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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.

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What we’ve been up to | Portfolio Review and Current Projects

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

We know it’s been a while since we published something in our blog, but we can assure you that we have been everything but idle. In fact, it was totally the opposite: 2017 was a big year here at ecosistema urbano. We had the opportunity to develop a wide scope of projects, from participatory workshops to urban-scale studies, in countries like Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Germany, and even Spain! Let us have a look at the last updates to our 2017 portfolio, and some of the projects that are coming during 2018.

 

Idea Hermosillo

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB/BID) tasked us with the challenge of reactivating urban spaces around the Historical Downtown in Hermosillo, Mexico. For this project, we put in place a brief but intense participatory process involving different stakeholders (institutions, businesses, students, neighbors) from Hermosillo. That way, we were able to identify the key aspects to address towards the revitalization of the city center. The Idea Hermosillo Revitalization Plan consisted of a brief diagnosis, a series of general strategies, and a set of 27 pilot projects which, together, would help reactivating the urban spaces in the area. One of these pilot projects was further developed as proof of concept: the Banco de Ideas, proposing the renovation of an existing building with a creative and mixed program that would act as a catalyst for attracting activity and driving interest about the Historic Downtown.

One of the pilot projects in Hermosillo – ‘Banco de Ideas’

See the “Idea Hermosillo” project in our portfolio

Febres Cordero Mixed-use Building

The Febres Cordero School was identified as one of the key interventions in the the CUENCA RED project in Cuenca, Ecuador. The proposed project keeps part of the original school building while creating a new mixed-used building in side it. The main goal was to create new public spaces and combine local businesses, a civic center, student residences and other uses that would help activating the surrounding area. The new Febres Cordero building also implements sustainable design elements such as locally sourced materials, bio-climatic façades and passive temperature regulation.

Technical design of Febres Cordero complex

See the “Febres Cordero” project in our portfolio

Spielraum – Der Andere Park Competition

In 2017 we were also invited to take part in an international competition to design the conversion of a former military base in Heidelberg, Germany. The City of Heidelberg alongside the IBA hosted a competition for the opening of the -until then- restricted area, and creating new public spaces for the city to enjoy. ecosistema urbano devised a playful layout for the park, concentrating the intervention in the central areas of the open spaces, and integrating the existing pavements and elements whenever possible. The overarching design and pathways of the park were conceived as a “game board”, where elements of the park, such as playgrounds, would become “game pieces”. The program and final design of these elements would be defined by the “game rules” consisting on a series of participatory processes involving neighbors and other stakeholders.

Schematic overview of programs at Der Andere Park

See more about the “Spielraum” project in our portfolio

Thinking Fadura

This project consisted of the preparation of a big participatory project in Getxo, Spain, towards the conversion of a closed sports area into an open park. An urban diagnosis of the Fadura area was made in order to identify the main issues, challenges, and opportunities that the park, the surrounding area and the population currently possess. This diagnosis was intended to inform both the technical development and the participatory process. In addition to this, a social mapping was created by meeting and interviewing all possible stakeholders and representing their relationships, their possible level of involvement and the key topics they were interested in. Over the course of four months, the team conducted multi-stakeholder meetings and presentations to engage the users of the park, as well as to inform and prepare them for the participatory process.

Stakeholder mapping as part of the preparation for the participatory process

See more about the “Thinking Fadura” project in our portfolio

Cervecera – Fadura Community Center 

In the same sports area in Getxo, Spain, a participatory architecture project was commissioned to us, with the aim of building a community center in the place of a public facility which had recently been damaged by a fire. In its final years, the former pub (cervecera) was used as a social facility. In order to create a design that would allow for the same level of engagement and active use, a participatory design process was devised. Three workshops were conducted where stakeholders could take part in the rethinking and redesigning of the building and its surrounding open spaces. At the end of the process, a sustainable and flexible community center was designed, capable of hosting even more activities than before while remaining adaptable to future needs.

Rendering of the envisioned cervecera

See more about the “Fadura Community Center” project in our portfolio

Santa Fe – Resilient Cities

As part of the 100 Resilient Cities program in Santa Fe, Argentina, ecosistema urbano was asked to lead a participatory project for the youth of Santa Fe. In this exciting activity, we had the opportunity to create and run a program which allowed children to get involved with the future of their city. The children were led through an explorative stroll around Parque del Norte where they were encouraged to be creative about what they observed and what they envisioned for the park. Afterwards, the children drew on maps to demonstrate what they hoped to see implemented into the future park. Then they were given materials to create small models of their proposals, micro-landscapes they created using natural materials, sourced from the park itself, in a transparent box. The maps and boxes provided invaluable feedback in order to include the vision of the younger citizens in the future park.

Images of the “participation kits” used for the creation of models

See more about the “Santa Fe – Resilient Cities” project in our portfolio

EU GPP Public Space Maintenance 

In a collaborative project with the European Commission, ecosistema urbano is helping to define the European Union Green Public Procurement (GPP) Criteria for Public Space Maintenance. We are working on creating a guide of best practices that will become the framework for procurement processes regarding public space maintenance. This project will have a big impact due to its scale: the public sector represents 14% of the GDP of the European Union. Therefore, a systematic sustainable change in any part of the public sector will increase the market viability of sustainable products. Our participation in this project will help to augment sustainable change and cost effectiveness in the EU.

Other ongoing projects in 2018

The past few months have been incredibly busy at ecosistema urbano, with more projects happening all over the world. Here are some examples of what we are working on right now:

  • In 2017 we won the competition to become the architectural partner for the Open Shore Initiative in West Palm Beach. We are currently working on the Banyan Hub multifunctional building, as well as the public space improvement of selected passageways. We have recently begun work on a new intervention at one of the key streets in downtown.
  • We started a public space project at the University of Málaga. The project addresses the planning and construction of a central boulevard that will improve the flow of people across the campus, promote sustainability and green space, integrate physical and digital layers of the campus and create places for new activities to happen.
  • We are also currently working with the World Bank in the identification of opportunities for improvement of public spaces and public buildings in one of the most dense and congested cities in the world: Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.

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Open Shore Project for West Palm Beach | #1 Strategy to Trigger The Change

Category: ⚐ EN+competitions+ecosistema urbano+sustainability+urban social design+urbanism+work in progress

As we announced a few months ago in our previous post,  our project Open Shore is the winning proposal of Shore to Core international competition.

Open Shore is a complex project that addresses many different topics in an effort of providing solutions to several challenges that the city of West Palm Beach shares with many other cities. For this reason, we decided to present more in detail our project in a series of 3 posts dedicated to the three main points of the proposal: #1, Strategy to trigger the Change; #2, Waterfront: celebrating unexpected public space; #3, Banyan Hub: a city into a building.

Before going into detail of our proposal, it would be useful to introduce the context of the city of West Palm Beach.

As reported in the Shore to Core Competition Website, West Palm Beach is a young city that is growing quickly. Many associate this region with a large retirement community, but there is also a growing population of people in their 20s and 30s, as well as large Black and Hispanic populations. The city’s downtown and 10-mile waterfront present an opportunity to develop new amenities that reflect the city’s emerging populations, and design is a crucial tool for tackling these evolving needs.

The design competition asks: How can we reimagine our downtowns to make them more engaging and vibrant? How can cities collect information that informs future adaptation and growth?  How can we facilitate social interaction among diverse groups? How can the built environment improve residents’ physical health,  mental health, and social capital? 

Today we present the first post of the series, starting the narration of this exciting experience. This first chapter introduces the previous analysis and the general strategies that informed the design of the project areas.

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Ecosistema Urbano wins West Palm Beach Design Competition!

Category: ⚐ EN+⚐ ES+⚐ IT+architecture+city+competitions+design+ecosistema urbano+news+sustainability+urbanism+work in progress

We are very happy to announce that our project Open Shore is the winning proposal of Shore to Core, the international design competition to reimagine downtown West Palm Beach as a dynamic, resilient waterfront city! We are thrilled with the great reception that the project has had, and eager to continue its development side by side with the people and the institutions of West Palm Beach.

Ecosistema Urbano | Open Shore | Rain Plaza

Here we share the press release from Van Alen Institute:

Van Alen Institute and the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (WPB CRA) today announced Open Shore by Ecosistema Urbano as the winning proposal for the Shore to Core waterfront design competition. The Shore to Core competition invited international designers, planners and architects to envision what the future of the West Palm Beach waterfront could look like over the next 20 to 30 years, taking factors including populations, economies and the environment into account. The winning proposal will serve as a “vision board” for the city’s future, providing a starting point and framework to help the city adapt and make the most of the waterfront.

Ecosistema Urbano | Open Shore | Rain Plaza

Ecosistema Urbano | Open Shore | Plan

Selected from a pool of over 40 international teams and two finalists, Ecosistema Urbano’s winning proposal envisions a healthier and more resilient downtown and waterfront for West Palm Beach—a keystone city in southern Florida with a growing population of people in their 20s and 30s, as well as large Black and Hispanic populations. The competition proposals imagine new amenities that reflect the city’s emerging populations, and Shore to Core’s organizers believe that design is a crucial tool for tackling these evolving needs. The initiative included public consultation, and this input played a role in the jury’s decision-making process.

Ecosistema Urbano | Open Shore | Strolling on the Waterfront

Ecosistema Urbano | Open Shore | Aerial View

Ecosistema Urbano | Open Shore | Flagler Drive and the Cloud Forest Habitat Plaza

Ecosistema Urbano’s winning design answers Shore to Core’s call for a comprehensive, forward-thinking urban plan to make West Palm Beach’s waterfront a year-round destination for locals and visitors alike. The proposal includes what could be the first public bioclimatic domes in the U.S. adorned with hanging gardens. These domes create climatically comfortable spaces 365 days a year, thereby supporting a more socially cohesive city.

The proposal also illustrates how the city’s Banyan Garage could be upcycled into a mixed-use building with both public- and private-sector roles featuring adaptive climates suitable for a range of activities, including a farmers market, coworking spaces, and skyline viewing platforms. Additional amenities include vibrant thematic alleyways—with such features as a rock climbing wall, interactive exhibition space, and immersive foliage—that harness the cultural values and experiences unique to West Palm Beach, while also providing shade and introducing new elevated programming spaces

 

 

Ecosistema Urbano | Open Shore | Level 4 Open Air Plaza at Banyan Hub

Ecosistema Urbano | Open Shore | Farmers Market day at Banyan’s ground floor

Ecosistema Urbano | Open Shore | Social green space at Banyan Hub overlooking the downtown

Ecosistema Urbano | Open Shore | Banyan Hub | Section

Ecosistema Urbano will present their proposal to the WPB CRA board in May 2017. The CRA board will identify priority projects within the Banyan Garage and downtown alleyways, and then contract with Ecosistema Urbano. This process will be followed by outreach to the community about the individual elements that are scheduled for possible implementation in late 2017 or early 2018.

“The Shore to Core competition and resulting proposals truly offered insights into how we can plan a strong and vibrant future for our city,” said Jeri Muoio, Mayor of the City of West Palm Beach. “Ecosistema Urbano’s design was applauded by all as enhancing the waterfront and creating new, iconic experiences that incorporate our natural resources, cultural spaces, and inclusive urban atmospheres.”

“Ecosistema Urbano’s proposal addresses social cohesion in a compelling way by integrating locally responsive systems with a welcoming public space that will further diversify the city,” said David van der Leer, Executive Director of Van Alen Institute. “We’re thrilled that West Palm Beach is looking to the future and rethinking how to create a downtown that is uniquely theirs— a downtown that enhances the wellbeing of residents and visitors alike.

The runner-up design finalist, Perkins + Will, created a proposal focusing on community-building with a continuous waterfront park, extended Great Lawn, and the Banyan Garage revitalized as a multi-use civic space. Van Alen has synthesized the work of the finalist teams into a key findings document, “A Shore Thing: Key Findings from the Shore to Core Competition,” that summarizes the shared insights from all three proposals.

The Shore to Core competition has parallel research and design tracks: The aim of this structure is to understand how waterfront cities like West Palm Beach can become healthier, and to create design strategies that will make them more responsive to rising sea levels. The winning research team, Happier by Design, focused on how specific types of public spaces may increase the wellbeing of people who use them, and conducted a pilot study analyzing the health benefits of more complex and engaging urban landscapes.

By testing environmental psychology principals with tactical urban interventions, Happier by Design found that public space designs that boost feelings of fascination foster wellbeing. The research team also recommended that designers focus individuals’ attention on nature and create spaces that are both comfortable and interactive, including such features as movable seating and adjustable lookouts that frame the landscape. The team’s recommendations affirm the dynamic and engaging designs proposed by Ecosistema Urbano. The combination of innovative research and original design in Shore to Core reflects Van Alen’s mission to use research and design to inform the planning of new civic spaces.

 

To read the final reports, see:

Key Findings | Van Alen Institute
Open Shore | Ecosistema Urbano (Design Winner)


Happier by Design | Happy City, University of Virginia, StreetPlans and Space Syntax (Research Winner)
Adapt to Thrive | Perkins + Will (Design Finalist)

 

Competition Jury:

Raphael Clemente, Executive Director, Downtown West Palm Beach
Colin Ellard, Associate Professor, University of Waterloo, Department of Psychology
Patrick Franklin, President and CEO, Urban League of Palm Beach County
David van der Leer (Jury Chair), Executive Director, Van Alen Institute
Jeri Muoio, Mayor, City of West Palm Beach
Penni Redford, Sustainability Manager, City of West Palm Beach
Manuel Clavel Rojo, Clavel Arquitectos (substitute for Terry Riley, K/R Architects)
Jon Ward, Executive Director, West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency
Lilly Weinberg, Director of Community Foundations, Knight Foundation
Claire Weisz, Founding Principal, WXY Studio
Nancy Wells, Professor, Cornell University, College of Human Ecology, Design and Environmental Analysis Department

Ecosistema Urbano Team:

A multidisciplinary Madrid and Boston-based team comprised of principals Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo; Marco Rizzetto, Carlos León, Antonella Marlene Milano, Luisa Zancada, Jorge Toledo, Marta Muñoz, Pablo Santacana, Lola Pouchin, Maria Vittoria Tesei, Andrea Bertrán, Ana Patricia Maté, Lucía De Retes Cascales, Cristina Rodríguez, Elizabeth Kelleher, Lorena Tselemegkou, Luana Scarpel, Silvia Sangriso, Daniela Menendez, Julia Casado, Constantino Hurtado, Andrés Walliser.

 

To view high-resolution images for this project, including work by the winning team, click here

To view animated images of Ecosistema Urbano’s proposal, have a look here

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Ecosistema Urbano is working with the European Commission in EU GPP Criteria for Public Space Maintenance

Category: ⚐ EN+ecosistema urbano+news+research+sustainability+work in progress

We are glad to announce our recent collaboration with the Joint Research Center of the European Commission in Seville for a research project focused on the topic of maintenance of public space. The project aims to define the EU Green Public Procurement (GPP) Criteria for Public Space Maintenance.

But.. what is exactly EU GPP? Here there is a short description coming directly from the European Commission official webpage.

Green Public Procurement (GPP) is defined in the Communication (COM (2008) 400) “Public procurement for a better environment” as “a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured.”  GPP is a voluntary instrument, which means that Member States and public authorities can determine the extent to which they implement it.

Public authorities are major consumers in Europe: they spend approximately 1.8 trillion euro annually, representing around 14 % of the EU’s gross domestic product. By using their purchasing power to choose goods and services with lower impacts on the environment, they can make an important contribution to sustainable consumption and production.

Green purchasing is also about influencing the market. By promoting and using GPP, public authorities can provide industry with real incentives for developing green technologies and products. In some sectors, public purchasers command a significant share of the market (e.g. public transport and construction, health services and education) and so their decisions have considerable impact. EU GPP is an important tool as it can contribute to the stimulation of the market for environmentally-friendly goods, works and services and to contribute to the development of a more resource-efficient economy in the EU. The Commission has developed EU GPP criteria for around 20 different product groups.

Here the complete list of 20 product groups considered for EU GPP Criteria, and as you may notice the range is really wide, from Office Building Design, Construction and Management, to Transport or Computer and monitors, to mention a few.

We are now working on the first phase of the project for the development of the EU GPP Criteria for Public Space Maintenance. One of the very first document produced is a Stakeholder Questionnaire aiming to define the scope. The questionnaire has been sent to several identified stakeholders from the supply side (Providers of maintenance services, equipment, public furniture, etc), demand side (public and non-public procurers) and other stakeholders, such as national or local policy makers, environmental organizations, urban planners and designers, citizens organizations, etc.

The scoping questionnaire is available at the following link for all interested parties to contribute:

http://susproc.jrc.ec.europa.eu/Public_space_maintenance/documents.html

If you are interested in participating please express your opinion through the questionnaire, and submit it to the email address

JRC-PUBLIC-SPACE-MAINTENANCE@ec.europa.eu before the 17th March 2017.

Further questions or registration by sending an email to JRC-PUBLIC-SPACE-MAINTENANCE@ec.europa.eu

 

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Public Space for the Extreme: Call for Papers

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+city+networkedurbanism+research+sustainability+Uncategorized+urbanism+work in progress

Woody Allen starring in The Front, Martin Ritt, 1976. Copyright of Columbia Pictures.

Woody Allen starring in The Front, Martin Ritt, 1976. Copyright of Columbia Pictures.

The Book

As you may have noticed from our last posts, it has been a while since we have started researching on the possibilities of designing better public spaces for those cities and regions that have to deal with extreme climate conditions. Extreme heat, very often combined with extreme humidity are conditions that, more or less seasonally, affect wide areas of the world. These regions, classified under the Köppen-Geiger climate map mainly as Equatorial and Arid (although with many sub-classifications) comprise various densely populated areas that all face a common problem: the harsh climate, combined with a generic design of the city, results in a scarce and difficult relationship of the citizens with the public space. Our goal is to publish a book that will serve as a design manual and reference for architects, urban planners, public administrators, decision makers, and citizens. This book, containing good practices examples, technical solutions and theoretical essays, will help designers imaging and designing better public spaces considering the local climate, the bioclimatic-comfort needs of the citizens and the responsiveness to the changing environmental conditions.

The Call

We would like to announce a call for papers inviting authors (architects, urban planners, designers, sociologists, engineers, scholars, etc.) to submit an abstract, no longer than 250 words, for a paper that will be published in the book. The content of the paper must necessarily be related with the topic of the book that can be summarized in the“design of bioclimatic responsive public spaces under extreme climate conditions” and can be either about a general original investigation on the topic or related to a more specific field within the main subject, like for example specific bioclimatic control techniques, technologies or principles, specific open air comfort conditions, the relationship between climate and public space usage, etc. Any other idea, even loosely connected with the main topic, that offers an original and innovative point of view is welcome and will be considered by the editors.
The abstracts will be blind reviewed by the editors: prof. Jose Luis Vallejo, prof. Belinda Tato and Marco Rizzetto; they must be written in English and be the result of an original and high quality research. Selected abstracts will be then discussed with the authors to develop the final paper according to the indications of the editorial board, the publication of the paper(s) will, in any case, depend on the quality of the final work.

The Deadlines

Deadline for the submission of the abstract: November 12th 2016
Notification of acceptance: November 19th 2016
Deadline for final paper submission: January 20th 2017

Submit!

If you are interested please send your abstract to sorry you have to write it down with the Subject: “Extreme Public Space CFP”

A street in Bahrain, photo by Emilio P. Doitzua

A street in Bahrain, photo by Emilio P. Doitzua

All submissions will be treated as confidential prior to publication in the proceedings; rejected submissions will be permanently treated as confidential.
The final book will be both digitally published under a CC-NC-SA licence and made available for download and physically printed, a limited number of copies will be distributed to key institutions related with design and planning all around the world, especially in regions directly interested by extreme climate conditions. The author, or authors, of the selected essays will be credited and acknowledged. For any other information or doubt please do not hesitate to contact us at the address provided below.

If you want to know something more about our current ongoing research you can take a look at the previous posts belonging to this same series:
01 – Defining the Extreme
02 – Public Space for the Extreme @ GSD Harvard
and stay tuned for upcoming updates.

 

Bonus link

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Public Space for the Extreme @ GSD-Harvard

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+city+networkedurbanism+research+sustainability+urbanism+work in progress

Breathing Streets, courtesy of Nan Liu and Adelene Yu Ling Tan

Breathing Streets, courtesy of Nan Liu and Adelene Yu Ling Tan

During 2015 spring semester Ecosistema Urbano principals Jose Luis Vallejo and Belinda Tato taught a studio at the GSD in Harvard, focused on the design of socio-environmentally responsive public spaces for the city center of Muharraq, in Bahrain. During the semester the students worked to develop ideas and designs to improve the few remaining public spaces in the city, almost completely wiped out by the continuous transformation of the antique city fabric into a contemporary -and rather generic- one, that basically followed the “wide car street + housing block” development pattern, during the last 50 years the city has completely lost its contact with the water, substituted by a wide belt of highways and also its interstitial, small public spaces, almost completely transformed into parking lots. Always considering the climatic conditions that can be easily defined harsh and extreme, the aim of those projects was to foster the use of public space, in a city where public space is not only often abandoned and absent but also where the right to meet and gather is strongly discouraged.


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The heart of Asunción starts beating

Category: #followcreative+⚐ EN+architecture+art+city+creativity+news+publications+urbanism+work in progress

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Mural de Guache en el Hotel Armele, sobre Palma llegando a Colón / Foto: @marcosalonsophotography

A few months ago we ended one of the longest, intense and complex projects our office Ecosistema Urbano has done so far, the Masterplan of the Historic Downtown of Asunción, awarded in an international competition and developed with a multidisciplinary team between Madrid and the Mother of Cities, Asunción.

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Public Space for the Extreme: Defining the Extreme

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+city+networkedurbanism+research+sustainability+urbanism+work in progress

Manama, Bahrein. Photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Four years ago Ecosistema Urbano held a workshop in Manama, Bahrain, to revitalize and improve the public space around the Bab al Bahrain souk, an area that is historically important for the city but that it is nowadays a mere street crossing rounded by parking lots, without any tree or shadow. The workshop was held in a remarkable temporary pavilion that for a few weeks converted a roundabout into a vivid and often crowded space, a light textile roof offered shadow and protection to the participants contributing to the success of the workshop. The workshop has been also the occasion for us to start a long term project on Bahrain, under the auspices of the UNESCO Arab Regional Center for World Heritage we started a research project mainly focused on the city of Muharraq, its antique public spaces and how could we revive and improve them. This research has been carried on during 2014 and 2015 spring semesters with the GSD-Harvard students and it emerged immediately that one of the main conditions to make use of the public space in Muharraq was the improvement of the extreme environmental conditions that, combined with a low quality design of the space, prevented and discouraged the people to go out and live the remaining public spaces.

Bab Al Bahrain Workshop 2012

Bab Al Bahrain Workshop 2012

Following this same path of research we are now working on a publication to finally release all the knowledge we have accumulated during these years of work, teaching, and research in the form of a book. Our objective is to address the problems that the designers have to face every time they are called to design a public space in an area with a particularly extreme climate (make it extremely hot, arid, tropical, etc.), we would like to provide decision makers, designers and citizens with a solid base of knowledge to help them consider new technologies and concepts to design public spaces optimized for a certain climate, responding to bio-climatic needs and site specific conditions making it more livable, comfortable and accessible.
Beginning today, we start a series of posts dedicated to the design of bio-climatic public spaces, we will periodically publish part of the content we have produced for the book exposing the problems and the good practices that we have found, our concerns, the work of our students, etc. We would like to foster a debate around these themes that might help us developing our book but also raise the awareness around the climatic comfort in public spaces which is a true challenge for architects and designers in many areas of the world.
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