The First (Dirty) Draft

Extended Synopsis
Analysis and design of the neglected spaces linked to selected mobility corridors in the metropolitan area of large cities, both in urban and peripheral context.

Design Phases

  1. Searching for References

In this phase of our Master Thesis we will search for, discuss and comprehend different references The latter will vary from realized projects regarding our same theme, to various design interventions, which we can use as small urban gestures. Our references will not be limited to a certain city scale or country. We are looking for international projects which stimulate urban revitalization and/or public interactions, as our sites are considered as empty, unused, neglected.

Our idea is not to use our reference projects as concrete ideas to directly apply in our concept and design, but rather as inspirations, guidelines for our thoughts throughout the development of our Master Thesis.

  1. Structuring a Theoretical Framework

Here we plan to use our definition of a “non-space” as a corner stone for all of the theories we will search for and we will connect with our project.

Because our thesis deals which such spaces, we think that it is vital to completely comprehend what these spaces represent – from why and where were they created within the urban fabric; how they function or rather why they don’t do so; what their problems and potentials are.– We plan to connect it with both urban /design theories as well as other topics we will find fitting and interesting, such as art, sociology, architecture etc.

We want to create a solid theoretical framework to work from, as we do believe that a strong foundation here can help us build a more complete concept, which will serve as guide for us during the all the design phase.

  1. The Dirty Work on the selected Sites: Mappings and Analysis

We plan to take this phase of our Master Thesis to a practical approach, choosing three distinct sites, which are part of the urban fabric of a city and are connected to it in different ways.

If we think of a city as a radial expansion with a central core, our sites are positioned in three radius rings around that core. These urban areas are different in the urban typologies surrounding them, different in the mobility systems structuring them, and different for what concern their urban density.

We think that this distinction with the chosen locations will create a better understanding of the problem we are working with and also will stimulate our design concept, diversifying it in a way that will make our Universal Method, applicable to every site around the world. Using mapping and analysis, we will use our knowledge from our academic experience to create diagrams and illustrations, which will help us, understand the flows of these spaces and their empty spaces within the urban fabric of the city.

Our analysis will end with the “Gathering Data phase”, where we will produce technical drawings; mappings of the flows; 3D representations and modelling; interviews with people; photographs; sound recordings; atmosphere models; traffic plans and more. We want to not only comprehend and relate the physical understanding of such places, but also the emotional relation of people towards them, as our design will seek out to be both functional and interactive. An active urban space that people can live and experience daily.

  1. Concept and Urban Gesture

In this phase of the thesis we will discuss about the final outcomes of the mappings and analysis regarding our sites. We’ll try to create a link between the studied theories, the used references and the arising results. We’ll structure the driving force of our thesis: a concept or a manifesto (or both) that we’ll use for our design gesture.

The Manifesto will be more like a declaration of intent. From the anthropological point of view it will state what are our ambitions about the atmospheres and the feelings that we want to bring into this kind of non-spaces. It will be directed to the real users of the latter, as a promise that the designers are doing to the citizens that will experience these places.

The Concept will be instead our design guide. It’s a simple vision of what we want to pursue through our design choices. Abstract thoughts and ideas that will evolve into a more pragmatic design proposal. Between these two phases (concept and design proposal) will be the ideation of a design gesture: a necessary step before the concrete design phase.

  1. Design of a Universal Method

The idea is to develop and to structure a new design method, specifically thought for these kind of non-spaces. It will be something in between the abstract and the real. It will give suggestions about concrete solutions, but it will also give more conceptual guide lines that will let the future designers to make their own design choices about future projects about the same matter.

The IKEA instruction booklet might give an idea of what is our expected outcome for this design phase. A list of theoretical and concrete points to guide future designers (or maybe just simple citizen movements) to sow these non-spaces with an urban catalyst that will re-vitalize and transform them into new vibrant areas for the city.

Another element that might be useful is the development of an abacus of elements that can  serve as a toolbox filled of urban installations and already-made design solutions.

  1. Application of the Designed Method on one of our sites

After we have designed a Universal Method, we plan to apply it on site. Our idea is to see how this model works in a real environment, how it affects people and how it changes the perception of such “non-spaces”.

Every site will be different to some extent, depending on the type of urban fabric it is connected to. That’s why we think that in creating a universal method there will always be also a certain percentage that will be specific of the designed site. An identity element that will mark that area and that will make it unique.

In this phase we will develop a concrete design proposal for the site. It will be an example of how the rules and the guidelines that are set by our designed method are applied to a specific area. It will help us to better understand, in different scales, how our design works in the real world of the site. Here we also plan to discuss our ideas with people and have them comment and criticise our work to get a good starting point for reflections and conclusions.

  1. Reflections and conclusions

The final chapter will focus on retrospectively reflections regarding the development of our thesis as well as our final Universal Method and its applications, functionalities and uses. We also want to extend out of our group these reflections, as we believe that external thoughts about our work will be beneficial and stimulating. Thus we plan to make interviews with people (outsider, citizens, professionals, etc), in order to get an objective and new view upon our work.

We also want to create a paper where we discuss what could be made better in our project and the next steps into bringing it to life, applying our Method to a site in real life if possible. Our main goal is to create a project which relays to reality, interesting and stimulating, and maybe try to further develop it, if possible, with an Architecture studio, Government authorities etc.

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