Networked Urbanism

design thinking initiatives for a better urban life

Design critics: Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo, principals of Ecosistema Urbano

The project aims to enliven multiple elevational voids of the city of Muharraq, engaging various users who bring an array of programs over a continuously evolving spectrum of time.
As the city of Muharraq contains urban voids, the voids in plan also create elevational voids that expose blank wall facades. These blank facades, composed of brick or concrete walls, reflect sunlight to heat the city, especially with the current programmatic function as parking lots.

The project works with the juxtaposition of a light new scaffold structure against heavy existing solids. The public realm becomes an ongoing project that gets built up or down according to the user’s own needs. A set of users, all with different occupations, age group, and gender, can easily building up their own stall according to an ikea-like set of procedures. The accumulation of these stall-scaffolds can create an elevational market space, theater, or educational facility according to the user’s needs in different times of the year. Addressing the locale, the construction and deconstruction is part of the process of making the public space, the time and effort both an architectural construct. The narrowness of the scaffolds and the delicate textile skin are reminiscent of the old Meshirabyas, a balcony-type of finely detailed artifice. As its Arabic root of the word Meshirabya suggests “the place of drinking,” the project acts as a shade or screen with allows breeze to enter and create a cooled area for filtration and concoction of water as well as traditional beverages like Limonana, or Mint Lemonade.

These scaffolds bring life to the adjacent rooftops, creating a network of new public arena that continues the Arabic tradition of living in verticality. A newly established visual network will not only infill the elevational voids to reduce heating, but also activate the locale to create proximate destinations for people to sell, buy, or socialize. Each of these sites will respond with different programmatic functions over courses of years. Depending on their traditional character of the neighborhood, programs could range from a market in the Suq neighborhood to a space of worship and prayer near the Mosque. The multiplicity of program as a respondent to the locale of the place situates program on an underlying level of necessity. Program emerges from the needs of the users.

Final Present by Yoonjee Koh is a platform for sharing knowledge and design thinking experiences with the world around us, breaking through the walls of academia in an attempt to improve the society in which we live.