In my master’s thesis, I considered how a city can develop and function in the future. How to expand the urban planning horizon through an architectural idea without pretensions to solving particular problems. The thesis made use of Los Angeles. The creative and fictional aura around the dream factory of Hollywood renders the future scenario of the city after the fossil-fuel era much less utopian compared to other places.
8 out of 385
The fact that my thesis was not only chosen by my university for the internationally renowned architectural competition Archiprix International, but was also presented with an award from among 385 outstanding entries was for me like an inconceivable fiction come true. An independent, international expert jury selected 23 nominated theses and among these the best eight, presenting them with the Hunter Douglas Awards, which are named after the main sponsor of the awards. The jury praised my master’s thesis for its discussion about future scenarios, rethinking of urban structures and sensitivity regarding the aesthetics of these non-places.
Each time, the Archiprix International presents the best theses from the new generation of architects, urban planners and landscape architects. All the relevant faculties worldwide are invited to take part – as is also the Faculty of Architecture of TU Graz. All the selected graduates participate in a ten-day workshop in worldwide alternating cities.
Ahmedabad, where this year’s prize-giving ceremony took place, fulfils many ideas that one has of Indian cities. Many people on the streets, an inscrutable traffic chaos, structural and functional fragmentation, an evolved mesh-work of buildings. Within the unplanned and diffuse city tapestry are hidden a number of architectural jewels. In the form of temple, mosque or university campus, they form urban islands as an antithesis to the hectic hustle and bustle on the streets. This motif of urban islands is also central to my master’s thesis, which deals with Los Angeles. The name of the thesis is “I-710/I-105 #more than infrastructure” and was supervised by Andreas Lechner, assistant professor at the Institute of Design and Building Typology.
The title “I-710/I-105” describes the concrete project location and stands for the large-scale point of intersection of the Interstate 710 and Interstate 105 city freeways in the centre of Los Angeles, California.
Post-fossil fuel free spaces
My master’s thesis is located in a not so distant future in a post-fossil fuel era. Current developmental trends – from hybrid and electrified transport by way of self-driving cars to networked on-demand services – change traffic behaviour, but at the same time remain reliant on roads and freeways. Today, at the forefront of developments are the Californian companies Tesla Motors, UBER and Google. Saying farewell to the fossil-fuel era is accompanied by enhancement of city dreams. Without noise and air pollution, places which have long been inhospitable and uncomfortable will generate new qualities.
Freeway intersections such as Interstate 710 and Interstate 105 stretch across extensive, unused areas which are currently largely closed off. The proposed intervention exploits the enormous spatial capacities, moving in scales between object-oriented architecture and the urban planning dimension.
The urban scenario of the future as described in my master’s thesis thematises and concretises the potentials of the location which previously were hidden, inaccessible and ignored. The building project is a uniform ring forming a frame around a concrete transport hub.
The ring-shaped construction makes the remaining areas of the transport hub accessible, endows it with a new function, thus further developing urban processes.
A personality is inscribed on this urban white patch by means of a structural accentuation. The building brings the intermediate spaces into focus. Out of a pure transit space, an archetypal non-place, emerges a location with identity, relation and history. The proposed structure makes the lost space once again visible. And thus moves the city development back into the field of view.
The transport hub stands omnipresent at the centre of the structure. As a monument to the automobile it mutates into a memento or sculpture. The structural figure characterises the genius loci.
In the architectural scenario of the future a location with identity and history emerges from an area used purely for transit.