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ArgumentNo. 6/2014

Sustainable rehabilitation of public urban space


“Space has no room, time not a moment for us. We are excluded. In order to be included -- to help our homecoming -- we must be gathered into their meaning (we are the subject as well as the object of architecture). Whatever space and time mean, place and occasion mean more. For space in our image is place, and time in our image is occasion. ” — Aldo van Eyck, Team 10 Primer, Alison Smithson ed. (Cambridge, MIT Press, 1968).

Strategies of public space configuration are often based on either Cartesian hyper-geometrization, or on the mimicry of quasi-illegible fluxes of information and images. The spaces thus derived are either bland, barren, rigidly coded geometrical abstractions of reduced meaningfulness, or alienating scenographies centred on image construction, where people seldom belong.

This paper examines an ideal situation (which should, in fact, be the norm) in which the process of public space design emphasizes the network of relationships specific to the space’s intended users. A geometrical rendering of these relationships – their translation into architecture – should reference the original cultural horizon of the user group, tapping into their innate sense of space and associated stylistic matrix. On these premises, the process of creating public spaces should then focus on identifying, within the cultural horizon of said group, the imprint of social cohesion, of specific inter-human relationships. As a consequence, the resulting, ‚normal’ public space will be a social space par excellence – the space of a cohesive group, a space of the individual in the extended sphere of their intimacy and, last but not least, a sustainable space, integrated through concept and execution into the local public space network.


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