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CYCLES in Urban Environments
CYCLES in Urban Environments Investigating Temporal Rhythms
Dedicated to Malik
This book is based on the Masters Thesis
I would like to thank all these different people
I wrote for my MSc in Urban Design at the
who supported my work on this report and
Bartett School of Architecture at UCL. For this
throughout the year here in London.
work I was awarded a Distinction.
First of all I would like to thank my family, Malik
It is now transformed into summarizes
and Sandra who took some part in the research
work and supported me always with whatever
urban phenomenon as well as a section were
initial findings are translated and used to
Special thanks go to my tutor Olaf Kneer, for
extend on a proposal of a floating city located
his support, all his superb inputs, critical
in the Thames Estuary in the UK.
questions, and in general for his good mood
The publication also incudes in the addendum
and positive nature, not only but particularly
a number of essays written in the context of
during the work on this report.
I would also like to thank my classmates Jeff Ho, Luis Suarez, Thiresh Govender and others,
fan, April 2010
for their inputs and critical remarks about the work during the development of this report but also throughout the whole year. Thanks go also to Anika Mittal and Juergen Haepp with whom I developed the AKA project that became the testing environment for the second part of this report. All the basic ideas in connection with AKA and some of cAKA are developed by the three of us together. Special thanks also go to my professor Colin Fournier certainly for his inputs, but also for his invitation to take part in this course and especially for his offer and encouragement to stay on the course and finish my Masters here at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. This year of studies in London was only possible with the financial support of the Stiftung fur Architektur Geisendorf. fan, September 2006
Abstract This book explores the appearance and
Juergen Haepp and myself earlier during the
impact of cycles in urban surroundings and,
Urban Design Course at the Bartlett School of
in a second stage, their potential for an urban
Architecture. The previous AKA project is taken
as a base to test the potential of cycles for a
Cycles appear in any part of life. Examples
new proposal named as cAKA.
can be found in time, economics, environment
The new proposal builds on the ideas of a
... and they can be seasons, days, technology,
floating city in the Thames Estuary as a new
development for the growth of London in the
happenings like rush hour or basic needs such
Thames Gateway. It is not the aim of the cAKA
as eating and sleeping.
proposal to answer all the remaining questions
Cycles appear through a wide range of scales
on the earlier project, but to densify certain
and often without referring to them.
aspects of cycles within the environment of a
They appear out of subsystems evolving over
proposal. The research work therefore acts as
time and generations. The peculiarity of cycles
a source of many new aspects to be looked at
is the fact that they are closed systems in
in this very special environment of an urban
terms of their repetition. Each cycle repeats
development on water.
itself along its script. This applies a particular rhythm to urban life. But as they are not
synchronized they interfere/overlap with/sit
Cycle, Cycles, Rhythm, System, Urban system,
on top of/disturb/... one another. This can be a
Arkway [AKA], Thames Estuary, Clockbank,
source of movement and action in urban life. A very abstract picture for this could be a clock
mechanism - of course, here all the different
wheels are working closely together for one goal - but maybe cycles in a system are doing this too, just in a different sense, in the sense that the urban system adapts to it. The first part of the report is about research work carried out during the month of July 2006. I observed my personal interaction with the city in terms of different cycles in order to explore different types and their impact. The second part translates different conclusions from the research work onto a proposal based in the Thames Estuary. This work builds up on the AKA project developed by Anika Mittal,
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INTRO c On Cycles Changes and recurrence are the sense of being
In one of my earlier essays in this course, I
alive - things gone by, death to come, and
wrote on system theory. I thought of the city as
present awareness. The world around us, so
a system in relation to the system theory that
much of it our own creation, shifts continually
evolved from Bertanalffyâ€˜s work on natural
and often bewilders us. We reach out to that
systems [Bertanalffy, 1968]. I looked at this
world to preserve or to change it, and so to
theory of systems and subsystems and how
make visible our desire. The arguments of
they are constituted out of elements, how
planning all come down to the management of
they define their dynamic borders through
change [Kevin Lynch, What Time is this Place,
relationships between themselves. â€œThe whole
is more than the sum of its partsâ€œ [Aristotle, in
This short research work aims to explore
the impact of different cycles on the urban
I can imagine cycles to be an element in this
environment of a city. The more I try to search
picture of a system. It could be the element that
for cycles in my surrounding, the more I see all
brings in a third aspect, the aspect of movement.
actions going in cyclical operations. It seems
This can be all different kinds of movement -
to me as if the city life is kind of programmed
pedestrian movement or material flows; or
along these patterns of repeated actions in daily
on an abstract level just the representation of
routines. Due to their repetitive pattern it can
life and time. Besides movement, the cycles
be easily compared with a computer program
introduce a tool of constant feedback inputs
that just repeats its commands along a defined
through repetition. On this basis the system
string of codes. But for me, cycles in real life
can take decisions and deal with changing
seem to be more flexible, more adaptive and
environments and different impacts.
This brought about a second picture of how to
The first picture I had in mind of cycles in the
look at the city.
city was the mechanical clockwork like the
I would like to introduce the origin of the idea of
ones used in analogue watches. But the further
looking at cycles. The AKA project of a floating
I developed this research and later transformed
city in the Thames Estuary, developed in a
it into the project, I realize how deeply the
group with Anika Mittal, Juergen Haepp and
cycles are connected to actual urban life. And
myself earlier in this course, talked about a lot
this life is probably the essential element of the
of different things like reconfiguration, process
city, the one thing that makes any environment
and self organisation. But the main topic from
lovely, enjoyable and familiar.
the beginning was mobility and movement. We had the picture of total mobility that would
surprisingly a lot of car brands advertise their new models. Alongside this came the images of the new Disney-Pixar animation movie Cars, that will be on display soon. Each of these themes applied a specific message and atmosphere to the urban environment and most of us got the information. Taking a broader view, the changing rhythms of advertising displays - tied to the rhythms of product innovation - creates a consonance and interesting dialogue with other city rhythms such as cycles of urban regeneration and decay [Anne Cronin, Urban Advertising: a Machine for Thinking?, Urban Design, winter 2006, issue 97, p.10-11]. But what was more interesting for me about these examples is the way the city surface is changing and I was able to observe this change of material cycles on this example. If cities are continually made and remade, advertising must be understood as one of those elements that constitute the urban [Anne Cronin, Urban Advertising: a Machine for Thinking?, Urban Design, winter 2006, issue 97, p.10-11].
PART TWO - cAKA
With this background of research work on cycles through my observations in the city of London I go back to the AKA project and apply certain new aspects. It is on the one hand a tool to develop a project; but, on the other hand, it is also kind of a test run to see what certain aspects of cycles as described before really mean in a urban environment and whether the interpretation is useful.
Supply Unit - the Weekly Cycle Every unit has a self sufficiency of something between one and two weeks. This means they can store goods, fresh water, energy and waste. The need to empty and refill can be served on different locations. Ashore there are fixed stations similar to gas stations,and in the structure there are supply units that do this job. This crawler applies a cycle on a weekly scale to the single units in the structure. The supply unit picks up rubbish and waste water, but it also supplies units with fresh water and energy in different forms. It travels along and sometimes through the structure from unit to unit and reaches out with its flexible arms to attach to them and exchange goods. The tentacles are used to pump waste and water. As the structure keeps changing the Crawler adapts to these changes as part of the structure. It doesn’t have a fixed route, but the Crawler has a certain speed so that one can calculate its arrival approximately. But the units can change their location according to the Crawler’s path in order to get supply. To ask for supply one can put a request on the area’s intranet and the Crawler automatically generates a new path. There is no need to be at home, supply will be done automatically.
Connections to land are good and the exchange functions in both directions, through the existing pier of Southend on the east side. On the west side, there is a fairly strong connection to Canvey Island. This connection is affected by the tide and only operates during high tide. The sandbank appearing during low tide attracts lots of people from these existing settlements to come out to Clock Bank. The flow of people goes with the movement of the tide. Interconnections between the AKA areas is very strong. Clock Bank and Nore an especially well connected due to their central location. There is exchange of people as the two complement in usage terms. Nore is more business orientated; Clock Bank is more focused on retail. Usage The character is mainly dominated by a mixture of shopping, entertainment and culture. It is comparable to Soho in central London. Narrow streets, small hip shops, nightlife, and a special ambience is achieved by having different cultural groups inhabiting zones. The part time open space is a very important part of the Clock Bank identity. It brings in some leisure activities. Cycles On a yearly scale the natural seasons affect the structure in terms of number of inhabitants. During winter there are far fewer people actually living here and therefore housing is exchanged by larger structures. During summer the housing units move back in
>Clock Bank comparison - central London,
and larger structures are pushed out. The
Soho [upside down], showing Hyde Park, Oxford
economical cycle of the retail business affects
Street and the British Museum.
>This page: CBcanveypoint with activities and landscape contours of the tidal area. >>Next page: CBcanveypoint on two different days with each two conditions of tide impact.
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