Team Representative: Maria Nuñez (ES) – architect and ecological restoration expert
Contributor: Lux Nieve (ES) – translator
Calle Nicasio Gallego 14, 28010 Madrid (ES)
+34 67723 36 72 – email@example.com – maria-nunez.com
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1. How did you form the team for the competition?
After working in a large company, I thought that participating in the Europan contest was a unique opportunity to redefine my working objectives. This competition gave me an opportunity to think in terms of possible solutions to manage environmental problems in the city, and to define what constitutes an ecological city from a holistic point of view.
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?
Warsaw suffers from a great fragmentation in some areas, that make it a discontinuous city. Buildings lacking maintenance“float” inside green regions. In this context, a “productive” district would be in fact an island, being configured as an independent item, disconnected from its surroundings. The first strategy to stimulate the development of this region is to define and create a hierarchy of the different public spaces that compose the area. This urban structure aims to create a safe pedestrian and/or cyclist path, and to trigger a sustainable, compact urban development for the future. It is amidst this fragmented context that the urban structure is rethought, based on the creation of human-scale public spaces and the integration of circular economy productive systems. Keeping the goal of securing resilience in the complex through key systems: food and energy production, water cycle, tourism, multi-purpose common spaces, and Fab-Labs dedicated to repair and reuse. These systems ensure long-term environmental, social and economical sustainability, and are an integral part of the design process hosted by neighbours and development agents.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
The backbone idea for the project, applied in every scale, was the creation of quality public spaces that integrate diversity and density. This idea was articulated in a series of premises that configure a conventional urban shape -street blocks- while breaking apart from dominant development models.
The premises were:
• DO NOT BUILD ANY NEW INFRASTRUCTURE FOR CARS;
• DO INTRODUCE TEMPORARY USES TO COMMON OPEN SPACE;
• DO NOT DESTROY ANY EXISTING BUILDINGS •DO CLEARLY DELIMITATE STREETS OR PATHS FROM OTHER OPEN PUBLIC SPACES;
• DO NOT DESIGN CITY AS A PARK WITH BUILDINGS ON IT;
• DO INVEST ON URBAN REGENERATION.
In this urban model, the industrial heritage and the memory of the place are maintained, and a dense, vigorously inhabited space is formulated. Two types of social housing are proposed: Flexible social housing -open to different family types- is developed in the North-South axis, while new forms of social housing are proposed for the East-West axis, bringing formal and typological heterogeneity to the complex.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
During my studies in ETSAM -Escuela Técnica Superio de Arquitectura de Madrid-, as well as in the course of a research scholarship I undertook in NuTAC -New Techniques of Architecture and City-, I have had the opportunity to study both and execute urban regeneration projects. These were often articulated around public space and social housing. Firstly, during my studies, I proposed -alongside with Irene Ezquerra, Andrea Lusquiños and Isabel Ibañez- a project for the urban regeneration of Parque Alcosa, a social housing district in the 1970s Valencia. This project structured and hierarchized public space by the introduction of temporary productive uses and the closing of the water cycle. Later, while in NuTAC, I had the opportunity to collaborate in the edition of an editorial work -”A pie de calle”- where different social housing and urban regeneration cases were examined. This publication contained some innovative examples such as the Bestemmingsplan Buiksloterham case: A development plan for a former industrial area in Amsterdam by Projectbureau Noordwaarts. This project was modelled based on closed cycles, diversifying the size of plots and participating agents with the goal of increasing the number of agents, hence redefining the concept of social housing. Lastly, a project by A.D.P. Architektur, -Überbauung Helmutstrasse-, has been an important reference for my project. This is a case of flexible social housing that conforms the district by enabling human-scale public space. It also takes in different family units (from single person families to 8-roomed apartments), ensuring diversity in the district.
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?
The present stage of the project is an approach to the future “district”, where I drew new pathways connecting to the downtown. Warsaw, and Wola particularly, urgently requires a plan for a quality development of the public space. This is why this project is set in the centre of the transformation, with the goal of creating an alternative circulation net, based on pedestrians. It is with this purpose that I propose the Urban Regeneration Office in Wola: a space for debate, analysis and confrontation where public, private and particular agents can speak up and propose different development plans for each area.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
In the last Europan I also was honored to be chosen as Runner-Up, in a project set in Geneva that proposed a densification system for urban areas. This is the first time that I join the contest on my own. To be awarded as Runner-Up is, without a doubt, a strong support to keep participating in contests on my own and in teams, a starting point in redefining my professional career.