Below is a list of the selected papers that will be presenting at the conference, please click the black arrows adjacent to titles to read the full abstract:
Brady, Noel J.
The agora became one and all things to citizens and non-citizens. This was no temenos, no sacred space, it originated as a non-uniform place of action sometimes organic (Athens) sometimes geometric (Priene, Miletus). In Athens the agora straddles the ancient way from harbour to hill gathering the various elements of urbanism; shrines, temples, and market buildings, stoa. This uneven platform provided a foundation for exchange; goods, money, language, education, ideas, and the formal institutions of our world. In the Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu speaks to this phenomenon as creating usefulness out of nothingness. “Shape clay into a vessel/It is the space within that makes it useful….Usefulness from what is not there”. A distinctly eastern perspective reveals the Greek revolutionary move from the inwardly obsessed Egyptian mind to the open outward embrace of chaos.
As designers we obsess with objects, things, materiality, colour (or lack thereof), texture. Space and light are often invoked as initiators though appear in servitude to the thing itself. Kahn argued for the primacy of architecture to present the canvas upon which everything is seen. “The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.” “Structure, I believe, is the giver of light.” Kahn spent his later career drawing where the light was not; the shadows (though he does argue that the shadows belong to light). In urbanism one cannot hide from the light and place only exists because of some form of architectural boundary defining an emptiness of potentials. Urban practice must therefore be the reverse of architecture, an inside out approach, to make usefulness out of nothingness. In this reflection of my own practice an emergent philosophy has emerged which could be confused with minimalism, but I would argue is a search for the minimum viable vessel.
Through an examination of 10 urban projects I propose a review of tendencies and stratagems that has defined my approach and reveal something of the inside out nature of urban design as a design process and practice.
Brook, Alastair S. J.
Interdividual Affordance Based Design: A Pedagogical Approach to Participatory Design Thinking
Affordance design theory offers, arguably, the most inclusive methodology between the public realms, the design industry, and the individual. After reviewing this current theory, the author finds existing assumptions and acceptance of brute facts limiting to a universal and participatory design methodology.
As an alternative, it is proposed that an ontologically stable theory of interdividual affordance is needed. Ontological stability comes with a coherent understanding of “what an object consists of”- namely, a breakdown of its physical boundaries into relational sets. These relational sets consist of affordances in relation to the interdividual populace- simply put, what possible functions an object offers in relation to the interconnected population surrounding it. This new outlook revisits the macro relationships between designer, user and artefact (DUA) as a res publica, within the context of a newly defined ontological mapping of the designed environment.
This contextualisation is a form of systems thinking- understanding how systems work and evolve over time- and replaces the narrow focus of human-centred design with the inclusivity of humanitycentred design. This term emphasises a broader social responsibility by engaging all stakeholders in the design thinking process. With, as the author terms, an Interdividual Affordance Theory, a pedagogical design methodology can form focused on humanity-centred design.
The focus of this paper is, therefore, the grounding of an explanatory ontological stable theory of affordance, leading to a new design model which is proactive to behavioural changes in the interdividual populace/ res publica. This proactive design model stretches between participatory design, as we currently understand it, and the emergence of design thinking and systems thinking approaches to the field.
This systems approach measures cost- environmental, social, or economic- that occur due to the behavioural shifts that our designs produce. It is this measure that allows us to test the new design model by following its impact on economic and social development over a longitudinal case study. The primary variable to be measured is daily income directly attributed to behavioural changes in the res publica, and supported by secondary variables measuring individual comfort and communal economic growth.
The relationship between contemporary university buildings, the public realm and the city
Evolved theories of student learning, technological developments, as well as social and economic factors are impressing on the built environment of universities. The student’s experience at university is influenced by the physical environment of the campus. A sense of place amid students has been associated with greater involvement in the academic life of an institution (Okoli, 2013) as well as an increased attention, motivation, learning and overall academic achievement (Tinto, 2005, Pascarella et al., 2010). In an increasingly competitive industry, universities strive to develop environments capable of attracting and recruiting students. Universities are strongly related in the publics minds with the physical structures they occupy (Parr, 2014). Despite a shift away from traditional lecture theatres towards on-line learning, which can take place anywhere, the relationship between the physical environment of the university and the public is becoming increasingly important. University buildings are often seen by the public as local landmarks and it can be argued that the inclination to use iconic buildings to enhance the reputation of a university is not a recent development by any means. More recent trends affirming the importance of this relationship include addressing the underuse of university buildings (particularly in term time holidays), by sharing them with other organisations as well as an attempt to connect with local communities and with the heart of the City (Parr, 2014, Coulson et al., 2014). An acknowledgement of the importance of social dimensions and interactions within universities can be seen with the increased provision of public spaces such as coffee houses, cafes, restaurants, inviting central atriums and public outdoor spaces. These so-called “third places” (Beckers, van der Voordt, & Dewulf, 2016; Strange & Banning, 2001; Temple, 2008) or “knowmadic spaces” (Noriega, Heppell, Bonet, & Heppell, 2013) provide places for students and others to meet and gather for creative discourse, collaboration and sharing of ideas and knowledge. This paper shall examine the relationship of the universities’ built environment with the public realm and the city using three case studies namely; the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre at the London School of Economics, Budapest’s Central European University and the Student Hub Project at University College Cork. All three buildings have been designed by Irish architects O’Donnell and Tuomey, who as recipients of the 2015 RIBA Royal Gold Medal, are acclaimed architects with a vast range of educational projects to their portfolio.
The Shape of a Pocket — Digital Ecologies and the End of Public Space
The ontological reality of a universe of entangled becomings has become the economic reality of late-integrated-capitalism. We live in an age where “the global dimension of capitalism increasingly entangles everyone with everything” (Connolly, 2008: 144), and the digital ecology in which we all participate creates high speed ﬂows of capital exchange where people become products and personal data becomes highly prized stock, exchanged in a market place of complex algorithms; the technology — barely understandable— all conveniently ﬁtting into the shape of a pocket. The arch enemy of capitalism; the friction of distance has been defeated and the binaries of public / private no longer make sense of the city.
Now more than ever, the territories of our cities have become what Lefebvre called ‘abstract space.’ “Space that reduces the complexity of space as a whole to a homogenised and standardised grid on which the regime of private property can deﬁne equivalent entities that can be measured, recorded and exchanged in the market” (Frichot, 2016: 104). This overcoding interrogates: “Who are you? Where do you come from? Whose son are you? What’s your role? What is your value?” (Berradi, 2015: 118). This, subjectivisation; racialisation; oedipalization; labour-categorisation, and ﬁnancial valuation are the strategies of late-integrated-capitalism.
The scenery for this production are the spaces we inhabit; but not simply inhabit — rather, we form part of a complex set of ‘bodies’ in space that make up the heterogeneous assemblages of our cities. This kind of thinking “conceives the city as a mechanosphere of vitalist entanglements always open to possibility and change (Amin and Thrift 2002). When we think the city in this way it ceases to be just a binary opposition between public and private spaces (Lancione, 2016, 147). Rather the city becomes a “matter of entanglements between small objects and bodies, discourses and power” (147).
This paper will propose that the public / private binary is an outdated, abstract concept, that always exits in the service of someone or something — a ‘big other’. In its place, we must instead, create immanent concrete realities through radical performative practices. What Hannah Arendt called the “space of appearance”, or what Foucault called heterotopias. Foucault writes that “Liberty is a practice”: and if liberty is a practice we must ﬁnd spaces and places that are open to its exercise — the performative act of making public or publicing.
Clancy, John P.
The Past can teach us, if we listen
“And Polo said: “The inferno of the living is not something that will be: if there is one it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day that we form by being together. There are two ways of to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognise who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.” Italo Calvino, invisible Cities
By 2050 estimates put the population of the Republic of Ireland at around 6,200,000 – a population increase of 1,425,000 over our present population. Even building at the present highest gross density used (Dublin), to provide for this increase in population would require an area the size of County Monaghan. This is not tenable.
In the 20th Century, or for most of it anyway, we never felt impelled to discuss density of settlement or the siloising of our towns and cities. We accepted the conventional wisdom that previous generations of architects and planners had honed in the lands of Howard, CIAM, the banks and developers.
Now, because of sustained population growth, we must start this debate / discussion about the sustainability and density of settlement/planning mix of our environment etc. This Paper will set out to do that. It will propose models of urban sustainability derived from our own urban models of street and square from the 18th century, forgotten in the new order of Ireland post 1923. It will put forward mixed-use sustainable densities, seamlessly integrating a wide spectrum of residential income types. The Paper will reference and discuss similar successful developments in Germany, Denmark and Spain, which were built in the 19th and early 20th centuries and which are vibrant testaments to this approach. Developments which mightily contributed to the Res Publica of these cities but which we in Ireland did not notice 100 years ago.
Where in this country – in recent times – have we created vibrant urban squares or streets? Instead I believe we have inhabited the land of suburbia. In her seminal and recently rediscovered book The Death and Life of The Great American City, Jane Jacobs wrote of “… the endless new developments spreading beyond the cities and reducing city and countryside to a monotonous unnourishing gruel”.
Raising the Underground: Asphalt Activism and Laissez-faire Cultural Policy-making in Washington DC
Underneath a small park less than a mile from the White House in Washington DC an urban experiment is taking place. A group of artists, architects and neighborhood activists has been granted use of an abandoned subterranean streetcar station known as Dupont Underground. The city government has given them five years to turn 7500m2 of tunnels and platforms into a public cultural venue. Their ambition is to curate a space where the poetics, politics, and possibilities of the city can be explored through creation, exposition and discourse in environmental arts, new media, and performance. The Dupont Underground is an ongoing experiment where asphalt activism meets laissez-faire cultural policy making, and it holds lessons to any community seeking to activate abandoned infrastructures for cultural purposes.
This paper and accompanying presentation will discuss the Dupont Underground project in the context of worldwide movements to repurpose obsolete urban infrastructures and the varied political and economic regimes which help or hinder these projects. The paper will address issues of gentrification, and hyper-valuation that have impacted the more successful of such projects, as exemplified by the Highline in New York City. Approaching the subject through the lens of Henri Lefevbre and David Harvey’s concept of “the right to the city”, it will focus on the critical need to engage and deploy an activist public in order for these projects to work. It will discuss the creative initiatives, ideals and inspiration that opened the Dupont Underground space to the public for the first time in Spring of 2016 and the challenges and opportunities encountered along the way. In the process an expanded concept of architecture as cultural production and the architect as a public actor and activist will be explored.
Di Benedetto, A. Loris
Reimagining the outstanding territories
The landscape of the 21st century city is made up of enclaves of prosperity; gates and walls and private security personnel ensure the new spaces are disconnected from the public sphere. Standing in stark contrast to the shiny sanctuaries of the newly built developments are the outstanding territories. Here, skeletons litter the unloved terrain; structures built during the golden age of the Celtic Tiger remain empty and abandoned, intended for activities never carried out.
If you by chance take a brief detour from the typical tourist routes of Dublin, you may come across The Chocolate Factory, The D-light studios or The Dome Project and many other independent initiatives that, via bottom up processes, have reclaimed these once neglected sites. Communities, of mostly local residents and artists, have created new spaces open to all; growing vegetables, curating art galleries and exhibitions, setting up markets and a multitude of other activities which are worthy of support as these can be real sanctuaries, protected from the relentless encroachment of market forces.
These outstanding territories offer a promising alternative to the current course of development and a new classification of public space. This inexpensive reuse and regeneration of existing structures helps to preserve the sense of place, redeﬁning a deﬁnition of heritage in line with Geddes’ theory of Conservative Surgery; reestablishing the relationship between architecture and local tradition in opposition to the globalised style that dominates the contemporary city.
It is our aim to bring attention to these places before they are appropriated by private interest. By creating an open – source map we hope to raise awareness of the potential of these spaces and to support collaborative processes between different community projects through a calendar of events as well as a historic archive to reestablish the connection with the history of the place, ensuring that the reuse of outstanding territories is not just temporary, that spaces which fulfil a public need remain in public hands.
Doheny, Sarah and Brady, Phoebe
Case Study Dublin: Mapping Urban Living Space
“The approach and shape of the stories that we choose to tell have subtle messages” Lois Kapila, The Stinging Fly
The palpable understanding of the current housing emergency comes from those who experience it first hand and in the public realm. However, the human scale of homelessnes is not something we can fully examine without ‘seeing’ through different lenses and from different perspectives. Experimenting with the form of the illustrated essay, this paper questions how the habitual journeys and spatial experiences of those who are homeless in Dublin city might be represented and also explores how the dynamic, temporal activities of public space can be disseminated. Taking cues from Peter Salter’s drawn measurements of the body in domestic space and from Publica’s sharp, playful analyses of urban activity and movement in London, we adopt the position of surveyors. The approach consists of mapping, surveying and recording both the physical and cultural landscape of public realm. This field research is then depicted in a narrative of ‘constructed situations’ capturing the human sites of homelessness in the street and in the city. The photographs and drawings aim to re-represent the ‘familiar’ and focus the reader’s attention on the more marginal activities of public space in order to find new insights into the spatial fabric that surrounds us. While the growing presence of rough sleepers and street begging visibly demonstrates the extent of the housing crisis, it also highlights another way that the spaces of the city, its streets, doorways, bridges and steps are being utilised. As architects, we are interested in the heterotopia of a home within the city or a living room within the street.5 As these spaces become domesticated, their social life then transforms our reading of public space and challenges the idea ofa public and private realm.
Through this intimate mapping of the floors of the city’s appropriated living rooms, the paper attempts to visually measure the spatial and phenomenological experiences of disrupted individual and collective space.
What is the meaning of this place, and whose meaning is it anyway? Changing conservation paradigms in the context of historic routes through increased visitor numbers and diversity of expectations
My current research focus is on the dichotomy between the responsibilities of those entrusted with the guardianship of heritage sites and the desire by the greatest number to have access to them. This creates pressures on the places themselves and their inhabitants that are often difficult to resolve. The recent crises over visitor numbers to Venice and Barcelona are cases in point. Combined with these tensions is a shift in the perceived meaning of many sites, particularly religious ones, as attitudes and beliefs change or are replaced, as formerly monolithic narratives give way to diversity of experiences and cultures.
In many cases the guardianship of such sites has been invested in commercial interests, as a logical response to their popularity, but immediately creating tensions between the integrity of their fabric, which often requires maintaining the stability of environmental (not to mention cultural) conditions, and the potential for damage that excessive visitor numbers can pose.
The most frequent means of attempt to control excessive frequentation is the Visitors’ centre, as an adjunct, and alternative to the visit of the site. Here, in a controlled, some would say even contrived environment, the meaning of the monument can be explained in ways that are universally appealing, in the cultural equivalent of the ‘A4 summary’, providing a readily packaged and digestible version of the place’s history and cultural significance.
This ‘reduction’ of heritage to the prioritisation of ‘experience’ as distinct from an epiphanous encounter with authenticity is an important new development in conservation practice, and is a response not only to increasing pressure of numbers, but also to the increasing importance of the values that drive consumption. In the age of cheap air travel and mass tourism, much of which is focused on heritage sites, can consumption-led exploitation of such sites help to increase societal understanding of heritage and the importance of cultural continuity? At a time when conservation thinking is moving towards recognition of sites’ multiple meanings, in a departure from the ‘linear’ history model, how should such sites be ‘presented’ or ‘explained’ so that their tangible and intangible complexities can be revealed, and how can any explanations of these meanings be made compatible with increasing cultural diversity? And looking beyond their ‘explainable’ meanings, how can the role of such sites as places of the imagination, and not just of historical instruction, be encouraged?
I am currently examining these themes in the context of the Camino di Santiago and the challenges posed by visitor numbers to some of the sites as well as to the route itself. Traditionally accepted meanings for these sites are also changing as the route becomes more frequented by ‘non-traditional’ pilgrims and visitors of diverse backgrounds and intentions. A new conservation paradigm may be required as societal change starts to affect the very nature of what we mean by ‘cultural significance’ in the light of changing visitor expectations.
My sources to date include current and historic accounts of pilgrimage by pilgrims and writers, in an attempt to define the places’ meanings as formerly and currently understood, and statistical information on visitor numbers and frequentation of places as compiled by municipal, national and tourism organisations.
Fischer, Ole W.
Staging res publica? – Notes on Design Build Public Interest and the Venice Biennale
Res publica, literally public thing or matter, was chosen as title for a competition proposal for the U.S. presentation at the 2018 Venice Biennale. In the end shortlisted by the US State Department and its advisory jury, but not successful, the proposal suggested to reflect upon the crisis of both the public in Western democracies and the crisis of architecture as public art. The proposal aimed for turning around these questions and interrogate instead the role of things, objects, artifacts for constituting a public? The preliminary answer of the proposal was: a democratic architecture, that is thoughtful of its public role, and that strives for human centered, participatory, collaborative practices. An architecture that evaluates its sustainable performance on three levels: environmental impact, economic development, and social inclusion. Res publica is public interest design. It is also design-build architecture, that integrates planning and construction phases seamlessly, in a response to the current situation of specialized and compartmentalized construction industry within a highly stratified society.
This presentation will discuss the unrealized proposal of res publica for the US Pavilion at the 2018 Biennale in a self-reflective manner: how would one stage public interest design and design build architecture within the context of La Biennale di Venezia? Is there a way beyond pure documentation, beyond gathering traces of works absent and actions long done? Would there be a way to break out of the exhibition format itself, in order to address local issues and engage with local communities, beyond the academic Biennale audience, but disadvantaged groups and minorities? And how could this specific architectural exhibition break with the habit of material excess that lasts only the summer (and fall) of the exhibition itself? How could the format remain active in delivering change and assembling new publics? The answer, we believed, would be in changing the nature of the exhibition format and use the US Pavilion not only as a stage, but also as a workshop, to intervene in Venice itself.
The Paradox Of A Public Affair, It All Comes Down To The Micro Detail: William H. Whyte and his ‘Street Life Project’ (1970-1975)
‘The Public domain is in the public domain’ stated New York City’s transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in her popular 2017 book on transportation Streetfight. But just how public is that domain? To explore the fluidity of the concept of publicness is the quests of this paper.
The paradox is that it all comes down to the micro detail, a theme discussed by author and sociologist Lyn Lofland and critic William H. Whyte at the American Sociological Association in August 1990. At their Author-Meets-Critic panel entitled For the Love of the City they shared their insights and enthusiasm for urban ethnography as both aspired to make decisions on the design of the public realm a more public affair. Sharing Lofland’s quest to understand what was unique about city life, Whyte’s viscerally engagement complemented Lofland’s literary overview.
Lofland defined three realms of the private, the parochial and the public, explaining how each reflected proportions and densities of relationship types present; proportions and densities, which are themselves fluid. Making the specifics of Midtown modernist Manhattan his laboratory, Whyte’s close-up studies measured this fluidity.
Whyte’s method followed in the legacy of many probing ethnographers but differed for how his study focused on the social consequence of architecturally design details. Made up of a band of multidisciplinary observers, Whyte established his ‘The Street Life Project’ from 1970 and made an immediate impact on the quality of Manhattan’s public realm by changing the city codes to encourage ‘exchange, the most vital measure of the city’s intensity.
In 1957 Whyte defined his urban values as ‘heterogeneity, concentration, specialization, tension, drive.’ While his social analysis continues to inspire, this paper revisits Whyte’s public-spirited study in order to analyze the fluidity of the public domain he sought to enhance.
Architecture, advertising and alcohol
Architecture enters the public realm in two ways, as buildings and through publications, and often the mediated existence of modern architecture precedes its material presence. Amongst its media incarnations none has more impact than advertising; whether with regards to energy, automobiles or fashion: architecture sells. Yet hardly anywhere in popular culture is the blend of architecture and advertising more potent – as Don Draper would be the first to confirm – than when mixing modernism with alcohol.
In the wake of Prohibition in the United States Canadian whisky gave New York its premier modernist plaza, and in post-war Berlin Cuban rum inspired one of the twentieth century’s most daring art spaces. The latter has been widely recognised as a prime example of “freespace,” that is as a space of “opportunity, un-programmed and free for uses not yet conceived,” whereas the former has been appreciated for illuminating the debate around corporate patronage, the value of modern architecture, and the public realm. Further, modernism’s “uninhabitable” masterpiece came to advertise timelessness and significance (alongside the unadulterated purity of both beer and space), while the union of vodka, steel and glass was simply announced as “Absolut Future.” The architect of all these projects was, of course, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, readily associated with spirits and hard liquor, but also one to insist, “Architecture is not a Martini.”
Drinks, adverts and offices share the mid-century dynamics of taste, consumption and design. Through advertising both alcohol and architecture tempt their respective audiences in the closely related terms of sophistication and refinement. Cocktails and commercials may have helped to perfect the ability of elusive freespace to “address the unspoken wishes of strangers.” Investigating the infusion of architecture with advertising and alcohol provides an opportunity to appreciate the careful construction of a public image and the part buildings play in this context. It gives a taste of the complexity of power relations that shape our civil society and, by extension, the public spaces we inhabit.
Harfouche, Elie Michel
Architecture and the public realm: The changing experience of the Central Bank of Ireland Headquarters
‘I hope that our new building can serve as a symbol to the people of Ireland of the importance of our work to fulfill our mission of safeguarding stability, protecting consumers’ (Governor, Central Bank of Ireland, 2017).
In his speech at the inauguration of the Central Bank of Ireland’s new Dockland Campus in Dublin in April 2017, the Governor linked the historical formation and mandate of the Central Bank to its physical manifestation in terms of siting and building design.
Since the 1943 dissolution of the Currency Commission and the establishment of a Central Bank with an enhanced role, the desire for purpose-built headquarters led in 1979 to a building on Dame Street by Stephenson Gibney & Associates. However, the process drew public contention as the building exceeded allowed height in contravention of its planning permission; and its scale, geometry and architectural style were at complete odds with the existing built fabric of Temple Bar where it was erected.
When the Central Bank concluded the purchase of its new Dockland Campus site on the North Wall Quay, Dublin 1, the original Dame Street building was soon brought back into public discussion by Docomomo Ireland which in 2013 launched an open design competition to develop ideas for what the soon-to-be decommissioned building might become. The choice of the new site, which was originally intended as the headquarters for Anglo-Irish Bank, was the subject of much commentary. The shell of the building was already in place, a given which may have presented a limitation relative to the Central Bank’s ambitions in terms of formal symbolism and openness to the public. Whilst the Dame Street headquarters had offered a generous partially covered piazza, the new site contends with a limited public function on the ground floor that encompasses a visitor centre and a new archive facility that is open to the public.
This paper compares the Dame Street and Dockland Campus buildings as architectural objects of tangible and intangible public consumption.
It relates the interface between architecture and the public realm not only to built outputs but also to underlying production processes, including written or verbal design intention statements. The continuum between the physical public realm and the virtual public realm is specified. Within this framing, the tense dynamic between the public interest and private accumulation embodied in counterpoint by banks, heightened in the post-2008 economic crisis context, is identified.
The paper draws on theoretical understandings of signs and symbols as communication and representation systems to elucidate architecture’s role as a medium in the formation of public opinion regarding the bank’s mutating identity.
Kacmaz Erk, Gul
Public space for whom? Architecture for the minorities in cities in transition
Similar to Henri Cartier-Bresson’s ‘decisive moment’ that captures the instant questioning and deciding/analysing and synthesising concurrently, the simplicity of expression in Bulent Kilic’s photograph of a Syrian refugee family in Turkey freezes a critical moment of public discourse. Just like Cartier-Bresson’s figure one moment away from falling, the tension in Kilic’s photography is not caused by the refugees who built themselves an urban room without a fourth wall (this is not an uncommon urban intervention as framed also in Sonmez Karakurt’s graphic story in Penguen); rather his image freezes the moment just before two Turkish men find themselves in this unexpected living space. The almasik duvar/alternating wall, typical of Ottoman Architecture, forms a backdrop for the refugee room and leads the viewer’s eye to the locals at the vanishing point of alternating brick and stone. At the spontaneity of this shot, the borderline between the public and the private dissolves.
There are 3.1 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, 90% of whom live in urban/rural areas rather than camps. This study explores ways of engaging with this new minority to understand and identify the role of architecture and public space in their lives, focusing on urban integration and inclusion. The presentation will be based on research findings in a weeklong interdisciplinary workshop about public space and refugees in Ankara in October. The British Council-funded project ‘Cities in transition: locality, identity and experience of place’ will cover issues for new migrant groups in the current urban context. Photographs, film extracts and sound recordings produced in the workshop, and a discussion of direct interaction with refugees, and local and UK partners working with them will be exhibited.
In their press release of Freespace for the Venice Bienale, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara say, ‘We believe that everyone has the right to benefit from architecture’. The research will question how that can actually be achieved for urban refugees, and what the architect’s role is in incorporating minorities to the public realm. Forced migration is a global crisis, and the architectural needs of refugees for sustainable co-habitation are yet to be addressed.
Lappin, Sarah and Ouzounian, Gascia
Recomposing the City: Sound Art and the Making of Public Urban Space
The Recomposing the City research group, co-directed by an architect/architectural historian and a sound artist/sound art historian, asks how public space can be better understood, designed, and planned through a consideration of sound. While sound artists have questioned of the nature of aural public space for decades, architects and planners have generally been more reluctant to consider sound as a creative and essential element in their work. In 1984 the musicologist Shuhei Hosakawa criticized those who make public space, writing that “[Urban] planners are in many cases exclusively engaged in the planning of the spatial dimension of their city, leaving the acoustic aspect to one side… A city is not only unseen by the planner who observes it from outside—as noted by many humanists—but also unheard.”
This paper will analyse recent sound art projects created for public spaces, and it will reflect on how architects, planners, and spatial designers in cities can learn from and critique artists’ approaches. These projects, based in a variety of European countries within in the last decade, range from small budget and temporary interventions to multi-million pound re-fashionings of major public spaces. In some cases sound artists have been tasked with improving urban areas; in others, their work has led to unforeseen impacts for city inhabitants.
By critically examining these projects as well as their logistical, administrative, financial and legal dimensions, this paper will ask how sound art can be employed in the making of public space. Our analysis will consider sound art works in relation to layered histories of public space. It will engage discourses that understand architecture not only a product but as a practice performed in relation to multiple publics. We will show that sound—too long ignored in architecture and planning communities (apart from the context of architectural acoustics and noise pollution), —is a powerful medium through which to consider the making and constitution of public space. It is an element of design which must become a key component of how we think about and create public realms in the future.
Lehane, Jack R.
Micro Applications of the Public Sphere: Identifying Patterns in User-Facilitation
The ‘public sphere’, as a theoretical concept, is often viewed as a large-scale entity, as it is inclusive of all domains. Therefore it is conventionally accepted as a macro frame of reference for the ﬁeld of architecture. However, through key differentiations between such traditional conceptions, deductions are made identifying the theoretical concept of the public sphere as a tool for micro application.
The ‘digital age of Architecture’ is identiﬁed as a public sphere within this context, drawing signiﬁcant parallels that act as a frame of reference for greater universal understanding. Therefore, in theory, further insight into the nature of the public sphere can extendedly offer potential insight into the nature of the digital age of Architecture.
“If we just ask different questions about a problem, we can see it in a new light, and possibly engineer a breakdown of associative boundaries.” (Johansson, F. 2006). Following this, socio1 structural relationships such as the agency-structure divide (i.e. relationship between the individual and collective) are examined in the context of the public sphere. The tracing of these relations results in the emergence of axioms that reveal the signiﬁcance in scale of the individual’s (‘user’s’) perceptions and actions on the public sphere. These axioms then serve as a theoretical basis for the incentivising of participatory design method, and can serve as a tool for measurable practical application of this theoretical framework.
The focus of this paper is to illustrate the conventionally macro public sphere as a tool for micro application. This is achieved through identifying a set of relationships that reveal signiﬁcances about the ‘user’. The signiﬁcances established through this set of relationships help establish the user in a focal role within the design conversation, serving as a theoretical basis for further informing design professionals of patterns in user-based activity.
Repressive Constraints and the Public Realm in ‘post conflict’ Northern Ireland
“Those who study and learn from the region’s problems can learn from and add to the general body of knowledge concerning cultural diversity and conflict” (Boal, Douglas, and Orr 1982)
Working within the context of ‘post-conflict’ Northern Ireland, (Shirlow 2006) this paper will explore the question of whether repressive constraints; relating to the legacy of conflict; exist within the design of civic regeneration projects and if so, how do these manifest within the public realm? In the same way as the Nolli maps of Rome (1748) chart the publicly accessible interior space of civic buildings as an extension of the public realm, this question will be explored through the investigation of civic case studies, reading their interiors as extensions of the public realm while exploring the ‘choreography of daily life’. (Farrell and McNamara 2017)
Twenty years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, (1998) the official commencement of the Northern Ireland Peace Process, two dominant and conflicting manifestations of the built environment continue to play out. That is, the explicit oppressive ‘Contested City’ and the implicit repressive neoliberalist approach of the ‘New Belfast’.(Murtagh 2011) Repression in this instance is defined as a condition that inhibits or restrains personal freedom while oppression is defined as inflicting harsh and authoritarian treatment.
Ethno-national divisions, as represented in residual segregation and institutionalized in communal divisions in education, religious practice, political representation and recreational activities, remain embedded within the material fabric of the city, (Pullan, Baillie, and Kyriacou 2013).
This paper will interrogate through documented site visits of specific case studies repressive methods, elements or signals, within the built environment that control, contain and corral the use of the public realm within the ‘Post Conflict’ environment of Northern Ireland.
Carnivalesque and Common Space: Architectural Perspectives of Res Publica in Bakhtin’s Thought
What characterizes our era is a necessity to find new and effective ways in order to theorize the public realm as a place where otherness can co-exist. Approaches of the issue differ between normativity and creativity, arguing for institutional integration of the otherness within the existed schemes or for an experienced and in situ co-living between people. Architectural theory has highlighted common space as a possible field of human and social coexistence freed of power impositions, while drawn on a bodily, eventual approach of spatiality beyond boundaries. In this sense, common space, understood every single time as a spatial event created from and between people, could contribute to overcome the dis-functionalities appearing when alterity comes together. From another point of view, cultural studies through Bakhtin disclose the perspective of the New in the ambivalence of the carnival laughter as imbued with polyphony, while the carnival experiential process demonstrates a corrosive dynamic against every established, the subversive perspective of the individual and collective body against power. In Bakhtin’s analysis, the carnival plaza becomes a place of freedom, a field of a temporary abolition of every sort of hierarchies, privileges, rules and prohibitions. In this paper I pursue an architectural translation of the Bakhtinian concept of the Carnivalesque, in the perspective of a common space introducing new meanings open to difference, conflict, change and transformation, rather than no meaning or a standardized one. How could we conceive of architecture in order to contribute to the constitution of res publica as open to all? How could Bakhtinian thought support the conceptualization of common space as a field of liberation from power imperatives? In which ways could the carnivalesque inspire architectural creation towards a perspective of otherness co-living? I start up from an epistemology which conceives the individual and the collective as mutual prerequisites to each other, which in turn points out the essentiality of any kind of interstitial spaces as places in constant possibility. The exploration of the ways in which architecture could contribute to a creation of res publica as a carnival process towards freedom and difference is the main axis of this paper.
Place and Space of former Common Land
Conflict over the use of public space, or more specifically land, is not a new phenomenon. In Medieval England where land was owned largely by the landed gentry or the church, the only land where there was complete public access was that of common land, where there were the rights of common. These rights varied from place to place and included rights of pasture (to graze animals) rights of estovers (to take wood, heather, bracken etc.), rights of turbary (to cut turf for fuel), rights of piscary (to take fish) (Birtles, 1998). With the increase in population numbers and diminishing common land, conflicts occurred between, in particular, with the lord of the manor and the commoners (Birrell, 1987).
Many of these commons survive in England today, under the jurisdiction and ownership of local authorities, where they are preserved as village greens, town parks etc. In some areas commons are privately owned e.g. Penn Common, on the outskirts of Wolverhampton City, whilst in private ownership by Penn Golf Club, is still classed as a registered common, complete with commoner’s rights and public rights of way. These rights have resulted in many conflicts with golfers, as the commoners have the right to graze horses and ponies and walkers use routes across the golf course to access the wider countryside (Russell-O’Connor, 2007). However as the common is registered in the national inventory it cannot be developed to anything further than a golf course or recreational park (PRO MAF 96) and rights of way are protected by the Countryside Rights of Way Act (Defra, 2000). Wimbledon Common within the London Boroughs of Wimbledon is an example of a public park, developed as such following the Metropolitan Commons Act of 1878, where the existing vegetation relates to the former rights (Gonner, 1912).
In Dublin, there are a number of former commons that are now public parks, for example St. Stephen’s Green, Harold’s Cross Park and St. Audeon’s Park etc. What rights of common still exist for these public parks and are there current conflicts with the maintenance and different users of these parks?
This paper attempts to answer the following questions: What remnants of their former use as commons are still evident in examples in England and Ireland? What conflicts arise between the users of these parks as a result of their former use as commons?
Reykjavik spatial conflicts
This paper outlines the correlation between national economic policies and local spatial outcomes in the Icelandic context of the city of Reykjavik.
It starts by examining the economic policy known as neoliberal which was undertaken in Iceland, from the 90’s up to the banking collapse of 2008, and which envisioned the country as a global financial centre and Reykjavík as a world city. This policy did not just generate unprecedented inequality in the country’s income distribution but also a transformation in its urban environment. The city that was consequently built prioritised big-fix projects such as shopping malls, office towers, large speculative residential developments and an extensive highway system, which ultimately made the capital city less diverse, less inclusive, less social and less spatially equal.
The economic collapse of 2008 and consequent massive devaluation of the local currency the Icelandic Crown brought a new political era led by new parties more focused on the research and development of endogenous resources. Despite the paralysis of the construction industry that occurred after the collapse a new spatial scenario emerges in Reykjavik, one characterised by a series of small scale architectural interventions and activities developed by a plethora of people with the aim of enhancing the public realm, reusing existing buildings, fighting spatial inequality and recreate trust in the local population.
Different urban artefacts are presented in this paper and their spatial value is examined in terms of equality or inequality through Sennett’s concept of Open City. Sennett defines an open city as one that can adapt and evolve. In contrast a closed one occurs when there is no terrain for change for adaption nor sociability.
This paper suggests a definition of spatial inequality as a fracture created by certain city artefacts -buildings, infrastructures and neighbourhoods- that separate people from opportunities, nature and other people. Spatial inequality undermines the primary functions that are embedded in a public space: connection.
The paper advocates for a planning system which is more responsive, integrated and holistic, and capable to support a politics of small things, protecting the human scale, the sense of place, and sociability in the city.
Scanlon, Peter and Flood, Nuala
Out of place. Encounters of the third age, the city as a space for the elderly. A study of public urban spaces and their meaning for the aging population.
Today, for the first time in history, most people can expect to live into their 60s and beyond. In Europe, this translates to a continuing increase in life expectancy mainly due to declining mortality among those who are older. These additional years of life and demographic shifts have profound implications for each of us as well as for the societies we live in (WHO, 2015). The societal view holds that older people are viewed as disadvantaged with diminishing intrinsic capacity, namely: losses in mobility and function. However, this pathology model is heterogeneous and is laden with complexity (Phillipson, 2013; WHO, 2015). Research suggests that the older generation retreats from public life, and becomes more self-absorbed existing in a half-way house between life and death. This results in older people having a diminished value of ‘self’ endorsed by a society that is quick to de-valorise ageing (Phillipson, 2013). Encouragingly, ageing causes a transformative shift in society, innovations in lifestyle, creating different types of communities and relationships, expanding the range of leisure and cultural activities. In society, the ideology of aging is a composite of internalized social messages about what it means to age well (Heatwole Shank and Cutchin, 2016). However, this ideology is presumed to be one of symbiosis between urban fabric and the elderly. Alas, cities are for the most part, spaces that are imagined and structured with a younger, working age demographic in mind. This leads to older people experiencing marginalisation as they are not incorporated into the mainstream of thinking and planning around urban environments (Buffel and Phillipson, 2016; Strohmeier, 2016). Moreover, if one is over 60, fit, active, wealthy, assertive and enjoying a purposeful life one is defined as out of existence. This cohort is not a problem and as such does not exist in policy terms (Phillipson, 2013). Given these concerns, this paper will explore evidence on place and meaning making for an ageing population in public urban space. It will characterise age-friendly models and policies to help make cities more empathetic towards an ageing population.
Venizelos, Dimitris and Serifi, Christina
Polykatoikia: Re-framing the public
The foundational principles of the western city lay on the model of the classic Greek polis, a space predicated upon the uncompromised distinction between the spheres of the domestic and the political. Yet today our cities witness an increased privatization of civic space to the extend that the defense of public space is considered as activism. As urbanization processes have irreversibly incurred a great deal of retraction to what is traditionally considered as public space, the need to invent new ways for the public realm to inhabit our increasingly privatized urban environments becomes pressing.
The contemporary city of Athens shaped under processes of rapid urbanization after World War II and by the proliferation of a single building type, the polykatoikia, offers the opportunity to reflect on this question: not only to discuss its associations with its long civic heritage and particularly its relation to the political city, but also to articulate a critique on current propositions on city-making that seek to re-invent forms of the democratic through the design heuristics of fragmentation and detachment. The urban archipelago, proposed by P.V. Aureli in “The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture”, is an example of such an approach that seeks to secure the political through fragmentation and detachment from the infrastructures of urbanization. However, the Athenian metropolis provides us with an alternative paradigm: a form of resistance that emerges from within the banal, ubiquitous and generic urban landscapes; and the intentional or unintentional appropriations of such spaces.
In this paper we argue that the building type of the polykatoikia allows for these appropriations, by promoting spatial complexity through the unintentional redistribution of agency in its everyday use; thus rendering the urban landscape of Athens as an example par excellence of the unpredictable effects of the power of material assemblages in producing new forms of public space. Nurturing the principles of what Richard Sennett proposed as the Open City, we argue that the polykatoikia is a typical architecture that can fuel the pursue of a place for the political in our cities, within the unavoidable processes of urbanization.
CRUSADING AGAINST TUBERCULOSIS: a reading of TIMBER AT PEAMOUNT sanatorium (1912-1940)
On July 8th 1912, at a Special Committee Meeting of the Women’s National Health Association, Sir William Thompson submitted a map and some architect’s plans for Peamount Hospital, Co. Dublin. Organised as a series of pavilion and chalet buildings, for the treatment of those suffering from tuberculosis, there included accommodation for men, women and children, as well as a working farm. For reasons that appear to centre on its temporality, timber was the preferred material of construction for the pavilions. In addition, through a working factory on site, ‘Peamount Industries’ proposed to construct moveable timber shelters, that would be sent in flat pack sections to any destination across Ireland. Practical, these simple timber structures with pitched roofs and large hinged opening sections, were intended to be well ventilated, proposing a means of establishing a continuous relationship between people and nature. Ideally they could be ‘easily provided and cheaply maintained,’ and as Lady Aberdeen described they would be ‘portable’. Moreover, if the buildings needed to be removed suddenly ‘the timber could be burnt,’ as a disease control measure.
Through its inextricable links with the treatment of disease, this paper considers the relevance of architecture and the role of timber within it. By tracing the context of what medics, educators and social crusaders intents for architecture and construction were, I hope to situate a reading of timber in early twentieth century Irish architecture as a material and process.
The City as Museum: Jörg Johnen’s “Res Publica” (1985)
In the 1980s, artists and art practitioners drew on architecture as a means to probe the public nature of art. The writings of Aldo and Léon Krier especially, which focus on architecture in relation to the historical city, provided an external framework found capable of inciting debates on the public and communicative nature of art. This vocation was nowhere more evident than in “Res Publica,” a 1985 theme issue of Kunstforum International edited by the art critic, gallerist and trained architect Jörg Johnen. The issue featured writings by Rossi, Krier and Robert Venturi, as well as texts and documentation of works by Ludger Gerdes, Thomas Schütte, Harald Klingelhöller, Dan Graham, Claes Oldenburg and many other artists, calling for an entwinement of art and architecture as reviving what Johnen called the “public cause” of culture. For the editor, both architects and artists sought to overcome the autonomy and acculturation of their work by revoking individuality and connecting to the city. “This issue,” his introduction reads, “calls attention less to singular artists than to collective cultural feats, which, by representing platforms and images of political and societal actions, attempt to salvage relics of a theatrum mundi within our increasingly eroded public life.”
This paper explores postmodern architecture as a cypher of publicness within 1980s art, focusing on the tension between Johnen’s narrative and contributions in the issue. While architecture did raise key questions of what constitutes “the public” (e.g., in debates on typology), Johnen’s claim that it could serve to inscribe art with particular meanings ran counter to the arbitrary nature of the architectural sign. Indeed, most artists featured in the volume acknowledged that meaning operates by means of conventions and is hence never stable. Although these artists referenced, their work, I hold, was not just ambiguous in relation to architecture but also sceptical of such idealistic categories as “the public,” “the social” and even “the city”.