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Collective Infrastructures. Publication of the Design Studios maib14 and maib24 by Maria Cecilia Chiappini 2016-2017

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Collective Infrastructures was the focus of two Design Studios, maib14 and maib24, tutored by MaríaCecilia Chiappini during the academic year 2016-2017 at the International Master of Science in Architecture,Orientation Urban Cultures and Urban Projects, at the Faculty of Architecture, Campus Sint-LucasBrussels, KU Leuven, in Belgium.Th e challenge was to Rethink the Axis Canal-North Station-Leidts Square, in Brussels, Belgium. Th eprovocation was to study collective spaces that emerge in relation to urban mobility infrastructures, questioningthe role of these elements for urban life and as spatial crossed sections along diff erent models thataccumulate in the city; and furthermore, for imagining alternative urban futures for Brussels. Th e theme,theoretical and methodological references, and an outline of the research on Infrastructure under Transformationas Collective Spaces, currently under development by the tutor, were intentionally shared as astarting point. Plenty of room was left to interpret them and apply them, as well as to verify if there can bean actual correlation between research and design strategies that enables stronger arguments for decisionmaking in terms of design scenarios, visions and tools, in pedagogical terms. Students were free tochoose the programme and location of their design as long as they were part of a statement originally andcreatively generated by each student. Th e proposals were then developed further up to the architecturaldesign detail level with a strong urban correlation.Looking at the overall outcomes, one can observe that the framework seems to be helping students developa new “sensibility” towards certain urban processes, instead of them directly focusing on intentions orexpectations of the future conditions to achieve via their design operations, they take the time to “search”for hidden urban qualities, “other” urban qualities, actual existent urban processes that usually get dismissed,and they start their speculations and design investigations from this point. Th is brings them alsoto detect unforeseen conditions, and therefore opportunities for design, or even the twist of focus orabstention from design. It seems that students are starting to develop the capacity to appreciate the qualitiesof border conditions, overlapping situations, fringes, spot unexpected user(s) of collective spaces, orunpredictable mixes or co-existences.The integration between research approach and design generation can be briefly illustrated in severalproposals. Tatsuya Saeki’s “Marché in the Backyard: Towards a New Form of Collective Space”, show howhe worked with underused hidden courtyards to aggregate open space and turn it into a range of collectivecommunal spaces, in size and quality, mainly for market activities, not by formalizing them, but by usinglocally inspired atmospheres and proposing micro routes around them. In “Passage: Expanding CommercialSpace”, Sophia Holst identified the trend of commercial spaces along Brabant Street to expand notonly horizontally but also vertically “eating up” housing space and risking a monofunctional definitionsof multi-unit buildings. She then twisted this logic to upgrade the experience of both the commercial andresidential spaces and to re think an existent typology starting from the street life.In the explorations of the role of urban infrastructures as cross sections of North Quartier, the decayingbusiness district of Brussels, students shifted the recurrent questions of “what to do with the vacant orobsolete office skyscrapers” that compete with ex-novo business areas, into testing ways of requalifying thecommunal experience of office workers and local inhabitants within the collective spaces in relation to thequalities of the site, the proximity to the city centre and adjacent neighborhoods, via using the unveiledtensions and fluxes. As illustrations, Euihyun Hwang identified an overlapping territory between local inhabitantand commuting office workers and stressed it by stepping on existing recreational processes. ToniPopovski thickened the edges of a canal articulating industrial and urban fabrics. Vasiliki Pavli detectedcritical spatial configurations exploited for homeless shelters and conducted a housing experiment.All proposals had their own intense development process and interesting outcomes, and are here shown inextend. This booklet shows the results of an intense year of work with very motivated and committed students:Chang Cao, David Wirth, Tatsuya Saeki, Maxim Baralinc, Sophia Holst, Merve Demirel, Julian Rieder,Vida Rucli, Vincent Chukwuemeka, Nguyen Hoang Tung, and Vu Hoang Thong Nguyen at Maib14;and Alberto Aragón, Euihyun Hwang (Ethan), Dien Quan Mai, Nicolas Mansour, Vasiliki Pavli (Vicky),Apoloniusz Jan Pindelski (Apollo), Toni Popovski at Maib24. Thank you very much for your effort andpassion.
Number of pages: 472
Publication year:2017