Pontsteiger Residential Building: A Public Space Within Itself

Arons en Gelauff architects

Architects: Arons en Gelauff Architecten
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Area: 64.000 m2
Year: 2019
Photography: Jeroen Musch, Ossip van Duivenbode and Arjen Veldt

Pontsteiger (‘ferry pier’) is a large-scale residential project in Amsterdam, NL. The building is located at the end of a 200-metre dam that projects into the water of the River IJ. The ‘Big Friendly Giant’ foreshadows Amsterdam’s growth of high-rise buildings around the River IJ. The design creates not just an iconic object but a public space within itself.

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The Precursor of ‘Co-housing’: Soviet ‘Komuna’ Houses

Jelena Prokopljevic Bugarski

Originally published in The Conversation España.

Last December, the Catalan Generalitat passed a law regulating the construction and rental of community housing, known as co-housing. This defines a type of micro-house that allows the interior to be reduced to a minimum of 24m², adding another 12m² (to reach the minimum space standard of 36m²) of shared spaces, which would optimise functional spaces such as laundries, work areas or communal living rooms. This model is based on continuous interaction between users and aims to promote social cohesion.

Recently this type of housing was partially tested in tutored housing for older people or in cooperative housing projects such as La Borda, in the Sants neighbourhood, or the Xarxaire building, which is starting to be built in Barceloneta.

However, the idea of attributing urban qualities to housing using external spaces and co-use of some of its areas has a long history.

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La Borda Housing Cooperative: Self-management, Collective Property, Sustainability, and Affordability


Architects: LaCol cooperativa
Location: Can Batlló, Barcelona
Photography: LaCol, Institut Municipal de l'Habitatge i la Rehabilitació and Lluc Miralles.

La Borda defines itself as the first housing cooperative following the model of cession of use to be developed in Barcelona and built on public land. The initiative emerged in the context of the urban renewal of Can Batlló, a former industrial site located in the district of Sants-Monjuïc (Barcelona).

In June 2011, after 30 years of waiting for the transformation of Can Batlló, the neighborhood of Sants took the initiative and occupied the site with the aim of organizing it themselves.

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Block, Superblock, and Megablock: A Short Morphological History

David Grahame Shane

This essay is an excerpt of China Lab Guide to Megablock Urbanism by Jeffrey Johnson, Cressica Brazier and Tat Lam, published by Actar Publishers.

The terms block, superblock, and megablock indicate an increasing capacity and scale of urban form and organization over time. This ascending sequence marks the block as an element in a clear urban hierarchy associated with ever-larger cities: the historical city, the modern metropolis and megalopolis, and now the emerging megacities of Asia.

The scale of block dimensions has shifted over time as the block’s area has been enlarged from its small-scale, early beginnings to grid formations with 0.6-hectare blocks, 6.5-hectare superblocks, and megablocks of 65 hecatres or more. Blocks can form regular or irregular networks of streets, designed by collective use or by landowners intent on development. In each case, the block design is often devoted to a single use as the scale increases, reducing the mix of uses in the name of efficiency. At the same time, the grid, or network of streets, provides a framework for nesting multiple blocks of single uses within the city. As the scale of the city expands, regular blocks nest inside superblocks, which in turn nest within megablocks.

Historically, the nesting of blocks provided a potent system of urban organization that only changed when the increasing pace, scale, and sequencing of development created new hierarchies, allowing modern cities to expand in superblocks across open territories. Initially this new approach required the segregation and sorting of all functions, but with more advanced communication and information systems, new hybrids and mixtures have become possible in the megablocks of both rapidly expanding and shrinking cities.

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DeFlat Kleibrug: An Innovative Renovation

NL Architects

Architects: NL Architects
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Area: 66000 sqm
Year: 2016
Photography: Marcel van der Burg, Stjin Brakkee and Stijn Poelstra

Kleiburg is one of the biggest apartment buildings in the Netherlands: a bend slab with 500 apartments, 400 meters long, 10 + 1 stories high.

Kleiburg is located in the Bijlmermeer, a CIAM inspired residential expansion of Amsterdam designed in the 1960s by Siegfried Nassuth of the city planning department. De Bijlmer was intended as a green, light and spacious alternative for the inner city, which was degraded at the time.

The Bijlmer was designed as a single project, a composition of slabs based on a hexagonal grid, an attempt to create a vertical garden city.

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Design Activism in the Context of Macau

Rui Leão

This article focuses on the EPM or Portuguese School of Macau and on the building’s struggle to “survive” as a post-classic monument in a city that navigates a fragile balance when it comes to heritage conservation.

The Portuguese School of Macau, previously known as Escola Pedro Nolasco, or Escola Comercial, designed by the Portuguese architect Raúl Chorão Ramalho, is a significant building included as part of the continued infrastructure interventions in the colonial territories by the GCU [1]– Gabinete Colonial de Urbanização. It reflects the conflict of discourse of the 20th century, trying to re-invent a place for architecture through the management of light, open space (the open plan), orientation, natural ventilation, proportion, submission to a total system of order and universalism. The plastic expression of the materials (concrete, glass and steel), and the urban situation of the complex are solid manifestations of both the paradigm of Modernism and its re-discovery of the East as a purifying journey.

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