URBAN AREAS AND LIFE MODELS IN HARMONY - WHAT ARCHITECTURE FOR SUSTAINABLE CITIES?
On February 28, 2011, EUROPAN, the largest ideas competition for urban planning and architecture, will be launched for the eleventh time at around 55 different locations in 16 European countries. In Germany, the cities of Ibbenbüren, Ingolstadt, Selb, Wittstock/Dosse and Würzburg are taking part.
Young architects and planners under the age of 40 are called upon to address current urban development issues and develop innovative ideas and strategic concepts for the future of the city for selected situations at various locations throughout Europe.
In view of the current (environmental) political discussions, the eleventh EUROPAN competition is looking for strategies for the adequate development of urban spaces on an urban planning and architectural level throughout Europe.
In times of comprehensive climatic upheaval, more and more cities, municipalities and metropolitan areas see it as their duty to pursue environmentally compatible goals, to carefully examine the scope of their actions and to promote the careful use of resources, not least at the planning level.
Forward-looking planning that pursues sustainable goals and takes into account the various components that affect people and their environment is capable of generating change. Such planning thus becomes a strategic factor, because it not only increases the economic, cultural and social attractiveness but rather significantly strengthens the identity of the place.
In this context, the balanced combination of urban and natural structures represents a particular challenge. Nature must be harmonized with the city in order to enhance urban areas, promote the reuse of public space, protect resources and biodiversity, and strengthen the future of the city as a whole.
A minimum level of sustainability must be achieved by reducing land use and urban sprawl. The renewal of existing neighborhoods through redensification, but also through partial deconstruction and reorganization of urban structures while preserving local characteristics, has a special role to play here.
Many cities are striving to achieve greater autonomy in the future, whether in regional food supply or energy. This requires the willingness of the inhabitants to act in an environmentally conscious and environmentally friendly manner. Immediate and general accessibility to services, cultural and leisure activities reduces the need for individual mobility and promotes social exchange.
These geopolitical objectives must be reflected in the development of urban spaces at both the urban planning and architectural levels. Against this backdrop, participants should propose sustainable development strategies that have the potential to adapt to ever-changing conditions while embracing and further developing the characteristic identities of place.
The geographical and spatial conditions of the sites have their own specific character. The tasks therefore formulate site-specific individual focal points in order to generate solutions that address the specific requirements of the sites.
What is sought is a multidisciplinary approach that knows how to synergistically combine different competencies (planning, landscape, environment, economic efficiency).
TOPIC 1 IDENTITY
In linking the local with the global, the question of identity - its visible and imagined components - that make up the character of a place arises. We are confronted with a paradox: While cities tend to identify themselves through the global context, they risk losing their identity at the local level. How can this conflict be resolved, can scales be reconciled and a contemporary image of European identity be developed? Nowadays, image as a mental conception (subjective image) or as a collective conception (public image) seems like a paradigm, given the constant beauty competition of cities and regions. What are the adequate images that today's urban agglomerations should evoke, beyond the current antipodes of "icon buildings", "city branding" and "theme worlds" on the one hand, and nostalgic recollection of "historical" structures and the city images derived from them on the other?
1A FROM MARGINALITY TO A MEANINGFUL IMAGE
LEEUWARDEN (NL), PEJË/PEC (KO), SIMRISHAMN (SE), VIENNA (AT)
Some areas require imagination to be transformed from barren, undefined or use-empty spaces into places with meaning. In order to avoid the creation of new enclaves, they need to be declared part of the city again, either by linking them to the existing structure or by giving them a new identity that encourages appropriation by residents. At the same time, in creating a new identity, it is important to preserve existing structures and maintain the historical heritage.
1B FROM PROBLEM TO NEW CHARACTER
AMSTERDAM (NL), DUBLIN (IE), DUBROVNIK (HR), IBBENBÜREN (DE), SESTAO (ES), WITTSTOCK (DE).
Even if these locations are not wastelands, their condition is rather unsatisfactory; there is a strong desire for upgrading and better presence. New programs, tailored to the respective problems, can dynamize the existing structures with the help of new urban spaces and landmarks. This raises the question of the appropriate scale and objectives, depending on the size of the sites and their influence, as well as the question of how to deal with the historical heritage.
1C FROM AN INHERITED TO A NEW IDENTITY
DEVENTER (NL), EINDHOVEN (NL), GRAZ (AT), NEUILLY-SUR-MARNE (FR), OSLO (NO), REIMS (FR)
In this group of sites, the search for a new identity and the question of the conditions for change are at the forefront. Because the current use is obsolete, inappropriate or simply too low, there is a desire for a new guiding idea, in the form of new programs, new points of attraction and better links with the surrounding area. All these places have to deal with what is already there, in a material sense, as far as existing buildings are concerned, or in a figurative sense, as far as the historically grown, collective memory is concerned.
TOPIC 2 USES
Implementing a new use at a site is a strategic move with a wide range of impacts at many different levels of consideration, from the purely architectural to the social and economic. For the sites in this category, the program plays an essential role in redefining global-local relationships. The starting point is different for each of these sites, but three subgroups can be formulated, based on the relationship between individual areas and the context, depending on the relative dimensions.
2A FROM WASTELAND TO URBAN LIFE
ALMERE (NL), INGOLSTADT (DE), MONTHEY (CH), SAMBREVILLE (BE), SZEGED (HU), WARSZAWA (PL)
Fallow land is generally not productive. Whether they are agricultural lands, industrial brownfields, or sealed open spaces, they invite cities to tackle new programs. What strategies might revitalize these sites urbanically? How can new urban neighborhoods be realized with maximum amenity and minimum "footprint"? What do contemporary ways of living together look like?
2B FROM ISOLATION TO SOCIAL INTEGRATION
CAPELLE AAN DEN IJSSEL (NL), CLERMONT-FERRAND (FR), LINZ (AT), MALMÖ (SE), WÜRZBURG (DE)
A series of fragments, an isolated area, a clearing in the forest; a minor local intervention is able to enhance the whole context. What use can positively influence the whole environment? What design provides an open platform of social and economic integration? What missing piece gives meaning to the whole puzzle?
2C FROM INTERMEDIATE SPACES TO COMMUNITY SPACES
AIGLE (CH), KØBENHAVN (DK), NYNÄSHAMN (SE), RØDOVRE (DK), SELB (DE).
Interstitial spaces can be simply empty areas, without qualities that invite to wander, to linger, to take possession, without sense and allocation. Only suitable for vehicles or passing traffic. How do we turn these residual areas into public space? How are path connections established? Which program packages offer points of reference for a common urban life?
TOPIC 3 CONNECTIVITY
From the perspective of sustainable development, the theme of "connectivity" addresses methods of linking the local and the global, scale and time, natural and social environments. The existing must be reimagined through the dynamics of relationships between mobility, urban practices, and public spaces. Three categories of regenerating connections can be specified, starting from urban situations whose divisive effect requires the creation of new connections at a wide range of scales.
3A FROM THE BORDER TO THE SEAM
ALCALÁ DE LA SELVA (ES), ALLERØD (DK), MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE (BE), TOULOUSE (FR), TURKU (FI)
How does the change from a border (infrastructure, topography) that separates to a seam that creates links take place? Caesuras (between city and landscape, suburban and urban, between neighborhoods ...) can be changed in many ways to create new urban connectivity.
3B FROM EMPTY SPACE TO LINK
CERDANYOLA DEL VALLÈS (ES), GETARIA (ES), HAUGESUND (NO), NORRKÖPING (SE), SAN BARTOLOMÉ (ES).
The sites in this category are residual spaces of infrastructures and green niches in urbanized areas. They offer the possibility of creating new housing and novel spaces that not only connect different urban structures, but also different social groups of residents. These empty spaces have a high inherent potential to create public spaces, not as "places of luxury", but in terms of engagement on an environmental, social and cultural level, as an initiative to generate a space shared by different social groups.
3C FROM PLACE TO TERRITORY
ALCORCÓN (ES), GUIMARÃES (PT), PORVOO (FI), ROMAINMÔTIER (CH), SAVENAY (FR), SKIEN-PORSGRUNN (NO), STAINS (FR).
Today's urban areas are the product of a wide variety of processes that link territorial dynamics with local conditions and give local micro-activities territorial scale. New linkages across the urban fabric are emerging or being strengthened. Individual districts are bundling their activities into larger groupings to promote connectivity. When territorial processes dominate local events, it is imperative to respond to this influence. How can such places benefit from territorial dynamics and forge connections without being overwhelmed by their force?