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Febres Cordero | A new hybrid building in the historic center of Cuenca

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+ecosistema urbano+mixed-use building+sustainability

Vista aerea febres

The Febres Cordero building was developed within the scope of CUENCA RED, the urban reactivation strategy for Cuenca, Ecuador. The aim of Cuenca Red was to incorporate activities and programs in the Historic Center in order to create a new network of reactivated public spaces. One of those spaces is Febres Cordero, an emblematic and historical building which had functioned as a school for decades.

This building has great heritage value and has one of the largest courtyards of the entire historic center (3,300 m2). It is located on Gran Colombia Street, right next to the tram line. It is comprised of two main volumes, one of them  with much less quality and architectural interest.

The building was going to stop its activities within a few months of the beginning of the project, as the school was going to be relocated into a new building. Also, the school has been an important node of social and economic activity for years on the area. This large community injects daily activity into the center of Cuenca.

Fachada Exterior Febres Cordero

Activity from the beginning

One key aspect of the project was not only to design a building with new uses and programs, but also to plan the transition process between one moment and the other. We conceived the project from its Phase 0, in order to unleash, through different actions and activities, dynamism and interest in the future of the building and its interior space.

Space is activated from the beginning, dividing the construction into 3 phasesThe project is planned in 3 phases. The first one is really important, consisting of the opening and reactivation of the central courtyard as a public space for events and activities. This phase is esentially low cost, but its implementation will have a strong impact in keeping momentum and activity around the area, and also generating interest and expectations around the building. Subsequently, the reconditioning and construction of the building will be carried out, and finally the climatic conditioning of the new interior square.

In search of new uses

Following our conclusions of the urban analysis, we noted the progressive emptying of housing in the Historic Center of Cuenca. Although the center still continues to be an active space for tourism and commercial activity, the number of residents is decreasing, moving towards the perimeter of the city center.

This is certainly a problem, especially in the afternoon or the evening, when the shops and offices close, and the lack of activity and people in the area becomes more evident. That emptiness generates unfavorable conditions, like sense of insecurity, or an increase in the number of abandoned or underused properties.

FebresCordero_01

Current status of the interior patio of the Febres Cordero School in Cuenca, Ecuador.In this complex context we identified, through a participatory process partly hosted in the school itself, the need of strengthening the resident population living in the center of Cuenca. It was also key to generate conditions for other families to consider attractive and feasible to live there. The inhabitants of the CHC and technicians who participated in the participatory process agree that the building has optimal conditions to become a new “catalyst” of the city. The Febres Cordero building can be reconstructed as a pilot project that will address many of the opportunities and challenges shared with other historic centers in Latin America.

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Participatory activities carried out with the students of the Febres Cordero School

A hybrid architectural complex

Febres Cordero does not only house a school, but also commercial premises along the ground floor. The project aims to enhance this aspect, creating a hybrid building capable of bringing together different programs, generating a diverse community that serves as a reference for social and economically sustainable urban intervention.

The rehabilitation of the Febres School seeks three main goals, as steps towards the improvement of the Historic Center:

  • Increasing the extension of public spaces in the area
  • Providing diverse housing typologies (including social housing)
  • Generating a new heart of urban activity through the insertion of new facilities.

Hybrid program of the new complex

To achieve this, Febres Cordero comprises 3 components:

  • Rehabilitation of the existing heritage building (4.500 m2) with new apartments, students dormitory, commercial ground floor, common workspaces, rest area and an elevated outdoor public space.
  • Construction of a new building (5.000 m2) on the surface freed by the demolition of the unprotected building. It is mainly residential and will also have a series of additional services and facilities that are of a public nature and therefore accessible to the rest of the inhabitants of the complex.
  • Reconfiguration of the inner courtyard as a new public square for the city (3.300 m2).
ESTRATEGIAS FEBRES

The new building is connected to the heritage building by corridors

A new public square

The courtyard is conceived as a new public square for the city. It recovers the entrances from the 3 adjacent roads and generates an active and attractive, programmable public space. The ground floor will be adapted to reinforce this idea, promoting permeability and the visual connection between the streets and the courtyard.

3-accesos-Febres

New public square, with 3 entrances from the surrounding streets

The proposed square includes two conditions: a flexible space with a mobile grandstand that allows the creation of different configurations for cultural and sport events, and a more natural space, a cuencan garden inspired by the multiple existing green patios that together create a network of vegetation and biodiversity in the historic center.

Respecting heritage

We are aware of the historical value of a building like this. After a careful study of the history, typology, and construction of the building (built around 1900), the intervention was designed to preserve and respect its historical value and at the same time to introduce new structures to diversify the possibilities of use and adapt it to the evolving urban context.

The intervention respects and seeks to value the intrinsic qualities of the building, and also wants to create a dialogue with the most innovative construction techniques.

TOMO 2.pdf

View of the new public space with the mixed-use building connected to the old Febres Cordero School.

Sección Transversal de la Escuela Febres Cordero

Cross section. A relationship between the new mixed building (left), the public square (center), and the heritage building (center and right).

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Architectural plans of the refurbished complex.The main strategy consists of concentrating the utilities or technical systems of the apartments in spines perpendicular to the façade line. This way we can  to minimize the impact on the façade and generate cross ventilation in all the rooms. The exterior façade is not altered by any of the interior interventions and will preserve its current structure and image towards.

On the other hand, the roof was in poor condition. Activating the space under the roof with the creation of a new housing ring towards the interior of the patio enabled us to expand the useful surface without impacting the building on its exterior appearance and its relationship with the public road.

Maximum sustainability

In a project as ambitious as Febres Cordero, the most appropriate technical mechanisms must be sought to achieve maximum economic, social and environmental sustainability. The final design and construction systems were devised under the following sustainability criteria: following bioclimatic design principles for better energy efficiency, adopting local materials and construction techniques to improve durability, and considering the economic impact of the construction at a local level.

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Adaptation of housing typologies to the structural modules in the heritage building.

Comportamiento bioclimático Febres Cordero

Basic outline of the bioclimatic behavior.

The rehabilitation of Febres Cordero is also conceived to be financially sustainable, allowing a short-term return of the investment with the sale and lease of housing and commercial premises, and with the generation of new economies in the urban area.

In general, this rehabilitation project, a pilot within the general Cuenca Red plan, will increase the intensity of use, the possibilities of social interaction and the generation of economies that contribute to the long-term sustainability of the historic center.

You can see the full documents of this project in our portfolio.

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A starting point: Banco de Ideas as an activator of the Hermosillo center

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+ecosistema urbano+mixed-use building+sustainability+urbanism

In a previous post, we shared the general approach for the Revitalization Plan of the historical center of Hermosillo. Pointing out how a strategic-tactical approach can contribute to transforming the city.

As we are focusing this month on hybrid buildings and urban catalysts, we want to take a closer look into one of the key sub-projects of the Plan Idea Hermosillo: the Banco de Ideas (Bank of Ideas).

Identifying an opportunity for activation

During the mapping process of the historical center, both in the on-site surveys and in the participatory meetings and workshops, one of the locations began to stand out as a key spot in the project’s approach: the Banco de Ropa (bank of clothes), a two-storey building used by a local NGO as a collection, storage and re-distribution point for second-hand clothes.

General view of the location of the Banco de Ideas and its surroundings, as seen from Cerro de la Campana. Historic Center of Hermosillo, Mexico. Ecosistema Urbano.

General view of the location of the Banco de Ideas and its surroundings, as seen from Cerro de la Campana.

View of the Banco de Ropa from the No Reelección Avenue, and current façade seen from Avda. Obregón. Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.

View of the Banco de Ropa from the No Reelección Avenue, and current façade seen from Avda. Obregón.

Many of the ingredients needed to launch an urban activation project are present on the Banco de Ropa:

  • It is strategically located in the center of the intervention area (see map). On the main street, near an important intersection and with direct views of the Cerro de la Campana. This location gives the project an excellent level of visibility and maximizes its potential impact on the urban center.
  • It presents an interesting combination of building and public space. Two of its facades, equipped with large sliding doors, face different streets, one of them with a small square in front. Right next to it, there is a vacant lot currently used as a parking lot. This combination of spaces creates the ideal situation to experiment with interior and exterior urban interventions.
  • The size of the building—around 1,700 m2—and of the surrounding spaces are also ideal, keeping the intervention in an affordable range but allowing a significant level of impact to be achieved in its surroundings.
  • The building is the only public property in the area, which enables some approaches that would not have been possible on a privately owned lot.
  • Transferring the existing use—as a clothing ban—to another location was deemed feasible and even desirable.
  • During the workshops and meetings, several local agents expressed their interest in taking part in the activation of the Banco de Ideas from the socio-cultural and business side. The building is seen as a possible hub for entrepreneurship, gastronomy, and technology, incorporating an educational component in its core.
  • The building’s general construction quality is relatively low, but on the other hand offers great potential for reconversion, being able to function as a large container of activities.

All these factors give this location a great potential for transformation and positive impact on the environment. They enable the ability to activate spaces, attract people and become the first step towards the revitalization of the historical center.

This is why this location was chosen as the main intervention of the Plan Idea Hermosillo, being developed as the “Banco de Ideas” Pilot Project.

The Banco de Ideas as an urban catalyst

The name and identity of the Banco de Ideas establish a link between its current use as a clothing bank and future use as a cultural, social and economic incubator. It is a space of exploration, a place capable of kick-starting the social, cultural and economic activation of the area. Capable of functioning as a collaborative “kitchen” in which the city and the neighborhood can experience new activities and ways of organizing themselves, and launch initiatives that improve the quality of life.

This is the role of an urban catalyst: to be one of the first steps on the long process of revitalization of an area of the city. The aim is to create a public and open place that would become a new node of activity, achieving a high impact without consuming excessive economic resources.

Diversifying uses

One of the first considerations when conceiving a new urban space like this one is the incorporation of new uses and programmes that will guarantee its transformation into an attractor of activity.

Many of the proposals emerged during the participation process with different stakeholders. The activities also served to identify the people or groups that could be involved in the subsequent management of the space. The uses and programmes that were identified as relevant for the reconversion of the building included gastronomy, culture, and heritage, entrepreneurship, education, new technologies and sport.

Key themes and activities identified around the Banco de Ideas. Hermosillo, Sonora, México. Ecosistema Urbano.

Key themes and activities identified around the Banco de Ideas.

Maximize the relationship with the environment

The Banco de Ideas building is a visual reference for the entire area because of its solid volume and height. It can clearly be seen from the Cerro de la Campana. However, given the importance of its integration into the urban context, the intervention cannot be restricted to an isolated architectural project: it needs to engage with the surrounding environment.

In the adjacent outdoor spaces (the small square on Obregón Avenue and streets) interventions are proposed in order to improve usability, comfort, attractiveness and general quality of the space.

The Banco de Ideas and its surroundings as hubs for new uses. Hermosillo, Sonora, México. Ecosistema Urbano

The Banco de Ideas and its surroundings as hubs for new uses.

The location of the building (right next to a public parking lot surrounded by a historic façade) allows for the creation of a unique combination of interior and exterior spaces. The parking lot is incorporated as a temporary expansion space in the moments of low usage, making it possible for the Banco de Ideas to also program outdoor activities.

The four large opposite entrances facilitate themovement of people, furniture and large objects, and provide physical and visual connection through the building.

The project

The concept of an urban catalyst is translated as a hybrid building (see more examples), capable of hosting a wide variety of uses. This building typology lies halfway between the closed and the open, the public and the private, the physical and the digital.

Axonometries showing elements to be demolished (red) and to be added (green) to the Banco de Ideas. Hermosillo, Sonora, México. Ecosistema Urbano

Axonometries showing elements to be demolished (red) and to be added (green) to the Banco de Ideas.

The project is based on the existing building, modifying it according to six key principles: the creation of multifunctional spaces, the connection of interior spaces with surrounding public spaces, the improvement of its climatic comfort by bioclimatic design, the integration of new facilities and technologies to prepare it for innovative uses, the creation of an open and inclusive management system, and the extension of opening hours to create an almost 24/7 facility.

Explanatory diagrams of the main concepts behind the proposal for the Banco de Ideas. Hermosillo, Sonora, México. Ecosistema Urbano.

Explanatory diagrams of the main concepts behind the proposal for the Banco de Ideas.

Inside the building, the intervention focuses on improvements that will allow new programmes and increase comfort: more natural lighting and ventilation, an adaptation of the space to new needs, improved accessibility, modernization of basic infrastructures, improvements in the perception of the space, etc.

A central patio combines vertical communications, lighting and ventilation. Three open floors are created, with a flexible distribution aided by furniture and light walls.

Plant and section of the proposal. Hermosillo, Sonora, México - Ecosistema Urbano

Plant and section of the proposal.

A key action for the renovation of the building is the addition o a new façace, made with light structures and semi-opaque textiles over the existing façace. Its design allows, on one hand, to protect the structure and the main enclosure of the building from direct solar radiation, improving its climatic behavior. On the other hand, brings a renovated image to the building while maintaining part of its previous shape.

Image of the building and the surrounding spaces from the outside. Banco de Ideas de Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Ecosistema Urbano.

Image of the building and the surrounding spaces from the outside.

The key to a sustainable management

One of the main challenges is related to the reactivation and management model of the Banco de Ropa building. Improving its physical appearance or incorporating new programmes is not enough. The real challenge is to develop an ad-hoc management model that guarantees its economic feasibility and at the same time promotes its use as a public facility.

This is why it is necessary to have the support of different urban stakeholders (private entrepreneurs, civic associations, local institutions, foundations, NGO’s, volunteers, etc.) organized in an administrative and consultive committee, and a civic board that will operate the Banco de Ideas in its day to day functioning.

The public sector will provide the building on a concession basis and will provide resources for the initial materialization of the physical infrastructure. At the same time, it will facilitate its management and operation with the other public agencies involved.

Profiles identified with a view to the co-management of the Banco de Ideas.. Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Ecosistema Urbano.

Profiles identified for the co-management of the Banco de Ideas.

This management model is based on good practices from different parts of the world, such as Estación Indianilla (CDMX, Mexico), Cascina Cuccagna (Milan, Italy), Infante 1415 (Santiago, Chile), Chapitô (Lisbon, Portugal) or the Scuola Open Source (Bari, Italy).

The aim is making the Banco de Ideas a self-sufficient project that generates its own economy and activity.

If you want to know more about this project, we recommend you to check the Plan Idea Hermosillo, and the document with the proposal for the Banco de Ideas, which you can read below:

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Unveiling the latest images of the Banyan Hub | A project for a new Hybrid Building in West Palm Beach, Florida

Category: ⚐ EN+ecosistema urbano+mixed-use building+sustainability+work in progress


After winning the international competition Shore to Core, commissioned by the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and organized by the Van Alen Institute in 2017, Ecosistema Urbano is developing several parts of the proposal, among them the visionary Banyan Hub building.

The Banyan Hub project arises from the intuition of the City of West Palm Beach and the CRA to transform the existing Banyan Garage, a car-devoted building from the 70s in the heart of the Downtown, into a new opportunity to activate the city, a hub for dozens of new activities for both residents and visitors.

Ecosistema Urbano has finalized the Schematic Design of the project that has been officially approved by the West Palm Beach City Commission on Oct. 22. The project will be further developed in the next months.

The Banyan Hub in the surrounding context of West Palm Beach.

A hybrid and flexible building open day and night
The Banyan Hub offers in a single building a wide range of different programs, from open and public spaces to reserved and private areas. The wide variety of possibilities that the building brings will have an important impact on the way of living in West Palm Beach Downtown. The programs collaborate with one another, creating a public facilities machine in which each part works separately, but all of them work together to offer the user a superb experience of public-private spaces. The program includes urban plazas, retail and catering, rooftop pavilion, YMCA, business hub, mobility hub, housing, and city support area.
Sustainability and bioclimatic design are key ingredients of the Banyan Hub, that is strongly characterized by its breathing façade, two courtyards, and multiple active and passive climatic devices.

Banyan Hub | A complex program building enveloped by a green permeable skin.

Urban bioclimatic plazas: expanding public space possibilities and multiplying them by 3
The public heart of the Banyan Hub beats on the three public plazas located on different levels:

  • A flexible and permeable plaza at ground level, with an open hall connected to the surrounding streets and to the rear passageway, that integrates retail, catering and several support spaces.

Banyan Hub | Ground Floor Plaza layout.

  • A covered open-air plaza at an intermediate level for temporary events, including spectacular features such as a digital interactive waterfall or a green courtyard, or local programs as the farmers market.

Enjoying urban life at Banyan Elevated Urban Plaza.     .

  • A top terrace, overlooking the lagoon offering a panoramic view of the unique Floridian natural environment and of the whole Downtown. The terrace accommodates a civic pavilion to host civic events (public meetings, projections, performances) as well as private events such as weddings.

Celebrating at the Banyan Hub Rooftop Terrace.

Interconnected public spaces
The three main public spaces will be connected to provide the experience of having a chameleonic journey through different environments. The Downtown is connected to the middle level elevated urban plaza through an exterior escalator that dynamizes the façade on Banyan Blvd., allowing to stop by the retail ring at the first two levels. From the elevated plaza, it will be possible to go up to the terrace using the breathtaking helical ramp around the green courtyard.

Banyan Hub Bioclimatic Design | A green living building.

A building green in the middle
Other uses in the central block of the building are the Business Hub and the YMCA, each of them occupying two levels. Both areas feature the presence of the central green courtyard, an open-air multi-level natural space that gives continuity to the landscaped urban plazas of the building. Moreover, the green courtyard has a relevant passive bioclimatic function as it would help to reduce temperatures by up to 5ºF and regulate ventilation, providing pleasant environmental conditions throughout the year while reducing environmental impact and management and operational costs.

Business Hub | Working at the Banyan Hub in close connection to nature.

A breathing skin
The façade acts as one of the main conditioning systems of the building, filtering the direct sunlight and regulating ventilation. It is formed by an array of individual elements that present a responsive behavior, autonomously sensing the climatic conditions and the needs of the building and changing their configuration. Protected by the external shading, there is a green buffer zone, mainly comprised of a permeable structure holding vegetation and supporting varied activities. This space acts as a second natural filter for light and breeze and contributes to the regulation of the internal temperature through evaporative cooling.

YMCA at Banyan Hub | Exterior running track at 113’ at Banyan YMCA.

YMCA at Banyan Hub | Swimming in the sky at Banyan YMCA.

Living overlooking the lagoon
The upper block of the building is dedicated to housing. The residential units face out to the exterior, enjoying privileged views of the city and the lagoon. A modular system allows for the combination of units of different sizes, ranging from 500 to 1500 sq.ft. Limited living spaces of micro-units are compensated by indoor and outdoor common facilities, specifically conceived to foster the sense of community of residents. Residential units are arranged around a shared courtyard, where vegetation will help to refresh the interior micro-climate, maintaining the appropriate temperature and humidity levels to achieve comfort for users.

Living at Banyan Hub | Outdoor common facilities for residents.

Banyan Hub | Cross section and night elevation in Olive Ave.     .

Making an invisible parking
The Banyan Hub will continue to serve as a municipal garage for the city’s needs, as its functioning is crucial to parking management of West Palm Beach Downtown. However, the parking will be completely upgraded using an Automated Parking System technology. With this system, the required 350 parking spots will occupy only the ⅔ of the volume currently used by the existing Banyan garage. Moreover, as the ambition of the Banyan Hub is to be an active piece of the city that projects its active life towards the surrounding context, a specific solution has been designed to ensure that the uses along the façades reflect the dynamism of the building. The 4 levels of parking are enclosed at the very core of the building, completely hidden from the outside; these are surrounded on 4 sides by two levels of retail and catering connected by a public corridor that gives architectural quality to this space while activates it.

About West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency
Created in 1984 and authorized by Florida’s Community Redevelopment Act of 1969 (F.S. 163, Part III), the West Palm Beach CRA is nationally recognized as one of the most innovative and effective Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs) in the country and is setting the standard for redevelopment. The downtown core has gone through a rebirth with substantial private investment including commercial and residential development. Public investment dollars total in the millions with a state-of-the-art library, revitalization of the historic Sunset Lounge, streetscape infrastructure, and an enhanced waterfront. The CRA continues to coordinate with the City and other agencies to market and revitalize the downtown.

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Rethinking Public Spaces in Dhaka: an Urban Design Scheme

Category: ⚐ EN+city+design+dhaka+movilidad+urban social design+urbanism

Introduction: the Dhaka City Neighborhood Upgrading Project

During our trip to Dhaka, the last march, we wandered through public spaces and we experienced what it is like to be a pedestrian in one of the densest megacity of the world. Our assessment was clear: the capital of Bangladesh really needs to improve its public spaces. Because of the city’s urbanization pace, public spaces tend to be approached as an afterthought and become the residual and scarce space between the buildings. And, as such, it is usually lacking the most basic comfort, accessibility or healthiness.

Public place, however, is one of the most valuable assets of every city. continue reading

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Metropoli Novissima | Exhibition in Naples

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+events+urbanism

If you are visiting Naples you have until the 3rd of December to see the Metropoli Novissima, an exhibition dedicated to successful interventions in suburban contexts featuring architectural and urban international projects. Curated by Prof. Cherubino Gambardella and promoted by the Annali dell’Architettura e delle Città Foundation, the exhibition has a free admission at the Monumental complex of San Domenico Maggiore.

Structured as a unique urban route and conceived as a travel card, the exhibition accompanies the visitor through suggestions and ideas from some of the most interesting case studies of urban design and architecture, with a special focus on processes and scenarios that unite cities.
The exhibition is the last moment of the debate promoted this year by the Fondazione Annali dell’Architettura e delle Città which, under the curatorship of Prof. Cherubino Gambardella, has chosen to investigate the topic of suburbia and its environmentally sustainable development, starting from Naples and Campania, at the center of political debate and planning process, aiming then at opening the debate worldwide. Professionals from all over the world have been called to provide their vision of possible interventions in suburban areas, offering a comprehensive view of the evolution of marginal spaces and underlying social dynamics.

Ecosistema Urbano is among the designers invited to present works related to environmental sustainability and urban activation. Ecosistema Urbano’s projects displayed at the exhibition are the Eco-boulevard, an urban recycling intervention in the outskirt of Madrid, Spain, aiming at creating a comfortable public space following the principles of bioclimatic design; Cuenca Red, an urban activation project developed in parallel to a participatory process, leading to the definition of an urban strategy and the design of 6 pilot projects in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador; Open Shore, a complex project proposing actions at different scales to reactivate the Downtown of West Palm Beach, Florida, and redesign the its limit between the natural landscape of the lagoon and the urban environment.

In Metropoli Novissima more than forty designers are called to present new scenarios and resources for the so-called “difficult places”. Other designers invited to share some of the most important works on urban renewal are works by: Alejandro Aravena, Archea Associati, Stefano Boeri, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Andreas Kipar from LAND, Francisco Mangado, Piuarch, and Sauerbruch Hutton, with scenarios that go from Paris to Moscow, from Johannesburg to Sichuan, from San Paolo to Milan.

More information at:
http://www.annaliarchitettura.it/comunicati-stampa.html
https://casabellaweb.eu/2018/10/09/metropoli-novissima/

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Nordic Urban Spaces | Exhibition in Berlin

Category: ⚐ EN+espacio público+events+news

If you ever wondered how the North builds, this exhibition is for you.  The “Nordic Urban Spaces” shows examples of Nordic architecture and urban planning already implemented that make life in the city better. The Nordic weather tends to be quite extreme, being either a bright and hot summer or a very long and cold winter, so weather particularly affects architecture and urban planning.

This exhibition shows successful, innovative and participatory examples of Nordic construction and planning. The projects not only bring summer into the city (for example, with urban swimming spots) but also provide light and color in winter (for example with brightly colored subway stations). They also try to demonstrate that functionality and sustainability, consideration and elegance are not mutually exclusive.

We are happy to announce that our project Dreamhamar is displayed in the exhibition until the 28th of September. The redesign of the Stortorget Square in Hamar, Norway, through participation and a network design process, took place during Fall 2011. Citizens took part in a collective creative process that helped us shape the future of the square. Our approach was supported by workshops, lectures, urban actions, communication, and participation tools. Dreamhamar was awarded as BEST PRACTICE by the United Nations-HABITAT program in 2014.

If you are in Berlin and want to check it out, go to The Felleshus. This building is the cultural center and event venue of the five Nordic embassies (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden).

Exhibition: Nordic Urban Spaces. Inspirationen für Stadt und Raum
Date: Until 28 September 2018
Place: Felleshus, Nordic Embassies, Berlin, Germany
Find out more: www.nordischebotschaften.org/ausstellungen/nordic-urban-spaces

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Being a pedestrian in Dhaka

Category: ⚐ EN+city+dhaka+mobility+urbanism

Stuck between a street vendor, his living hens and a rickshaw (first mean of transportation in Dhaka), trying to cross a four-lane road in the middle of an intersection among clouds of dust… being a pedestrian in Dhaka can look like a risky adventure. Ecosistema Urbano experienced it when we were in Dhaka for the Dhaka Upgrading Urban Project.

In 2016, Dhaka was the 11th megacity in the world with 18.237.000 inhabitants. In 2030, the UN estimate that its population will be around 27.374.0001 inhabitants. In rapidly growing megacities like these, with large, unplanned neighborhoods, both private and public spaces are affected by dynamics determined mostly by the pressure of the local and global economy. Public space, in particular, tends to be approached as an afterthought and becomes the residual (and scarce) space between the buildings, merely regarded as the minimum right of way and thus becoming hugely dominated by traffic. Due to lack of planning, parks, squares or boulevards are nonexistent, and when they exist, the spaces consist of bare land, often misused and treated as dumping grounds.

Walking is the main form of transportation in the Greater Dhaka Metropolitan area since 37,2% of the trips are made by foot2. However, this mode of transportation is far from being the safest. Being a pedestrian can be very complicated as one may encounters lots of obstacle through his journey. continue reading

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5 things you can do in Dhaka’s public spaces

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+city+dhaka+mobility

As a recent project has led us to Dhaka, we are starting a series of posts to share with you some key topics and observations about this very interesting city.

Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, is one of the densest cities in the world, with 18 million people squishing in 1,528 square km. The average density of the central area of the city has reached a staggering 41,000 inhabitants per square kilometer1. The city is considered one of the least livable cities in the world, ranked 137 out of 140 cities2 in 2017. It is the lowest for any South Asian city surveyed, because of, among other things, air pollution, severe traffic congestion, bad sewage system, hundreds of slums and regular river floodings.

In such a dense and crowded city, the inhabitants make the most of each square meter, making public space a truly multi-layered and multi-dimensional entity. continue reading

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Turning alleyways into active pedestrian passages | Open Shore Project

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+design+ecosistema urbano+urbanism+work in progress

Part of the Open Shore Project was to create a lively urban ecosystem nearby the shore of West Palm Beach, and one of the things that interested us the most was a dark and dirty alleyway near the Banyan Hub. When a city lacks public spaces, every corner, shore or even an alleyway can become a part of the urban ecosystem. These secondary narrow streets are unique opportunities for transformation.

This is how we proposed to activate this space:

The passageways

From Service Alleyways to Surprising Passageways

The alleyways will undergo a rapid activation process ranging from temporary interventions to the development of permanent structures and spaces to host new programs. Walkability, security, and comfort will be the first priorities to be addressed by means of active and passive climatic mitigation, new waste disposal and lighting systems, etc. Activities will disperse later into adjacent public spaces and buildings and these revamped ‘passageways’ will become thematic routes connecting different parts of the city. keep reading about the passageways!

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Banyan Hub: A new urban ecosystem for West Palm Beach | Open Shore Project

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+design+ecosistema urbano+urbanism+work in progress

The Banyan garage is envisioned as a new beacon for activities in downtown. This hybrid and flexible building will be open to the public all day long and will be an active presence in the city, producing culture, knowledge, and goods, while attracting businesses, talent, and innovation with its attractions.

Its configuration allows many different uses to coexist, which also makes it flexible to permit future changes in use.

It is a permeable building, open, and accessible to all citizens, a true part of the city from the ground floor to the public roof terrace. Its bioclimatic design, based on a green permeable facade and two big thematic courtyards -natural and digital- will provide pleasant internal climate moderation throughout the year while reducing environmental impact and management costs.

The Banyan Hub is, not only tightly connected to the street: it takes the street and its energy inside and makes it one of its core features. Folding, twisting and ramping up towards the open terrace on the roof, this new kind of street provides a unique urban-like experience inside the building, but also retains many of the features of an ordinary street.

Section of Banyan Hub, an Urban Ecosistem in the Heart of West Palm Beach

Areas of the building will be open to the public at anytime. The building may be accessed by many modes of transportation such as pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, and light vehicles. It connects different uses along its path — from businesses to cultural spaces to public plazas.

Prioritizing public accessibility is integral in ensuring that this project has a landmark presence in West Palm Beach. Banyan Hub is envisioned as an urban ecosystem where users can satisfy their wants and needs without ever having to leave the building. Banyan Hub is sure to set the tone for the future of West Palm Beach as a collaborative, sustainable, and creative city.

The Banyan Hub includes a series of public spaces located at different levels connected by a re-envisioned parking ramp which provides access to different spaces and twists around the courtyards.  

+A flexible square at ground level which consists of an open hall connected to the surrounding streets and to the passageway at the back of the building.

+A covered but open air plaza at an intermediate level of the building, right where the two courtyards begin. This space is the heart of the Hub and plays a crucial role in its climatic conditioning and cultural activity. 

+A top terrace, overlooking the lagoon which offers a panoramic view of the natural environment and of the whole downtown. Relaxing and breezy like the decks of a cruise ship, it is and an ideal place to begin a stroll through the building and along the waterfront.

 

One of the most important qualities of a city is the ability to evolve by changing its uses and its physical configuration according to the needs of the society that lives in it. The Banyan Hub materializes these principles as it being conceived in a way in which changeability is the only constant. It will remain open to transformation by its managers and users, embracing evolution as a way to stay useful and relevant. This will be achieved by introducing changeable programs and spaces between fixed elements, and designing movable physical delimitations and reconfigurable technical infrastructure.

Change is the only constant

The rich mix of different uses in close proximity helps create situations where activities can complement and benefit each other. This also gives a special character to each part of the building, enabling interactions that would not take place in a conventional building.

In order to become the everbeating heart of West Palm Beach, Banyan Hub will include a diverse and complementary set of programs, balancing the type of activities, desired level of comfort, need for equipment, and profile of the participants throughout the day. The scale of the Hub allows the coexistence of various uses, bringing together diverse age groups, interests, and communities.

Management & Stakeholders

The Banyan Hub operational model could be developed as a public-private partnership. The main partners could be comprised of the City, private companies, non-profits, athletic associations, and other organizations. This would beg the creation of a managing board which would share the funding, ownership, and decision making responsibilities of the building.

This board would take care of the construction and later lease spaces and equipment to other urban stakeholders. It would also create working committees for logistics and maintenance, programming, communication, and participation. It would serve as a mediation entity between institutions, the general public, entrepreneurs, and other potential partners.