SUBURBAN CHALLENGE - URBAN INTENSITY AND DIVERSITY OF HOUSING
All cities are facing the phenomenon of urban sprawl, increasing urban sprawl and fragmentation. Rising traffic volumes, the development of suburban shopping centers, the ever-increasing number of leisure and entertainment centers, and the steady expansion of commercial and industrial parks seem to be leading inexorably to an urban planning model of the "diffuse city." However, a new political approach can be observed to operate in these new-age areas, with the aim of reorganizing them by reviving the traditional planning ethos of European cities and reconciling it with the challenges of urban sustainability. The need for a gradual transformation of the modern city stems from the possibility of using already developed areas and the desire for spatial innovation that has emerged from the evolution of lifestyles. Not only are individual autonomy and the diversity of social interactions within families growing, but also occupational mobility and the speed of communication, developments that overall lead to an increasingly disconnected city.
On the other hand, there is a strong need for a neighborly, social life that must be rebuilt on new foundations. Architects must address the question of how these diffuse cities can be changed and how new values can be imparted to these cities.
EUROPAN 7 proposes to address this question at the interface between urban planning and architectural design.
How can the diffuse and fast-moving city be transformed into a sustainable, ecological and urban city that meets new social and cultural demands. How to create habitat models with innovative housing typologies and an integrative program that at the same time become a strategic urban planning tool.
DIVERSITY OF HOUSING
Diversification is the main characteristic of the new housing demand. Mixed households, young and elderly, "nomads" (tourists or commuters) do not find an adequate architectural response to their needs in today's cities. The housing forms offered are largely reduced to a few typologies that are supposed to meet all requirements.
EUROPAN 7 aims to stimulate new ideas for typological innovation. How can adequate housing perspectives be offered to city dwellers with their multitude of cultural and social profiles?
Different spatial concepts can be used as a basis:
- Diversification of typologies: open floor plans, houses with two, three units or one unit throughout, gardens, terraces, courtyards, etc...;
- Convertibility of space: transformation and adaptation of a housing unit according to the evolution of the families living there, according to the succession of different residents and the change in the general requirements of housing programs;
- Creation of morphologically complex designs: scattered houses, housing clusters, mixture of individual houses and multi-storey housing, typological mixture of dwellings, etc.
There is no question that technological changes (mobility, communication) have greatly influenced not only urban lifestyles, but also the behavior of urban dwellers. Living somewhere no longer means just "being at home," i.e., cut off from other daily activities such as work, shopping, leisure, etc. While new technologies have given us access to a virtual world, they have also created a demand for neighborly, social intensity. We would like to work from home or close to home, we would like to shop in our neighborhood, experience new forms of social interaction, and spend our free time doing sports and cultural activities without being forced to travel long distances.
However, the residential areas available to us in dispersed cities are almost always almost mono-functional. The designation of purely residential areas has led, on the one hand, to large residential cities in social housing and, on the other hand, to single-family housing estates, both of which in their own way represent an extreme form of segregated housing concepts. Both prevent neighborhoods and intensive social relationships through their spatial structure.
How can residential neighborhoods in modern cities be given a new dynamic and initiate a spatial intensification of the social life that takes place there?
A variety of approaches can be developed here, each of which can be interlinked:
- Composition of different types of houses, i.e. a neighborhood with different types of apartments intended for residents of different households is created: Housing for seniors, students, single parents, etc.;
- Offering services: new on-site stores, public services, sports and cultural activities, etc.;
- Creating conditions that allow for an interface between living and working: the home office, technologically well-equipped units for specialized trade and professions, small units for offices.
PROCESS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Areas affected by urban sprawl have not stabilized. They have often been created by an accumulation of partial logics and a variety of desperate interventions without any thought of a general urban ecology. As such, they constitute an excellent field of research as far as sustainable development is concerned. All over Europe they exist in a variety of forms and situations. Apart from the large, traditional, former industrial sites that offer cities huge areas for internal expansion, there is also a large potential of smaller, but nonetheless strategically located areas that are underused or underutilized.
The goal of EUROPAN 7 is to address the fundamentals of urban coherence in dispersed cities, but to focus on particular elements that go beyond the historical traits of the old city or traditional urban compositions.
How can new concepts for urban ensembles be implemented that are adapted to the fragmented, heterogeneous zones of today's city? How can a landscape be created that not only enables mobility, but also provides elements of urban coherence and environmental quality?
An environmental approach must be integrated in an urban restructuring in order to work at the following levels:
- at the level of the entire area, it is about creating compact residential platforms that both liberate and integrate nature; it is about combating noise and other environmental impacts from roads and transportation routes.
- within these platforms, it is about the careful management of natural resources (water, energy, etc.) and man-made elements (waste), incorporating ecological and economic laws of networks;
- at the architectural level, it is about integrating technical innovations and adapting building structures to the principles of diversity and convertibility of space. At the same time, attention should be paid to the environmental compatibility of materials;
- at all levels, it is a question of introducing nature as an element linked to the houses (garden, neighborhood spaces, park, etc.). How to form spatial development sections that, on the one hand, have a coherence with the urban planning project, and, on the other hand, open up a variety of programmatic interventions and uses that bring on the scene a series of actors that follow the logic of possibilities?