Scholarly article on topic 'Public Space and Its Role to Transforming the Community'

Public Space and Its Role to Transforming the Community Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Procedia Engineering
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{"public space" / "post socialist cities" / community / participation}

Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Pavlína Kolcunová, Ivan Siláči, Ľubica Vitková

Abstract The socio-spatial organization of the cities, directly linked to the certain economic and political system, appears as a demonstrative reference of the current urban transition towards post socialist cities. The task is to determine, whether disqualifying socialism is a substantive aspect of post-socialism; either if the contemporary public space should still represent the theatre for programmed, controlled activities, or are they mixture of rejection and adaptation to new situation through informal activities. The presence of symbols in public space is manipulated by ideologies in order to construct eligible narratives. The change of reading the public symbols, when substituting the socialist ideology by the other single ideological attitude of globalized consumption, depends on the critical links between official policies and the types of responses on the community level. The paper is targeting reflection on a new form and structure of selected public spaces in Lučenec, with the emphasis on their iconicity, shaping the collective memory through the quiet erosion of the socialist icons. The aim of the article is to present the possibilities for the future policy making, as the conception of authorities for transparent regulation of public space is missing.

Academic research paper on topic "Public Space and Its Role to Transforming the Community"

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ScienceDirect Procedia

Engineering

Procedia Engineering 161 (2016) 1944 - 1948 -

www.elsevier.com/locate/procedia

World Multidisciplinary Civil Engineering-Architecture-Urban Planning Symposium 2016,

WMCAUS 2016

Public Space and Its Role to Transforming the Community

Pavlina Kolcunovaa'*, Ivan Silacia, Eubica Vitkovaa

aDepartment of Urbanism and Spatial Planning, Namestie slobody 2911/19, 812 45 Bratislava, Slovakia

Abstract

The socio-spatial organization of the cities, directly linked to the certain economic and political system, appears as a demonstrative reference of the current urban transition towards post socialist cities. The task is to determine, whether disqualifying socialism is a substantive aspect of post-socialism; either if the contemporary public space should still represent the theatre for programmed, controlled activities, or are they mixture of rejection and adaptation to new situation through informal activities. The presence of symbols in public space is manipulated by ideologies in order to construct eligible narratives. The change of reading the public symbols, when substituting the socialist ideology by the other single ideological attitude of globalized consumption, depends on the critical links between official policies and the types ofresponses on the community level.

The paper is targeting reflection on a new form and structure of selected public spaces in Lucenec, with the emphasis on their iconicity, shaping the collective memory through the quiet erosion of the socialist icons. The aim of the article is to present the possibilities for the future policy making, as the conception of authorities for transparent regulation ofpublic space is missing. © 2016PublishedbyElsevierLtd. Thisisanopenaccess article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of WMCAUS 2016 Keywords: public space; post socialist cities; community; participation;

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1. Introduction

More than 20 years have passed since the regulatory form of planning the public space under the official state ideology had been abolished. Single model of predictable future to follow was replaced by planning for the uncertain future and thus set a very unique context for urban planning. The decentralization and devolution of power

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +420 732 322 095 E-mail address: p.kolc@seznam.cz

1877-7058 © 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of WMCAUS 2016

doi:10.1016/j.proeng.2016.08.784

and responsibility to local governments gave the local political representation the role of the occasional arbiters; the knowledgeable, coherent and transparent regulation of public space is missing. Distrust of population against the ability to define the promising future, that time comprehended as ideological tool, is not to be the main reason for the crisis [1]. Above all, the loss of any framework to accommodate the vision is bearing the blame for the turbulent environment of mass housings public space. The present situation points out to situation when space, once designed as public, is handled as private without any collective consensus to ensure shared ownership. Such spaces either become filled with new development, private parking lots or the opposite - totally unmaintained spaces, which frequently demonstrates shabby equipment and outdated paving.

Value of mass housing estate is often found in open space, however where the lack of formal definition and low levels of urbanity doesn't create habitable exterior space and daily experience of the neighborhood. Improving internal urban conditions of neighborhood in relation to new community facilities, giving identity to open space and improving accessibility require very accurate strategies [2]. Strengthening the urban identity of these neighborhoods without disclaiming their origins will be assessed in terms of their formal, functional and symbolic aspects.

2. Urban Regeneration through Public Space: Case Study ofHousing Estate Rubanisko in Lucenec

The reflection on possible adaptation of modernist urban structure will be demonstrated on the case study ofhousing estate Rubanisko/Lucenec. The whole district was designed for 12 000 inhabitants with typical meander layout of superblocks, providing large areas of open space, ensuring daylight and ventilation to every dwelling. Those characteristics, becoming valued more and more affirmatively, has been depressed into the level of individual, heterotrophic and isolated architectural achievements. Whether the experiences from the radical transition of public space can be re-valued, and thus reactivated - represents both, a political and architectural question [3]. Correct balance between elements, which constitute identity of the public space and guarantee its habitability, is perhaps the most challenging part of the planning process.

2.1. Formal, functional and operational aspects of Rubanisko estate

The layout and compositional relationship of the buildings is creating spacious public space and thus potential of giving the shape to recreational spaces. Whether the spaces are targeting brief, spontaneous stopover, or activity requiring special equipment, the space in general suffers from the lack of community infrastructure, monitoring and maintenance.

The space for ordinary rest should be part of the daily public life, addressed to the widest possible range of inhabitants and settled in the close proximity of their dwelling. Efficient localization ofleisure spaces, next to the vibrant pedestrian corridor, ensure turning passers-by into guardians of community safety. Even though these interventions are perceived positively and definitely constitute a platform for variety of activities, the playground equipment is frequently missing identity and freedom of self-adaptation to the environment. Playgrounds, with limited and predictable play value, designed for different age groups, represent the territory that steps out from the adult world. The reductionist approach and over-cautious designs, as fences and special flooring, separates the children's play from broader public life. The essence of community cohesion lies in the spontaneous interaction between adults and children of different ages, which happens in informal places, or how Jane Jacobs notes - children are not educated by playground facilities, but by the other people [4]. At Rubanisko estate, the main playground that provides a platform for variety of activities is based within the local school ground. Recent experiences in Slovakia prove the narrow focus of school on their timetable and thereby rejecting the creation of more outward-looking, community-focused public space. Sharing the place within a different time schedules multiple the frequency of use and could become the local playground, ensuring all children have somewhere to play in their local area.

The questionable argument, which many people appreciate as one of the greatest benefits ofliving in the mass housing estate, is a high proportion of greenery. The site layout at Rubanisko estate is missing a clear hierarchy of green areas and is perceived as spacious, but featureless environment with sparse vegetation. Although the generous space between the blocks ensure rich permeability within the whole area, but they do not imply better accessibility

and orientation in the area. Permeability means experiencing the various urban qualities and spatial opportunities, revealing the activity and people present in the neighborhood [5].

The problem of unarticulated greenery can be partially identified with the issue of indefinable space. Transforming green areas, especially those situated in immediate vicinity to blocks and courtyards, into individual garden spaces for every dwelling or community garden would fundamentally impact on how the outdoor space is used as part of the daily practices of living in housing estate. The amount of community garden space provided has the same importance as its' positioning within the site, as the use of communal space is determined by access to it [6]. Drawing on the inhabitants' survey, the second homes phenomenon and gardening represent the most appreciated leisure activity. The large garden colony, located relatively close to housing estate, used to have a value of self-realization and thus getaway from the reality of everyday life, during the former regime. But even nowadays, popular phenomenon of cottages and gardens clearly points to the pressing problem of the housing estates that suffer from depopulation while the residents try to leave them to spend their free time somewhere else.

2.2. Bringing the iconicity to public space of Rubanisko estate

The main open space, dissected from public amenities as hospital and school by transportation axis, could be turned into an independent micro district, big enough (4ha) to create visually, more sensual and rich environment. As the elsewhere, the concept of living in the greenery with collectively shared amenities and articulated public space including art was not accomplished. The intervention, that would transfer old connotations into the new context, is supposed to deliver a higher social value to the whole neighbourhood. By translation of the sculpture „Stone flowers" sculpture from central city zone, which became the exemplary case of public space commercialization, this work of art would get back to the principles of the very first design - natural connection of greenery and a statue.

Fig. 2 left - Academic sculptor Karol Lacko (*1938 +2007) created the work ofart „Stone flowers" first time for the event „A Statue ofParks in Piest'any", right - different view (source: archive ofDarina Lackova)

Fig. 1 Destinationforrecreationin proximity ofhousing estate (source: google maps), 1 - playground within the local school, 2 - city park, 3 - garden colony.

2.2.1 The original location of the statue and its history

The Square of Republic, situated in the central city zone of Lucenec, could be identified as the laboratory of changes, constantly seeking its face and the importance within the urban fabric. The fountain, whose part is the objective work of art, originates from the period of extensive reconstruction at the end of seventies and the beginning of eighties. The reconstruction was connected with an ideological as well as a formal issue of the future square function - it was necessary to build a new, representative centre of the developing district city. The square was supposed to be, among the other uses, the representative place for the opening and closing ceremony of world championship in parachuting in 1982. This event was watched by 80 000 visitors from all over the world - that was the reason for such expansive spaces on the square. From the reconstruction mentioned above till 2009, there was not invested any greater amount which would maintain the square or the entity of fountain itself. The process of square restoration started in 2005 already. In that year, the public trade brought two proposals. The divestment of squares and free open spaces in cities is a common example of how to deprive of the municipal property fast. It is important to remark that it was the trade competition and not an architectural or urban competition. The winning proposal was not chosen and the competition was cancelled. One of the reasons, why the square was not sold, was the petition against its divestment. The public clearly rejected the sale of the whole square area and waited how the self-government will react. The new vision of the self-government was to reconstruct the whole square as the complex project of the whole area with the continuity on outlying roads and spaces. The resources of EU are often used for such method of restoration within the program of settlements regeneration. The decision of the self-government was surprising. The idea to sell a part of the square and to reconstruct the other part from the EU funds can be evaluated today as the most essential mistake in the process of the square regeneration and also as the main reason why the central public area of the city was depreciated by the restoration. The original concept of the square has been absolutely suppressed by the restoration of the 2/3 square area; the pseudo corridors have been created in the paving which are supposed to be used by residents for walking and the other undefined areas are something between meeting and relaxing space.

Fig. 3 The Square ofRepublic, 1982 (source: archive ofDarina Lackova).

Although it was the concrete surface that needed to be reconstructed, it was not the main problem of the area. Its main problem was inability to set the clear rules and the program that a public space in the 21st century should offer. Similarly, the restoration of the fountain was not considered inthe proposal. The city transferred 4/5 of its area to

the private owner and 1/5 remained in the city ownership. It is an off-putting and questions avocatory situation. It lasted several years until the city found an investor who purchased the rest one third area of the square.

Public architectural-urban competition was absent in this process again, the investor introduced one proposal which was accepted, but without public discussion - a shopping centre.

The quality of architecture itself, brought by the investor, is not to be evaluated, but it is worth to mention - the agreement signed by the city, the investor and local activists that fought for the preservation of the fountain. The „Stone flowers" sculpture will be professionally restored and subsequently placed in a new location. The selection of location, the Rubanisko estate, was determined by the professional city researchers and the activists [7].

3. Conclusions

During the former regime, the artworks were placed mainly "at places that serve the largest possible number of workers or the public, taking into account the character of the building". The ratio of the costs incurred in execution of the artworks are treated by the significance of the buildings in the range of 0.5% - 2.0% of the total budget. In complex housing construction, the architect will determine the locations and premises where the artwork is located. In recent years, we quite often encounter the problem of precarious existence, caused by improper removal of the exterior artworks from the period of the second half of the 20th century. Authorities then should regulate not only hygienic or traffic parameters within their urban vision, but also aesthetic - visual aspect. Therefore, competitions for the design of each artwork should be announced in a similar way as the architecture competition. The case of the sculptures' replacement shows the possible compensation and rescue of the artwork in public space, and thus prevent destruction or unprofessional modification of the sculptures.

References

[1] JANKOVICOVA, Sabina, KAROUS, Pavel (ed.). Vetrelci a volavky: atlas vytvarneho umeni ve verejnem prostoru v Ceskoslovensku v obdobi normalizace (1968-1989) = Aliens and herons: a guide to fine art in the public space in the era of normalisation in Czechoslovakia (1968-1989). Vyd. 1. V Revnicich: Arborvitae, 2013. ISBN 978-80-7467-039-8.

[2] TSENKOVA, Sasha. Managing change: the comeback ofpost-socialist cities',Urban Research & Practice,l:3, 2008, pp. 291 — 310 [online: http://www.ucalgary.ca/tsenkova/files/tsenkova/6-l 74520 773514300_907453053.pdf]

[3] KULIC Vladimir, MRDULJAS, Maroje. [translation to english Graham Mc Master et al.]. Unfinished modernisations: between Utopia and pragmatism: [architecture and urban planning in the former Yugoslavia and the successor states], Zagreb: UHA/CCA, 2012. ISBN 9789536646241.

[4] JACOBS, Jane. The death and life of great American cities. Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1992, 458 p. ISBN 06-797-4195-X.

[5] CHURCHMAN, Arza. Disentangling the Concept ofDensity, Journal ofPlanning Literature 13, no. 4, 1999, pp. 403.

[6] HABRAKEN, N. J, Structure of the Ordinary: Form and Control in the Built Environment, ed. by Jonathan Teicher, London: MIT Press, 1998.

[7] SILACI, Ivan. Kamenne kvety. Mimoriadny odkaz Karola Lacka = Stone flowers, Extraordinary reference of Karol Lacko. Projekt: Slovenska architektonickarevue = Slovakrevue ofarchitecture. Bratislava: Spolokarchitektov Slovenska, 2014, 3/4, pp. 98-101 ISSN 1335-2180.