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Reprogramming the Ruptured City

Part 2 Project 2008
Adam Collier
University of Edinburgh Edinburgh UK
The project investigates a city of ruptured ground, connections and infrastructures. The reinvention of Cadiz occurs through acts of inhabiting ruptured fragments of the city's fabric. By understanding Cadiz in terms of its underlying deep geo-tectonic landscape, actions of re-programming become a key tool for creating a future version of Cadiz, in both urban arrangement and architectural detail. The series of new buildings and infrastructures are places of intense commercial activity relating to biotechnology research. The core diapiric tower structures house the commercial head quarters for biotechnology development and the sherry industry. These structures have public amenities and services interwoven through to connect them.

The geological process of subduction at plate convergence in the lithosphere accounts for the occurrence of great earthquakes and emergent forms to appear on the landscape. Using this metaphor the fabric of the city becomes a geo-scape of such moments. The structure of the existing city fabric forms patterns of kinematic lateral movements, suggesting a tectonic of the city that reveals weaknesses and ruptures, thus creating a terrain of uncertain ground.

The towers of commerce sit within this uncertain ground. Public connections become displaced from the city landscape and new spaces for social cohesion appear. Different levels of sky gardens and intimate public squares emerge around and penetrate into the diapiric towers. Spaces for public exhibition, films and leisure become embedded and locked by the sky gardens which provide key links to rail, port and road. The proposal integrates local needs as well as addressing a global market.

Adam Collier

Modelled and drawn investigations and historical research explore the metaphoric and pragmatic possibilities of one key site in Cádiz, the Puerta de Tierra, the eighteenth century “Land Gate”. The project’s urban ambitions are to address the scale and use of this traffic-dominated interchange, and its disconnection with both the dense Old Town and the predominantly twentieth century, larger scale of the New Town.

Re-programming becomes a key conceptual tool for reinventing a future for this part of the city. The proposal comprises a series of new buildings and infrastructures including street level public routes of connection, skygardens, and places of intense commercial activity related to a Biotechnology Research Park which “lock” new pieces of built city into a new urban geo-scape and enrich urban connections. A Biotower and clusters of Diapiric towers house headquarters of the sherry industry and offer new commercial space to the city. A Geophysical Laboratory is located adjacent to the Puerta de Tierra, cantilevering over ground with exposed Phoenician tombs under excavation. Geological metaphors inform the architectural arrangement and language at the scale of human movement and spatial experience, providing dramatic and inventive spatial sequences.

The project conceptually re-describes the urban morphology and its situation in the Bay of Cádiz as a geo-scape in order to identify areas of weakness, fissure, resistance and previous consolidation, which then provide clues for acting with the physical urban condition of the Puerta de Tierra (Land Gate). The architectural project, an addition of choreographed weight, load and dragged impact is conceived of as inhabiting and consequently reinventing an innate rupture of the city. It imaginatively traverses both the macro scales of landscape / urban intervention and a micro scale of architectural detail and occupation derived from the resistances of this urban situation. It is a bold project, creating a dramatic new urban quarter, characterised by an inventive architectural language and sequences of intriguing spatial experience.


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