Architects can change people’s environment and influence their future in a positive way. They can create “happy spaces” that contribute to people’s well-being. Inserting a building in a nice environment makes this goal easier. When the building is linked to its surroundings, when the limits are blurred with the construction, all of the positive elements of the site can contribute to create this good feeling inside. But the real defy is how to do the opposite, how to influence in a positive way the surroundings throughout the architecture?
Big cities often contain places that lack identity and whose existences are hardly linked with culture, history or tradition. These places are so-called “periphery” or “degraded” areas that remained isolated and un-integrated, such as neighborhoods with social conflict or poverty. They are often damaged and in need of reconstruction due to lousy planning or no planning at all. The architects’ mission is, therefore, to recognize the character of the site and create its ‘sense of place’. This creation looks into the transforming of negative spaces into positive ones by bringing out its inspiring and attractive qualities – this is defined as “happy spaces”, by designing and building a “happy building” in an “unhappy environment”.
To that end, the building should be built in harmony with the urban context and its natural landscape, and should be in connection with people and history. Architecture cannot be detached from the pre-existent context and significant past events. A building in relation to its context will form an organic system, and it is not possible to imagine such system without taking into consideration the people in it. This is significant as humanity is the heart of all systems.
In addition, human activities should also be considered as a key part of the system. Therefore architects are expected to propose not only the form of the building in relation to its surroundings, but also the activities and the programs associated in the space. It is important that architects should have a comprehensive vision for the built environment in every dimension.
These considerations need to be conducted with a real ecological approach. A sustainable intervention should always come first when creating an artificial ecosystem. In this way, the beneficial forces made by the new intervention can also affect the surrounding neighborhood positively. A responsible intervention in all aspects should take into consideration an improvement of one area and not solely the comfort and wellness inside one building.
For these reasons we would like to ask students to think about a building in its wider context. From the perspective of sustainability, sociality and history, students are encouraged to place their architectural projects as consequence of the past and as a contribution to the future, thinking the inhabited areas as interrelated artificial ecosystems in harmony with the rest of the city, the landscape, the climate, the physical and social context. Architects can create a sustainable environment that could improve the health and well-being of the people.
The competition is conceived as an exercise to help students understand:
- How to plan a building and its environment as a comprehensive system.
- How to improve a place through an architectural intervention.
- How to integrate inside and outside; the building and the landscape.
- Understand the importance of analysis of the site and context.
- How to create a happy building in a less happy environment.
Providing a project experience which teaches students about the social responsibility of an architectural project and how it can change people’s life in a positive way.
- Participants can choose sites in a degraded urban/ landscape area, preferably at the periphery (anywhere in the world). The site shall include construction area and surrounding area of the building. The student proposal should become a unit that can be imagined as a whole.
* A degraded area can be for instance an urban unstructured area, residual zones where urban planning didn’t arrive or didn’t have a positive effect, areas that remained un-integrated in a city/landscape, self-constructed neighborhoods. They can be areas that remained isolated, can be difficult neighborhoods, areas with social conflict or poverty, areas that have been damaged and need reconstruction, etc. They are places that are not attractive for the people or investors.
- It is compulsory that the context is existing, and participants shall define how their intervention can improve the quality, the value, the social life, the wellness and transform it into an attractive one.
- The surrounding area can vary in dimensions, but it has to guarantee the integration of the building with the surroundings. The participants should include a surrounding area that can create an ecosystem together with the building/ buildings itself.
- Participants can propose types of program or activity, but they should be mixed (at least 2 different functions). They have to propose the uses and program for the construction and for the surrounding area as well.
- The construction can have around 4,000㎡ but it is not restricted to this dimension. Any dimension is possible if it is justified.
- The proposal shall have the intention to improve the environment and bring benefits to the people living there.
- Integration of the building with the landscape/context.
- Sustainability of the proposal.
- The social benefits of the proposal and how it can improve people’s life.