8/06/2011

The Interview of the day: Warren Techentin Architecture winners of the Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020

Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020 just unveiled the winners. Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020 was addressed to young architects and architecture students. The street as part of a fluently, connected, compatible and diverse urban landscape was the subject to this computation. Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020 announced to have received competition entries from Japan, Bangladesh, USA, Poland, Turkey, Austria, Lithuania, Estonia, New-Zealand, to quote a few. Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020 was held under the auspices of TAB Tallinn Architecture Biennale.

Warren Techentin Architecture (namely WTARCH, also called "Peer-to-Peer") received the first prize for his design proposal titled Peer-to-Peer Urbanism. WTARCH is composed of Warren Techentin, Brent Nishimoto, Christina Hwang, Andrew Kim, Ahad Basravi, Carrie Smith and Aaron Yip.


I emailed WTARCH for a short interview about his design proposal. Warren Techentin gently answered to these questions. To the first question concerning their design proposal Peer-to-Peer Urbanism:
For us, the term "Peer-to-Peer Urbansim" was inspired by the burgeoning information economy located in Tallinn, Estonia epitomized by Skype: one of the most profound 'gists' the world has been given in the last decade. The notion of peer-to-peer basically descrobes a distributed system of sharing amongst participants — without centralized control per se — who together help shape, organize, and use the content of what is to shared. If there ideas were applied to urbanism, this would have important consequences to the urban environment and how neighboroods and communities form. In the case of our Street for Tallinn, our users are locals, tourists, students, and information economy workers who each will have a stake in the choreography of the street — the mix of programs desired, the number of activities and their distribution, the 'uses' of spaces and the street, and perhaps even the speed, amount, and flow of traffic. We have intentionally juxtaposed a wide range of spatial scales from the large to the small to allow a diversity of programmatic infiltration. We have taken cues from the so-called open-source planning movement to help develop mechanisms and establish protocols to allow greater diversity and choice than what would otherwise be available so users can help define and shape the content and development of the collective environment around them. To aid this, our street embeds a number of sensors which provide data about everything from air quality to the number of fruit vendors on any particular day — to generate a network of feedback about the people and events going on around them.
Peer-To-Peer Urbanism © WTARCH

I then asked to go back over the concept of 'user interface'. According to me, this paradigm envisions street as a strategic and relational tool rather than a common space for circulation:
Yes you are right, the term 'User interface' does in fact seek to design and use the street beyond the mere circulatory purposes it has increasingly become relegated to today. 'User interface' is a term directly borrowed from digital paradigms and ultimately describes the system of interaction between users and the software or machines they interace with. In the context of a street, the calculus necessary for the design of a street to satisfy the specific parameters it will accommodate such as traffic flow, drainage, or parking requirements does not inherently maje for a better street experience in and of itself. It merely accommodates flows. The best streets brind people and activities together and make strong relational connections amongst these people, spaces, landscape, recreation, and activities. Our proposal includes an number of operational features which preform as proto — social condensers — scaled architecture and landscape interventions helping to craft direct participation in the environment.
Peer-to-Peer Urbanism © WTARCH


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