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.
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.
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
Nous sommes heureux de vous annoncer que nous venons d’être sélectionnés pour le projet d’aménagement de la ZAC Flaubert à Grenoble, une grande et excitante aventure de renouvellement urbain au coeur même de la métropole grenobloise. C´est le résultat de notre collaboration avec Sathy, TN Plus, OGI (ingénierie), Res Publica, et VPEAS.
Il s’agit d’un projet de renouvellement urbain sur un territoire jusqu’alors peu valorisé. La ZAC Flaubert est une zone de transition entre Nord et Sud et entre Est et Ouest de la ville, elle est traversée par de grands axes de circulations qui font de cette ZAC un espace au développement très stratégique. Dû à sa très grande surface (90 hectares) ce projet de grande envergure soulève de multiples enjeux pour la ville et ses habitants. Comment donner une identité à cette zone qui n’est actuellement qu’un assemblage artificiel de micro-identités de quartier ?
Le nouveau maire écologiste désire mettre tout en oeuvre pour intégrer les citoyens à la co-construction de cette zone et plus largement à leur ville. Pour ce projet, il a fait l’engagement de ne jamais cesser le dialogue avec les habitants, les riverains et les commerçants au cours de chacune des phases du projet. Il est également question d’élargir le panel à de nombreux acteurs économiques, institutionnels, académiques de Grenoble grâce à des débats et des discussions. L’objectif est d´échanger les points de vues et les différents avis sur l´avenir de Flaubert.
En juin dernier, lors de notre première visite, nous avons pu mieux comprendre les enjeux du territoire et observer de près la vie urbaine.
Notre objectif actuel est d´étudier en profondeur le projet, pour comprendre à quel point il est complexe et pour nous rendre compte des challenges qui nous attendent.
La zone de la ZAC dans Grenoble
Un des moments fort de cette visite fût la découverte de la “Bifurk“ et de son “éco-système”, c’est un espace hybride où la vie bat son plein grâce à l’équipe et à de nombreuses associations très actives, qui ont su transformer cet ancien entrepôt industriel en un espace polymorphe où l´on peut trouver une grande diversité d’activités : théâtre, concerts, expositions et même un skatepark. Juste à côté, “La Plage” est la première plage urbaine permanente construite en France. Dédiée à la pratique de sport de sable elle offre au Grenoblois un large choix de sports des plus conventionnels aux plus insolites.
En face de ces lieux emblématiques de la ZAC, il est question d’implanter la casa “Terra Nostra”, une maison en terre et bois construite par les étudiants des écoles d’architecture de Lyon et Grenoble. C’est une occasion de connecter au projet une infrastructure existante, en créant une espace dédié à l´urbanisation de Flaubert à l´intérieur de la maison.
Le prototype Terra Nostra
La force de Grenoble est son ouverture d’esprit avant-gardiste : innovante et créative, elle s’inscrit depuis deux décennies dans un programme promouvant une ville plus agréable, plus sociale, plus durable. À l’écoute de ses citoyens et à l’affût des innovations techniques, technologiques, sociales et économique, Grenoble est bien plus que la 11 ème métropole française. Elle est un exemple novateur d’une volonté politique et citoyenne visant à construire autrement la ville de demain. Plusieurs initiatives urbaines et citoyennes singulières ont profondément participé à la mutation de la ville et à sa nouvelle morphologie. Le changement passe par de “grandes actions” mais aussi par de “petites initiatives” qui accumulées donne à la ville une identité propre. La ville soutient chaque année plus de 600 actions qui se regroupent autour de trois grandes lignes directrices : favoriser la participation des habitants, lutter contre toute forme d’inégalités sociales, mettre en avant des territoires les plus fragilisés.
La forte volonté de faire participer les citoyens au renouvellement de Flaubert se place dans la continuité d’une politique ouverte aux propositions de chacun et à l’écoute de ses citoyens. L´intégration de chaque partie prenante au projet permet de recentrer la ville sur ses usagers, de se focaliser sur la ville “à taille humaine”, faite avant tout pour ses habitants. Ce nouveau regard sur la ville et la re-qualification du cadre de vie qu’il engendre participe fortement à l’attractivité territoriale de Grenoble, souvent surnommée la “Capitale des Alpes”. Grenoble est un véritable laboratoire urbain : en 2005, le conseil a adopté un programme de rénovation urbaine soutenant les opérations de renouvellement urbains au sein de la ville en leur accordant un budget très conséquent. Illustrons cette singularité :
Une ville qui réinvente son architecture
La construction d’un des premiers éco-quartiers français dans l’ancienne caserne militaire de Bonne en plein centre ville ( 5 hectares) est un exemple qui concrétise le désir de concilier ville et environnement. Loisos Sava, architecte en chef du projet prône la réinvention de la façon de construire, offrant à la fois une baisse des dépenses énergétiques, une mixité sociale et une mixité fonctionnelle. Cet éco-quartier de nombreuses fois primé a notamment reçu en 2009 le Grand prix national “Ecoquartier” délivré par le ministère de l’Ecologie, de l’Energie, du Développement durable et de la Mer. De plus, très récemment une vaste opération de révision du Plan Local d’Urbanisme intercommunal (PLUi) en 2015 a été opéré. Une des mesures phares de cette révision est la diminution de la hauteur maximale de construction.
Une ville accessible et durable
Grenoble est également une ville pour tous, mettant au centre de ses préocupations l’accueil de tous les publics. En effet elle a été classée première ville de France sur le baromètre de l’accessibilité aux handicaps avec une moyenne de 18,7 et deuxième ville européenne. Grenoble a créé un service d’auto-partage de véhicules électriques appelé “CitéLib” en collaboration avec Toyota qui souhaitait tester ici-même ce système de location unique au monde. Le but est de stimuler la multi-modalité de la ville, en effet ces véhicules 100% électriques servent à incrémenter l’offre de transports publics existants en proposant une solution alternative pour les “premiers et derniers kilomètres”.
Une ville qui s’engage
De plus, Grenoble a su marquer les esprits par une prise de position très forte en 2015. En effet, c’est la première ville européenne à bannir les publicités de ses rues, proposition qui a été soutenu par leur nouveau maire écologiste. La lutte contre la “pollution visuelle” prive la ville d’une manne de revenus importante. Des affichages dédiés aux activités culturelles et aux informations de la mairie remplacent les affichages actuels. De nombreuses autres villes voient en Grenoble un modèle à suivre.
Une ville innovante
Que ce soit au niveau national, européen ou international, Grenoble se démarque par son goût pour l’innovation. En effet Grenoble a reçu de nombreux prix et certifications à toutes les échelles:
En 2014, Grenoble a été labellisée “FrenchTech” ainsi que huit autres villes de l’hexagone. Ce label a pour but de donner une meilleure visibilité à l’international de l’attractivité technologique des villes françaises.
Grenoble a été, en 2014, sacrée deuxième ville la plus innovante d’Europe après Barcelone au concours pour le prix de la première capitale européenne de l’innovation. Ce prix vise à récompenser la ville qui offre le meilleur «écosystème d’innovation» en connectant les citoyens, les organismes publics, les établissements d’enseignement et les entreprises.
Cette «iCapitale» a également été cité parmi les 15 villes les plus innovantes par le magazine Forbes en 2013.
Le quartier de la Presqu’île, au Nord de la ville est spécialisé dans les technologies de pointe. Cette Silicon Valley grenobloise est un véritable pôle d’attraction pour le reste de la ville et participe considérablement à sa renommée. La connexion du quartier de la presqu’île à la ZAC Flaubert constituerait une formidable opportunité pour le quartier objet de notre projet qui pourrait donc créer en son sein de nouvelles dynamiques. Ce n’est qu’une des propositions parmi tant d’autres, aucune piste n’est écartée, l’idée étant de procéder par étapes et de se donner un temps d’expérimentation afin d’envisager plusieurs hypothèses éventuelles.
Grenoble Presqu’île – image: www.grenoble.fr
Pour conclure, autant dire qu’en de nombreux points Grenoble sait se renouveler et imposer une nouvelle façon de penser la ville. Ces exemples inspirants et stimulants placent la barre très haut, le défi est grand et nous sommes honorés d’avoir l’opportunité de participer à l’élaboration de ce laboratoire urbain qu’est la ville de Grenoble.
With the aim of enhancing the image of the capital of Taiwan as an international leader in design and innovation, Taipei City Government organizes this award, which is divided into three categories: Industrial Design, Visual Communication Design, and Public Space Design.
We are proud to share our success in the competition for the Master Plan for ZAC Flaubert in the city of Grenoble. It is the result of a collaboration with Sathy, TN Plus, OGI (Engineering), Res Publica, and VPEAS. Our candidature has just been selected to lead this great urban transformation and revitalization process in the very center of Grenoble city.
The project deals with the urban transformation of an underused area: ZAC Flaubert. This is currently a 90 hectares transition area at the crossing of a North-South axis and an East-West one, both important for the city. Being a strategic part of the city and its inhabitants, this huge project has various stakes and raises one question: How to give an identity to this area which is now a cluster of micro-identities?
The mayor, from the Ecologist party, wants to integrate citizens in an ambitious co-construction process that would start with Flaubert to spread across the whole city. He is committed to involving residents, shop owners, citizens at each step of the co-construction project. In addition, various other stakeholders are to be involved in the process thanks to different formats such as debates and discussions to exchange points of view and possible visions for Flaubert’s future.
During the past months, in the framework of a shortlisted competition for a new working+retail space in the Middle East, we developed a research about the possibilities of contemporary workspace and how the digital layer influences the physical configuration, enhancing and multiplying the possibilities.
Last Fall we were teaching at the Master in Workspace Design at IE University, leading the Technology Lab; so this exploration became a continuation of our previous research and work.
We have been studying the contemporary way of working / thinking / living, analyzing the current phenomena affecting the spaces where the working activities take place. We believe that the digital revolution and contemporary socio-political dynamics call for reflection on the way we work. Spaces and instruments for working, methods and hierarchies, places and distances have all been brought into question. Beyond and around working, there is an ongoing change of paradigm that involves almost every aspect of culture and society. The way we address and manage processes, products and knowledge is evolving aided by new technological possibilities and critical “meta” reflections: From competition to collaboration and cooperation; from centralization to P2P; from pyramidal structures to grassroots, horizontal ones; from professional secret to transparency; from private R&D to crowdsourcing; from intellectual property restrictions to copyleft and free/open source initiatives, from well finished products or services to open roadmaps that embrace perpetual beta…
Our research focused on the following challenges:
How can architectural, physical work space, aided by its digital equivalent through hybrid interfaces, incorporate those emerging ways in order to support further exploration?
How can we, architects/designers, provide the best built environment for these emerging impulses to become fully developed?
Our philosophical approach divided the subject into three main spheres of research:
+ The Physical Sphere
Understanding the contemporary workspace as an innovative and experimental balance between design (size, material, color, behaviour, structure, relative position between elements,…) and conditioning (hygrothermal comfort, privacy, noise levels, lighting,…) to be implemented so as to be responsive and truly supportive.
+ The Digital Sphere
We focused on the digital “cloud” associated to each space to enable experimental environments, unprecedented interactions and ways of communicating, or wider, faster, more open-access to knowledge. We considered the digital sphere in workspaces as a unique open environment, extremely user-friendly, flexible and customised according to the specific circumstances it will be used for: supporting internal work, influencing digital marketing strategies, involving customers and external visitors, instigating social activities.
+ Physical-Digital Interaction
We design spaces that enable the best interaction between users relying on a physical comfort and the digital layer. We focus our work on how mutual management, communication, control, connection and interaction can work between the physical and the digital. This specifically involves physical interfaces that operate on the digital side and digital interfaces that influence the physical space.
In order to achieve the integration of physical and digital spatial configuration, we developed a design strategy around four main actions we believe as relevant for an innovative workspace:
Innovation requires firstly an inspiring environment in order to provide an experimental incitement to creativity through different channels.
We believe in the possibility of feeding creativity through a series of activities that inspire our brain and stimulate it to go beyond boundaries and create big ideas.
– Well Being
A workspace should provide a high comfort level for the people using it. The environment should be equipped with all the facilities that ensure the best ambience for every particular situation and need.
Being satisfied by its own conditions, sometimes is not the best way to bring innovation. The only possibility to improve is going beyond and accepting challenges. In the contemporary work scene, innovation is an indisputable fact. But, for instance, how to stimulate a company that is already in the innovation sector to exceed and excel constantly? We believe that a good training in accepting new challenges even in the small everyday things could help a lot. Through simple dynamics that boost self confidence, cooperation between members of a team, enthusiasm towards the new and unknown and establishing an informal and playful way to invent new solutions for everyday issues as well as exceptional conditions is an excellent way of ensuring high levels of performance.
We believe the strength of a successful company is in the quality of its structure and components, but just as important is the network that is able to create, expanding its connections and sharing an learning with/from others.
We keep this line of research open. So, if you want to contribute with it, by sharing a paper or article around the topic, we will be happy to publish it, to spread the ideas and inspire others!
Aerial view of the “Leisure Island”, one of the proposals
The Department of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Voronezh region decided recently to organize a closed competition in order to develop a strategy for the future of the Voronezh Sea, a currently contaminated reservoir. The aim was to gather ideas on the use of the reservoir so it can be more attractive for the population and be a resource for the development of the city once the water is clean.
Today we are pleased to announce that our proposal has been awarded the first prize!
Click on the image to see some cool panoramas of the Voronezh Sea!
The proposal developed by Ecosistema Urbano after being selected for the second round of the competition works at different levels, addressing both the diverse sources of contamination and the potential uses of the existing reservoir. Our vision combines various solutions bringing new opportunities for leisure and activities for people to enjoy and experience the lake.
Addressing the different sources of pollution by providing customised solutions for each of them. These actions are framed as Phase 0. Among the actions we propose to place macrophytes on the surface of the water treatment plant tanks. This action can improve the performance of the Plant up to 40% and it is more efficient not only in the short term, but also in the long run as it reduces energy consumption and requires low maintenance.
Working with floating macrophytes which can absorb many different contaminants. They would be located in the shallowest areas of the lake to stop algae from blooming and emitting a specific smell that comes from the reservoir in summer.
Floating macrophytes in action
Creation of bathing areas both in the urban and at the natural environment of the lake, incorporating the macrophytes as part of the water purification system.
A series of floating mobile cleaning infrastructures. These barges help to control water eutrophication as it is important to reduce the amount of phosphorus. They have tanks filled with alum for phosphor sedimentation at the bottom and incorporate various leisure programs and possibilities on the top, so they can be used in different areas of the city during the summer season. At the same time, these floating barges include sampling and analysing systems so that real time information about the water conditions and quality is made available for everyone through the web platforms and mobile app, specifically developed for this purpose.
Floating mobile cleaning infrastructures
Two areas are proposed to be developed through Public-Private Partnership. These new developments will help to shape a new identity for Voronezh and a new relationship of the city with the water.
The first is a mixed-use zone including housing, offices, retail, public and cultural buildings etc. This new development must be a pilot experience incorporating all the current sustainable technologies, as well as incorporating good practices in water management. Rainwater and surface water runoff is collected and purified through small ponds with floating macrophytes for being used afterwards for irrigation. Pump system for ponds and aeration fountains receive energy from micro wind turbines located on the shore.
New development of a mixed-use zones at the lakefront
As a second development opportunity, ecosistema urbano proposes turning the existing Pridachenskaya dam into a Leisure Island with different activities, becoming a new infrastructure for the city incorporating clean water areas available for swimming and bathing. The island also includes bicycle and jogging paths, boat station for water-sports, urban beach, gardens and parks, playgrounds and sport facilities.
Typologies of cleaning and activity-hosting infrastructures
Next you can see some more images of the proposal, showing how water treatment and environmental regeneration could work together with social reactivation of the reservoir along the day and through the seasons.
Voronezh—which became popular in the late 80s because of a controversial UFO incident—is a city of over 1 million inhabitants, situated 500 km south of Moscow. It is located on the banks of the Voronezh River, which in 1972 was transformed into the Voronezh Reservoir or “the Voronezh Sea” as it is called by the inhabitants —a huge lake, 30 km long and 2 km wide. You can read more about the history of the reservoir here.
During the following decades the population enjoyed the cool water during the hot Voronezh summer, but in 1992 the authorities labelled it as “not fit for swimming” as a result of the increasingly polluted water.
Click on the image to see some cool panoramas of the Voronezh Sea!
The Department of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Voronezh region recently decided to organize a competition in order to develop a strategy for the future of the Voronezh Reservoir. The competition consists of two parts:
An Open Ideas competition meant to gather ideas that show the potential of the lake for urban and nature development.
A Closed Competition for teams of landscape architects, urbanists and ecologists that should combine ideas about possible future uses of the lake with technologies for cleaning it up. The strategy should include both a project and proposals for implementation.
We are glad to communicate that we have been selected among the four finalists of the closed competition. Over the following weeks we will be working hard on putting together a creative approach and a comprehensive strategy in a great presentation. More news soon!
Ecosistema Urbano was recently selected as one of the five finalists in a competition of ideas for the waterfront (Bord de Mer) of Libreville, capital city of Gabon. We were selected by the committee of the Agence Nationale de Grand Travaux du Gabon among many other proposals. In their own words, the proposal “has strong linkages to existing urban systems, improves coastline’s connections and celebrates Libreville culture and history.” Here is a brief descripton of the project:
The main goal of our proposal is to reunite Libreville with the seashore, and extend the life of the city to the waterfront in some specific points. This would be achieved through operations of urban regeneration, adjusted to the existing and to the specific cultural, sociological and economical context. The proposal concentrates visual impact, identity and activity in five nodes, instead of spreading them too thin along the promenade.
Plan of the coastal line of Libreville, in two sections
Those five pier-like structures (jetées) are a great way of getting closer to the water, of having a unique view of the city and at the same time of providing space for programs that could work as catalysers of the urban life. They act as unique landmarks, breaking the regularity of the very long promenade and facilitating the orientation of citizens. These points of “urban acupuncture” would drag attention and pull the urban life of Libreville to the seashore, providing a new space for citizens to interact.
Section of the biggest ‘jetée’
Section of one of a longer and lower pier structure
Section through a beach area, where the promenade is reduced to the minimum
The locations and uses of the piers are defined in relation to the city: to its flows, to the activity of the closest neighbourhoods and to the most relevant uses, buildings or public spaces nearby. Following that close relation with the surroundings, each pier has a singular character defined by the size, the shape, the vegetation, the dominant colors and other design factors, but also by the specific set of activities that can be performed in them. This way, we have the pier of Nature, Education, Culture and Music, Local Identity and Water.
The use of the structures would change along the day
On the other hand, the linear promenade itself changes the configuration of its section depending, again, on the surroundings. Some key elements are defined in that section: the waterfront boulevard for (unavoidable) motorized traffic, a series of landscape markers (associated with energy production and visibilization), a coastal bike lane, a waterfront promenade, an urban appropriable fringe… This elements are combined, stretched or shrinked, generating diverse profiles and multiple areas of interest.
The crossings in front of the piers would be shared areas for pedestrian and motorists
Thus, while the promenade is kept simple, regular and clean, these structures act as landmarks, dividing the seafront in more aprehensible, walkable sections, and marking the coast like ‘signal fires’ or lighthouses: they provide visual clues to help the passer-by understand his exact location at a glance.
View from one of the piers
In addition, based on the rapidly rising mobile market penetration in Gabon, and as a bet on the potential of hyperlocalized digital networks for urban life, the proposal includes a digital application that would work as a geolocated and participatory cultural agenda for the waterfront, showcasing the activities along the line, attracting citizens and visitors, allowing them to search and follow events, and acting as a geographic map or guide.
Tentative mockup for the application, based on the previous proposal for ‘BikeLine’
This proposal was developed in collaboration with the landscape architecture office Uberland.