Rationalizing Urbanity

1 Oct

Public space can be established according to several different methods, as introduced by IaN+. These include reusing tradition, reprogramming spaces, and reinventing meaning. Applying any of these schemes results inherently in a greater connection to the immediate context, both physically and culturally. Additionally, public space can be organized through the reduction of its forms, applying a rational grid in an attempt to develop a more sensible organization of a multitude of various programmatic spaces. Through the implementation of a grid or through other methods, spatial integration with the landscape could be achieved. IaN+ specializes in creating such spaces, primarily employing the themes of reusing tradition, grid application, and landscape integration.

Reusing tradition is an essential manner through which a new design can be grafted with the surrounding framework. This functions through modernizing vernacular structures and building details, and therefore attaining familiar cultural elements. In the Maria Grazia Cutuli Primary School designed by IaN+, local facets of design were integrated into the building, yet entirely modernized. He merged the separate spaces of the garden and the house into one larger block, yet still maintaining the appearance of the typical method of housing arrangement of the area. Also, by applying the color blue to the exterior of the school, it addressed the importance of that color to the people of Afghanistan, therefore further integrating itself with its surroundings. Additionally, in the New National Museum of Afghanistan, local ideologies were materialized within the interior of the building. The portals between rooms took their shapes from the Islamic tradition, and the geometries were then superimposed for modernization. The use of these shapes developed a tangible link between the museum and the regional culture, therefore making its presence in that location intrinsic. Yet the primary driving force behind the museum design was that of creating a grid on which the museum could be organized.

Fusion of Garden Block and Housing Block

The contemporary project becomes, in fact, an objective necessity for the rational organization of communal life, a necessity of reason.” This belief, perpetuated by IaN+, maintains the importance of deconstructing a space into more systematic components which can then be individually programmed. Yet this grid does not necessarily have to restrict movement and confine freedom as one might typically expect an orthogonal grid to perform. The design of the National Museum of Afghanistan prescribed to an apparently stringent web, yet this organization actually permitted more individual liberation. Both the exterior garden and the interior museum were established according to the grid, yet movement between and within the elements was fluid. The choice was the occupant’s – one can move regularly through the system of the lattice, or can weave throughout to such an extent of getting lost within the network. This performed far differently from his other projects involving a grid application, such as the Bauhaus Museum.

Two Paths Around the Grid

Within the design for the Bauhaus Museum, simple geometries were used to build more complex situations. There was a solid core of programmed space, upon which a vaster grid was imposed that extended beyond the perimeter of the mass. This created ancillary public spaces around the museum, which were still available even if the museum was closed. The grid performed as a perforated skin, enveloping both the building and additional outdoor space;  yet the enclosure also provided the opportunity to expand the museum, and therefore enlarge the mass itself. The skin could be easily penetrated, supplying  a minimal division between the interior of the grid and the exterior, therefore further integrating the building with the landscape. This theme of relationship with the landscape was prominent in several other projects, including the Centro Anziani Falcognana and the Carne Point Project.

Museum Core with Superimposed Grid

The urban design of Centro Anziani Falcognana was presented with a problematic dichotomy; at the top of the hill was dense urban space, while nine meters below was vast, neglected countryside. The design sought to unify the two disparate components through integrated built form, providing a threshold between two very different contexts. IaN+ therefore constructed two horizontal structures, both of which were intended to view the landscape. The unification of landscape and built form was accomplished through the placement of the buildings by virtue of the topography. One rested atop the hill, while the other virtually became part of the hill by being built into it, and the roof therefore was an extension of the landscape atop the hill. The project therefore became symbiotic with the exterior, performing physically as part of the hill. In stark contrast to this approach was the Carne Point Project, which was designed according to a different framework of issues and approaches.

Building As Urban Transition

The Carne Point  project is located directly in the center of a parking lot, which is not the expected placement for any new construction, nonetheless one that attempts to create an artificial landscape. It was a small cylindrical structure, with vertical steel pipes surrounding the whole facade. This was done to make them appear as bamboo, providing a dramatically distinctive experience from that of the parking lot. It essentially became a natural gem within the mechanistic plane of a parking lot. The setting was a physical part of the design, presenting a dramatic backdrop to the artificial landscape of the cylinder.

IaN+ approaches the concept of public space, and space in general, in a much different manner than Ma0; while IaN+ concentrates the design energy toward creating spaces according to grids, landscape, or regional context, Ma0’s design energy is geared toward not only the creation of the space, but the human interaction within the void.

By employing the themes of reusing tradition, grid application, and landscape integration, IaN+ generates designs that appear innate within their setting. Reusing tradition develops immediate links between the new design and the local vernacular; grid application systemizes a space according to the inherent site lines; landscape integration cultivates an intrinsic symbiosis with the context and therefore appears immutable.

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