Sorana Radulescu (2018), The Chance of Urban Gulliver: Three-Dimensional Public Realm as Infrastructural Component of the L-Sized Structure, Institute of Architectural Technology; 1st reviewer: Roger Riewe, 2nd reviewer: Wilfried Wang; 399 pages, English.
This doctoral thesis provides a specific response to the urgency posed by the rapid process of urbanization worldwide. Within this premise, the need for valid densification strategies is immense. This study investigates the validity of large-scaled inner-city ensembles as an approach for urban densification. Stemming from the intuition that in the contemporary urban landscape size still matters, the research searches for yet unexploited potentials of L-sized structures, especially focusing on the European cityscape. The strategic approach is embodied by the fictional character Urban Gulliver – the epitome of large-scaled ensembles in need of the chance to successfully embed in dense inner-city environments. The leveraging of Urban Gulliver takes place within the theoretical framework provided by the broad concepts of openness, hybridity and indeterminacy.
The theoretical outline of Urban Gulliver and the formulation of its opportunity to thrive is corroborated by an extensive literature review, analysis of case studies and interviews with key experts. These sources underpin the hypothesis that, in order to integrate in an existing urban fabric, Urban Gulliver requires the systemic acknowledgement of its public realm. In order to improve the performance of Urban Gulliver as an urban densification strategy, this thesis sheds light on the possibility of a three-dimensional network of public spaces, enhanced by novel models and acceptations of instances of public space. In this regard, the study of L’Illa Diagonal ensemble in Barcelona revealed the potential of Gulliver. Additionally, the comparative analysis of eight privately owned public spaces in Manhattan disclosed an urban mechanism that could benefit both public and private interests at the collision point between open and closed structures.
Urban Gulliver approaches the three-dimensional bond between the horizontal dimension of the street space and the vertical dimension of building structures through the infrastructural component of its network of public spaces. This in-between space – the interface – aspires to be boundary-less through seamless connections, material dimension and programmatic activation. Positioned in the niche between the two disciplinary poles of architecture and urban design, this study contributes to both scholarly discourse and design practice by associating spatial and structural parameters of L-sized structures to the formalization of a broader concept of public spaces, conceived through the lens of their infrastructural component.