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Spatial 'Kebab'

Part 2 Project 2001
Dragana Opacic
Manchester School of Architecture Manchester UK

“Beyond a certain scale architecture acquires the properties of Bigness… Bigness, through its very independence of context, is the one architecture that can survive, even exploit, the now-global condition of the tabula rasa: it does not take its inspiration from givens too often squeezed for the last drop of meaning; it gravitates opportunistically to locations of maximum infrastructural promise,…” - Rem Koolhaas ‘Bigness, or the problem of the large’

In keeping with these concerns, The Europan competition in Lelystad, Holland provided the bases for the main studio project. The competition brief refers to a specific site along Visarenddreef offering an opportunity to address issues of hypermodern condition: infrastructure zones that break up urban fabric and a wider issue of a long-standing practice in sea reclamation.

Through analysis of Lelystad’s geographical position and self-referential structure, the cause of the flux that drives a city or rather the lack of it was identified and in its response, at the strategic level, three main objectives established:

X AXIS - linearity

By restructuring Visarenddreef and canal network, horizontal linearity is extenuated and link between city centre and the ‘sea’ established.
Both the road and the canal act as skewers penetrating all other spatial organizations in the district.

Y AXIS - connectedness

To achieve the integration of the existing residential areas across the Visarenddreef, gaps within the edge conditions of each district were identified, and links created across the central area by means of new landscape spaces.
These zones of new landscape represent the ‘kebab’ to the skewers of the road and canal and are applicable along the length of Visarenddreef and the rest of the road network.
The ‘kebab’ constitutes public assembly points and spaces of transience, each with distinct identity. Within them, object buildings are located in accordance with the functional character of the landscape.

Z AXIS - densification

Rather than forcefully controlling water, which is becoming increasingly expensive and fruitless, the water is allowed to become an indicator of climate influences, and a more dominant force in spatial planning.
With a constant rise of the sea level, globally, the third strategic objective proposes to raise the zones of connectedness which will act as a first phase in process of creating ‘safe islands’, similar to those first built during creation of polders.
In between the public zones and as a result of high water table, small lakes are created; giving an opportunity to densification by exploring varied forms of ‘amphibious living’.

Much as Venice was built at the water level allowing for acqua alta, (high tide) this strategy accommodates the possibility of permanent rise of water table by adopting three typologies corresponding with buildings’ position on the site:

Mobile - easy to tow light rafts, comprise small family units with the potential of mobility and ability to moor themselves to public strips

Semi-mobile – floating basement structures – exploiting the ‘thickness’ of the water (without direct connection to the ‘sea’)

Static - more permanent structures constructed on piles with a sacrificial ground level

Spatial ‘Kebab’ - principle

Newly created connecting zones, due to their height, can function at two levels (in the first phase): existing road level and a level 5.4 m above it (present sea level). This depends on type and nature of programme intended, until such time comes when the sea is allowed to reclaim its own.

Dragana Opacic

This student, and this project in particular addresses very clearly the unit concerns regarding urban environments formed and mutated by infrastructural interventions, and how these reside within wider systems generated landscapes.

Dragana achieves a holistic response, which is clearly conditioned by a detailed understanding of the development of Dutch polder design and construction.

The scheme itself is resolved in depth, allowing for numerous permutations of future events ranging from catastrophic inundation to evolutionary salt-water seepage.

This project displays an extraordinary scope from 1:10,000 strategic responses to the location within the Flavoland polder through to 1:5 generic constructional details, and in doing so manages to turn the peculiar situation of Lelystad to its advantage.

The desire to live by water is addressed whilst developing a system for conversion of the existing suburban housing estates to take account of the risks posed by being located six meters below sea level.

At a tactical level the continuous strip of the Vissarendreef road is mutated to provide diversity and contrast in the spatial experience, utilising the infrastructural requirements of the town to improve legibility.

Dragana has with this project demonstrated a remarkable capacity to resolve a complex and sophisticated set of inter-related forces into a built form which achieves a consistent and rigorous theme.

• Page Hits: 1238         • Entry Date: 23 September 2001         • Last Update: 23 September 2001