Next Project

urban layering: a strategy to deal with 21st century urban conditions

Part 2 Project 2003
Ed Parham
Scott Porter
University of Brighton, UK
The project is the testing of a strategy and process: originally based in a neglected area of Barcelona suffering destructive social and physical conditions.
An analytical process leads to the manufacture of a parasitic layer of program floating above areas of dilapidated fabric (urban layering).
Whilst recognising the generic qualities of the strategy, the process considers site specific conditions (macro and micro), historical layering and traditional cultural references, contextualising each application of the strategy.
The images document the process and parallel testing of two sites within the strategy with equal importance to the test results and conclusion.

Ed Parham
Scott Porter

Ed and Garry worked on the contested Santa Caterina site in the historic centre of Barcelona for their Diploma Thesis Project at the University of Brighton. Working together Ed and Garry developed a strategy for reinstating the inner city spatial and programmatic mix and intensity that had been 'demolished' in the Santa Caterina area and replaced by a housing ghetto more common to the suburbs. The strategy for urban intensification and release that Ed and Garry developed involved roof-top extensions that introduced civic programmes to enrich the housing that was already in place and to address the new policy of refurbishing existing fabric.

To test this strategy Ed and Garry each took a different and particular location on the contested site. Garry addressed the fabric in need of refurbishment that surrounded the new EMBT market building with its floating, folded roof. Garry extended the idea of this displaced ground plane that was referencing the local landforms of Montserrat to propose inhabited roof-top landscapes as a civic place of release for this particularly dense part of the site. The structure and servicing of this new urban landscaping also provided the infrastructure required to refurbish the historic fabric below. Ed tested the strategy in the open space that had been locally named 'the place of shame'. This roof-top extension proposed ethereal planes as a new urban horizon line to 'the place of shame', these planes serviced the local community with a medical centre over certain hours of the day and a state of the art fitness centre over others. Ed carefully studied the effects of this roof-top extension in order to design new ground surfaces to 'the place of shame'. The changing silhouette of the new horizon line was studied as the sun moved behind it, its shadow at different times of the year was tracked as was the way it could filter sunlight in different ways. This study informed a proposal for new ground planes to 'the place of shame' which anticipated its use and enjoyment by different members of the community at different times of the day.

Whilst Ed and Garry's strategy for spatial and programmatic urban intensification grew out of a particular site in the historic centre of Barcelona its generic application to other city sites where there is a concern for intensifying the inner city has great further potential. I see the strength of Ed and Garry's Thesis Project to be in its mixture of astute strategizing and its engagement with the poetic.


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