Current research activities of P-U-R-A are held at academic institutions in Milan and Bratislava focussing on Master Planning and Architecture  within the European context.

Current PhD research of Roy Nash on infilling processes and urban graft  is undertaken at the Faculty of Architecture at Polytechnic University of Milan (ITA).

PhD research by Rene Dlesk outlines the differences of post-communistic urban development in a number of countries by case studies of Leipzig (DE) and Bratislava (SVK) is being undertaken at the Faculty of Architecture of Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava (SVK).

Infill and Urban grafting. Updating city. 2010-2013

The research is aimed to reset effective development conditions for contemporary cities, i.e. restricting their borders to the built urban fabric, which through a continuous process of modification based on the grafting of new urban characters, will give life to “the city of the future”.

To reconsider the destiny of places where we live, means to meditate on the quality of life in the cities of today and tomorrow, and if for few years some cities of the Eastern part of the world will follow a model of expansion, the near future of European and American cities - and probably the farther one of Asian Metropolis – will be subject of a reassessment and revision of what is already built.

Updating is the issue that concerns the urgent need of cities to adapt themselves to contemporary demands. Although it may be considered a recurring theme in the history of the city, in the past such need has always generated conditions of urban development related to growth.

Today, however, urban development does not coincide with growth and it is contrary to this way of planning future expansions. The term “upgrading” becomes essential to start thinking about new models of urban development and maintenance that are sustainable and flexible at all scales.

This is happening right now because, while the phenomenon is already taking place within the European continent, a stop of the growth of the entire world population is expected within the end of the new century.

Progress will no longer be tied to a greater consumption of resources, but to a greater efficiency and liveability of the cities. Those that will be able to respond quickly to the different needs of their inhabitants will be the winning ones: they should be clearly cosmopolitan, able to host different social and age groups without generating conflicts, and capable to renew radically their built fabric and their technological and communicational infrastructures.

The objective of the research is to demonstrate that the urban grafting into existing city fabrics, applied via several stages (construction-replacement-regeneration), it is a highly experimental model, capable of giving tangible answers to contemporary issues (i.e sustainable upgrading of buildings and infrastructures, sprawl control etc…) already impelling and that are expected to spread exponentially in the forthcoming years.

ILLUSTR. 01_ Caixa Forum, Herzog & de Meuron, Madrid, Spain, 2001-2008. Transformation concept for the building: re-use and over raising of the roof, creation of a “covered square”, addition through excavation of the auditorium.

Adequacy” is the method to match and control a set of values to be constantly redefined. These values will embrace different spheres, from purely aesthetic requirements (it is useful to construct well and create a pleasant environment) to the most pragmatic concerning ecology and basic human needs.

In countries with a long history, willing to promote a renovation preserving the memory of the places, where the growing populations is primarily of elderly, of immigrants and non-residents - such as in Europe – these questions are the most impending.

A policy of re-generation that starts from the inner parts of the city, implies the maintenance of its fabric and, above all, a radical internal retrofitting meeting several different demands.

Radical means truly innovative, but necessarily based on continuity: continuity with the residue of memory, in terms of architectural language, in terms of construction techniques and ways of living, continuity in terms of awareness of the past and projected into a qualitatively different future.

The research will follow two lines of exposition: on the one hand we will perform a qualitative analysis of the places of transformation (concerning some of the contemporary projects from which certain ‘genes’ will be extracted to be later injected on site); on the other hand we will verify the method of grafting through the process of transformation, using examples of typologies of settlement at different scales.

ILLUSTR.02_ Ehwa Campus Complex, Dominique Perrault, Seul, Corea, 2004-2008. Grafting of the “green gene” in architecture. Inter-scalarity of the project: from the “urban building” to landscape, from volume to public spaces.

The chosen examples have different genes belonging to our contemporary age such as the mixitè factor, the ‘landscape’ element, the variation of density, the differentiation of typologies, the connection with infrastructures and the construction of an ‘urban system’ which mediates among consolidated, modern and contemporary fabrics using a matrix of different components.

ILLUSTR.03_ Jean Nouvel, Michel Cantal-Dupart, Jean-Marie Duthilleul. Adding, enclosing, subtracting and transforming the urban body, “remodellage” of the buildings and re-design of the soil and of the space in between.

Technology also plays an fundamental role for the ability to handle the complexity of “agents” involved in cognitive development and management processes of the articulated urban machine. IT using a constant flows of “information”, should tend to marginalize as much as possible “errors” due to inaccurate human choices.  The extension of the grafting from architecture to urban areas will result in: updating city. A city capable to effectively renew its urban tissue and architectural heritage, rethinking the form of its districts, its periphery, and also its historical fabric.

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