The normal growth of the cities often takes place of concentric form, from the center towards the periphery. In this slow but continuous movement of expansion the most urban activity of the center is absorbing the periphery of the city. It is transforming his typical uses, as the manufacturer or that of infrastructures of communications in more own others of the center city as the tertiary one or the residential one.
Scantily two years ago, before the appearance of such a commented economic crisis, the attitude of all the urban development plans was happening for it ” it tabulates levels “, that is to say for the demolition of all the preexisting elements up to generating an empty space that to return to occupy. This methodology besides economically untenable, since it tries to take advantage of not even the virtues of the existing structures, erases any vestige of identity, memory or history that the place, a factory or any other previous space find could accumulate by the passage of time. This attitude based on the value of the new thing over any other characteristic can be qualified today of obsolete and exhausted.
An urban development offer that this model puts of round form in question is that of so called “Gardens of the Fundition ” located in Nantes and considered one of the urban projects in construction bigger of France. The development spreads in the length of a fluvial island generated by the river Loire to his step along the urban center of Nantes. Directed by Alexandre Chemetoff since 1990, the project consists of the transformation of a factory of smelting and of the district of fluvial stores raised during decades around it of a neighborhood of housings of 350 hectares. The urban development developed project is based on two fundamental ideas, to extract the maximum profit of the existing structures without need to demolish no building and in bearing in mind the history and the local geography, and therefore his social environment.
To support the structure of the factory that gave origin and at which there were employed hundreds of inhabitants of Nantes was besides an economic advantage provided that his spaces could reaprovecharse, a social challenge, in that what was in game was the identity and the memory of all these persons whose life was tied to these structures.
The project proposed to support the metallic structure of the smelting and to take advantage of his great cover to create a garden under the same ceiling of the old factory. Definitively to generate a public space covered for the daily use that allows spaces of game for the children and the development of social events like dinners, exhibitions or concerts. With a minimal cost of intervention since it was the cleanliness and re-whistling and punctual repair of the existing structure of the factory, the previous industrial activity recovers, not only as an object of museum, but also as the legacy of a place where many local citizens were used and worked hard, for what somehow the conservation of the local history is an emotive honoring to the industrial past of the city and his labor life.
The cover, the ceiling and the buildings that surround it, protect the place of the wind and it is allowed that the temperature in the garden should be 3 or 4 degrees higher that in the exterior, what together with the system of water recovery of rain installed in the cover and that takes advantage of the old tanks of water of the smelting, it allowed to plant an exotic and exuberant garden.
Another good example of this type of reutilization of former industrial elements for the generation of spaces for the collectivity is the developed one by James Conor, Diller Scofidio+Renfro and Piet Oudolf in the restructuring of the High Line of New York.
The High Line was constructed in the decade of 1930, as part of a project of massive infrastructure public – private road named improvement of the West Side. The infrastructure raised the traffic of load nine meters on the street, constructing a railway air line eliminated the dangerous trains of the streets of the most inhabited industrial districts of Manhattan. When the historical structure was threatened by the demolition there arose a group named Friends of the High Line that as a social agent was employed at collaboration with the municipality of New York to preserve and to support the structure as a public high park. The authors of the project supported the idea that socially by means of a process of participation had been imposed, the concept “Keep It”, definitively of preserving the line under the premise of supporting it of simple, wild, calm and slow form. In addition the urban development regulation of the area was modified in order that the former railway route was happening to have now character of street or urban park and therefore the heights of the adjacent buildings were modifying the closed character of his fronts.
This project constructed in two phases completes a linear park of almost four kilometres following the high rails of the train, and beyond the attractive aesthetics of his parks and facilities major cobra interest on having seen the participative process that has generated it. If the social movement managed to save the infrastructure of the demolition, also it managed by means of donations to finance part of his construction and of his later maintenance financed by half together with the municipal services.
This initiative reveals the value to support the identity and the collective memory of two generations of New Yorkers who had grown under the black bridges of the high railroad, opposite to the developments of an enriched economy that there forgets maybe the most important of any public space, to his users.
íñigo garcía odiaga. architect
san sebastián. octuber 2011
It´s published in ZAZPIKA 09.10.2011