What form could the city take to increase social producity?
District Plan - The speculative proposal inverts the public/private relationship between street and block, and maximises the possibilities for social encounter.
We are living in a gradual cultural osmosis as people move away from their homes and families, towards alien societies and foreign contexts. It is a fast and ever-changing condition that is full of ethnic richness and complexity, and the city is the site upon which they meet. Different people, as a specific elaboration of their culture, live and interact in drastically different ways. Edward T.Hall defined this phenomenon as proxemics. The social encounters caused by the overlap between disparate groups instigates a unique form of social productivity, where new ideas and collaborations are possible. This form of productivity is the foundation of the Post-Fordist economic model, where we primarily produce ideas, not material goods.
An Urban Room - The space formed between each block becomes public realm, framing the retained urban fabric which is renovated to contain accessible public programmes.
The aim of the project is to speculate on a new urban form, that would maximise social productivity within the city at a district, block and cell scale. The proposal aims to do so whilst maintaining a contextual relationship to the city, to avoid the proliferation of a characterless non-place. The canonical forms of the Glasgow's tenement blocks are appropriated as a basic unit, for their internal flexibility and recognisable form. They are applied to the existing urban grid, and extrapolated across the entire district of Tradeston (a formerly industrial area of southern Glasgow).
Appropriation of Form - Proxemic City utilises the vernacular forms of Glasgow (the tennements, the modernist blocks, the close and the gridiron) to inform a ‘contextual’ masterplan.
The proposal inverts the relationship between public and private space, by inhabiting the street with buildings, and defining the rest of the district as a collection of urban rooms. Blocks of the old city remain, as urban artifacts to be inhabited with culture and leisure activities. The tenement block becomes a social condenser, open on the ground floor for commercial activity and social exchange. As you rise up the section, activity becomes increasingly insular, adapting to meet the requirements of its inhabitants. The cell is reduced to the room, and the block is dissolved into a shared terrain of encounter and social productivity.
District - The regular tennemental grid is excentuated to create several enclosed urban rooms, which within them contain rows of commercial programme and the existing urban fabric (re-purposed as public objects).
Proxemic Territories - Each urban room has defined territories for different levels of social productivity. The ground is for passing encounter, the commercial rows for closer meeting and interaction, and the housing blocks for more intimate conversation.
Block - The residential programme is lifted off the ground, creating a space of encounter between the public, commericial activity and private residents.
An Urban Gap - The relationship between public and private is inverted through the construction of housing blocks on the former roads.
Cell - The housing blocks contain within them a heirarchy of privacy, as you rise up the building the cells become more insular. The typical cell maximises the possiblities for social productivity by creating permeable thresholds and sight lines throughout the plan. The flat is reduced to the bedroom, with all other space becomming a shared territory.