Team Representative: Leonardo Zuccaro Marchi (IT) – architect
Associates: Piero Medici (IT), Alice Covatta (IT) – architects; Annalisa Romani (IT)– landscape architect
Contributors: Agnieszka Batkiewicz (PL) – architect; Christian Maijstre (NL), Virginia Santilli (IT), Yağız Söylev (TR), Xiaoyi Quin (CN) – architecture students
Collective of Project in Equipoise
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A. Romani, P. Medici, Alice Covatta & L. Zuccaro Marchi
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1. How did you form the team for the competition?
We know each other from previous competitions, collaborations or researches. We are a multidisciplinary team operating in a non-static equipoise in-between design and research, micro-scale and landscape, progressive visions and historical references. This specific research/design attitude was a fundamental common reason for participating together at Europan. We are an international team, working and living in France, Italy, The Netherlands and Japan. Therefore online platforms were the main place for meetings, sharing comments and files.
2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: the place of productive activities within the city?
The project proposes new connections, porosities, juxtapositions and overlapping functions transforming Vorfeld into a new attractive Heart of Neu Ulm, a central pole within the existing urban constellation. New connections are social, spatial, urban, cultural and environmental. In particular the new relations between learning, production and housing are the main feature of the project for the new identity of the Heart of Neu Ulm. We interpreted the Productive City as a shift from closed to connected, from central building to central open space, from monofunctional to mixed architecture.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
The isolation and closure of the site, which has persisted since its military days, is abandoned by the design of new connections at different scales, enhancing the rise of complexity and multifunctional overlapping.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
Interestingly, the main references came from positive local legacies which are present in the site. The mono-structured site of "Vorfeld" built in the 1950s is a monofunctional housing neighbourhood, which lacks variety and diversity. However, its particular urban design of American military base shows interesting resonances with the American "neighbourhood unit," where all the dwelling units are grouped sufficiently close to the central elementary school in order to allow children to walk easily and safely. The central role of education, the importance of kids and the design based on walking distance are key elements to be reinterpreted and reactivated in the new identity of "Vorfeld." Another local reference is the "Ulm School of Design" (Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm- HfG) (1953-1968) which inherited the "Bauhaus" legacy and where the learning process of furniture and graphic design was totally connected to industrial production. This mix of education and production will become a main feature of the new neighbourhood too.
5. Urban-architectural projects like the ones in Europan can only be implemented together with the actors through a negotiated process and in time. How did you consider this issue in your project?
Our project is flexible and can be transformed in several parallel proposals, since it mainly relies on a strong design of the centrality of public space, of a central void for social gathering. The project should be developed in flexible phases and always entail the participatory influence of the inhabitants and the negotiations with the actors who are involved.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
Yes, it is the first time that we have been awarded as a team. However, Leonardo and Annalisa were awarded a runner-up prize at Europan 11, in Leeuwarden (NL). Europan is a pivotal competition and a great opportunity to increase our own design/research practice. Europan prize could improve our both professional and academic career.