Team Representative: Alessandra Farina (IT) – architect & urban designer; Associates: Alexandra Chairetaki (GR) – urban designer & landscape architect
Rue Gustave Defnet, 20, 1060 Brussels (BE)
+44 7751008725 – firstname.lastname@example.org
A. Farina & A. Chairetaki
VIDEO (by the team)
1. How did you form the team for the competition?
We met in Manchester approximately a year ago when our paths crossed for a week in an urban design practice - one of us had just started and the other one was leaving. It happened almost by chance that we started working on this project together, as we figured out we both wanted to participate in Europan for a while – so it was the perfect opportunity to get to collaborate.
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?
Our key concern for the project was to understand how to create a mixed-use development avoiding a top-down approach that could completely ‘break’ the existing and vibrant dynamics on site. We saw every element and actors on site as a resource not only in spatial terms, but also in a more conceptual approach that encompasses social aspects and interactions. The aim of our design strategy was to promote cooperation between the different groups - some more obvious than others - in order to resist the existing neoliberal economic model and produce equal access to resources. Starting from the idea of an experimental “Community Energy Trust” - initiated by the Port and City of Rotterdam - our project is based on the idea that infrastructures do not exist only in their materiality form; rather, they are the platform enabling a new circular system of social and knowledge production.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
M4H is an area once perceived away from the city - the port - which has been suffering, alongside the adjacent neighbourhoods, the issue of its economic transition. The small scale of the site was an advantage to redefine the relationship between the Port and the City but also to foster interaction within the area and its surroundings. Vierhavensblok is not a blank canvas and there are already local actors living, working and volunteering there, offering a fertile ground to develop social infrastructure.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
The most important concept behind our proposals is something that has always been the basis of our individual approach to design: participation and co-design. We both have experience from working on participatory and co-creative projects, but Vierhavensblok was an inspiration to experiment and test new ideas. We have to admit that we have been more intrigued by best practices or inspiring concepts than by specific architectural references. Among them, for example, we took inspiration from Lacaton & Vassal for the use of cheap and modular materials and for their capacity to imagine a community of inhabitants actively implementing a public space and improving their living conditions.
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?
Platform of Commons focuses on a strategy to develop a bottom-up project together with all the actors involved. Therefore, we considered all possible actors who would take part and have a role in the regeneration process: institutions (such as the Port authority, the City of Rotterdam and Universities), the makers and the artists already living in the area and the potential future inhabitants, workers or visitors. Focusing on the process rather than on a concluded design solution, our Platform of Commons offers the potential for a realistic phased development of Vierhavensblok as per its current needs.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
It is the first time that we have taken part in the competition and we are so happy to have been awarded as Runner-up. We hope that this achievement will be a good starting point for our future careers and we look forward to taking part in the Inter-Session Forum.
Functions: Architecture, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture
Average age of the associates: 32 years old
Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? If yes, which ones?