Studio Eva Prats, Building Communities – ETH Zürich
Spring semester 2020 (FS20)
Visiting Professor: Eva Prats
Adviser: Ricardo Flores
Teaching Assistants: Annina Meier & Guillaume Guisan
Jen Chenyu Zhang
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 fragmented area of the city of Barcelona, an area of discontinuity between urban fabrics: the Vallcarca district, in the surroundings of the valley formed by the hills of El Putxet, Creueta del Coll and Muntanya Pelada at the back of Park Güell. An area mainly defined by the strength of the topography, which marks the positioning of the buildings following the rules of slopes and level jumps.
The constant descent of the streets into the valley and to the sea provokes the constructions to make an effort in their positioning on the territory, grouping built areas into urban fragments with constant changes of orientation and direction. These turns leave empty spaces that allow the sight to cross long distances. Often these long views end in natural mountain and forest fragments, traces of the original geography of the site, with its ‘outskirts’ character that existed up until slightly more than a century ago.