The city is one of the paradigms of the human activity, and probably it is impossible to define it without alluding to the intensity of the relations, the exchanges and the connections between the citizens, that it is capable of generating.
From a spatial point of view, all the legislation and all the regulations they allude only to two types of spaces, the public space and the private space, but already there abound the texts that they speak about the third space, the collective space.
If the private space is that one that is defined because his ownership is deprived and the public is defined by his belonging to the collectivity, the collective space would be that one that still being deprived his property, the use in the developed one is clearly public.
If we think minimally about this category, the bars, the restaurants, the trades, cinemas, commercial or enclosed center some museums belong to this category. Theoretical many as Jose Michael Iribas, already attribute to this space, the collective space called, the great achievement of the active street supports, that is to say the urban activity. This concept, difficult to quantify that often is summarized by expressions that allude to the local life, they become vital at the moment of projecting the city, his urbanism and even his buildings. It is already demonstrated that the public spaces need of these activities, of bars, trades, cinemas or other collective spaces to support the urban tension and to generate activity and therefore aptitude to socialize and exchange and to expire this way with one of the definitions of city to which we were alluding initially.
In this respect the mixture of uses returns, not already an option, but a need, to increase the complexity and for ende the activity and the life of the urban environment.
A building that this new model summarizes well is raised by the Japanese architect Hiroshi Nakamura for the mall Plaza Omotesando placed in one of the crossings of more crowded ways of the world in Harajuku’s commercial district, in Tokyo.
This zone of the Japanese capital offers already a high degree of miscegenation, in an interesting combination and overlapping of the traditional rituals of the former empire and of the consumer and technological deliriums of the new Japan. It can turn out to be shoking and even difficult to believe that the avenue Omotesando, flood of big shops of brands of luxury designed by Kengo Kuma, Toyo Ito, Tadao Ando, MVRDV or SANAA, is at the same time the access procesional to the temple sintoísta more ancient and bigger of the whole city.
This mixture is precisely the point of item of Nakamura’s architecture, which reinterprets the aesthetics of the big covers, often the most important element of the traditional Japanese buildings, to design a commercial building where the key is in the return of the space of the cover to the citizen.
The composition of the building divides clearly in two parts, is light and transparent in the base, solidly and opaque in the top part. The shops of the low part open his big large windows for the avenue Omotesando, whereas to the top floors one accedes for a stairs that is undoubtedly the element key to move the transients to the cover – square that finishes off the building. In one of the cities denser populated with the planet, as Tokyo, to lose soil to generate public space was a luxury that the project could not allow him, but for against yes that could generate a space opened the citizen in the cover, who was complementing the uses and the activity of the mall multiplying the possibilities of use. Thus, there appeared the construction of a garden, of a new landscape in the roof of the building. This green island that concentrates 34 trees and 50 types different from plants seems to separate momentarily the visitor of the intense pace of Tokyo, forgetting for a moment the ultra-urban location in the one that is in the building.
This space of public use but of private ownership is the essence of the third space of the city, a space that activates the urban life, which predisposes to the exchange of information and of experiences, definitively, that it predisposes to the socialization. The square of the mall Omotesando, it is in direct relation with the commercial spaces, but also with the street and with the public space of the city. Somehow all these strata need and complement, making difficult that one could survive without other one.
The urban current city needs from this type of models to correct the mistakes of his urbanism, evidently these they are not in the urban centers, there where the activity is maximum and the city still supports his active pulse. The decadence of the city is in the peripheries, in this not places, spaces without name, identical in all the big cities, where there does not exist the identity and the collective space, the third space, has not been projected to complement the public use and the city one finds dead and reduced to city bedroom. Maybe a solution is it of implanting, buildings, nodes of mixed uses, where the miscegenation produces activity and could help to increase the social feeling of the city.
íñigo garcía odiaga . architect
san sebastián. october 2012
Article is published in ZAZPIKA 2012.09.09