The Informal City
Yale School of Architecture
Fall 2019 Advanced Studio
Critics Alan Plattus with Andrei Harwell
Partner Serena Ching
Published Learning from Sweden, Retrospecta 43
H.I. Feldman Nominee
Sweden has a track record of addressing issues at a widespread and efficient manner that often produces homogenous and isolated conditions. As an alternative to the top-down, large-scale development model, we propose incremental, infill, informal interventions to create a river-centric network of social amenities specific to the needs of each community. The goal is to decentralize the methods of production, delivery, and use of spaces within an urban neighborhood to support diverse people groups and lifestyles. This proposal brings together the industrial, recreational, and educational assets of Gothenburg to initiate a new type of nimble and spontaneous development.
The Site: Gothenburg
Redevelopments of the northern post-industrial port of Lindholmen showcase how a mono-use approach have resulted in generic forms of architecture. There is little remnant of the historical heritage of the city; and “character” is built on the automobile. Despite an influx of students, tech workers and working professionals, there is a lack of public spaces that encourages social use. The river is used as the backyard rather than the backbone of Gothenburg. Buildings have a formal gesture towards the river but don’t engage programmatically.
Looking to Ringon
Ringon is the last surviving industrial zone in central Gothenburg that lies in stark contrast to official development. Here, ship repair, and building manufacturing industries continue to operate along the waterfront. What characterized the area was its scale: even though roads, buildings and the water were designed for industrial use, its mid-size scale, material grittiness and informal nature of its existing fabric is still attractive to new businesses and tenants. Arts promoters in Gothenburg have been working to plan annual events and introduce culture into Ringon as part of the Jubilee Celebration. Emerging arts collectives have flourished, and new creative light industrial tenants who have moved to Ringon for its value for space and money.
The Industrial Edge
Ringon has been called an “island” because it is bounded by highways and railroad lines, creating two pinchpoints on the eastern and western edges. Most of Ringon consists of large scale heavy industrial and storage facilities, and the waterfront is inaccessible. With a surplus of industrial land in Ringon, the majority being underutilized storage facilities and heavy manufacturing, we believe that the strategy of adaptive reuse can further accommodate new collectives that bring new forms of culture into the city. With water as a catalyst for connection and culture, Ringon becomes a generative site for initiating this new type of nimble and spontaneous development.
Co-Production & Adaptive Reuse
There is an immense potential for co-production for a new type of development in Ringon. Multiple tenants related to the building industry exist and operate on the “island”. Underutilized waterfront properties are identified and connected with tenants who have similar programmatic needs. As more partners move in, the connections of co-production can grow to further develop underutilized waterfront sites. A strategy of adaptive reuse accommodates new types of work production. Working within the building infrastructure, a retrofitting strategy reclaims portions on the interior for bathroom, kitchen, and MEP elements. The strategy of adaptive reuse preserves the existing industrial heritage of Ringon while introducing human scale architecture, breaking up large spaces and enabling informal appropriation of space by various users. Outside, an interstitial landscaping strategy that serves to soften the hard industrial edges and improve connectivity within the neighborhood and towards the water.
This proposal brings together the industrial, recreational, and educational assets of Gothenburg. After analyzing the assets and potentials of each site, Frihammen and South Lindholmen and Ringon become areas for intervention and further development.
In South Lindholmen, our Boardwalk invites access and use of the waterfront, connecting to new programs such a co-learning center as well as a rowing center on the existing dry dock. Softening portions between the buildings, we allow for playgrounds and recreational use. Student dorms, a co-learning center and a community boathouse are built on former parking lots.
One of the most successful projects by Alvstranden in Gothenburg is the Frihammen Sauna. It was meant to be a temporary and spontaneous experiment to recreationally re-engage with the waterfront, but it was so popular that the city has decided to keep it permanently. Our intervention builds upon the sauna by establishing additional small concentrations of informal activity and recreation on the water. Our Boardwalk invites access and use of the waterfront, connecting to new programs such a co-learning center as well as a rowing center on the existing dry dock. Softening portions between the buildings, we allow for playgrounds and recreational use. Student dorms, a co-learning center and a community boathouse are built on former parking lots.
A storage warehouse is renovated into a multi-level living room alongside continued light industrial work. Here, existing boathouse dwellers utilize the modified facilities for modes of light production. The existing buildings which is occupied by the creative studio Kokkokakka are extended to accommodate new co-working and light industrial workspaces. The recycling facility continues to operate with new artist installations to soften its public edge.
As we move towards East Ringon, we arrive at the boat repair shed and building prefab lab. The hostel beyond is the first prototype, followed by others that support office and light manufacturing use. By breaking the existing building enclosure to allow for light and access between adjacent buildings and the waterfront, we scale Ringon down further for human life. Existing industries operate business as usual.