The presence of others who see what we see and hear what we hear assures us of the reality of the world and of ourselves.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Use, Comfort and Accessibility of Public Space

By thinking about where to put the money, given that it is scarce, and whom and how many people are going to get hold of it, is one of the questions public space has to face.

Hotly debated issue of the maintenance and management of the collective ensembles is in relation to the aspect of safety, but also privacy and comfort. Where these aspects are not properly attuned to one another, vandalism and crime are given a free hand.Therefore the intermediate space is a space or border area where individuals and groups are to flesh out their own relation to the larger whole. It is precisely these areas that intend to be sensitive to vandalism and neglect, intended originally for the emancipation and self-fulfillment of the modern individual.

"I believe the next challenge is public space as concerns of small and medium companies. I think the demand for design is no longer in the minimum operation of housing, but in questioning how to incorporate more resources without squandering them or spending them inappropriately." 
Luis Eduardo Bresciani, Head of the Chilean Urban Development division of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Inbetween mass-housing - open spaces of identity?

In spring 2010 Archis is publishing a book on mass housing by exploring the individual places and their social, political and cultural contexts: "There is something uncanny about traveling to places that continously evoke a common, everyday landscape. Art historian Mark Crimson describes traveling between two cities in the world as a 'means to return home as you inevitably pass through airport, ring roads and similar buildings'. The experience of travel today increasingly feels this way. Modern architecture is everywhere and mass housing, epitomizing the principles of modern architecture and urbanism, has truly become a global phenomenon. The prevailing sense of uniformity among global metropolises nowadays is due in part to continously encountering these large machines for living. Mass housing gained poor reputation in the latter half of the last century. A form of collective anxiety regarding the standardized, excessive character of such large scale structures stigmatized many of the projects. Yet mass produced buildings account for a vast production of the world's housing stock."

Over a billion people today live in the pre-fabricated housing and the number is expected to rise to 6 billion people by 2040. Cities are learning how to build faster, cheaper and higher. At the same time the social structure of these massive pre-fabricated environments shouldn't be left unnoticed. The quantity, quality and variety of areas to gather, meet and socialize - the open space inbetween the mass architecture  becomes the key element for potential habitants. Not only does the open space provide place for gathering and meeting or greenery, it should also be a safe by breaking the tensions of the class system.

I am keen to digg deeper into the book next spring and find future potential for open space in the context of mass architecture by studying from existing housing examples all over the world.

Read more about Archis and its interventions...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The more people around, the less people around

It has been discussed lately that human beings in nowadays society are not considered substance anymore, but a function. Human 'role' in life has become more important than his personality. How does it affect our perceptions of (public) space - space that we share with others? And the way we tend to think and name activities, spaces, people around us?

Man-is-not a tool by Paavo Piik

Man is not a tool.
He may not be.
He is not a tool for pleasure or intimacy
or respect or lightness or boredom
tool for making your work.

He is not for making money,
filling emptiness, teaching, viewing
for self-esteem and self-defence tool.
Because man is not a function.

He has no confessor or a prostitute
or a handhold or a domestic animal
or a wallet or a clown
or a workhorse or a babysitter,
non-critical role of a critic.
At least in it's own mind.

The more people around you,
the less they resemble the people
and the more they resemble functions.

The more people around you,
the less people around you.

source: free translation from Paavo Piik's poetry

Monday, 5 October 2009

Fixed Feature Life?

Fixed feature space is one of the basic ways of organizing the activities of individuals and groups. It includes material manifestations as well as the hidden, internalized designs that govern behaviour of man. One common example of fixed feature space is spatially organised inside of the western house. Not only there are rooms for special functions - food, entertainment, socializing - even the artifacts associated with the activities are related to that specific space. In some standards people who live in a mess are those who fail to classify activities and artifacts according to a uniform, consistent and predictable spatial plan. The internal layout however is quite recent.

Philippe Aries points out in a book Centuries of Childhood that rooms had no fixed functions in European houses until the eighteenth century. Members of the family had no privacy as we know it today nor there were spaces that were sacred or specialized for one function only: "...strangers came at will, while beds and tables were set up and taken down according to the moods and appetites of the occupants". In the 18th century the house altered its form, rooms started to be arranged likely to street and named after its function - bedroom, living room, dining room etc.

Some aspects of the fixed-feature space however are not visible until one observes human behaviour. It is important to note that fixed feature space nowadays acts like a mold into which great deal of behaviour is cast. As Churchill has noted: "We shape our buildings and they shape us".

It has been discussed lately that people do not think of their relationships with other people by kinship or emotions any more, but they have also started to name people by functions.

Futuro house by Matti Kuusia, 1968