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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM 2017

S TR ATEGIC A MBIGUIT Y An exploration of housing flexibility

MASTER OF ARCHITECTURE STUDIO D


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

A semester of research through studio work

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Kim Vo Sketches 4


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UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE MELBOURNE SCHOOL OF DESIGN MASTER OF ARCHITECTURE STUDIO D

STUDIO LEADERS Andy Fergus - City of Melbourne Katherine Sundermann - MGS Architects

STUDENT Duy Kim Vo

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CONTENTS

Preface

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PART A RESEARCH BACKGROUND

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Thesis statement - Toward A Malleable Architecture Project recap - Embracing Uncertainty Flexibility - A precedent study

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PART B TESTING GROUND

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Oude Westen - A site overview The brief Design proposal - Strategic Ambiguity Reflection

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Bibliography

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Preface

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Opportunistic Urbanism Studio is a journey, in one sense, as a travelling studio, offering study tours to the cities of South Hollands, in another sense, an exploration of architecture as a progressive agent in the community. The studio is a series of thought simulating workshops, discussions and architecture bike trips, giving a hands-on experience to understand the disparity between architectural theory and reality.

weeks of studio work and research under the supervision of Andy Fergus and Katherine Sundermann. The works presented in this book are the result of critical reviews and discussions with Andy, Katherine and many invited guests and critics both in Melbourne and Rotterdam, as well as constructive contribution from other students throughout the studio time. This work is also possible thanks to the supports of family and friends.

The overall agenda of the studio is to study the impact architecture can have on the community through utilizing current economic and social opportunities. Within the studio requirements, this project explores the idea of housing flexibility, arguing that adaptability is the key characteristic to create a sustainable, economical and user-empowering building. Through observation of buildings in the Netherlands, together with a critical study on different housing typologies, the project advocates for the embracement of ambiguity in design, using indeterminacy as a design strategy. The idea for this project had been rethought and revised many times within 12

Within these following pages is an attempt to record in details: the research, workshops, observations, explorations and the people in the fascinating journey experienced over the last semester. Kim Vo Melbourne, October 2017

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Kim Vo Architecture bike trip at MVRDV’s Silodam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 2017. 10


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| BACKGROUND RESEARCH |

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TOWARD A MALLEABLE ARCHITECTURE A THESIS STATEMENT

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Within housing architecture, there is an unceasing conflict between the static character of a building and the dynamic of its inhabitants with their different and ever-changing wishes and demands. It is possible to resolve this paradox of habitation through exploring the idea of adaptability in design, empowering the users to interpret and reconfigure the space according to their desires. Rather than imposing its narrow unitary vision, architecture should be an agent of changes, offering opportunities the users. By considering adaptability, architecture is also capable of addressing the changes of the current economic, social and demographic structures in a more economical and sustainable manner. Through adaptability, architecture can become a framework that has the potential to utilize changes and investment as a catalyst to improve the existing living condition.

Kim Vo Inside Stitchting Aktiegroep Het Oude Westen, Community Center, Oude Westen, Rotterdam, 2017. The Aktiegroep has been the heart of bottom-up activism in Oude Westen since the 70s, organizing protests, negotiating with housing corporation, tracking living quality of the area. 13


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PROJECT RECAP EMBRACING UNCERTAINTY

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STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY Kim Vo Workshop with Rients Dijkstra at TU Delft, Opportunistic Urbanism 2017.

The initial agenda began with the idea of what happens to a building after its occupation, at the moment when the control of its architects ceases to exist. It is fascinating and poignant to observe how utopian vision falls into dereliction and how unremarkable architecture transforms into a chimera bustling with individualism. Architects have been obsessed with telling people how they should live, with little regard of how people actually live.

trips in the Netherlands further confirmed that grand architectural vision tends to restrict residents within the narrow expectation of the designers, while the most effective architecture are buildings which resign themselves to become backgrounds for everyday activities. These buildings provide users a variety of settings which users can easily make any necessary change to suit their needs. The rich abundance of options with minimal effort required for adjustment encourages users to make more subtle decisions, reflecting the intricacy of each individual.

As the studio progressed, various studies and discussions on different approaches to architecture and urban design were conducted. It became apparent that a unitary top-down design vision tends to derail from its original intention as it is nearly impossible to take into account all the unpredictable future possibilities. Instead, rule-based design approaches and bottom-up processes are brought into the discussions as an alternative, in which architects design only the necessary framework to achieve a required quality while leaving the rest open for user interpretation.

All of the above-mentioned experiences together with a study of flexibility through precedented housing typologies have solidified the idea of using ambiguity as a design strategy. Rather than insisting on how the building should be occupied, the approach within this project tried to experiment with the idea of using indeterminacy as an agent of changes, a catalyst to sustain the necessary vibrancy during the lifecycle of buildings beyond the drawing board.

The workshops and architecture study 15


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building cycle after design architecture as framework

What happens to a building after its occupation?

Initial agenda Gentrification Building interface study by Jan Gehl Bottom-up approaches Rule-based design

Literacy review

Community ini

Alternative fina

Suggestive des

July 2017

Study of building interface design

Study of buildin

Fitzroy study tour

Amsterda

August 2017

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September


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kit of parts strategic ambiguity

Scripted flexibility Indeterminacy

itiatives

Typology study

ancial model

sign to encourage user interaction

ng interface design

am and Rotterdam study tour

2017

October 2017

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FLEXIBILITY A PRECEDENT STUDY

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STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY Kim Vo Architecture bike trip at Borneo Sporenburg by West 8, Amsterdam the Netherlands, 2017.

The idea of flexibility has been explored throughout the history of architecture, experimented through employing various strategies and technologies. However, the definition of term flexibility itself is a broad concept, regarding to the ability of architecture to change and adapt to the changing needs of different users. In this sense, flexibility can be understood as the possibility of having multiple design options within the same physical framework, as well as the possibility of adjusting the space over the time. Flexibility can also regard to the probability of incorporating new technologies, adapting to the demographic changes or even the completely radical change of function of the building. Thus, it is apparent that there are multiples strategies and technologies to achieve the idea of flexibility.

Despite the variety of precedented concepts, they can be sorted into three different major strategies as described in the following text: scripted flexibility, modularization, and indeterminacy. Each strategy offers a different degree of user control and design autonomy, as well as various degrees of initial financial investment, technology, and involved building knowledge. It is necessary to note that there is no ultimate strategy for all situations, the critical questions are to what degree the users can make change and how easily these changes can be made.

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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM Gerrit Rietveld Rietveld SchrĂśder House, Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1924.

SCRIPTED FLEXIBILITY

The idea takes advantages of the use of particular technology and paraphernalia, such as sliding partitions, folding beds, and furniture, etc., that allow users to alter the physical characteristic of space and subsequently change the uses of space. Thus, the design is dependent on the available technology and mechanism, as well as confined to the architect’s vision of how the space should be used. This strategy was initially explored through the analysis of habitation change throughout the cycle of day and night with the assumption that various functions are not required simultaneously. In other words, what is achieved here is an extended use of one specific space within a certain period of time.

many choices besides what already given to them by the architects. Unexpected changes cannot be easily incorporated to the design, as well as there might be a compromise of privacy. The initial investment in the design is substantial due to the complexity of the machinery embedded in the design. However, within the predetermined script, users can easily make the necessary alteration without having extensive building knowledge.

As a matter of fact, users do not have 20


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Rietveld Schrรถder House is one of the first design employing scripted flexibility. Sliding partitions are used, allowing the entire floor to be divided into individual room when needed. Gerrit Rietveld explored the possibility of alternating the house layout several times daily.

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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM Johannes van de Broek Wooncomplex De Eendracht, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 1937.

Van de Broek experimented with different uses of day and night in the design of apartment complex De Eendracht, Rotterdam. In the design, folding beds and sliding partitions are used, turning the living area into private bedrooms during night time.

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The design explores the possibility of different ways of using the space for an art dealer in Hong Kong. Through the transformation of the cube, the space can be used for events, large gatherings, private meetings with clients, offices and art displays.

Penda Hongkong Art Storage, Hongkong, 2016. 23


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM PKMN Architectures All I Own House (Yolanda Pila House), Madrid, Spain, 2014.

Yolanda Pila’s house is designed to meet the dynamic living and working styles of its owner. The design employs a set of sliding units with folding furniture built within. Each combination can create different setups for the required function such as office space, bedroom, meeting place, kitchen.

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STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY PKMN Architectures Maria Jose and Enrique House, Asturias, Spain, 2016.

Similarly in the MJE house, PKMN Architectures achieves flexibility within limited space through the rotating cabinets, capable of opening up the floor plan into one big living space or dividing into separate bedrooms at night.

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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM John Habraken & SAR SAR Basic Principles, 1965.

MODULARIZATION

Modularization is an attempt to set up a framework that allows users participation during the design process. The idea was first explored by John Habraken who proposed the idea of introducing user as an actor in building design. Together with SAR, they set up a system of assembly kits based on the potential of industrial fabrication, as well as rules according to which these modules could be put together. However, due to the limitation of technology at the time and the strong opposition of high rise structure, the project was suspended.

into discussion thanks to the advancement of industrial production nowadays. However, the idea is heavily dependent on the technological capacity of the manufacturers, requiring an extensive research and study to build up a complete system. In fact, users’ decisions are limited to the options provided by the architects as well as the capacity of the manufacturers. Flexibility can be achieved prior the construction process, but the possibility of changes after occupation is still highly questionable.

This strategy has recently come back 26


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Habraken and SAR developed the principle of infill assembly kits and how these modules could be incorporated into the structural framework. However, due to the complexity of the system and the limitation of the technology in the 60s and 70s, the design was never carried out.

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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM ShedKM & Urban Splash Manchester Townhouse, Manchester, England, 2016.

The Manchester Townhouses designed by ShedKM & Urban Splash offers users the possibility of deciding the house layout. However, their options are limited to which floor is the living area or bedrooms and the two options of floor plan provided by the architects.

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STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY Samuel Gonรงalves Gomos System, 2016.

Gomos System, designed by Samuel Gonรงalves offers different options of floorplan through various combination of the concrete modules. The design allows customization of individual houses with considerable abundance of land. It is questionable whether this approach can be applied to a highly dense urban context.

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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM Andrea Palladio Villa La Rotonda, Vicenza, Italy, 1570.

INDETERMINACY

The design of traditional Japanese residential architecture offers a unique approach to flexibility: indeterminacy. The Japanese house prescribes no specific function for any room and all furniture is movable, thus, users can interpret the space as they prefer. The idea of indeterminacy has also appeared in Western architecture though not explicitly. The geometrical design of Palladian Villa creates rooms with similar spatial quality, thus, they can be read as living area or private space.

many architects played with the idea of indeterminacy, offering different arrangement within one single floor plan structure. The key idea is the separation between the load-bearing structure, the services and the use space (or infill elements). The degree of changes is offered through the strategic location of the structures and provided services, as well as the size of the free space. Indeterminacy offers users the control over the design both prior and after the building construction.

During Modernism period, with the introduction post and beam structure, 30


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The geometrical design of Palladian Villa results in room with similar spatial quality, giving the possibility of interpreting them differently.

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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM Shigeru Ban Naked House, Saitama, Japan, 2000.

The design of Naked House by Shigeru Ban contains a fixed kitchen, bathroom and large open space in between. Rooms are put on wheel and furniture is all movable, allow users to arrange them according to their particular need.

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STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Houses Am Weissenhof 14-20, Stuttgart, 1927.

Mies’s Weissenhof Apartment takes the advantage of post and beam structure, freeing the interior from the need of load bearing wall, offering different layout arrangements through the use lightweight partitions.

INDETERMINACY: DESIGN AUTONOMY VS. EASE OF CHANGE Despite allowing users to make changes to the design at any stage of the building cycle, the degree of design autonomy and ease of change is different with specific indeterminacy strategy. It is a matter of fact that not everyone can easily make any physical alteration to the building without any building knowledge. The more drastic the changes are, the more professional knowledge and resource are needed in order to carry out the renovation or

addition. Thus, total freedom of design decision does not mean user-empowerment throughout the building lifecycle. The difficulty of the alteration process might, in fact, defers people from making necessary changes later in their life, which is especially true when the family structure is changed. The following case studies explore the relationship between the changes that can be made and the degree of required knowledge to physically make these changes. 33


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Plan Obus for Algiers is a conceptual megastructure that allows users to build their houses between its main floors. The idea is basically a replication and multiplication of the ground level without properly exploring the technical services required to support this mega-architecture. It can be argued that since each level is a tabular rasa condition, users will have the maximum freedom to put in any desirable built form.

Le Corbusier Plan Obus for Algiers, 1931. 34


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY Yositika UTIDA, Shu-Koh-Sha Architectural and Urban Design Studio NEXT21, Osaka, Japan, 1994.

To a certain extent, NEXT21 is inspired by the idea of Plan Obus. The building is also a megastructure, allows houses to be infilled between the floors. The employed technology in this building is sophisticated including raised floors for services delivery. Its adaptability is unquestionable as residents have great control over the design, even the shape of their apartments. Despite its impressive supporting services, the degree of knowledge needed to make changes is extensive, especially when it comes to relocation of plumbing and electrical services and the coordination needed between floors.

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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM Les Frères Arsène-Henry Montereau-Surville, France, 1969.

The Montereau-Surville apartment provides residents with a service core strategically located within each apartment. This allows each floor to be independent from others, thus changes can be made within each apartment without disrupting the others. The degree of design autonomy is limited due to the location of the core; however, users are free to decide how they want to arrange their apartment. It is still required certain professionals to make changes and relocation of services like bathroom and kitchen.

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STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY Herman Hertzberger Diagoon House, Delft, the Netherlands, 1970.

In Diagoon House, Hertzberger provides a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom, imposing a fixed location for these components as well as the staircase. The rest of the space are open space, attached to these cores, free to be subdivided and arranged according to individual residents. Despite being restricted to the form of the floors, the location of kitchen and bathroom, users can easily make changes to the rest of the space by rearrange the furniture, the internal walls or even the exterior faรงades.

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CONCLUSION

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It is undeniable that there is no ultimate solution to achieve flexibility. In fact, it is more necessary to understand the type of flexibility that is needed, the degree of changes which can be made and the difficulties the users might encounter while making those changes. It can be concluded that within the case of residential architecture, the strategy of indeterminacy can adapt to a variety of individual needs without substantial initial investment. However, it is necessary to consider the degree of indeterminacy in the design through the social and economic situation of the built context. For a building that is capable of adapting to a variety of users and changes over the time, it is crucial to minimize the effort required every time an alteration is needed. As the users can subsequently make changes to the space, architects need to assess the degree of control should be asserted in the design. On one hand, there is a tendency to plan every possible scenario and on the other hand, a total laissez-faire approach in the design. To what degree of design, can architecture become a framework of opportunity, capable of facilitating changes when needed.

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Kim Vo Rotterdam bike trip, Opportunistic Urbanism Studio, September 2017. 40


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| TESTING GROUND |

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OUDE WESTEN A SITE OVERVIEW

opentopo.nl Map of Rotterdam, 2017. 42


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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM Opportunistic Urbanism Studio Metropolitan analysis of Oude Westen.

METROPOLITAN CONNECTION

Oude Westen is a district located next to Rotterdam Centrum, within walking distance to the Rotterdam Centraal Station. The city of Rotterdam is an international city, with the largest shipping port in Europe and the second most populated city in the Netherlands. From Rotterdam Centraal Station, one can easily get to Schipol International Airport within 30 minutes, to Amsterdam within 45 minutes and to other Dutch cities within two hours of trav-

elling. The station is also connected to the European railway network, allowing one to travel to other international cities such as Brussels, Paris or Berlin within agreeable time. In other words, Oude Westen is a site with great potential, capable of attracting intercity and international workers. In fact, Oude Westen can become a part of the city central district, a new economic hub of Rotterdam.

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To Amsterdam - 45 min

To Schipol Airport - 30 min

To Berlin - 6 h 37 min

Rotterdam Centraal Station

Rotterdam International Port

To Antwerp - 32 min To Brussels - 1 h 10 min To Paris - 2 h 37 min

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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM Kim Vo Existing built fabric of Oude Westen and its surroundings.

NEIGHBORHOOD CONTEXT

Oude Westen is a site full of memory, with multiple layers of history. Within its current existing fabric, one can encounter a variety of architecture ranging from eighteenth-century townhouses to 1970s experimental housing estates. The area is relatively dense, with small parks and open space tucked between building blocks.

buildings are slowly deteriorating. The contrast between its strategic location and its existing urban infrastructure is apparent. It is inevitable that sooner or later the urban renewal process will be carried out in the area, allowing the site to reach its potential destiny. Despite its failing hardware and considerable crime rate, Oude Westen is the site of well-established community with people coming from different cultural backgrounds and income levels. The area is also famous for its bottom-up activisms, with a rich history of groups such as Stitchting Aktiegroep or Leeszaal, organizing various campaigns and services for residents of the area. In fact, it can be argued that diversity and a sense of community are the greatest assets of Oude Westen.

Surrounding my major shopping districts and within walking distance to Rotterdam Centraal Station, the perimeter of Oude Westen is bustling with shops, restaurants, and activities. However, the vibrancy does not penetrate into its center, the interior streets are small, quiet, dull, uncharacteristic and full of cars despite occasional experimental housing estates dotting along the street. Many of the 46


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Rotterdam Centraal Station

Rotterdam Centrum

Lijnbaan shopping center

Museum Park

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Oude Westen is an area of rich history with a strategic location. However, its existing urban infrastructure is underperformed and slowly deteriorating, preventing the area to reach its full potential.

Kim Vo View from Gouvernestraat, Oude Westen, looking over Rotterdam Centrum, 2017. 48


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Kim Vo View inside Leeszaal Rotterdam West, Oude Westen, Rotterdam, 2017. Leeszaal is a community library, self-organized by local residents of Oude Westen through a book exchange program. The space is also used for other gatherings and events. The Leeszaal is an exemplar of bottom-up activism prominent in the area. 50


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Oude Westen is the site of close-knit community with people coming from different cultural backgrounds and income levels. In fact, it can be argued that diversity and a sense of community are the greatest assets of Oude Westen.

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Kim Vo (Top) Renovated townhouses on Sint-Mariastraat, Oude Westen, Rotterdam, 2017. The project is a part of Klushuizen: Do-It-Yourself Renovation House strategy, in which future residents could purchase a part of the estate from the municipality at a competitive price, with the obligation of renovating the apartment themselves. (Bottom) Newly built townhouses on Gaffelstraat, Oude Westen, Rotterdam, 2017. The block is one of the many newly built blocks across the area of Oude Westen, in an attempt to attract more resourceful people. 52


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CURRENT POLICIES

In 2007, Rotterdam municipality announced a new policy for urban renewal, focusing explicitly on attracting more resourceful and young people into areas similar to Oude Westen. This policy is reflected with the Klushuizen: Do-It-Yourself approach, in which people can buy housing estates from the municipality at a competitive price, with the obligation of renovating the apartment themselves up to the requirement of the City. Within Oude Westen, the townhouses on Sint-Mariastraat are one exemplar of the approach. Other approach includes demolishing old housing estates and rebuilding with modern townhouses, such as projects on Gaffelstraat and Bajonetstraat.

on the municipality, as well as bring more investment into these areas, thus, pushing forward the urban renewal process with minimum effort. However, it has been reported that there is a disparity between the new residents of these projects and the existing residents.

It is necessary to remain skeptical of the approaches, as without proper regulation or positive policy, gentrification, segregation and eventually homogeneity are inevitable. As the result, the area might lose its greatest assets: diversity and community. The search for a framework capable of attracting future investment without erasing the existing diversity is critical for the future of From the municipal point of view, these Oude Westen. approaches help relieve financial stress 53


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Kim Vo Street party for children on a weekend, view from Josephstraat, in front of Augustinusschool, Oude Westen, Rotterdam, 2017. 54


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The search for a framework capable of attracting future investment without erasing the existing diversity is critical for the future of Oude Westen.

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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM Kim Vo Asch van Wijckschool, exterior view from Gaffelstraat, 2017.

THE ASCH VAN WIJCKSCHOOL

The Asch Van Wijckschool is one of the center pieces of the urban renewal movement during the 1970s in Oude Westen. During the 1960s, there was a proposal to demolish a large part of Oude Westen and replace it with Modernist mass housing estates. Local residents strongly objected the projects, protesting against the unitary top-down approach from the municipality. Within the 1970s, Stitchting Aktiegroep was formed, organizing protests against the policy, as well as working with the local to create a master plan reflecting the needs of the people. The campaign soon became an exemplary movement of bottom-up activisms in Rotterdam. Many of the current urban features, including open spaces and east-west connection, are the results of this movement. The Asch Van Wijckschool

is one of the attempts to experiment with a new way of living, by arranging the apartments facing an interior elevated street. Despite its initial optimism, the utopian dream has failed to live up to its expectation. The building is now running down, in fact, unattractive, in spite of its central location in the area and its unique design. The elevated street is desolated during the daytime, disconnected from the ground level. The interfaces of the apartments do not respond well to the public realm outside. Moreover, it is questionable whether the design of the individual apartment can keep up to the changing needs of its residents.

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The heart of a movement

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Despite its initial optimism, the utopian dream has failed to live up to its expectation.

Kim Vo Asch van Wijckschool, view of the interior elevated street during day time, 2017. 60


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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM Kim Vo Luchtsingel, Rotterdam, 2017. One exemplary attempt of opportunistic urbanism.

THE BRIEF

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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM Deltametropool Excerpt from Atlas Zuidelijke Randstad - Internationaal, outlining the density requirement for Oude Westen. It is noticeable that the existing density of Oude Westen is nearly matched the requirement of Deltametropool.

REQUEST FROM DELTAMETROPOOL

Within the vision of Deltametropool, the city of Rotterdam is a part of Randstad, an agglomeration of different Dutch cities. The Randstad is envisioned as an international metropolis with a variety of high-quality living environments, capable of attracting knowledge workers around the world. With its location within walking distance to Rotterdam Centraal Station, Oude Westen has an important role in the Randstad vision. The area is suitable to provide an urban village experience, providing accommodations close to the city center for intercity and international workers.

area has successfully attracted new resourceful people into the area. The renovated buildings on Sint-Mariastraat and the newly-built townhouses around the area have given a facelift to the area. However, their effects have not extended more than the façades of the buildings, not even to the streets in front of them, as these units tend to shut off from their public realm. It is undeniable that without necessary investment, it is difficult to push forward any progressive changes, improving the living experience in the area up to the standard envisioned by Deltametropool. However, it is crucial to reconsider a framework which can redirect the new investments for the benefits of the current community.

The current municipal policy for Oude Westen is conformed with Deltametropool’s vision. Through Klushuizen and rebuilding approaches, the 64


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# 137

INTERNATIONAAL P S18

Rotterdam-Centraal !

Rotterdam-Stadshuis

!

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Rotterdam-Eendrachtsplein

!

Rotterdam-Dijkzigt

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Rotterdam-Coolhaven

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1:7.500 Binnenstedelijke Ruimte: Gemeente: Naam:

3 Bestaande plannen -lokatie onbekend Rotterdam Oude Westen

Transformatie Ruimte(ha):

n.v.t

Transformatie Ruimte(m2):

n.v.t

Locatie Type:

INTERNATIONAAL

Dichtheid Locatie Type (wo/ha): 80 Mogelijk Aantal Woningen aan de hand van Dichtheid:

n.v.t

Aantal Woningen Gepland:

189

Status Plan:

Zacht

Gemiddeld Bouwjaar:

n.v.t

Afname Arbeidsplaatsen 2000-2010 (%):

n.v.t

Totaal Leegstand(m2):

n.v.t

WOZ Waarde:

n.v.t

Aandeel Huur (%):

n.v.t

65

P ! . !

Bestaande Dichtheid Buurt(wo/ha): 77

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Legenda Trein Stations Randstadrail Stations Metro Stations Intercity Lightrail/Metro Snelbus Sneltram


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM Kim Vo Jordy’s Baker, a local bakery, Oude Westen, Rotterdam, 2017.

REVISION: THE INCUBATOR

In order to minimize the risk of gentrification, it is necessary to identify what types of investment would be most beneficial to the area and create a mechanism to channel the investment.

It is crucial that the community should have a key decision on which business can settle in the area. The pitching process is a negotiation between the new business and the community, in which the business will receive a competitive rent rate in a strategic location and opportunity for exposure, while the community will receive certain benefits from having the business into the area. These benefits might include, but not be limited to, the renewal of public spaces, renovation of existing housing estates, or provision of skill training or job opportunity to local residents. The community can also rent out the existing space as co-working space, generating revenue to fund necessary services and activities.

Oude Westen presents an opportunity to become an incubator for new creative business and start-up. Its strategic location and diverse demographic offers chance of exposure, as well as its relatively lower rent price compared to the city center makes the area more suitable for newly-formed business. The business should be capped size, preventing the risk of privatization in the area. When these businesses grow to a certain size, it is required that they need to move out to provide space for other start-ups.

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DESIGN PROPOSAL STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

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The following design strategy is an attempt to reimagine the Asch van Wijckschool building. Within the revised vision for Oude Westen, the building acts as the anchor project. It is located at the center of Oude Westen, surrounded by various open space; it is also the convergence point of the east-west connection. Moreover, its typology offers a potential for a unique living and working experience compared to many other buildings in the area. The positive effect created by the renovation of Asch van Wijckschool might create a ripple effect to the surrounding buildings. In this project, using flexibility strategies to renovate a building, allowing it to adapt to future fluctuations, is argued as a framework capable of attracting potential investment while reserving the existing diversity through user empowerment.

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Existing location of the service cores in relationship to the interior street. The cores take up a significant amount of surface area of the interfaces facing the street. Moreover, the current location of the core limits the building’s potential to change.

New location of service cores The relocation of the service cores help free up the interfaces. The new location offers more flexibility (as demonstrated in the following pages), providing more possibilities for different apartment sizes and shapes. 70


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CORE RELOCATION On the interior street level, the strategy of indeterminacy is employed, allowing individual users to customize the provided space according to their need. As a result, the location of the service cores is crucial to achieve maximum flexibility. Through the analysis of the existing floor plan (left), it is concluded that the relocation of the cores is necessary, as it will offer more interactive surface as well as more variety of apartment subdivision.

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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Townhouse ground floor plan, Lafayette Park, Detroit, Michigan, USA (1955-1963). The design provides a fully equipped service core with complete kitchen and bathroom, users are left to interpret the rest of the floor. 72


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

TYPICAL UNIT

In order to ensure the highest degree of user empowerment, it is necessary to minimize the difficulty when making alteration to the apartments, while still allow certain grey area for users to decide. Considering the overall structure of the building, as well as the effort needed when carrying out

changes, a fully equipped bathroom is provide with a service box outside. The bathroom and service core are the most complex features of an apartment, requiring extensive building knowledge and coordination between floors. The locations of kitchen and stair are left for residents to consider. 73


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

Existing subdivision of the apartments shows similarities in shape, size and quality. Having provided different options to choose, it is necessary to question whether these apartments satisfy the need of each individual family. What would happen if the size of the apartment does not reflect the need of its users anymore as in cases of aging family?

The use of building is strictly limited to private residential apartment. The existing condition of the building has failed to capture the dynamic changes happening in contemporary habit of living and working.

EXISTING First floor plan

74


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

As mentioned above, the locations of kitchen and stair are left to users’ decisions, so as the shape of the apartment. What being showed here and on the next page are demonstrations of the possibility offered by the new physical framework. The detailed drawing on the following page is not an actual design of the building but rather a speculation of how the space can be interpreted by the residents. PROPOSED First floor plan

75


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SPECULATION First floor plan

Childcare center

Sky mansion

Family of four

Small start-up

Multi-generation

Users are free to decide the shape and size of their apartments according to their needs. The new location of the core allows this new potential. The sizes of the apartments are not fixed and can be negotiated between neighbors and the housing corporation. For instance, downsizing household can either sell a part of their apartment to their neighbor, or rent the part out, or sell it back to the housing corporation. 76

The Bachelor

Coffee shop

Entertainment House

Laundrette


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

Old lady apartment

Shared working space

Party house

Architectural studio

Home office

Fashion studio

Classical interior

The Modernist

Flexible subdivision and new possibility to respond to the interior street offer the potential for these apartment to have different functions besides private residential. New prospective functions might include supporting services such as laundrette or childcare, offices, workspace, studio, coffee shop, etc. 77


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

Scale 1:1000

78


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STREET LEVEL The existing ground floor includes public services such as primary school, community center and sport classes. The current problem with the ground floor is limitation of how the space can be divided and the repetitive faรงade incapable of reflecting the relationship between the interior function and the street. The proposed design retains the existing programmes of the ground floor, but offers more opportunities on how these spaces can be subdivided allowing different daily uses, as well as joined into a large space with the necessary capacity for occasional events or gatherings. EXISTING

Ground floor plan

79


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

Scale 1:1000

80


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

PROPOSED Ground floor plan

Joined space scenario: all partitions are collapsed, allowing large space for events.

Subdivided space scenario: all partitions are unfolded, allowing smaller space for group activities. 81


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

INTERFACE RULES The regulation of the interface is not meant to control the aesthetic of the building, but to maintain the necessary quality on specific level.

Blind/curtain, multiple layers and options

Glazing, minimum 50% surface area Operable windows

max 1000

Interior furniture as screening

100

0 130

0 Vegetation as screening

Interior buffer zone Exterior wall can be moved within this zone

Exterior buffer zone Furniture and potted plants can be placed, but not limited within this zone

Outdoor furniture asserting privacy

Solid element, no higher than 1000mm

“Street� level interface Interface on the street level is required to maintain the connection between the interior and the public realm outside. As a result, public function is required, and a minimum amount of transparency is dictated. To ensure the necessary level of privacy, buffer zones are introduced, both interior and exterior, in which devices such as furniture, blinds or vegetations are used, adding layers of screening. 82


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

Operable windows

max 2000

Glazing, minimum 30% surface area

100

0

400

900 Vegetation as screening

Interior buffer zone Exterior wall can be moved within this zone Exterior buffer zone Furniture and potted plants can only be placed within this zone

Outdoor furniture asserting privacy Circulation zone For movement between Solid element, no higher than 2000mm apartments

Corridor level interface Similar to street level, buffer zones are also employed to introduce more layers of privacy. However, due to the nature of use on this level, the corridor interface has less required percentage of transparency. Also because of the limit of corridor width, certain dictations on how much space can be occupied by residents are also applied to avoid obstruction of the overall circulation. 83


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

POSSIBLE INTERPRETATION Depending on the users and the functions, there are different ways to interpret the interface guideline. In the next pages, some speculative interpretation are given, showing the degree of manipulation users can make.

Party house

Old lady apartment

Family of four

84


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

Community center

Classroom

85


9700

OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

5400

Old Lady Apartment Floor Plan 1:100 86


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

Roller blinds - three layers Steel frame door with glazing

Interior decorative cabinet

Roller blinds - three layers

1m high wall

Wooden entrance door Vegetation screen

Old Lady Apartment Isometric View 87

Outdoor furniture


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

5400

5400

Party House Floor Plan 1:100 88


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

Translucent curtain

Folding doors

Outdoor seating with plants

Vegetation screen

Party House Isometric View 89


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

5400

Family Of Four Floor Plan 1:100 90


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

Roller blinds - three layers

Translucent curtain

Shelving unit as a screen

Wooden entrance door Potted plants

Outdoor furniture

1m setback

Roller blinds - three layers

Family of Four Isometric View 91


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

5400

5400

Community Center Floor Plan 1:100 92


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

Foldable partitions

Horizontal pivot door

Community Center Isometric View 93


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

5400

5400

Classroom Floor Plan 1:100 94


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

Foldable partitions

Roller blinds - two layers

Interior shelving unit Vegetation screen

Classroom Isometric View 95


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

Kim Vo Impression of the renovated exterior. 96


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

97


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

Kim Vo Impression of the internal street. 98


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

99


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

REFLECTION

100


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

The project explores the opportunities provided by the implementation of flexibility in the Asch van Wijckschool. Upon reflection, it is possible to replicate the strategy in other buildings around the area as well as other places in Rotterdam, as there is an abundance of Dutch social housings that are currently unable to reflect the needs of living in the twenty-first-century. The project addresses a universal desire of crafting a place suitable for the desire of the individual. Strategic ambiguity offers an opportunity to rethink the and reappreciate the twenty-century housing estates, as well as a framework for designing new residential buildings.

Kim Vo Stitchting Aktiegroep Het Oude Westen 101


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

Kim Vo View of Westersingel, outside Oude Westen, Rotterdam, looking over the city center. 102


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

103


OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM

Bibliography

104


STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY

Boonstra, Beitske and Willemijn Lofvers. “Rotterdam: Do-It-Yourself Assemblages in Urban Regeneration.” disP – The Planning Review Vol. 53, Issue 1 (2017): 6 – 17. Eldonk, Jos van and Helga Fassbinder. Flexible Fixation: The Paradox of Dutch Housing Architecture. Maastricht: Eindhoven University of Technology, 1990. Frearson, Amy. “ShedKM and Urban Splash let residents design layouts for modular Manchester homes.” Dezeen (March 9, 2016). https://www.dezeen.com/2016/03/09/house-shedkm-urban-splash-modular-homes-architecture-manchester-england/ Mairs, Jessica. “Samuel Gonçalves unveils modular housing based on concrete sewage pipes.” Dezeen (June 5, 2016). https://www.dezeen.com/2016/06/05/gomos-system-samuel-goncalves-housing-model-concrete-sewage-pipes-venice-architecture-biennale-2016/ Morby, Alice. “Rotating walls offer alternative layouts for MJE House by PKMN Architectures.” Dezeen (January 10, 2016). https://www.dezeen.com/2016/01/10/mje-house-pkmn-architectures-apartment-spain-rotating-walls/ Pawley, Martin. Architecture versus Housing. Great Britain: Studio Vista Limited, 1971. Quddus, Sadia. “PKMN Architectures Creates Sliding Transformer House in Madrid.” ArchDaily (November 11, 2014). https://www.archdaily.com/566605/pkmn-architectures-builds-transformer-house-studio-in-madrid Schneider, Tatjana and Jeremy Till. “Flexible Housing: Opportunities and Limits.” ARQ: Architectural Research Quarterly Vol.9, Issue 2 (2005): 157 – 166. Till, Jeremy and Tatjana Schneider. “Flexible Housing: The Means to The End.” ARQ: Architectural Research Quarterly Vol.9, Issue 3/4 (2005): 287 – 296.

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Strategic Ambiguity - An exploration of housing flexibility  

Melbourne School of Design Master of Architecture Studio - Opportunistic Urbanism 2017

Strategic Ambiguity - An exploration of housing flexibility  

Melbourne School of Design Master of Architecture Studio - Opportunistic Urbanism 2017

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