Politics of Tranformative Block

New academic year in the AA and new brief

Understanding scale through Buenos Aires city grid
This year Intermediate Unit 8 will be working on the design of a mix-used city block to be shared by a private corporation and a public institution in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In Latin-American cities, rapid socio-economic changes are giving birth to unprecedented city block configurations with radical programmatic assemblages, reversibility between inside and outside and interchange between public and private domains. However the possibility of these transformations, that change our understanding of cities as politically controlled entities through policy making, lies in its attachment to a generic urban grid. Being Buenos Aires 100x100m grid one of the densest in Latin-America makes it a perfect scenario to showcase the potential value of the block to generate city today. This implies a complex form finding process reassessing the tension between block and grid, a gradation between permanence and change in buildings, and a constant fight between the stability aimed by the governmental and the inevitable change derived from economic processes. Students will work on a 100x100m urban block using an empty or built plot within the Buenos Aires grid. The structure of the course will be divided in three interrelated parts detecting fundamental aspects for the block design. 1. Operational fields: Research on socio-cultural and economic aspects that will inform the programmatic brief of block proposals. This research will be also accompanied by a reading of the city through a collection of maps, photographs and city fragments that will be used for filling the block with content. 2. Spatial Organizations: Architectural examples of Clorindo Testa in Buenos Aires and urban block proposals by Rem Koolhaas, Hans Kollhoff and Rafael Moneo will be analysed to understand their formal and spatial organizations that will be extrapolated as preliminary systems of spatial relations of block proposals. These diagrams in axonometric will articulate and structure the programmatic content of the block. 3. Active Interfaces: Studies on the transformation, adaptation and responsiveness of the block, reflecting on its relationship with both the grid and the passersby, will be studied through a 1/5 mock-up of the building envelope.

Image: Fragkiskos Konstantatos Intermediate Unit 8 (2011-12): A new transportation hub in Tlatelolco site that combines spontaneous peseros’ network with regulated transportation system as a response to the acceleration of Mexico City socio-spatial fragmentation.