Open City Wrap-Up


Rotterdam Open City [Architecture Summer School] concluded with five group presentations, a roof-top party, and file swapping for the upcoming Biennale.  Our work will be exhibited at the 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam Open City – Designing Coexistence, which takes place in Rotterdam from 24 September 2009 to 10 January 2010, as part of the exhibition Parallel Cases // IABR@RDM.  Personally, the summer school/conference was a great opportunity for networking with other students. designers, municipalities, and professionals, and a helpful exercise in managing a group, organizing a presentation, learning more about public and collective space in this hemisphere, and verifying that the PC partition on my laptop is still operational.  It was very much a way for me to reorganize my branner/thesis arguments.

Our final thoughts on the Wijnhaveniland site

New (vertical) urban development often falls victim to patterns of mono-functionality, mute (or inactive) spaces and disconnection from surrounding context.  The insertion of collective space – a recently recognized social zone that seeks to institutionalize certain forms of public interaction – is intended to alleviate some of the social ills of high-rise living and encourage the connection between those living in the towers to activities happening on the ground (life in the sky vs. life on the ground).

This is the context of Rotterdam’s centrally located and 21st century defining Wijhaveneiland.  In line with the city’s ambitions and intentions, we propose an extremely vertical manifestation of future projects on the island.  We seek to set an urban model for the future development of Rotterdam as an international and global open city, leveraging the notion of collective space to do so.

The high-rise city should be neither purely severed nor wholly conjoined with its surroundings, rather it should exist as a rich integration, or hybrid, of the two.  The concept of ‘3D City’ refers to the rethinking, or challenging, of the current urban landscape to create a multi-directional network of urban space.  A landscape traditionally dominated by the horizontal ground plane grows vertically and becomes a dense network of program, circulation, and public activity.  We raise program while including the street.  The street becomes the fuel to ignite the layers of urbanism above.  Through this, the vertical dimension of Wijhaveneiland retains the critical connection to the city as a whole, while retaining the strong sense of identity and individuality that distinguishes this site.

Our proposal is not a single intervention, but a series of designed and planned public and collective spaces, to be implemented incrementally as the center grows and is inhabited over time.

The city is an armature providing for the confluence of human and economic needs.  A co-existence at all levels and axis is critical to the success of this system, and architecture becomes the tangible interface.


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