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ArgumentNo. 5/2013

The public realm: experimental research and design studio at TU Delft


This article will discuss how the public realm, playing a paramount role in the experience and use of the built environment, has been addressed in an experimental way in the research and design studio at the Faculty of Architecture in Delft, the Netherlands. This article will highlight a how the graduation studios held in the past few years on locations in The Hague have lead to new insights and typologies by means of experimental research and design methods in the urban context. Through the analysis of precedents and on-site fieldwork the studio aims to develop tools in order to understand and address the issue of public realm. Such strategies involve themes such as stimulation of sport and education or creative industries, offering facilities for specific groups such as teenagers, elderly people or immigrant population, or improving pedestrian connections and public spaces in a neighbourhood. The design projects can be seen as detailed case-studies to test the insights developed though research. This article will highlight the transcription from the phase of research- through fieldwork, on-site experiments and theoretical research- to the actual design work.

For the studio projects in The Hague, a number of different sites, all in current development processes, were taken into consideration. The Binckhorst and Laakhaven projects, for instance, focused on the redevelopment of former industrial areas, seeking for a balance between industry, infrastructure and new public and residential programs. The Transvaal and Schilderswijk projects took into account the social and economical problems of city quarters currently populated by a large number of immigrants. The Public Realm studio on the sea-side resort Scheveningen, took as an important theme the connections to the sea, which lack identity, spatial quality and architectural “présence”.