1. Research Topic Overview
The nature of the existing urban fabric of
the many modern cities do not allow for large scale landscape interventions.
There is a lack of accessible green open space to facilitate the current
development pace, and influx of users that come with it. Green public space is
an important aspect of the urban realm that not only has a positive impact on
the physical environment, but also on the health and psyche of the users of
that space. It is therefore critical that ‘lost’ or spaces that have been
otherwise overlooked, be investigated and explored to be transformed into
usable green public spaces.
As a point of departure for the research
methodology, literature studies will be conducted to identify relevant
theories, programme related requirements and history. This will allow for the
identification of opportunities and constraints on numerous levels. Theory
referring to; landscape architecture as a catalyst for rejuvenation in an urban
environment; the role of landscape architecture in re-establishing the
connection between man and the natural environment; and theory relating to
small scale landscape interventions acting as a multifunctional space will be
investigated. Peer reviewed articles will be examined, read and information
gathered, investigated. These articles will form the basis of the literature
It is well-known that green spaces can
improve the lives of residents within a city, if these spaces are designed
correctly and incorporated appropriately into the surrounding urban fabric. If
one is to consider the concept of a public space, the visualisation of large
urban parks or urban plazas surrounded by iconic architecture might come to
mind, however, the current densification trends and development of modern
cities do not always allow for these type of large scale interventions.
The challenge poses itself to identify an
architectural approach to appropriate small and underutilised spaces, or ‘lost
spaces’, within cities and transform these spaces with various levels of
‘Lost spaces’ in this context refers to
either, small plots of land that have not been developed, lost spaces between
buildings including the street scape or sidewalk, as well as formalised parks
that have not been maintained and have thus become underutilised and dangerous.
At a precinct level, these lost spaces contribute to decreased security,
community responsibility and engagement as well as the aesthetic character of
the urban environment.
These lost spaces could provide a resource
from which the much needed public space can be derived. Although not always
considered social space, “the street is the building block of urban design and,
by extension, of urban life; the city with vibrant street life is the city that
works as a viable urban environment” (Goldberger 1996, p.135).
These small spaces should not be
disregarded, but viewed as a collective and used as a tool to improve the urban
fabric of our environments.
The In Between Spaces
climates differ all over the world, but people are the same. They’ll gather in
public if you give them a good place to do it.
following section will explore the notion of public space, the role it plays as
an economic, social and physical construct and the relationship smaller
interventions have with the larger urban network.
The urban fabric differs from one city to
the next, but certain characteristics will remain throughout, specifically that of physical development. The success of a
city or precinct lies within the design of this physical development, and how
it serves and represents its residents. This can be especially true for
overlooked lost spaces. As said by Christoffersen, “These inadvertent spaces may be neglected, but they embody the
potential, especially when viewed collectively, to become a powerful,
transformative force in the public realm.”
In the work of Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities,
the essential elements of the urban condition is explored to determine how to
rebuild and develop cities. One concept she explores is that of visual order
(Christoffersen, 2010). Jacobs does not promote a
design intervention that controls the entire visual aspects of the city, but
for a strategy that seeks to “illuminate, clarify and explain the order of
cities” (Jacobs 1961).
In a comparable analysis, Kevin Lynch, an urban
design theorist, deems these areas as “lost.” These places lack structure and
therefore are lost in the overall city form (Lynch 1960). One could argue that
these spaces should remain lost and shapeless if they have already fallen into
this condition, however, these spaces often possess great potential to become a
vital part of the urban fabric. The location of these lost spaces also often
play an extremely important role in the way the city is perceived and lived