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Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

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    Live Blog - Ceri Edmunds, "Consolidation: The suburban shopping mall as a paradigm of public space."

    Lian Chikako Chang May 17 '13 0

    Hi Archinect,

     

    1:10: Ceri Edmunds is presenting.

    "This project places the shopping mall into anatagonism with the suburban residential. This project seeks consolidation..."

    At the bottom level are loading docks and parking; the loading docks service the three voids. Above this are the shopping layers, parks, and a mat layer of housing at the top layer. The park is mostly open to the air.

    IR: On the one hand you started being critical of the mall space. How far have you challenged that vision?

    CE: Obviously it's kind of a legal issue and not only an architectural one. But my intention was to create an environment that was so unpalatable to be entirely privatized that it would create a precedent--

    WJ: You mean, financially unpalatable? Why couldn't it just be a gated community? To me, there's a lot of volume enclosed; why does the whole thing have to become architecture--why couldn't you just put a suburb on the shopping mall roof; that is, why do you need this to all be an outdoor experience?

    PSC: You don't have units on top of each other do you?

    CE: The slope is a strategy to allow for this density, so that they're not all closed in [but have access to light, air, and views...]

    Nana Last: What prevents the houses from becoming private too?

    Harry Cobb: Why does the parking lot extend so much--why doesn't the community on top become bigger?

    CE: In terms of how you'd experience it, I think it's as close as it would be otherwise. It's denser than a typical suburb. Just over 300 houses here.

    HC: Why is it limited to single-family one storey houses?

    CE: I think it was to account for the demographic of the area, and make it a modified suburb, but offering the same qualities as a surburban house.

    IR: I don't think you have a radical revision of the problem of the shopping mall. [The residential] is just an icing. There's an issue with the publicness which I think [Nana Last] suggested. You have the same problem that BIG has, which is the problem of the edge. When you raise up the suburban condition, how do you deal with the edge?

    CE: I think that critique would be correct if this were urban, but it's suburban...

    Catherine Ingraham: Is there an economic model being promoted here between the residential and shopping--is there a benefit from living on top of the mall or a benefit for the retail?

    CE: The residents would have a lot of amenities; they're closer.

    CI: What does that get you?

    HC: How do you get into these houses?

    CE: There are driveways--not interior, but within the mas of the house.

    HC: I'm realizing it's a much more complicated relationship...These people are literally living in a shopping mall.

    PSC: Yes, Harry: up top you have a conventional suburban experience and below, a totally different experience.

    CE: ...I felt that people would feel overwhelmed by being completely surrounded by the public realm.

    PSC: It's both gated and non-gated; that's interesting. You have two publics.

    IR: Who is the owner of this column?

    CE: I would say it's the state.

    CI: Not the state!

    CE: Right now, suburbia demands to have no state regulation, and that's what leads it to be a complete mess. I'm suggesting that in these focused instances, the state makes one tiny effort to design something with intention.

    Rodolphe el-Khoury: For 300 units?

    CE: Not only for 300 units, but for all the people who visit the shopping space and experience a more contested public space.

    WJ: I think there are answers to all the questions that have been asked.

    CE: I accept that; I could have gone to a more legal direction.

    WJ: Not legal, but economic, spatial, architectural...You could stipulate that the density would be no greater than in a typical suburbia and you'd pay for all this over time from the leases on the shopping center.

    CE: The volume of air is certainly no bigger than Mall of America.

    WJ: But shops don't like that open vertical space over the shops themselves; it's a distraction for shoppers. This is more like a market.

    REK: I think you are in a strange area now. It's not transformed enough...

    IR: I don't know who's going to live there. On the one hand there's a picturesque landscape, and then you are submerged into this other space. It's a very graphic project, but unfortunately that's where it remains.

    CI: In the American suburb, the street was never public.

    IR: But still, every car could go there.

    CE: I'm sorry, Inge, but that's not a great public space. It's a small difference to put that street within a gated community.

    IR: But why base your project on that model then?

    HC: I find it a fascinating project as architecture. It is certainly not a revolutionary social proposition. It's actually putting together the idea of a gated community with the idea of a shopping mall. I believe there are 300 people who would be interested in living here, and that it could produce provocative results. It's engagingly done; I like how they go down...

    PSC: What about this idea of putting face-to-face the very private form of housing with the public?

    HC: I'm interested, I think it would be a wonderful experiment if anyone could afford it. But it should not have been presented as a social project.

    WJ: Harry has now engaged with it as an architectural proposition. I would only ask that--this approaches a sublime condition at this scale. I feel that it was a strategic error to go for a more naturalistic with the massing, instead of seeing how the slope of the plates is generated by the units.

    NL: [Instead of having the project set off as an island], the structure should be cut, allowing people to see these layers and allowing people in the suburbs to walk right in to the market as if it were a real market. That would only have to happen at one edge.

    PSC: Thank you very much.

    Applause--end.

    Thanks!

    Lian

    P.S. PSC is now forbidding the critics from taking a long lunch break; our lateness will be made up by having them eat their sandwiches at the next jury if necessary.

     

     
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Lectures and exhibitions, news and events, now primarily from the Bay Area! Please note that all live blogs are abridged and approximate. If you want to see exactly what happened, in many cases a video of the event is posted online by the event's hosts. If you have concerns about how you are quoted, please contact me via Archinect's email.

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