Recent Thesis Analogs


The execution of monumental vision and the production of new public space

New Cities are erected at speeds that far exceed initial demand or need for public space.  The result?  Public space is either non-existent or overwhelming until density reaches a critical mass.  This thesis proposes an infrastructural intervention for the interim – a catalyst for city life through a re-design of the public realm—the barometer of health for the city.

New capital city and former soviet republic Astana, Kazakhstan, was realized in just under a decade.  Its remote location and extreme climate in combination with a transitory, uprooted population, and lack of adequate public infrastructure has resulted in a vast, empty core at the heart of the city.

Monolithic, and disconnected buildings support the notion that the needs of the people (perceived as a passive mass) are secondary to prominent individuals and political figures.  This city of monuments has prioritized image over spatial relationships and has produced a series of follies rather than functional buildings and public space.

This thesis proposes a re-configuration of the public realm through new layers of density – the draping of a public surface over a neoliberal foundation.

More specifically, the proposal seeks to:

1. Transform the axis from predominantly mono-functional to multi-functional use with the creation of permanent and transitional program.

2. Carve out, or sever, the uninterrupted horizontality of the site to create spaces scaled for a variety of human activities, individual and collective.

3. Link isolated, object buildings and monuments with a protected, pedestrian-oriented public infrastructure.

4. Create vistas within vistas to shift focus from the state to the people who comprise it and define its values – highlighting the multiple publics of Astana and encouraging a citywide coexistence.

5. Accommodate flexibility over time, including the need to support daily practices, periodic routines and episodic citywide events.

The thesis challenges the role of the planner, architect and urban designer, in the ongoing global economic crises.  Ultimately, this is not only an idea for public space issues in Kazakhstan, but a template for resolving the compromised public realm of new cities world wide.


About this entry