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  • Differential Urbanism

    Differential Urbanism
    los angeles CALIFORNIA

    SCI-Arc Future Initiatives (SCIFI), Fall 2012
    critic: Peter ZELLNER

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Joel KERNER: Our cities have traded good congestion, that being pedestrian movement and necessitated interaction, for a congestion of automobiles and transit. Our architecture—and ultimately our urban space—is increasingly getting out of scale as we trade traditional planning and hierarchy for Bigness and isolation. Our once great urban space has slowly been replaced by lifeless infrastructure that separates pedestrians from their destinations.

    Urban space needs to be understood and addressed as an architectural problem; we need to own it again! By considering urban space as continuous architectural element, we can to return our cities to a human scale.

    Located at the interchange of the 10 and 405 Freeways in west Los Angeles, this project proposes a new urban topos in response to the expansion of the exposition boulevard light rail line. The design seeks to increase density and walkability by superimposing a smaller network of pedestrian streets onto the existing L.A. grid. A “differential” urbanism is created through interpreting the network as either solid or void simultaneously. The thickening (for solid) or carving (for void) of the network results in several building typologies which can imply certain programs by their shape, therefore dodging homogenous or parametric massing. A transversal relationship between figure, field, ground, and network is achieved through a series of operations that do not grant primacy to any one. The organization of this city “district” is akin to that of a medieval city, with a clear hierarchy between streets and squares. The streets channel into squares that accommodate more diverse public function. The efficacy of the square lies in the firm periphery of buildings that define it. These periphery buildings are the frontages that breathe life and viability into the square; people are required to pass through it to access the functions contained in the buildings. This necessitated flow and interaction of people (with separate aims) is the latent heart of urbanity.

    sP: What or who influenced your project?
    JK: Medieval Cities, Peter Zellner, Thom Mayne, Rob Krier, Kokkugia.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    JK: I was mainly reading Combinatory Urbanism (Mayne) and Urban Space (Krier), as well as writings by Fumihiko Maki, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, Colin Rowe, Aldo Rossi, Stan Allen, Albert Pope, O. M. Ungers, Greg Lynn, and Pier Vittorio Aureli. I was listening to: Memnphis May Fire, We Came As Romans, Woe Is Me, Attack Attack!, I See Stars, Issues.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    JK: SCI-Arc’s Robot House, Morphosis, Wes Jones, Neil Denari, Leven Betts, Yaohua Wang, Yellow Wall Studio.

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