Jan '07 - Jun '07
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.
three sites in Madrid
Some examples of the Architectures of the existing/developing PAU's