International Students Competition: upgrade|continuity & change

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Jury Comments

Pierre von Meiss – project no.5

This project is an excellent contribution to the theme of “upgrading” at the urban scale in the run-down area of about 10 sq.km. between Athens and its port of Piraeus.

This rural area was occupied by industries, warehouses, refugee housing and public infrastructures such as power plants during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. After the Second World War and the devastating Civil War (1945 – 48) the area got locked in by the urban fabric to house millions of Greek refugees / workers from the countryside. Shifts in commercial adequacy slowly transformed the area into industrial wastelands, decay and chaos.

The first merit of this project is to narrow down the intervention instead of covering the area by proposing an utopian master plan, the project restricts itself to a historically and physically central strip of 3 km only 100m wide, linking Athens to Piraeus. It corresponds to the traces of Antiquity’s’ two fortified walls securing Athens link to its port as well as to the strong contemporary boundaries with the 6-8 lane Piraeus Street in the West and with metro/railway in the east.

The second merit of this project is its very contemporary planning strategy. Similar to the strategy adopted by Emsher park (in Ruhr), it no longer forces the future into the straight jacket of a volumetric “plan de –masse” – obsolete within a decade because no investors were found. It is an open-ended city concept waiting for concrete project proposals by public or private investors at key-points or the best available locations.

The 3rd merit of this project lies in the subtle and diversified foot and bicycle path winding its way carefully across diversified parks, squares and buildings, rather than creating a simple monumental “Champs Elysees” or linear park.

This being said, this strip is to play a major role of reference for neighboring areas left and right. These opportunities have not been sufficiently demonstrated.

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Francois Lelercq – project no.20

This project demonstrates in a bold, radical but dream like fashion, the possibility of using and adapting the real physical forms of historical sites with new technological systems.

Most urban landscapes obay the composition principal of a high focal point and of the subservent ground covering alike in many deserts of the world. Therefore morphology of most cities is made out of an apron of generic rooftops punctuated by scattered highpoints.

In this project the proposed technical system creates energy and moments of lighting which generates a new relationship between the cityscape and the sky.

The entry demonstrates also that the defined technologies have – at their essence a limited life expectancy. Thus these can be installed, change and upgraded and even disappear within a distinct timeline that has nothing to do with the town’s history.

Ephemerality is henceforth an important ingredient of cities mutations.

The old building do not generally respect, at large, all criteria of sustainable development but can also reveals capability to adapt unexpetedly in a delightful was as in the designed scenario.

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Herman Neuckermans – project no.55

And the winner is …

a project that fully embraces the theme of the competition.

It points its finger on a sick spot/ a sick part of Bucharest and comes up with a proposal to heal it.

The transformation of cities has moments of revolution and times of evolution.

It is always a struggle or at least a tension between the old and the new, between tradition and modernity.The theme of the competition clearly advocates the path of evolution, of continuity and/in change and that is what this project does.

It focuses on one of these problematic areas in Bucharest of today: a disaffected railroad dating from the industrial revolution and decayed into wasteland, into a scarf in the urban tissue of today.

The project is situated in the west of Bucharest and I will briefly list its major qualities:

  • its primal benefit is that it identifies a real and relevant topic on the urban scale of Bucharest
  • it reuses the existing cargo railroad tracks dating from the late 19th century and transforms these into a new linear urban figure featuring a variety of urban conditions
  • it generates indeed 8 attraction poles along a new linear park and doing so is creating a temporal and physical sequence in the motion along this trajectory
  • this trajectory – a 5 km long green spine (tie) - spans between two ends
    a frame ( arche de la defence) at the junction with the Bucharest
    inner ringroad and a gate at the other end where it crosses a major artery Valea Cascador.
  • it creates focal nodes on the trajectory by featuring 6 venues of mixed uses namely
    • an art performance centre
    • an exhibition facility
    • a market garden / forum
    • accomodation facilities
    • a theatre garden
    • an urban sports garden
  • the project also shows a development scheme for the next decades and has the capacity – the evidence – to start right now
  • the project also includes a careful analysis of motion channels for pedestrians, bikes ( new in Bucharest ? ) and a monorail.

The result is an outstanding and feasible proposal, definitely having the potential of upgrading a whole urban area of Bucharest.

The jury thus congratulates the winner: Author: student architect Maria Victoria BOGOESCU // School: Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism “Ion Mincu” Bucharest” // Tutor: Prof.Ph.D.Arch.Stefan SCAFA-Udriste

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