Authors : Johanna Just and Agostino Nickl

University : University of Hannover

Status : MArch, 2015

Advisor : Prof. Michael Schumacher

Title : Social Network | Temporary living project in Antwerp

This story takes place in the area of Antwerps Schipperskwartier. The city is drastically changing due to gentrification; prostitution will be controlled and eventually stopped, and art and culture will start to fill the void in response to the neighborhood’s cultural change. In the next 5 to 10 years, a big urban master-plan the quarter will get massively densified.

Before leading to demographic shifts and spatial alienation, such transformations can release urban energies. A 70’s administration building in the middle of the perimeter development was demolished few years ago and the charm of the unfinished and vacant breezes through the gap on the refurbished. However, it remains a lifeless main pedestrian space of the Schipperskwartier; Falconplein.

Why not emphasize this spot in its porosity?

Knowing about the quarter’s future, a building gap on Falconplein could serve as an interesting field for spatial and sociological [ experiments] .

The temporary design is subdivided into two aspects: a wooden topography and a netting structure. The wooden topography is linking the inner yard and the street, creating various zones with different programmatic possibilities for urban gardening, concerts or markets. Above, a numen-inspired netting structure stretches between the two adjacent buildings suspending cocoons as an accommodation for tired travelers. Mass accommodation usually implies an architecture which is dominated by spatial isolation, but in this scenario the opposite scheme takes place: It is the  [ community ] that influences the whole structure. Every inhabitant will determine the shape of the whole, depending on its weight, walking itinerary and behavior. The [ abandoned ] warehouse on the right is integrated in the design concept for facilities. Showers, lockers and toilets are seen as prefabricated and reusable [ modules ].

Just as an insect’s nest, the individuals are dependent on one another : The isolation of a hotel room gets confronted with inclusion in an organic whole, a social network in the literal sense; where spatial interdependence provides a collective [ experience ].

Interview

S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Johanna Just + Agostino Nickl_ Instead of a luxurious housing development, we aimed to take the whole existing ensemble into consideration and link the different parts together with our intervention. The design was essentially developed by using Grasshopper and Kangaroo – a plug-in that allows parametric design processes simulating the effect of elasticity and gravity on a fictive fabric (quite similar to Gaudi’s chain models, but with springs). As we couldn’t count on the university courses in this case, we learned a lot due to the great grasshopper community online. At the same time, it was necessary to control the CAD-process by building several work models.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
JJ+AN_ Besides everything creative, we also share a passion and curiosity for traveling and exploring new surroundings.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
JJ+AN_ Never take the easiest way!

S//A : Describe your dream project
JJ+AN_ It would be a project, that seems easy enough to tackle with at first. Then, it gets tougher and tougher to the point that you really want to forget all about it, but of course you can’t. The creative obsession takes place. As you truly immerse yourself in the subject at hand, this weird idea pops into your head, turning everything around, making everything possible again and changing your design to something truly unique.