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    jtbr_5 :: PAU! NOW

    TADS Feb 12 '07 4

    PAU: Programa de Actuación Urbanística. In actuality, this trip to Madrid marks the middle point of this research studio's (Studio:Mayne) program schedule. Still, it feels like it is just the beginning. The first 15 weeks have been focused on researching urban design through precedents, manifestos, critiques, etc starting with the work of CIAM, through Team X, the Metabolists, and the more recent NYC2012:Olympic Village(naturally) and, of course, an intensive study of Madrid. Finally, much of this information has been packaged in a rough hand book: MADRID. That is the input. This trip is clearly a transitional point. The research will now be activated. The output: large scale urban design projects. Three sites: Chamartin, Abronigal, and Cuartro Vientas. The PAU's are essentially large scale low to low-middle income housing projects. They skirt the city in vacant areas between the inner two rings of freeways. Most of the buildings have been highly successful, and widely accepted by the general public. Many starchitects have been involved, including: Morphosis, MVRDV, FOA, Peter Cook, and others. Generally, the goal is to maximize the number of units within a preset virtual urban volume -based on city ordinances. Construction budgets are around $70/square foot. (cheap) That is the good. The bad is the urban design of these spaces. Currently, the areas are all residential and maybe fifty percent of the units have been filled. The city plans to begin to embed commercial spaces as the PAU's fill. Where? I do not know. Street life is non-existent. The buildings tend to be viewed as individual units linked by extra-wide roadways. Each building looks fantastic on its own, but when together... well that is the ugly. A few of the architects seem to have started to try to address the problems of the urban life in these zones. Morphosis created a labyrinth space between two stacked volumes. Within the labyrinth are several different scales of public and private spaces. All of the spaces are woven with a latticework of greenery, unseen in many other spaces within these zones. MVRDV created a public space in section rather than plan. We were not allowed access to the space, but I imagine there are some stellar views of the surrounding areas of the city. Still, both examples are internalized conditions, in that only the residents of the building can intake the experience.
    This all should frame where our studio sits. Our goal is to flesh out some design scenarios and ultimately see if we can challenge Madrid to emphasize urban design as well as architecture in the design of these PAU's. The studio will be split into groups of two to three students. The three sites will be sprinkled amongst the groups. Each group will form a thesis, design execution, pretty graphics, and fifteen weeks later we will be eaten alive by a panel of superstars. And I will love every second of it! Rock and roll.
    -jt

    three sites in Madrid
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    Chamartin
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    Abronigal
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    Cuatro Vientas
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    Some examples of the Architectures of the existing/developing PAU's
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    • 4 Comments

    • AP
      Feb 13, 07 12:02 am

      looking forward to the production of this studio.

      i posted some images previously of an example of
      affordable housing in Barcelona. the new housing in this area of the city seems rather successful in creating intensely occupied pockets of urban space. this is just one example (albiet the least active).

      cobra
      Feb 14, 07 2:31 am

      AP; Thanks! We had a "research pod" of about five people or so shoot up to Barcelona for a few days, hopefully they fully documented/analyzed these projects. -if not, maybe they are reading this! This will definately be an interesting project... it does not necessarily have to be housing. We are trying not to limit ourselves into any singular solution at this point. Also, the scale is massive, ranging from 3.5-5 square kilometers (the three maps above are the same scale) -bigger than LA/Now. Those photos will probably be my reminder for the next fifteen weeks what it was like to be outside and away from my desk.

      Medit
      Feb 14, 07 4:43 am

      there's no such thing as the Madrid's PAU's in Barcelona because of the different geographic conditions...
      the PAU's in Madrid are usually erected in "nowhere lands" (terrain vagues) around the central urban nucleus.. most of those new residential areas are exclusively residential, there's no life during the work days...
      Madrid is surrounded by a vast land (a la American midwest) and that is why they are building contiuously new concentric ringroads to develop new ensanches out from nowhere. Barcelona's particular topography and geographic conditions does not have these vast areas to build on and the way the city grows is by adjoining new surrounding municipal terms that ALREADY have some kind of life (an old urban nucleus developed around some old church etc..).. Barcelona grows by incorporating exisiting areas while Madrid (which also have some towns around it but more separated and disperse) has generally to "invent" new towns/districts...

      most Madrid PAU's I have seen in arch magazines, though being interesting pieces of architecture by themselves (and not only those by Chipperfield, Mayne or the famous MVRDV block with the skygarden, but also from local architects), doesn't have people around it in the photos, they are empty and have a quite anxious feeling of desolation (even for being new built areas)...
      I understand where the necessity to do this comes from, but I guess I'm too mediterranean to appreciate this type of urbanism

      the example that AP has posted is exactly in the other extreme, that's right in the middle of the Old City -the densest district- of Barcelona -one of the densest cities in Europe-... but quite interesting by itself as well.

      Orhan AyyüceOrhan Ayyüce
      Aug 3, 07 2:20 pm

      jt, i am cross linking here a portion of *thom mayne's thoughts of the project/research and including a slide show of the project data
      i photographed in UCLA.


      "I have shifted all my academic work at UCLA to urban projects. It has definitely had a profound effect on my thinking. This is what is taking place in larger context right now, globally, it is urbanistic work. I did three different urban projects in LA recently. We are doing a new project in Madrid, Spain, large urban project and a social housing project. I got a sense that they were using us in a wrong way. They had a very conventional idea, a priory, not specific to the area and they were using architects to design singular buildings. The problem is not a single building problem it is an urban problem. So, I went back to them and said “I want to take my students there and study the problem and give you alternative ways of looking at the issues”, really broad alternatives, not only physical but strategic alternatives in broad terms. **We have just finished that last week, and it is published and it is going to biennale in China and I am presenting it to the people in Madrid in October. That work is really starting to shift everything we are doing.
      Everything I am doing is involving around that macro to larger concept."




      *'thom mayne in coffee break'


      **http://www.flickr.com/photos/87051047@N00/sets/72157600824144879/show/

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