REGIONAL SCALE. Looking to the present metropolitan region of Bordeaux and considering the guidelines proposed for its future development, we can clearly single out tree main elements that define the city structure.
The Garonne river that cross the Town from south to north dividing the historical core of the city on the west side and the mainly industrial and logistic districts on the east side.
The circular paths of boulevards, railway and highway that define different development levels of the urban fabric.
The network of tramlines with its tram/train hubs and park-and-ride schemes that represents the public transport backbone.
The future growth of the Urban Community will mainly depend on the improvement of fast and efficient connections between the main core of the city and the metropolitan area. This goal can be reached planning a transport oriented development, placing the most part of the new building projects around the public transport infrastructure.
From this point of view the railway ring, turning around the city, connecting the tramlines network and crossing bubbles of empty spaces, could be a basic element for the city development. This circular path could be the backbone of a new city cores network, able to orient the city development toward a bigger extension while controlling the urban sprawl. Every core should be a city hub with high mix of uses, based on a structure of flexible public spaces and fast connections with the metropolitan area. The goal should be to define a different identity for each new settlement, working on hierarchy and relationships between different uses and through different qualities of public spaces.
URBAN SCALE. The study site is in the centre of an area where significant policies of city regeneration are planned, so its role in the city will completely change. What is now an abandoned space that isolates the Aubiers settlements from the city and in a way defines the limit of what we can call Bordeaux, could become a neuralgic node of the new city expansion northwards.
The area has some features that make it suitable to become a new city core.
First of all it’s on the railway ring and it’s planned to be at the intersection of two main tramways connecting the north of the city with the center and the east side of the Garonne. So the site it’s supposed to be an important node of the city public transport infrastructure. Fast and efficient connection will allow to set here urban scale facilities and to give back to Bordeaux this “extra space”.
Then the presence of the high density settlement of Aubiers could be a significant resource for the economical and social development of the area, in terms of opening the public space towards the existing buildings in order to upgrade the actual living conditions.
Finally the opportunity to involve the knowledge and the economic power of the “Pole Teqnique” (CTBA, SAFT, Gaz de Bordeaux) in the transformation of the area could be a great chance to set up new relationships between this productive area and the inhabitants. This cooperation in the area development could bring new job places, always needed in the area, but also could create a solid social network for the future.
With the intention of improve this social dynamics and take advantage of the knowledge of the existing companies, we purpose to set in the site a research centre for the development of renewal energy technology and ecological timber manufacture. This centre should play a key role in all the phases of the area construction.
The project of a cultural centre, with spaces for production of temporary events and performing arts, directly open to the public space, should complete the transformation, bringing new blood and characterizing the area.
Taking advantage on the area’s features throw this kind of development policies, we want the area to become an urban catalyst, not only a crucial connective space for this part of the city, but also an attractive public place for culture, work and leisure.
LOCAL SCALE. The site is a railway wasteland that signs a strong border excluding the high dense settlement of Aubier from the city. So the area has been an unuseful and unfriendly space for a long time. This feature give to the area huge weight of possibility and hope to the inhabitants that now, with the urban transformations that have being planned, can be made happen. At the end the people will get back this “extra space”. But what is a “extra space”? We believe that its main characteristic is to remain a possibility space where everything is always in transformation. The idea is while completely renewal and make accessible the area, maintain this characteristic whole. So the main goal of the project is to build-up a public space isotropic and continuous.
Isotropic means homogeneous in every direction. From this point of view we think about a space that in every place can offer the same development potential.
To achieve this task we worked on a ground organization system planning first of all the construction of an energy infrastructure. This network is made of an homogeneous grid of “technological umbrellas” having the function of collect and distribute the energy. In particular we project three typology of umbrellas: “water umbrella” collecting the rain water for ground irrigation; “energy umbrella” collecting electricity from the sun rays; “media umbrella” giving out sound, video and information (mainly connected with the cultural centre). Development and installation of this technological elements is assigned to the energy research centre. The aim is to experiment new collecting energy technology and encourage different uses of renewal energy.
Continuity is a basic feature to build-up an active and productive public space that can really improve the inhabitants living conditions. Public space continuity on one hand guarantees free movement for the people and the highest connectivity, on the other hand it allows a high flexibility level and a huge variety of temporary uses.
These characteristics make space sharing easier. Each one’s experiences, needs and different life’s styles get contaminated. At the end, in contrast with what people usually think, free movement in a no limits space without physical or visual barriers, improve the perception of being in a safe place, where respect common life rules.
The proposed strategy to build this kind of public space is made of two steps.
First of all we project a ground tuning that at the same time, through slight ground waving, defines different areas and preserves physical and visual continuity. The idea is not to set a functional space separation (tracks, squares, ect.), but to define light speed differences of the fluxes. Ground tuning suggests a hierarchy between these fluxes, but leaves open the possibility that people temporary subvert this fragile order taking possession of the space.
Second the dwellings, needing private separate spaces, become a separate layer lift from the ground, so to reduce to the minimum the contact with public space. In particular the housing structure, made only by one element every block (8-9 apartments) containing the vertical connection, is conceived to reduce at the minimum the contact surface between housing and public space.
Housing layer sets a relationship with the continuous public space through the building shape that embraces the underneath space. These are not exactly courtyards, but hybrid spaces that can be semi-private or also be temporary flood by public activities.
Housing, while detached from the ground, are immersed in the public space of which they are scenery and favoured point of view.
PHASES OF REALIZATION POLICY. The carring out of the project is based on the principle of the realization per phases and on the involving in the process of construction the inhabitants and the economical subjects of the area.
In the first phase the ground is tuned and the infrastructural net is realized. In this first step also the platforms, on which the housing will be built, are constructed. These basements, with their vertical connections and infrastructural facilities, can be immediatly used as temporary public spaces (gardens, common terraces, solariums, sightseen etc.) before the housing construction. In the mean time the presence of the technological umbrellas will allow a firs level of public space use, trough process of energy collection and distribution. For example family gardens will be structured with their irrigation system and their grow basic facilities. At the end a first nucleus of timber manufacturing workshops will be constructed, in connection with the existing factory, the CTBA that will have a key role in the realization of the construction elements and in the teaching of specialized workers.
In this phase SAFT and Gaz de Bordeauz will be involved in the infrastructure realization.
The City of Bordeaux will have the responsibility of the public soil, the platforms and the main infrastructure.
In the second phase we planned the housing unit development that will be constructed on the platform through light modular structures and wood covering panels. In this step the CTBA will have a main role, not only providing material and knowledge, but also coordinating participating designing and auto construction process. A further development stage of the timber manufacturing and the construction of the research centre for the development of renewal energy technology are planned. At the end the family gardens will improve their activity becoming a productive soil for the auto consumption, but also becoming relationships spaces where negotiate social equilibriums.
In the third phase we will have a further development of the research centre an the construction of the auditorium with spaces for culture and performing art production. In this last step the area opens towards the outside as a metropolitan scale base point.
The metamorphosis has been completed, but the continuity and flexibility of the public space will allow to start-up other transformations in different scales, giving life to a “permanent extra space”.
The whole public space will be an open air building site in continuous transformation where producers and economical subjects will be able to concretely experiment with and for the inhabitants their research activities in energy systems, constructions, art and culture.