The Architecture and the City: Public Realm/Public Building research group of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology focuses on questions regarding the mutual relationship between the city and its public realm. This is a relationship that can only be considered in socio-cultural and economic context. The idea of the public realm here refers to an intermediate ‘space’, which facilitates and mediates between different groups of inhabitants and individuals; the idea of the public realm as the space of (ex)change of ideas, opinions and beliefs of the different groups of users. Therefore, the architecture of the city and its actual qualities form the main framework of this research. Within this context urban blocks, as interface between architecture and urban design, and public buildings are seen as crucial architectural elements. Their functioning and organisation are physically, symbolically, socially and economically fundamental to the city. As such they form a domain both of architectural convention and experimentation. In terms of research and design methods architectural typology, typo-morphology and research-by-design hold a central position in our group’s approach.
Constructing the Commons at
Delft University of Technology
3rd – 4th March 2016
Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
2628 BL Delft
Investigating ‘the commons’ at the intersection of philosophy, sociology and architecture, keynote speakers Atelier Bow-Wow, Richard Sennett, Margaret Crawford, Paola Viganò and George Baird, discuss the city, public space and social practices during this conference.
Liveability and Public Space in the Happy City
9th September 2015, 8:45-10:30h
Delft University of Technology
Room: IO-Bernd Schierbeek
My faculty in Delft is one of the world’s largest in the field of architecture and urban design. “It is a place that is buzzing with life from early in the morning until late at night, with four thousand people studying, working, designing, conducting research and acquiring and disseminating knowledge*.” In this environment, I have supervised quite some graduates in their final master thesis, all focussed on liveability and public space. What can we learn from them and how to proceed?
In the city today, we meet in public atria and shop in malls, we move along covered walkways and go from street to street by taking shortcuts through the buildings of a city block. In recent decades, the amount and proportion of public space within urban buildings has steadily increased, with much of it forming part of a larger interior and exterior pedestrian network. Yet, although interior public space has become an important constituent of the contemporary city and of our urban experience, it is rarely designed as such. Prompted by this disconnection, Maurice Harteveld has followed different leads to examine contemporary urban design in relation to public interiors. Through this research, he has documented in particular the urban analyses and architectural designs of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, in which interior public space is accorded significant and multiple roles. Ideas pioneered by Venturi and Scott Brown have become absorbed within architectural practice, notably their use of the Nolli Map introduced in their 1972 study of Las Vegas. Similarly, the concept of the ‘rue interieur’ seen in their earliest projects, has matured in their later work to include an internal street imbedded in a network of urban public spaces and pathways, both interior and exterior. However, although they refer to interior public space frequently in their writing, Venturi and Scott Brown have yet to describe their views on it in any great detail; a more focused examination that the following dialogue between Maurice Harteveld and Denise Scott Brown seeks to provide.
In explorations of the notions of public space, public interiors are generally seen as undemocratic and more private spaces. This is based on the Roman distinction between publicus and privatus, but making public space, as a public case, refer primarily to res publica. – On the other hand, there is a related Roman public law that deals with the common interest of urban society, and could include cases of interior public space. Most sociological research in contemporary daily life reveals these spaces as public. For urbanism, this research can be seen as the social context, because the urbanist is primarily focused on the city: the civitas, and not the whole societas. More specifically, for urban designers who deal with public space, it traditionally means focusing on the outdoor space, and although this is almost always synonymous with the public domain or publicly owned space, I believe that public space can be more than this. For urbanism this means there is a need for new understanding and an extension of the design task..
The Department of Urban and Regional Planning of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya organized the second International Ph.D. Seminar on Urbanism and Urbanization in Barcelona, from June 27th-29th, 2005. Using the name of Urbanism and Urbanization, the seminar focused on the key epistemological issue of the interface between the ongoing processes transforming the contemporary city, the practice of “making the city” through urban design and urban planning, and the research on urbanism studying them. The presented papers showed the possible contributions that researches in urbanism can make in order to develop an urban knowledge (a set of concepts, models, devices, guidelines, design tools…) engaged with the transformation and improvement of the city and the urbanization processes. Public Interiors: Urbanism or Not? clarifies the urban design role next to the architectural design role concerning the design task of interior public space. From out of the viewpoint of public space, the design of public interiors is a dismissed task for urbanist. By systematic analysing different types of interior public spaces, such as the arcade and the mall, through time, the evolution of their different contemporary urban design tasks becomes clear. In general: If the position in the city and the urban context are highly relevant, the conclusion is that the urban design task is just as crucial. Although designing interiors is traditionally the task of architects, in the case of interior public space it is therefore high time to share that task with urbanists.
Harteveld, M.G.A.D. (2005) Public Interiors: Urbanism or Not? In: Martí Casanovas, M., M. Corominas i Ayala, J. Sabaté Bel and A. Sotoca García (eds.), II PhD Seminar: Urbanism & Urbanization, Volume I. Barcelona: ETSAB, pp. 219-230
The framework of the Urbanism & Urbanization Seminars enabled PhD candidates to present either short papers (ten-minute presentations for starting researches) or full papers, like the above (twenty-minute presentations in a plenary session) in order to be discussed and refereed. The participation of academia from universities representing very different contexts contributed to rich debates. Different universities contributed to the seminar: MIT, TU Berlin, U Girona, Princeton, U Coruña, USB Venezuela, SAD Oslo, Aalborg U, U Newcastle, UCL, UR Montevideo, UPC, KU Leuven, IUAV and TU Delft.
In October 2004, the cities of Delft and Antwerp were the scenes of the EAAE conference and the ‘European City’. This conference, organised by the Delft University of Technology and the Antwerp Higher Institute of Architectural Sciences Henry van de Velde, focused on the interaction between ‘architectural interventions’ and ‘urban transformations’, both now and in the past. The typological evolutions of the arcade and the mall exemplify this interaction and as such are put forward in the paper European Publicity, Learning From the Evolution of the Interior Public Space. They both illustrate how interior public spaces came to acquire their dualistic nature: both city and building, both urban and architectural design. By learning from their history, the contemporary design tasks of public interiors can be understood and (re)defined.
At a certain point in the evolution of public interiors, buildings can become part of the city or else parts of the city can become buildings. The result is confusion. Disciplinary borders do change, but the key force behind the current confusion is twofold: urbanism defines new types of public space while architecture defines them as new building types. It is both.
From the perspective of interior public space, the European city need not be content with enclosed autonomous projects, hence an independent architectural approach with its focus on the interior programme, climate and experience only, like in the case of some malls. This forecasts ’empty boxes’, abandoned objects, such as emerging in North America. The position in the city and the urban context are highly relevant, and thus is the urban design task just as crucial. Although designing interiors is traditionally the task of architects, in the case of interior public space it is therefore high time to share that task with urbanists. This is what we can see in the other case of arcades too.
Harteveld, Maurice (2005) European Publicity, Learning from the Evolution of the Interior Public Space. In: Claessen, Francois en Leen van Duin (eds.), The European City. Architectural Interventions and Urban Transformations. EAAE Transactions on Architectural Education No. 25. Delft: DUP, pp. 223-231
About the European Association for Architectural Education
The European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE) is an international non-profit association committed to the exchange of ideas and people within the field of architectural education and research. The EAAE aims at improving the knowledge base and the quality of architectural and urban design education. It is a bi-lingual English/French association.
Founded in 1975, the EAAE has grown in stature to become an institution fulfilling an increasingly essential role in providing a European perspective for the work of architectural educationalists as well as concerned governmental agencies.
The EAAE counts more than 100 Active Member Schools in Europe from the Canary Islands to the Urals, representing almost 5000 tenured faculty members and more than 100000 students of architecture from the undergraduate to the doctoral level. The association is building up associate membership worldwide.