Jan 1990 - Jan 1991
Living in the city
Figures Europan 2
1422 entries (35%)
43 winners and 45 runners-up
on 49 sites
Countries and sites
EUROPAN 2 - 11 participating countries
EUROPAN 2 - The cities, 49 urban situations
Belgique/België/Belgien: Bruxelles / Anderlecht-Arts et Métiers, Charleroi
Deutschland: Berlin, Duisburg, Halberstadt, Rostock, Speyer
Ellás: Athinai, Rhodos, Thessaloniki
España: Alcalá de Henares, Basauri-Bilbao, Caravaca de la Cruz, Meaques-Madrid, Madrid, Mendillorri-Pamplona, Sevilla, Valencia
France: Amiens, Chateauroux, Dunkerque, Rezé, Sète, Vizille
Italia: Alessandria, Brescia, Carrara, Cordenons, Firenze, Nova Gorica (YU) with Gorizia, Padova, Taranto
Jugoslavija: Beograd, Nova Gorica (YU) with Gorizia, Zadar, Zagreb
Nederland: Apeldoorn, Breda, Nijmegen, Zaanstad
Österreich: Graz, St-Pölten, Wien
Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera/Svizra: Baden, Delémont, Genève, La-Chaux-de-Fonds
Sverige: Jönköping, Stockholm, Umeå
LIVING IN THE CITY
Re-interpretation of urban sites
The purpose of Europan 2 is to spur thinking about the possibilities of urban re-composition beginning with new strategies in which habitat plays a major or event predominant role. The idea is to develop or re-develop a site by re-assessing it within the overall evolution of the area of the city and integrating the new requirements that have arisen as result of the multiplicity of life styles and how these have changed. The aim is also to devise those processes of implementation that are best suited to the urban realities of today.
Space is available in many places and could be used for the building of city schemes that better integrate habitat. This entails using city: wasteland, land no longer required for its original use, derelict and abandoned areas – all sensitive sites that could play a decisive role in city development. Such are the sites proposed to the contestants by developers involved in Europan 2.
HOUSING AND WAYS OF LIFE
Changes in population and social behaviours, the development of mass consumption, and variations in relationships within society, are all the expression of transformation in ways of living. It is important to grasp the permanent features of such alterations, to identify and measure them, and to assess their impact on forms of housing and its environment.
For while changes in people’s behaviours and requirements have a bearing on the inside living space, they also imply a shift in the relationships between housing and its immediate surroundings and the wider city, its urban shapes and the other activities located there (trade, work, leisure, culture, etc.). Such adaptation emerges as all the more necessary since – in a context of increasing uniformity of the inside living space observed over the last decades – the urban location of housing, the outside connections with its surroundings, and the services provided to it become a decisive criterion conditioning both the use of housing and its quality. Moreover the spread of communication techniques and ever increasing traffics are sprawning a mutation in the relationships between housing and other urban activities, and housing and other districts of the city. What links should there be between housing and other spaces devoted to work, recreation, and culture? What functional and symbolic relationships should housing have with public spaces and communication networks?
URBAN SHAPES AND DYNAMICS
The current revival of urban development that is bound up with economic and technological changes, coincide with a transformation of urban shapes. At one and the same time the growth of transports and communications is producing both concentrations and fragmentations of built-up areas. Nowadays cities can no longer be thought of as something finite or unchanging. Broken up and subdivided, cities grew around traffic arteries and networks. Given this historical context, what importance should be ascribed to traditional urban forms and old central locations? What shape and what status can be given to urban re-composition today?
The opening of Europe and economic changes are such that cities are competing with each other, a process upon which the momentum of their development depends. Cities have to be able to portray themselves as saleable and consumable products. In their striving for a better position in the contest, they seek to attract and keep the most modern and dynamic activities, such as sophisticated services, hi-tech industry, and research; furthermore, they want to draw the management, engineers, and technicians deemed necessary to the performance of such activities. Therefore, a town needs to build itself a public image and acquire urban structures designed to meet these needs. Hence, the dynamic of the city appears today to have concentrated on the expression of economic and urban concepts. Technological parks, hi-tech ports, trade complexes, congress centres, large-scale cultural facilities, sports ad recreation amenities are seen as prime movers of urban transformations and their dynamics. By dint of their economic role, and their contribution to a public image, their presence and the activities they accommodate have repercussions that – beyond their immediate impact on the environment - completely modify the functional, sociological, aesthetic and urban structure of a district, a town, or even a region. Very often however facilities such as these little room for housing and urbanity. And yet, housing still goes to make up most of the urban landscape. It is still of fundamental importance, and where there is urban housing greater attention to the quality of the environment and to generation of urban life is now needed.
Whether this involves major intra-urban re-organization or simply limiting the impact of all sorts of local nuisances related to urban activities, the scale and form of changes made to the urban environment include an ecological dimension that must not be overlooked. What qualitative role can housing plan when it comes to urban re-composition? What impact does it have in the processes that transform the city? Is housing but one of the factors that goes to make quality urban living, or is it an essential link in the development of cities?
As with urban property, social structures and modes of production of the past have endured and still constitutes a sizeable part of the urban social and economic fabric. The city is the place where different societies inter-mingle, where diverse economic systems co-exist, and where the old is interspersed with the new. Not only does the city have to adjust to the demands of daily living, it must also gear itself to developments in the medium term while making room for the permanent structures of the more distant future. The city must therefore be thought of in terms of generations.
Are the new patterns of development that focus on economic factors, concentrated around certain activities, and directed at a few socio-economic groups suited to future trends and reversals in the growth pattern? Can the urban forms they generate integrate permanent social and economic features? How important are they and what role should they play in comparison to the traditional city? How can an urban re-composition scheme that includes a housing element meet these requirements? What should be our attitude to this as it is “ natural ” tendency towards the social and functional segregation of different urban districts (which leads to the over-development of some areas while others are left to go to ruin)? Should we try and counter this when altering the city or rather should we accept it and devise new links and communications between the various urban fragments?
The very essence of the city is the existence of multivariate activities. In the atomised city of today however, multi-functionality is taking on new forms. Ranging from the blending of activities in the traditional urban fabric to the strict zoning of contemporary urban design, the co-existence of functions in space can take on many different forms. Which functions should be brought together and which kept separate? Should we re-interpret, continue, or abandon the traditional blend of elements in the urban fabric? Should it be extended or limited to a few urban locations? Would we attempt to contrive new types of mix or on the contrary accept the trend towards the specialisation of various parts of the city and consider links and communication as being pan-urban?
This functional issue of the scale and the quality of multi-functionality must go hand in hand with consideration of the impact the solutions put forward might have. Can across-the-board principles and solutions still be framed, or should answers be geared to each locality – or even each site – depending on its characteristics and the wishes of the local population?
As urban growth recovers, modes of urban management and programmes are changing. Typical of the current town planning is the quest for effective models and appropriate scales of the intervention. This has led some countries to decentralise while others are concentrating those organisations and authorities in charge of planning and development. Generally speaking, the approach of town planners is less all-encompassing and assertive than it was in the past. What urban project could unite often-conflicting forces to help to transform the city? How can the knock-on effect of a single operation be hardnessed? What other building processes are needed to buttress this effect so that it can include other operations in its wake, thereby driving a broader re-composition movement?
Heightened public awareness of the quality of the environment means that the local citizens must be heeded when it comes to defining that quality. Can democratic approaches and building processes be devises enabling local inhabitants’ views to be expressed and their wishes to be met? If so, what part would be played by technical people and what would their relationship with the local population be?
The scope of these questions, as much about building processes as about urban patterns and the inside living space, means that there are answers on several scales which must be clearly put and integrated into the project entered in the competition.