An inclusive approach to rethink linear urban voids

Silvia Bassanese*, Cecilia Zecca

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

Contemporary cities emerged as a result of diverse social, economic, urban and architectural transformations, through redevelopment and through cycles of abandonment and regeneration. In this complex scenario, the ubiquitous presence of urban voids raises interesting questions on how to exploit potential spaces in search of alternative and more inclusive models of circular economy and opportunity for all.

The story of urban voids is usually one of dysfunctional spaces, typically of unrealised intentions owing to their uncodified nature, which makes them fall within the category of secondary interventions. This paper questions the fallacy that the “space of the difference” in our cities can simply be adapted to conform to the predominant climate. Against the common strategy to treat these spaces as ancillary commodity, it’s becoming relevant to reassess their social value from the bottom up, in order to discover physical roots, theoretical foundations, and equitable access opportunities. The closer we get to the genesis of the urban voids, the more the story unravels, in the belief that margins of freedom for any form of sustainable intervention in the city can be rediscovered only through the retrieval of every aspect involved in the context.

A case study of linear urban voids formerly used for transportation in Aberdeen, Scotland, and now converted into a pedestrian and bicycle path is presented. A combination of methods has been used to understand the nature of these entities: rhythmic analysis, which involves interaction between senses, a multisensorial experience of the space in movement; and graphic interviews, which involve interpretative diagrams (mental map) that help visualise with patterns how people use and imagine the space.

By using these inclusive urban design methods, directly elaborated by people passing through the space, a taxonomy of design principles is outlined. What will happen if we consider the urban voids as never neutral and empty but rather as always “tensioned”, both made and occupied by forces that produce and use them? In this sense, the relational definition of architecture will prevail and the “pre-urban void” would be integrated in a network of relationships, where the architectural is only one of many possible codified forms of expression.

A deeper interaction between past, present and future emerges. If we’re able to include the notion of heterogeneity under broader perspectives, we could assert that urban voids embody active and equitable forms of social relations in our cities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes
EventSALUS Healthy City Design International - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Oct 202211 Oct 2022

Conference

ConferenceSALUS Healthy City Design International
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityLondon
Period10/10/2211/10/22

Cite this