Team Representative: Juan Socas (ES) – architect urban planner
Contributor: Miguel Martin de la Sierra (ES) – student in architecture
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J. Socas and M. Martin de la Sierra
1. How did you form the team for the competition?
Juan Socas arrived in Madrid to create his own office for architecture in 2011. There he met Miguel de la Sierra, a brilliant student at the School of Architecture of Alcala de Henares. Together they submitted bids at various national architectural competitions and finally decided to participate to Europan 12 in Germany.
2. How do you define the main issue of your project, insisting on how you answered on this session main topic: adaptability and urban rhythms?
The project is structured around a series of open interventions designed to evolve along with the city. Thus, the new city will be the result of this evolution, to which the citizens themselves subject these elements.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
The planted urban seeds will be the starting point of a slow and ramified process, i.e. the creation of a new city with its multiple discourses, challenges and questions. This evolution should not be interpreted as a linear single process but as a collective one. Each proposal has a purpose and a place in the new Mannheim. Therefore, each growing branch is independent but, at the same time, all branches are related to each other. The proposals are intertwined, every single one can influence the others. Every branch will emerge from the urban seeds and will mark the path that leads to the evolution of the city.
The main goal of these seeds is to strengthen the city entrance as an area for development, bringing new opportunities to the city. The progressive development of the proposal will transform the area into a centre of attraction and activity, resulting in a greater social and cultural affluence for Mannheim. This activation strategy is particularly important in the former U.S. military bases, the large space left to the city after its abandonment. This area brings a great opportunity to develop a new contemporary city, unified by the expansion, consolidation and improvement of open spaces and green areas, introducing and creating the image of the sustainable city Mannheim wants to become.
4. Have you already treated this issue previously and could you present some reference projects that inspired yours?
The Walking City, The Instant City and the Plug-in City by Archigram, are essential references for understanding Re-Evolutions in Mannheim.
5. Today –within the era of an economic crisis and sustainability– the urban-architectural project should reconsider its production method in time; how did you integrate this issue in your project?
The consolidation around the area of the agricultural belt can improve new models of industry and sustainable development, resulting in a chain of productions covering all sectors. The relationship between the urban and rural environment will grow, producing a symbiosis that will improve the quality of life. The urban seeds of facilities and services are exported to rural areas and, at the same time, models of agricultural household productions will be introduced to the city as "urban gardens", self-managed, helping to foster self-cultivation and a natural and more sustainable production.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
Juan Socas participated to a proposal awarded with an Honorable Mention in Europan 7 for his project in Parnu (EE). We hope this Runner-Up award will bring him new opportunities in the European architectural scene.