Browse by keyword
Text: Marko Stojčić
We live in a time when our traditional views about the usage of building space needs to be re-examined. What happens when all the available space for new constructions in the city has been consumed and city expansion is no longer possible? Like any other developing organism, the city looks for the best and often the simplest way to develop. This development usually involves the rejuvenation of the main parts of the body and sometimes even a complete change of its component parts. The general development of a city is dependent on the intelligent application of architectural principals on many scales, and time spans, from individual buildings to urban planning. The question is how to estimate, within say 70 to 100 years, which structures should be retained and restored and which should be demolished. Does the issue of energy efficiency or the change of users habits in older buildings have an impact? Perhaps it is time for a new course in architecture, a more mature approach to contemporary architecture that does not necessarily imply the demolition of old buildings that are still in good shape. With only minor modifications these buildings can continue to function efficiently as well as meeting the new standards of today’s building codes. Taking this approach , which goes beyond simply renovating, results in a new lease of life being given to the building both functionally and artistically.
The new architecture that arises, from using the resources of older buildings, is now commonly referred to as “parasitic architecture”. In a way this term is not entirely accurate since the formation of such structures require the “consent” of the parent building and so the parasitic status is not fully justified. The Parent building has a very important role in this synergy since the strength of the new architectural expression depends on the potentials and energy of the parent building at the moment of merger. An interesting relationship between these two is seen in the absurd situation where the parent and parasitic structure continue their existence independently of each other in the new shared space. The position of the architect, who now has the task of understanding and accepting the requirements and characteristics of the “building location”, is a novel one.
In many European countries today, there are incentives for engaging in the reconstruction of old buildings. The “Recycling” of urban space is much more sustainable than building completely new facilities on empty or demolished sites. The advanced architectural cultures who engage in this kind of thinking have a more mature approach to the future of city building, they accept developmental trends which yield superior qualitative solutions much sooner than others do. Examples of such advanced thinking can be seen in places like the Netherlands, especially in Rotterdam, where the solution to their urban regeneration has come from the “parasitic” approach. One of the most interesting examples is the “Las Palmas” building.
The Urban line that runs along the river Sava, from the Kalemegdan fortress to the main bus station and the old Sava Bridge in Belgrade, is an urban tissue which is very suitable for this kind of architectural approach. This is an area which has some of the most interesting examples of nineteenth century Serbian architecture. The idea of reconstructing this area in a new, ingenious way, is certainly an idea worth considering. What should be avoided however is a simple reversion to its previous state and function when the opportunity exists to make its revival something more relevant to today’s world. The urban area around Karađorđeva street has the potential to be developed in a more contemporary and culturally significant way than that of a mere historical restoration. Over the last five years this area has become reinvigorated through the reuse of its older buildings. However, since the restorations have been minimal in scale and scope and not fully embracing their potential for current or future use, they remain unviable, unsustainable entities which are trapped in the past. Many similar cases of overly cautious architectural interventions can also be seen in Havana, Cuba.
Another interesting example of how new architectural additions can be inserted into an pre-defined urban environment is the miniature architecture in Tokyo. Here we can see how high densities and a lack of available space impacts on the inhabitants lives. There is in fact an extraordinarily good relationship between the existing architectural framework and the new insertions and adaptations. In cases like this the ingenuity of architects comes to the fore. In such environments, the design of new buildings may call for spaces which are more efficient and without some of the modern features which take up valuable living area in a market where the cost per square meter is high. What results is a new type of architecture that is sustainable and appropriate to the times we live in today.