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new life in a sprawl landscape Sustainable Urban Design Master Programme | Autumn 2012 | Thesis Project by Guoda BardauskaitÄ— | Supervisor: Martin Arfalk


Master Thesis Project Autumn 2012 Lund University LTH The School of Architecture and Built Environment Sustainable Urban Design Master Programme Student: Guoda Bardauskaitฤ— E-mail: guoda_bard@yahoo.com Supervisor: Martin Arfalk Course Leader Urban Dynamics, SUDes at Lund University Landscape Architect LAR/MSA Director of Mandaworks AB E-mail: ma@mandaworks.com Examiner: Peter Siรถstrรถm Programme Director - Sustainable Urban Design Architect SAR/MSA E-mail: peter.siostrom@arkitektur.lth.se


Contents 4

Introduction

16

Strategic Plan

4

Personal Motivation

16

Concept

5

Content

16

Geometry

6

Research

18

Functions

19

Connections & Public Transit

6

Demographic Changes

20

Expand

7

Housing Market Situation

21

Demolish

7

Conclusions

22

Densify

8

Mapping

23

Detail Design

9

Inspiration

26

The Street

27

The Block

9

Berlin as a Green Archipelago

29

The Workshop Backyard

9

Ville Nouvelle Melun Senart

31

The Residential Backyard

10

Strategy

33

Implementation

33

Public Spaces & Buildings

33

Variety of Choices

34

Conclusions

11

Site Analysis

11

Location

11

Description

11

History

14

Existing Situation

15

Conclusions


Introduction Personal Motivation The decision to do my thesis project on Kaunas city came from a desire to apply the knowledge achieved during the Sustainable Urban Design master programme in my home town. After studying in a multicultural group and exploring urban designs from around the world, I returned to my country with a whole new perspective on it’s urban qualities and processes. I began exploring my hometown to identify the potentials as well as weaknesses of the city. After analysing the city’s planning strategies and development proposals, I discovered that many of them have been designed for the city core, but few with an overall city development strategy, considering the edges of the city and the threats of rapid urban sprawl. It has always been a personal interest in designing places, finding a balance between urban and nature, to look into suburbs and work on creating the dynamic city edge as part of the whole city development strategy. The suburb where I grew up became my project site, and my local knowledge helped me to approach the task.

Aim The aim of the thesis project is finding an alternative solution for Kaunas suburb development in Lithuania. The city core is faced with a decreasing population, as many people choose to move into the suburbs. The lack of development strategy and control over construction processes in city outskirts result in economically ineffective sprawl which drains the city. The project suggests that suburbanization is not necessarily a negative tendency, but a part of a natural process of the city transformation. It is interpreted as an opportunity to re-think urbanism, propose new strategies and to alternate ways of living in city outskirts. The project is based in Lithuania, but the issues it is dealing with are also topical for other Eastern European countries with similar urban, cultural and economical context.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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Content The project focuses on the city’s fringe and tackles the questions of expansion, distribution of population and limited economical resources. The issues discussed in the project are: • Changing demands for housing and living standards, caused by economic and political situation, family composition and aging population; • Ways to deal with the out dated soviet suburban structures, which currently face dereliction and illiquidity because of inefficiency and inflexibility. The project develops a strategy for the suburbs, transforming them from being consumers to contributors to the economy. Vaišvydava located on the city fringe serves as an example for the transformation in detail. Vaišvydava illustrates the changes in varying scales of the village, the block and the household.

Methodology The analysis of Vaišvydava is done through the following: •

Demographic statistics & building statistics

Spatial mapping of the city and the suburb

Interviews with real estate sellers and organic farmers

Interviews with local residents

Site observations

A common situation observed in the suburb: the 87 year old man is living alone after his children left and his wife died. The old house (above) is inefficiently large and difficult to maintain.

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lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


Research Lithuania is a post-soviet country which has experienced political, economic and demographic changes during last twenty years. It is important to consider the existing situation in order to plan for the future and allow flexibility for the different scenarios. The research focuses on demographic changes as well as construction and housing market situation.

Demographic Changes The demographic changes have had a critical effect on the development of the country. Lithuania is a shrinking country, between 2001 and 2011 the population had dropped from 348 400 to 305 400, equating to 12% loss in 10 years.

Kaunas

76% of the population loss was a result of immigration rates. Young people have been leaving the country, to look for better paid jobs and education abroad. The number of retired people is increasing and is estimated that it will reach 28.9% by 2030. The studies however also show that there are some Lithuanians who return once they are able to afford decent accommodation. Kaunas county has typical result of population loss with 701500 to 612500 (12.7%) in the last 10 years. Looking closer, the population loss was 15.3% in the city whilst an increase of 3.2% in the suburbs.

Map, indicating the change in population between 1996-1999. Kaunas County is marked in red, which means both negative natural balance and negative migratory balance. Source: ESPON data base

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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Housing Market Situation In Kaunas city municipality, over 80% of people are living in apartment blocks. Majority of them are prefab multi-story dwellings; planned for temporary service and intended to be demolished after several decades. However most of the blocks remained. Today they are in decaying state; in necessary need of reconstruction Since 2000, the residential construction rates increased in Lithuania until 2007, when the economy became stagnate causing construction processes to halt.

Conclusions •

Kaunas city is decreasing in its population but growing on surface: shrinking and sprawling at the same time.

Decaying urban areas tend to lose population while suburban life qualities are appreciated, though not affordable to everyone.

Currently economic downturn can be an opportunity to rethink urban strategy and urban recycling possibilities.

Flexible urban solutions are required in order to adapt to rapid demographic & economical changes.

New affordable housing is required to allow low cost and simple sustainable lifestyle. Basing on home production, recycling sharing and efficient use of resources – making it possible for better quality of life, sustainable living and an alternative to living in decaying apartments.

Change in population 2001-2011 in country, county and district scales. Data source: Statistics Lithuania

Change in population in Kaunas city (black) and suburbs (green). Data source: Statistics Lithuania

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Number of completed residential buildings in Lithuania. Data source: Statistics Lithuania

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


Mapping What is a city? The space within a certain radius? The landscape? The street network? The formal city limit? Or the urbanized space? The mapping of Kaunas led to the conclusion that the city should be perceived as a landscape, which includes many varied elements of urban, suburban and natural qualities, instead of treated as a solid object.

Scale diagram

River landscape

Road structure

City limits (1863, 1935, 2012)

Urbanized areas

Green spaces within the city landscape should work for the city either as recreational or productive areas, and connect it instead of dividing.

The suburbs are the edges where urban & natural meet are the most dynamic, advantageous and attractive areas.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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Inspiration Berlin as a Green Archipelago In 1977 during Cornell University’s Summer Academy in Berlin, German Architect Oswald Mathias Ungers conceived “The City within the City: Berlin as a Green Archipelago”. The decrease in the city’s population, the migration of the middle class to the countryside and foreign immigrants into the city were a common phenomenon at the time. Ungers developed his concept of the city made by islands to respond to restructuring forces and the process of ‘depopulation’. The concept is the selection of city islands with strong and distinct characteristics, through its history, social structure and spatial quality. These qualities are maintained and through densification thin out the existing built substance. The infinite green forest between the city islands acts as a barrier that defines the structure of the city within the city hence ‘green Archipelago’.

Ville Nouvelle Melun Senart

Sketch for Berlin as a Green Archipelago by Oswald Mathias Ungers, 1977

“The site of Melun Senart, the last of the Villes Nouvelles that encircle Paris, is too beautiful to imagine a new city there with innocence and impunity. The vastness of the landscape, the beauty of the forests and the calm of the farms form a daunting presence, hostile to any notion of development. The built is now fundamentally suspect. The unbuilt is green, ecological, popular. If the built – le plein – is now out of control – subject to permanent political, financial turmoil – the same is not yet true of the unbuilt; nothingness may be the last subject of plausible certainties. At a moment when the complexity of each three-dimensional undertaking is infernal, the preservation of the void is comparatively easy. In a deliberate surrender – tactical maneuver to reverse a defensive position – our project proposes to extend this political shift to the domain of urbanism: to take urbanism’s position of weakness as its premise.” - OMA

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Sketch for design of Ville Nouvelle Melun Senart by OMA, 1987

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


Strategy Typical Development Scenario

Alternative Development Scenario

Two scenarios have been simulated in order to decide the best city development strategy: Typical Development scenario suggests the development of the city begins at the core, whereas in the Alternative Development Scenario begins at the city edges. The simulated scenarios result in different outcomes. In the typical case we get a monocentric city, dependent on the quality and identity of the city core, mirroring stability and inertic state of the city.

Stage 1: Developing the core.

Stage 1: Developing the suburbs into diverse and self-sustainable settlements, benefiting the city.

Stage 2: Recycling & densifying old residential and former industrial areas, setting a limit for the city expansion.

Stage 2: The development and densification of certain strategic nodes within the city fabric starts.

Stage 3: Improving accessibility to the existing satellite settlements.

Stage 3: The city becomes a fragmented structure. The historical core remains a strategic node for the city management and identity.

In the alternative case we have a polycentric city, which is more dynamic and focuses on many local qualities. The alternative scenario allows creating spaces of varied identities within the city, which reacts better on economical, political or demographic changes and use local strengths, potentials and resources. The strategy to fulfil the second scenario should be the following: •

Use edges, as discovered to be the most dynamic and attractive areas, potential to trigger the development of the core

Divide the monotonous urban pattern for different purposes and identity (division based on local strengths and potentials)

Integrate elements so that they support and supplement each other

Discard some elements, to be replaced by the new ones later

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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site analysis

Kaunas Sea

Location The project site is Vaišvydava suburb, located South-East of the city centre, around 10km from Kaunas old town. The settlement is surrounded by Kaunas Sea Regional Park on the North; forests from South and East, and fields from the West.

Description

Urban sprawl

Kaunas Forestry University and Experimental Forestry Enterprise

River Secondary School

Residential villas dominate in the settlement. Dubrava Arboretum is located on the eastern edge of the settlement and a local secondary school (approximately 200 students), oriented to natural sciences, is located in the middle of the settlement.

History Although the Vaišvydava village can be traced back to the 14th century, Vaišvydava suburban settlement only began growing in the 1960s. In 1959 Kaunas Hydroelectricity Power Plant was built. Nemunas River was dammed and Kaunas Sea was created, covering a 63.5 sq km area of the former Nemunas riverbed. Many villages were relocated from the river valley to surrounding areas, and people from Pakalniškiai village settled in Vaišvydava suburb.

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Pond

Park Nurseries

Dubrava Arboretum

The arboretum park towards the north from the settlement, the Kaunas Sea shore, and a former quarry located inside the settlement give a lot of recreational potential to Vaišvydava suburb.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


In 2000 a part of the settlement the North West from the pond was attached to the city. Since then the settlement belongs to two different municipalities, and there is no common data on the number of residents and other statistics of the village as a whole. The built area of the suburb has been increasing over time at three different stages, influenced by different political and economic situation, resulting in variation of urban patterns and typologies. Before 1990

Until 1990 the suburb was characterized by regular street grid and simple standardized suburban dwellings, not exceeding 100sqm of heated room space. The houses often had large corridors, basements and additional unheated spaces, which were to avoid the limitations. The houses were usually built of silicate bricks without any heat insulation, and roofs are covered with slate which includes poisonous asbestos. Plot sizes were usually around 2000 sqm with a second building on the plot, such as a garage or a barn. These spaces were used to keep chicken, rabbits and in some cases even pigs or cows. The rest of the plot was usually designated for the garden.

Above: The map shows how the buildings from different periods are distributed throughout the settlement. Recently chaotic sprawl is happening towards the city and towards the attractive waterfronts (green). Below: the timeline and a typical family composition of different period households. Due to not integrated development pattern, different social groups are isolated: the old core of the settlement is inhabited by retired people, while young families tend to settle outside the original village. lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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1990-2000

A decade later between 1990 -2000 Lithuania became independent. Strict limitations for building had disappeared and started a trend to build excessively large family houses. These houses were three stories in height, with cellars, atriums, complex roof structures and pillars. An additional building served as a garage for multiple cars and storage. The changes meant the plots became bigger, focusing on larger floor space ratio and smaller garden areas. This also attributed to irregular street patterns. After 2000

Rapid urban sprawl became wide spread between 2000 and the present. The sprawls happen randomly throughout the original settlement. The plot sizes are affordable and do not exceed 1200sqm, the houses are more compact and efficient than before. However in many cases the building lacks consistent style and architectural quality. Plots of different sizes are mapped in this diagram. Easy to observe that the plots have become much smaller recently and hardly exceed 1200sqm in new development areas, while in the old part of the settlement the majority of the plots are around 2000sqm size.

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lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


Existing Situation The diagram of the different plot sizes shows an even distribution of the three plot sizes in the suburb. The development of the three stages has meant contrasting situations throughout the settlement. The core of the village is now inhabited mainly by elderly people. Usually one or two people live in the houses, with some where their children stay to look after their parents. The houses are extremely inefficient and hard to keep warm during the winter, and the large plots are no longer used for agriculture, since the elderly residents aren’t able to care the land. The area has some houses on sale, but hard to find potential buyers because of the poor living conditions. Many of the ‘castle’ like buildings from the 1990’s to the 2000’s have remained unfinished, although some families still live in them. Some of them are abandoned because the houses are too large for a single family to maintain, especially when it is not common for new families to live with their parents in Lithuania. New developments are located some distance of the original settlement out in the fields and only accessible by car. These areas are usually inhabited by young families with children that are totally independent and isolated from the people living within the original settlement. Although settlements belong to the city, the villages are in fact self-governing because of this there is no overall strategy for its development. The last city master plan included the suburbanization of surrounding fields and the development of new commercial areas along the main roads. The dwellings from the Soviet period will result to complete abandonment because of the inefficiency, unsustainability and inflexibility to respond to the current life quality expectations. In response to this condition, construction is promoted outside the settlement.

Above: There is no path for pedestrians or cyclists leading from the settlement to the only shopping mall in the area; therefore retired people who don’t use cars have to cross the muddy field in order to get their groceries. Below: The city is not able to provide the infrastructure for the settlement as well as for the new development areas, so the streets of unsatisfactory conditions are common in all parts of the suburb.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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Conclusions Potentials: •

The Arboretum has potential to be developed into a larger enterprise and become an economic catalyst for the area.

Recreational elements that could be utilized include Kaunas Sea waterfront, the former quarry (suitable for swimming) and the unique park with many exotic plant species. If these elements were utilized, maintained and accessible to the residential areas this could make the settlements more attractive.

The undervalued large plots and buildings that can be bought cheaply because of the poor living conditions. These areas are also well connected to the infrastructure and will support new developments that cater to current demands.

Agriculture knowledge will allow farming culture to continue as traditional ways of living and because people still value organic home produced foods.

Drawbacks: •

Inflexible, stagnated and monofunctional area.

Alienated plots; lack of public and semi-public spaces.

Isolated social groups and non existing communities.

Chaotic urban sprawl, supported by the city government.

Above: The arboretum can be seen as an economic catalys for the area. Below: Kaunas Sea waterfront gives a lot of recreational potential to the settlement.

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lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


Strategic Plan Concept Responding to the problems identified of the local area, there is a need for varying flexible and integrated spaces. To achieve spatial variety and foster different identities for the area, a geometric language is introduced to fragmentate the monotonous suburban pattern. The geometry of the historical Pakalniškiai village plan became a source of inspiration. The Pakalniškiai village, which was located by Nemunas river, has a strong meaning for many old residents of Vaišvydava suburb, who used to live there before the hidroelectricity power plant was built and the riverbed got flooded. The village structure comprised of houses located along the street edge, with the plots divided perpendicular to the street. This geometric system of cutting existing monotonous suburban pattern into several pieces is applied. The slices are goverened by urban rules that inform the redevelopment and spatial characters of the area. One of the key goals of the project is to encourage flexible design to allow for changes to happen sustainably. The design is characterized by rules of expansion, demolition and densification. The slices become a tool to achieve these actions depending on the demands of the place.

Geometry Slices are made in the North-South direction and connected with perpendicular local links. The main local street, leading from East to West, links the core areas of each slice and looks similar to the main street in Pakalniškiai village that links the residential houses. Secondary parallel links include the road, the recreational waterfront path and the green river path.

Some similarities have been found between Pakalniškiai village plan and the distribution of different quality spaces in Vaišvydava suburb. Therefore the plan geometry of the historical village has been taken as an inspiration for the strategic plan development.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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Cutting

expand

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Sewing

demolish

densify

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


Functions Shopping Mall

Kaunas Forestry University and Experimental Forestry Enterprise

The inner street (now - the main local circulation) is supported by public program such as the public library and local sport centre, which are designed next to the existing secondary school. The private programs include shops and small scaled services that are distributed along the street. A summer restaurant could be located next to the pond, where locals and people from all Kaunas city come for swimming.

Secondary School

Dubrava Arboretum

Organic Farming Centre

Currently the majority of local shops and services are distributed along one main road. The proposal is to shift the hierarchy of the streets from the main road to the inner street. The inner street is transformed into the main axis of the settlement, where local functions are concentrated.

Library Sport Centre

Restaurant

Permaculture School

The Dubrava Arboretum is a potential driving force for the local economy, with the potential to grow into a larger enterprise. This is because of 4 factors, firstly the location of the arboretum is a advantageous as they can export plants nationwide depending on the type of plant (they are restricted to a limited distances from the arboretum). Secondly there is space for expansion towards the West of the settlement. Third, there is potential seasonal work force that can be found locally. Fourthly the proximity to the Kaunas Forestry University and Experimental Enterprise will allow for collaborative and innovative engagement with the arboretum. In addition to this, local food production could be a great way to strengthen the self-sustainability of the village and improve its economy. Therefore the vision is to supplement the existing Kaunas Forestry and Environmental Engineering University with a new experimental school for agroforestry and permaculture gardening. One of the farms in the fields could be turned into the organic farming centre, which could be open for visitors as the demonstrative farm, organize educational activities and offer local seasonal groceries for sale.

The distribution of different functions before (above) and after (below).

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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Connections & Public Transit Connections of the new development have good access to the main road but are poorly connected between themselves as a result of the individually planned dead end streets. The public domain is serviced by the city buses along the main road. There is a recreational and educational nature path along the Kaunas Sea shore, but is not connected to the village and very poorly maintained. In the proposed strategic plan, the street grid is densified and the number of deadend streets is reduced. The focus is to establish East West connections throughout the village. The bus route is redirected to the local inner street, reducing walking distances to the bus stop, and becomes a new space for a village life. A network of green paths is added to the expansion of the existing park on the north towards the pond on the south. A new green biking/walking route along the small river links the pond to the settlements in the fields and connect to other suburb settlements.

The street network and the city bus route before (above) and after (below).

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lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


Expand

The fields west of the settlement are currently subjected to urban sprawl and are identified as a potential area for sustainable urban expansion. The inspiration taken from terraforming and permaculture gardening implies that the vast fields could be turned into inhabited landscape of productive ecosystems. Areas of the farmland could be used for the arboretum area especially with its potential for future growth. The design of the arboretum should assist in enclosing spaces within the landscape that helps shelter farms and micro settlements, creating better conditions to live and to grow. Development of the permaculture gardening & agroforestry school, can be initiated by the specialists from the Forestry University and the Arboretum. This would favourable to farmer’s interest in organic food production. Permanent sustainable culture is a way of living which promotes a harmonious balance between all forms of life within the ecosystem. Gardening according to permaculture principles means keeping the balance between different species and allowing them to grow in natural conditions. The arboretum school can focus their role as a place for ‘experimental farming’, working along with experienced farmers. This unique relationship between students and farmers will create innovative organic farms and strong identity for the area; as a result will increase the attractiveness of the settlement. Concept illustration for the development of the sprawl landscape: the inhabited productive landscape, combining nurseries and permaculture farms is proposed. In between the arboretum nurseries and the farms, micro-settlements may exist. They should be planned in a way to have some shared facilities and common spaces in order to increase interaction between neighbours and strengthen community relations. They could take advantage of organic food supplied daily or weekly to each household.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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Demolish

Two areas have been identified for ‘demolition’ that will make possible for sustainable shrinkage scenario. West of the settlement is an area that is characterized by large backyards that were once used for agriculture. The proposal is to demolish old barns and transform the unused spaces into a shared community green space. The program of the green spaces include playgrounds, orchards, barbecue places, small interconnected gardens, stablings and other activities, which would be in immediate proximity to people’s houses. This would increase community interaction, life quality and raise the property value. The second area designated for demolition scenario is towards East, next to the pond. It has a freely organized street pattern with large plots of land. Many of the houses are spread out in the area with poor architectural and built qualities. The proposal is to selectively demolish some of the of buildings and reduce plot sizes for the remaining ones in order to open up space for the public park. The green spaces can also incorporate ponds creating a connection between the former quarry recreational area and the existing arboretum park on the North. In addition the green spaces can foster a sense of community through the direct involvement of the arboretum and the Forestry College. The green spaces will be used a cohesive element that ‘glues’ the different parts of the settlement together. Concept illustration for the development of the residential area with large underused backyards: a community park with small interconnected gardens, playgrounds, paths and decorative plants is designed, replacing old barns and isolated backyards.

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lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


Densify

Three slices are made to densify the suburban settlement and to create a sense of urban quality. The existing buildings are rebuilt to meet sustainability requirements and to create an effective use of space. The leftover spaces are turned into spaces for meeting and interaction or densified with new residential/ mixed use buildings.

Secondary School School’s Stadium

The area in the middle of the settlement (around the existing secondary school), which is, according to the strategic plan, designated for densification, is chosen for the detail design project.

Each of the slices is designed as a gradient with the most dense areas in the middle, remaining suburban pattern around them, and quite sparsely populated edges on the north and the south, which are accordingly designated to recreation and agriculture.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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Detail Design The project focuses on recycling the typical suburban structure into new qualitative spaces with increased number of people, households and mixed functions. The new spaces, which are designed to have varied levels of privacy, would encourage new activities to happen and create chance encounters between the residents. New urban clusters will strengthen the sense of community and allow for collectively planned environmentally sustainable infrastructure, such as recycling stations, biogas plants or storm water treatment ditches, as well as sharing, trading and local production to happen.

A mixture of new functions is proposed, which would support street life in the residential area.

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lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


Section A-A (the workshop backyard, pages 28-29)

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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Section B-B (the residential backyard, pages 30-32)

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lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


The Street A new street is created along the back of the plots transforming old barns and garages into new housing. The new residence opens up opportunities for new construction that is economical and sustainable. Final stage: New cottages inserted along the street. The number of housing units increased from 8 to 26, the number of residents - from 24 to 80.

Existing: Large plots, backyards towards the school stadium.

First stage: A new street built along the backside of the plots. The barns reconstructed into cottages. Possibility to divide plots and sell to developers is created.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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The Block A block is looked at in detail where six plots are transformed and densified. This resulted to additional single/double housing and small apartment blocks. The apartments were ensured to have their own private courtyard or roof terrace space.

Existing: Large plots, backyards towards the school garden.

Final stage: The urban block with lively edges has been created. The number of housing units increased from 6 to 18, the number of residents - from 18 to 60.

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First stage: A developer recycles the houses into urban cottages with smaller apartments and small plots. The space available for a new construction is created.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


The barns could be opened for new functions, such as workshops dealing with all kinds of repair, renovations and recycling, studios, shops for home-made products and similar. The backyard could become a lively space for meeting, trading and common activities.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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The Workshop Backyard The vast unused space behind the barns is turned into a paved backyard. This allows the back to be accessible and opens up new programmatic functions. Existing: Large plots, unused backyards, old barns.

First stage: The backyard space is sold to a developer & turned into a shared space. 16 barns get an access from a public space and are possible to be transformed for public functions.

Final stage: The developer builds 20 new workshops with studio type apartments upstairs, adding new activities to the place and inviting 2030 new residents. The backyard is proposed to become a shared space, allowing both pedestrian and car traffic.

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lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


The residential backyards should become ideal safe spaces for young families with children as well as for retired people who don’t need much apartment space and appreciate interaction with neighbours.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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The Residential Backyard The residents are offered a financial incentive to sell various size parts of their land to developers. The irregularity of the spaces creates a dynamic condition in the middle of the suburban block. Again the old barns are transformed into simple and economic cottages. Additional small houses are added to densify the residential backyard. The proposal is to give initiative to a community, which could take care of the development of its own backyard. Firstly each backyard should be provided with common infrastructure to support the new network of housing. These infrastructures include wastewater treatment, garbage recycling and biogas production. Car pools are located next to the entrances to the backyard. The backyard is car-free, covered in gravel, with patches of green areas to allow for child safe playgrounds.

Existing: Large plots, underused backyards, old barns.

First stage: The backyard space is sold to a community. The barns are recycled into affordable housing by new dwellers. The backyard becomes a new community’s shared property.

Final stage: As the community grows, the backyard becomes a safe, lively car-free semi-private space.

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lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


Detailed plan of the residential backyard. Common water treatment, car-sharing & garbage recycling infrastructure, built and maintained by the new community, is located along the streets.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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Implementation Most of the reconstructions focus on creating rather small apartments, because they are much more saleable. In combination with low cost land and cheap construction, very affordable dwellings could be created, offering good living conditions for young families. The reconstruction projects could be started either by developers or by self-organized communities of active young people. In each case former residents would get new spaces for common use as an exchange for their land. Better space quality would naturally increase their property value.

Public Spaces & Buildings As the backsides of the blocks are turned into more private or semi-private spaces, the segment of the main street in front of the school is envisioned as a main public space for the area. The school could be expanded with a new greenhouse addition with classroom ‘boxes’ inside, in order to create better conditions for learning from nature and emphasize the school’s orientation to natural sciences. The new long building along the east edge of the school yard is designed as an activity centre for elderly and a community centre.

Variety of Choices The recycled residential areas offer different lifestyles besides the typical suburban single family housing. People can choose between a row house, an apartment, a tiny house in a shared courtyard, or an attic-apartment combined with a workshop. All those places are within few minutes walking distance from the bus stop and the local shop, 10 minutes walk to the pond and the same to the Kaunas Sea waterfront park. The residents have possibility either to buy local organic food, or to get involved into farming activities and get it for free.

Above: The shool’s entrance; view from the street, existing situation. Below: The shool’s entrance; view from the school’s garden, the proposal. The space in front of the school with a new bus stop could become a lively meeting place. A water pond is designed along the street, separating school’s yard from the public space. The existing residential house next to the school’s entrance is proposed to be renovated into a public library. Some small cafés or bakeries could appear close to the new bus stop.

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lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk


Conclusions I hope that my project could be an inspiration for reconstructing the stagnated and inflexible post soviet areas into attractive lively neighbourhoods, which offer a variety of new contemporary and sustainable lifestyles. The shrinkage of the city shouldn’t be taken as a negative tendency. The project proves that it can be seen as an advantage, allowing to create more contrasts and variety in the landscape. I believe that we can invent a new type of very flexible fragmented cities and make it possible for everyone to live on edges between nature and dense urban areas, enjoying qualities of both at the same time. My envisioned city islands, linked by high speed transportation and informational technologies, should become places where local and global scales coexist.

lund university sustainable urban design master programme thesis project student guoda bardauskaite supervisor martin arfalk

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New Life in a Sprawl Landscape