remembrance of horizontality
Imagining collaborative world.
The cultures of caring and sharing are exchanging presently dominating cultures of consuming and wasting. Instead of being commodity, urban space and architecture are becoming common resources that are developed and used by all. Thus, Imagining Collaborative World is a call for an adventure that is gaining towards a new utopian horizon that can generate innovations for global sustainability in the face of a converging crisis.
From utopian heights we land in the dirt of a city, find a commercially congested neighborhood, select shops or banks or whatever take people’s money, eliminate them, then create scenario for radical change, make profiles of collaborators, invent their slogans, develop collaborative program for them, decide about the scale of the spatial intervention and design collaborative spaces. These spaces could serve for community gatherings, discussions and decision making, for co-living, co-working, co-learning, co-producing, co-servicing, or all that together, no matter how big or small they are, or if they are indoor or outdoor, or both.
Will the horizontal disposition of the street, the sense of familiarity when users walk down the street fade away? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, when cities and the world reach a certain progression in urban development. Land becomes the essence. Space becomes limited and its quantity unable to cope with the expeditious growth of the human population. As mentioned, horizontal streets and its traits will vanish from people’s sight as they look downwards from the top of vertical towers. Will the future urbanites acknowledge the existence of horizontal streets?
Back to the current state of reality, there is a significant difference in living movement and amount of people between a tall structure and a long streetscape. Especially in Asia cities, traditional commercial districts portray a wholly different experience and reality than a modern commercial building that centralizes all things in a vertical manner. For example, in Malaysia, the attraction for crowds is not a shopping complex but the congested horizontal street, called ‘’pasar malam’’, the night market. The night market street in a horizontal setting promotes an exuberant environment with diverse cultures and groups of people. Connection and contact between the users increase as they meander through the bustling horizontal street, demonstrating the importance of horizontality in the urban fabric to enhance the connectivity between people.
Being it in a horizontal disposition, the street is offering a network, a connecting relationship of a variety of businesses and services in the particular area. The street and the community function as an organic whole, contributing advantages in both economy and humanity development of the area.
Selected macro site, SS15, located in a suburban context, Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. Subang Jaya land development started out as an ordinary residential area, the township has then progressed into a thriving neighborhood with vibrant commercial areas. SS15 serves as the town’s central area, prominent for its large variety of commercial services, financial institutions, private colleges and many more.
SS15 is a thriving yet filthy commercial area full of random piles of organic and non-organic waste left along the pedestrian promenades and alleyways. Especially in selected micro sites, the alleyway, this negative space in the urban fabric has been incessantly underutilized with the function of fire escape route, waste littering and truck loading area. With these determined purposes of the alleyway, negative impressions aroused among the public or local community that the alleyway tended to be dangerous and unhygienic. In the future, the selected alleyway can be repurpose in a meaningful proposal. These negative thoughts of people towards the alleyway can be reduced, offering them a place to remember the traits of the past and a sense of freedom in movement when walking down the horizontal path.
The blooming commercial area of SS15 accommodates diverse classes and groups of users – white collars, foreign laborers, shop owners, students, permanent residents and consumers. These groups of users make SS15 distinct from other commercial areas in Subang Jaya, being it having a variety of commercial services available and also the diversity of culture and people. Together, these people formed an impactful relationship, a relation that connects their daily activities, movements, and the spaces they occupied. Without any one of the user groups, there will be a disarrangement in their daily routine.
For instance, in the early 2000s, the ‘studenfication’ phenomena in the area of SS15 has impacted and encompassed economic benefits, increased social relationships and the urban development of SS15. Since then, the student group is enacting an important relationship in the commercial (basic needs and entertainments) and residential district.
The way in which a space functions now typically, will be accounted as a ‘traditional’ way. Current spaces will be transformed into new types of spaces to accommodate the newly formed future community on the site. But, the essence of the program will remain. Spaces will no longer constitute a single-function space. Different functions and activities can be implemented in a single space and to be shared with other user groups. New types of programs will be exploited by future users, the ‘merchant’, as part of the essential resources among the community.
By allocating different programs together, benefits can be obtained from each other, mutually. Collaboration of different functions and programs increase the connectivity and mutualistic relationship among the future community. All possible ‘chains’ of connections and combinations were listed. Every ‘chain’ of connections were then linked to each other to form a ‘system’ of collaboration. A new ‘system’ that promotes togetherness.
This thesis intends to manifest the importance of horizontal disposition of a street or architecture in the future, its impact on the future urbanization and its influence on collaborative environment. The focal point of the thesis is to create a collaborative environment through the newly designed system or configuration of commercial blocks in the future. Based on the understanding from research and personal experience on the selected site, designs were carried out with self-interpretation. The design demonstrates the porosity and accessibility of a collaborative world, which allows the freedom of collaboration between the future users. Nevertheless, the potentiality of the designed system and configuration of the collaborative space is thoroughly researched, analyzed and explained with the design process and illustration.
In a nutshell, all the imagination leads back to the question of ‘how’. How can we remember the traits of a horizontal street while vertical towers are surrounding us? How can we dwell in a neighborhood where people live with less obligations? Today, the competitive context with inherent selfishness must be concluded, the collaborative context with a state of selflessness must be started.
Perhaps, perception and preservation are the ways of recreating the past in the future. With a proper system of future collaboration, the sense of harmony among the community can be revived. Through the utilization of the unused negative spaces in the urban fabric, the horizontal street, its disposition and its movement will be preserved in an exuberant environment, reminiscing the past.