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Tactical Urbanism: The Movement’s Toolkit

Part 2 Project 2013
Thomas Cotton
Birmingham City University, UK
‘The relationship between the absence of use and the sense of freedom, of expectancy, is fundamental to the evocative potential of the city’s terrain vagues. Void, absence, yet also promise – the space of the possible.’

Ignasi de Sola-Morales, ‘Terrain Vague’, Anyplace, MIT Press, 1996

'Tactical Urbanism: The Movement’s Toolkit' explores the question: ‘Can an architecture of temporary condition, empower a community in reaction to fluctuating circumstances of crisis?’

After the global banking crisis of 2009 Iceland is returning to its roots, finding its own identity. The hypothetical strategy speculates that a grassroots political party ‘The Movement’ secures key sites of terrain vague in Reykjavik 101 to enact change.

There has been a resurgence of creativity, born out of crisis. The architectural proposition itself is sited upon a plot of terrain vague known locally as Hjartagarðurinn (Heart Park). A remnant of a former time, the site is now regarded as a place of cultural value by the people of Reykjavik 101 and is an incarnation of Sola-Morales’ notion - “the space of the possible”. Currently under threat by the proposal of an unnecessary new hotel, this site of indeterminacy opens up the possibility for a catalyst to enforce change and celebrate the ‘evocative potential’ of haphazard cultural sites and ensure the survival of uniqueness in Reykjavik.

A critical response to the socio-political problem is proposed by The Movement. Influenced by the need for a temporary solution, a kit-of-parts is developed to construct a framework that can physically occupy Hjartagarðurinn. The framework draws inspiration from the WikiHouse concept and responds to the call-out from 00:/ for continued development of the structural system. Due to limitations regarding the multiplication of a WikiHouse unit, The Movement’s Toolkit advances the original idea by investigating, testing and implementing a series of new connection details allowing for modular expansion across all surface planes for greater flexibility and complexity of the architectural form.

Acting as a modifying agent, the expandable framework forces the government to consider an alternative vision for the site – one that accounts for all parties and recognises the value of Hjartagarðurinn within the community.

Thomas Cotton


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