The city drawn by the architects
For most of us, contemporary landscapes provoke visceral images of urban environments with streets and corners, gardens and walls, monuments and shops. Nowadays, multiple urban things construct the backdrop of our social space since metropolitan areas have metamorphosed into complex systems built upon invisible networks, non-places, memories, and changing landscapes. Given the expanding complexity urban matters, which instruments should be used by architects to measure, understand, design and build the city and the territory?
La ciutat dibuixada pels arquitectes [laciutatdibuixada.blogspot.com.es] is an ongoing course at ETSAB, which aims to explore urban phenomena in a transversal manner from territorial [geography and infrastructure] to architectural domain [ground floor and domestic realm]. Traditionally, drawing described urban form in both an objective [scale drawing] and sensitive manner [free hand drawing]. In recent years, new technological achievements from other disciplines such as photography, modelling and geo-location radically have created new ways to depict subjective and objective mechanisms taking place in cities -alongside the tools required to synthesis them.
This evolution of representation tools has been instrumental in the construction of new interpretative but also projective models. The image of the city embodies the translation of the urban experience for communication and engenders the re-shaping of the worlds in which people live. Developing a “personal gaze” becomes the basis to re-make territory over again.
La ciutat dibuixada pels arquitectes seeks to experiment with representation tools and formats by means of three academic exercises. First, Unfolding Rambles explores the need to obtain personal records of reality [via own measuring instruments] and translate them into a synthetic document prior to the project. Second, Almanac of Small Data reviews the notion of almanac to propose a polyhedric and collective vision of Barcelona. By measuring and mapping existing conditions using information in a wide range of topics, the almanac will make an assertion about what the future of the city will hold. Finally, Layered Waterfront will complement previous experiences thanks to the construction of a single, synthetic and iconic urban image, i.e., a section of the coastline illustrating the changes experienced over the past twenty years.
Unfolding Rambles studies this living monument of Barcelona; despite being an area of great symbolic significance for citizens, tourism has deeply transformed and [re]shaped La Rambla. The structural role of the boulevard entails a double approach from the linearity of the promenade itself and its perimeter. Questions arise such as the physical saturation of the space, the guided movement of pedestrians, the poor diversity of ground floor uses [mostly souvenirs and fast food] and the coexistence of locals and tourists.
The exercise goes beyond geographical illustration to unmask invisible urban relationships: where the activity takes place, how public spaces shift according to the time of the day, which are the most crowded areas and places for citizenship’s identification, etc. These other aspects are what we call intangibles. Unfolding Rambles captures the ‘ephemeral’ besides the geometry of urban plots and facades, using novel representation tools from other disciplines [geography, cartography and data analysis] to reveal and realize the hidden urban potential.
The student works are:
/// Thanks to Mar Santamaria Varas for sharing this project with us.
/// The city drawn by the architects is an optional course lead by Mar Santamaria Varas [coordination 300000kms.net] and Montserrat Ribas Barba and provided by the Department of Urban Design and Regional Planning [DUOT] and Architectural Drawing [EGA] of the School of Architecture of Barcelona [ETSAB-UPC].