Architectural Association, London
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Architects have used their main tools, space and light, to shelter you from your environment. Now space needs to shelter you from other people, adding a fundamental new design tool; health.
In the age of the Covid-10 pandemic, we're seeing a new way of human interaction. People have taken to their balconies. From barcelonian and Parisian balconies to balconies in India, Iraq, Lebanon, and the US people are singing, toasting, exercising, talking and communicating through their balconies; socializing from a safe distance.
Our proposal rethinks the balcony. Our point of departure is the notion that a balcony can offer more than a moment of reflection; it can now offer a social distance friendly communal experience. As in Georges Perec's 'Life, a User's Manual', where the entire narrative takes place in the staircases of buildings, we believe there is a new life waiting to happen in these spaces long considered accessory.
Our design is built on a terraced landscape that opens up on the diagonal plane, scattering interpersonal interaction onto different levels. Following the diagonal axis, the balconies have a fractal quality. This creates an optimal spatial ratio that maximizes interaction and responds to today's contradictory need for isolation and togetherness. The public space becomes intimate, blurring the boundaries of personal and communal space.
The design creates the space for an infinite walk. Diagonality allows for visual accessibility at all times, and increasing possibilities of journeys from point A to B. Residents will wander around these balconies and, perhaps, plant an urban farm over time, aiming to become a more self sustaining community.
The design brings back the village to our buildings. On this infinite walk, you encounter brief moments of social interaction, as you cross your neighbour following other paths, paths that will merge at times to form openings allowing for two people to sit on a bench and converse. You get lost in a space made up of thresholds and connections. Look over to the right and find your fellow neighbour with a drink, maybe say hello and ask how they're doing, maybe they'll hand a glass over to you, and point towards the scattered concert at a distanced terrace. During your walk the sky follows you, circulation is open to the sky at all times.
By opening up the window of interaction, horizontally, vertically and diagonally, the community gathers on these balconies that weave together an endless journey within a contained space. Our proposal therefore creates a new ratio of social self-isolation.
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Fashion Institute of Technology
Taller Experimental de Diseño