Studio Eva Prats, Building Communities – ETH Zürich 2019-20
Semester 1, HS19
Visiting Professor: Eva Prats
Adviser: Ricardo Flores
Teaching Assistants: Àngel Solanellas Terés & Guillaume Guisan
Building communities implies creating relationships that hold together people and things from different backgrounds and different times, a community between new and old neighbours, between new and old fragments of a built city in which, in the end, everyone, people and things, live in a new unity.
We understand urban rehabilitation as the balance between the recovery of a physical fabric and a social fabric: both complement each other and work at the same time. To read the memory contained in buildings and in people is to think about a future that counts on that past.
The ‘Building Communities’ Studio works with two parallel objectives:
- The recovery of a fragmented urban fabric, studying the possibilities of rehabilitation from the insertion of new programs, where housing will be the main but not the only one. The concrete tests of physical transformation of existing structures for the incorporation of houses or other complementary programs, within criteria of sustainability from the rehabilitation of obsolete architectures, is the main working material of the studio.
- The definition of the typology of the house and its grouping -the community adapting it each time to the area of the city where it is located.
This studio focused on a very central fragment of the city of Barcelona, an area of discontinuity between urban fabrics: the neighbourhood of Poblenou and its meeting with the Eixample, the old Cemetery in front of the sea next to large industrial buildings in disuse, the great emptiness of the beaches and public spaces linked to the infrastructures of the Olympic Games of ‘92…
In this part of the city, there are still areas of uncertainty in the boundaries of plots, streets that blur and become exposed, not letting you know where a property starts and where another ends. Changes in direction due to the old traces of the farmlands are mixed with the fragmentation of the plot of the Eixample, generating surprising and unexpected situations that open new possibilities for interpretation and work.
It also mixes the scale of the built fabric, with pieces of single-family housing coexisting with large industrial buildings -many times empty-, and collective housing buildings. The demolition of old houses and factories have produced large open spaces and long distances between buildings, with no intermediate scale between the built and the unbuilt. The demolitions also reveal traces of previous occupations.