Architecture

Jacob William Scoular

The research project explores the concept of reactivating voids in the urban fabric through ideas relating to density; solid and void; and Gehl's three types of activity between buildings. From this, how can figural voids be carved out of a fully densified urban block to create platforms for increased social activity amongst the city's mixed demographic. The dependence on the car disrupts a city's urban fabric. Lost spaces, or voids, in the urban fabric are most often car parks, thus becoming the primary type of open space (Trancik, 1986). This is clear in Dundee and Westport area where roads have fragmented the historic urban fabric, creating a vast, impersonal space devoid of activity. The urban void is occupied by a carpark where only necessary activities take place at its boundaries. The resulting lack of density creates an ill-defined University gateway with island buildings. This research paper explores the concept of reactivating voids, in order to reconnect them back into the city’s urban fabric and increase activity types: necessary, optional and social (Gehl, 2001). A comparison of Nolli's plan of Rome and the figure ground of Dundee reveals a lack of density preventing Dundee’s ground(void) from being read as figural(solid). Unlike Rome, where the voids are as important as the solid and create an overall positive pattern, Dundee’s abundance of carparks occupying voids in the urban fabric defines only negative space. The proposed intervention fully densifies an urban void and figural voids were subsequently carved out, producing a cluster of courtyards. Each is connected, with the surrounding ground floor accommodation activating these spaces. The density strengthens the edge for existing necessary activities while clarifying connections and active spaces offers new optional and social activities.

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Architecture

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