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‘liquid axis’ – programmatic landscapes

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[ generic ]: 01

‘liquid axis’ is elaborated in the context of the urban design competition : ‘Aristotelous, the redesign of the civic axis’, organized by the ‘Cultural Capital- Thessaloniki 1997’.

The idea competition, product of the 'urban marketing' inherent to the European cultural politics, deals with the expansion, the reestablishment and in particular with the promotion of the central metropolitan space of the city.

The specific economic and political context of the competition gave the rare opportunity to investigate the question of the central role of the urban space and the transposition of its cultural identity into a contemporary situation. Corresponding to this new form of urban planning strategies, the project works out a conceptual attitude to determinate a central role of the urban space.

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[ generic ]: 02 \\ From urbanity to trans-urban

The spatial structure of the city is radically changing under the influence of new information and communication technologies; by imposing their own territories and logistics, they destroy the existing urban hierarchy. The local matrix of the city, constantly exposed to non-physical and global systems, has turned into a ‘glocal’ matrix, generated and generating space(s) of material and immaterial flows. The deterritorialisation of space and the dematerialization of signs even more erase the local space in its economical, political, social and cultural signification by transposing totally our understanding and practice of space.

The increasing of information flows and the condensation of space more and more define urbanity as a support of event and information. The social model ‘city’ is mutating from a static and localized state into a temporal dislocated condition - In this case urban density, congestion, is a mediated, rather than a spatial device, juggling with attractivity by condensing information.

Urbanism as the obsession of ‘appearance’ and ‘representation’ has to deal with dislocated, disembodied and transmissible systems. The classical question of articulating public and private space, localizing boundaries and identifying build entities, is now a question of being in dynamic space(s)-time(s) matrix of connectivity, interaction and imagination.

Transurbanism concerns about the endless densification and diversification of reversible communication and information systems – it has become a data and hyperlink design.

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[ generic ]: 03 \\ white noise

The new communication and information networks accentuate the differences of comprehension and practice of space, between local and global, domiciled and nomad. The city as a n-dimensional matrix is no longer a common space but a fragmented matrix of multi-temporalities and multi-spatiality’s opposing radically the different forms of urbanity. In the combination of the local and global into a ‘glocal’ environment the social parameter of space might be the most crucial factor, accessibility to information and communication its focal point.

The project is thoroughly designed out of complementary processes of combination and superposition merging the specific social matrix of the city with the new condition of urbanity.‘liquid axis’ exploit the phenomena of white noise, the overlapping of all frequencies forming a constant noise, in aim to build up an open programmatic field – a data space, absorbing and diffusing the total spectrum of information. The widening of traditional planning concepts to spatio-temporal considerations such as frequencies, time layers, sequences, ambiences, rhythm, suit, flows, fields, textures…accords to the new urban phenomena an important role in urbanity, as a less physical than mediated condition.

WHITE NOISE <-------------------------------------------------------------> MEDIATED MEDIUM


From Aristotelous axis to ‘liquid axis’

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[ liquid axis ]: 01 \\ urban skeleton

The project of liquid axis doesn’t focus only on the central space of the axis –the ancient agora -, but extend the intervention to metropolitan scale, the existing urban skeleton by :

-the implantation of a new infrastructure network, intensifying the congestion as the primary generator of  public space.

-the augmentation of the surface of the axis itself, folding space to combine new programs with the particularity of the ‘urban ventile’.

-the transformation of the extremity of the axis, Aristotelous place, into a ‘negative’ pier, linking the two most efficient development areas of the city, the axis and the 50km long waterfront.

-the recording of new programmatic and spatial structures implanting dynamic and fluid urban spaces, programmatic fields as: the XL-PLEAT, the S-PLEAT and the CITY PLATES.

URBAN SKELETON <----------------------------------------------------------->STRUCTURE

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[ liquid axis ]: 02 \\ urban ventile

The unachieved strata of the ‘Hebrard’ urban master plan, designed after the great fire in 1917, which destroyed the entire center of Thessaloniki is interpreted as an attempt to import a new structural element, opening up the city to the sea by the medium of a major axis, but also as the feature of the blind faith into a historicist vision. The discovery of the archeological finding has provoked a paralysis accentuating the conflict between the city's historical heritage and an irrevocable modernity. Nevertheless, the absence of urbanism during 70 years turned the axis into an important free space – an ‘urban ventile. The representative symbolic of the space 'Aristotelous axis' collapsed into a diversified field of activity. A space of contrast opposing:

- urban fragments as the ancient agora with a black market generated by eastern immigrants,

-the mass of television antennas and underwear, suspended on the balcony of social housings, to the most important monuments, ….

The axis as a central urban space finds its most significant expression in the arbitrary untwist of fragments and contrasts, its highest congestion by daily economy and activity, its identity by combining the different cultural influences between Asia, Europe and Balkans.

The project exploit the potential of this situation by overlaying to the axis new spatial structures, ‘plates’ and ‘pleats’ as undetermined spaces-kind of ‘preprograms’ to establish the axis as a place of event rather than a space of symbolic representation. ‘Liquid axis’ follows the urban strategy of congestion of activity – a densification of emptiness as a more light and temporal urbanization.

CON[text]TURE <---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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[ liquid axis ]: 03 \\ circuit

The linear and static model of the axis is transposed into a multi-directional and dynamic space, intertwining different systems within the urban matrix. The circuit can be distinguished in three different systems, the XL-pleat, the S-pleat and the City plates, which extend the surface of the axis to its transversal and vertical dimension, redefining its relation with the existing matrix. The fusion of these 3 spatio-temporal structure forms a dense system of overlaid networks – a circuit, constantly exposed to environmental and internal fluctuation.

Xl-pleat, a 140m wide programmatic wedge undulating across the very center of the axis, reestablishes its central role by:

1-The superposition, to the archeological excavations, of the 140000mē  platform, culminating in a screen reactivates the ancient agora into a two store high cultural machine, where the Greek decor constantly fuses with the projected virtualities of the screen. A totally mediated space, where the urban actor slips from the Hellenistic ambiance to the Olympic game 2004 or into the world of Los Angeles 2016. ’Agora’ 2000 becomes an instable 'glo-cal' space, a playground of time and space, exploiting technology to intensify interactivity and communication.

2-The light field and the media screens produce new sequences within the axis, overexposing the urban landscape to the reestablish the public status of space as a more mediatic than an architectural disposure.

S-pleat, a 30m large programmatic binding running through the whole length of the axis, implants a flexible ‘plug and play’ structure, adapted to the diversity of the axis.

The band rolled out like an artificial carpet combines the fix coordinates - circulation, with ephemera installations.

CITY PLATES, inherent to the local system of the axis, these 'plates' are used as independent programmatic zones. They form a transition between the new urban systems and the existing context. These tectonics emphasize ambiences by forming urban scenarios as:

1-the ‘live excavating park’; the park configuration evolves according to the action of digging ruins. The conception exploits the paralysis of a blocked situation to create a permanent event within the city center. The combination of the park with the excavation links archeology, citizen and tourist interests.

2-the ‘sea-city place; a place filled up with water depending on the rhythm of the tides, expending temporary the sea into the city. This ‘negative’ pier is a programmatic hybrid, alternating between the function of a pier and a place. This changing environment exacerbates the image of the place, from a reflected image to the endless event.

CIRCUIT <---------------------------------------------> INTER[text]TUAL ENVIRONMENTS

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[ liquid axis ]: 04 \\ folded time grid

‘Liquid axis’ exploits the digital information of the city scan to determinate the path of the folding of the dynamic space across the different time-layers of the city. These folded time grids, are compiled through the ‘horizontal stratas’, ‘city boards’ and ‘city plates’, in which the urban actor slips from one sequence, urban scenario, to another.

Liquid as the fusion of action and form, time and space, erases the static references of space. The different entities, programs are not simply juxtaposed; they are flattened into a continuous mediated system.

The fluid tectonic of this hypersensible matrix condense the different fluxes. Historic and entropic time, geometric and topologic space fuse into a new interactive urban zone designed out of ‘bytes’.

Conceived as a fluid network system- a circuit the axis is transformed into a support absorbing and diffusing information and event. The urban condition is defined a hypertexture, a totally mediated environment, provoking urban experiences, moments of erosions.

FOLDED TIME GRID <--------------------------------------------------------------> REALMS