhen is the fruit of strict planning. The result is a manifestly artificial city. It was programmed with the aim of creating a production base close to Hong Kong, following practical criteria of connectivity, growth, deadlines, and economy. This meant a massive urbanization of the territory, with little regard for environmental or landscape-related criteria and a total absence of plans for public spaces...