THE URBAN POTENTIAL OF ARCHITECTURE
An analysis of the development of cities into urban regions and the proposition that urban dynamics, the ongoing process of urban transformation, is the essential condition for urbanity, both are at the basis of an exploration into the possible role(s) architecture could fulfill in relation to the strategic development and spatial design of urban regions.
The city at present one can distinguish a gradual disappearance of a geographically defined distinction of places and activities. Especially under the influence of increasing material, as well as immaterial mobility cities have developed into urban regions, the spatial structure of which best could be described as a sort of ‘network’; a more or less homogeneous fabric of urban and suburban space without any spatial or programmatical distinction, like for example between center and periphery. This urban reality, in which the traditional means of urbanism an urban design come short, demands a redefinition of the meaning of ‘urban space’.
In this actual situation ‘open space’ can be considered the most important material for structuring, or even designing the urban fabric. Both as a spatial means that is able to structure this homogeneous urban fabric at present, and as a strategic means that leaves room for future developments: that integrates urban dynamics within the design of the city.
The deployment of open space in the design of the city demands a concentration of programmatically required built mass in architectural objects of a certain scale. The spatial identity of the open spaces that structure urban space will be importantly defined in their relation to the architecture of these built objects, and vice-versa. In this relation the present meaning of architecture can be found. Architectures postmodern, from the disconnection of form and program regained autonomy, offers the possibility to redefine the goals and reach of architectural design on an urban scale. Disposed of its formerly programmatically defined passive role, architecture could become a dominant factor in the design of the city.
This actual urban potential of architecture is explored in an analysis of and design for the urban region of Eindhoven, which by its unfinished character can be considered one of the most urban areas in the Netherlands.