Europan 12 : Ås
Architect: Francés + Sastre
Status: Competition (2013)
Clasification: Honour mention
Visualizer: Studio
Scale: Extralarge
Types: Masterplan, Public space

Adaptability : public space and community

How can time-dependant variables be addressed by an urban and architectural proposal? Which are the elements that are regarded as permanent and which are those regarded as variables in city construction?

Our scope has its roots in a clear and simple idea; city building is based on the public realm, and so, regardless its physical definition, building a public space consists in creating a community around it. Hence, architecture and its associated public space are elements which together with this community, make up a variable ecosystem along time.

From this baseline, we consider the university community as the greatest potential of As. Despite the fact that “As” is currently a small municipality, a link with University of Life Sciences (UMB) is foreseen to arise together with a rise in the number of students in the coming years, which will transform “As” in a place with high potential for life quality upgrade. This community will become a huge driving force towards change in public space, capable of developing time-variable actions.

Then, how must architecture be addressed in terms of invariable phisical support on which interpersonal social interaction activities are made possible? It must be an indeterminate architecture space, unconditioned by previous given designs, and based on clear and straightforward geometries that allow the development of different situations in it. In other words, design-less architecture, with as much flexibility as it is needed in order to adapt cities to new life-styles and leisure-styles. Hence, it must be understood as a physical space able to be reprogrammed along time, characterized by constant evolution while boosted by those actions that happen, overlay and merge in time.

Main problem : distance and inactivity

How can architects make university community more visible in the city centre? The main pitfall to be faced with is the land use zoning. University community locates in a isolated area far away from the city centre. Both high travel distances, rough climate conditions, and lack of social activity along the connecting corridor results in a non-participative university community in city centre life.

Therefore, in order to solve this situation, the question is: Is it enough just to create an attractive node in the plot? NO, from our viewpoint, we believe that urban conditions in the connecting area must be upgraded as well.

Proposal : straight line connection

In order to improve the current situation, we assume that our proposal must not stick only to the proposed reference plot since it is also required to add a linear element to guarantee connection between the university area and the city centre.

This new urban piece is conceived as an hybrid, it is an elevated transport infrastructure along which a bike lane coexists with a big university residence composed by small communities. This building fully addresses the challenge to allocate the huge residence demand and brings the city centre closer to the university residence. Furthermore, the urban quality of the area between the train station and the university area is upgraded, which makes commuters have a more pleasant travel experience in a whole.

In the reference plot, a new elevated construction is proposed that provides continuity to the linear geometry while freeing up ground space for a big public square. This square will get partly covered fed in order to allow for a wide range of urban activities to take place in a protected space from rough winter weather conditions, whereas the roofless outdoor part will face south in order to maximize solar radiation.

This building will work as a big culture-hub in which both university-related activities and renowned local artist community events will take place. The goal is creating a space able to allocate diversity and decentralized events in a new urban point, aiming to reach a wide and diverse audience. This decision will boost social relationships among people with different backgrounds, which will generate a very rewarding atmosphere to all citizens.

The university community will be responsible for arranging an appealing cultural calendar (masterclasses, conferences, workshops, parties, etc) in order to attract and encourage students and teaching staff to travel to the central area, making the square temporary fringe classrooms open to anybody.

On the other hand, the big artistic community hosted in As, will also propose public and cultural Exchange activities. The building has work and dissemination spaces mostly linked to practical and communication activities (workshops, laboratorios, etc) instead of individual-centered (expositions, studies, seminars…). Most advanced artistic performances share labs and discussion spaces with daily social activities in the city. Thus, it is about an open-code cooperative production model, which considers culture as an active, vital and environmentally-integrated process.

This great culture container will also host a museum dedicated to Odd Tandberg, which will eventually use the square as one of its showrooms.

The ground level will give space for community services and retail use in order to activate the square public space 24 hours a day, and also in the indoor street that goes across the building. These spaces will be oriented towards university community leisure by which night and day time activity will be guaranteed in this area, complementing the retail in Moerveien and Radhusplassen streets. The Asheim House will remain in its current position, but its ground floor will be re-designed into a “hang-out” the way it would be in connection with the public space.

The big square can be reprogrammed with various activities such as open air markets in which local agricultural and lifestock markets can take place, and so converting “As” into the centre of regional gastronomy.

Over the horizontal linear elements that configure the cultural building, housing use arises, which merges with the cultural and commercial use, resulting in a mixed-use building. Apartments are integrated in various flexible towers facing south, which can be changed to meet dwellers needs along time. Besides increasing urban density, these towers provide “As” with a unique and easy-to-identify skyline.

This kind of high-density city, will help to set example to future urban developments in the north and south of the municipality; linear blocks with free ground floor enable the development of natural soil, facing south, and  not too deep, that allow for optimal bioclimatic conditions.

Competition: Europan 12 : Ås | Team: Simón Francés Martínez, Judith Sastre Arce | Post date: 15/09/2014 | Views: 2.356