Through urban renewal projects, architects, urban planners, and designers can infuse new life into dilapidated urban landscapes by upgrading the infrastructure, introducing new functions into the urban fabric, and reimagining the character of open public spaces. These types of projects present interest due to their dual character: on the one side they offer an opportunity for reimagining the potential of the city, but the areas they affect are already well-ingrained within the urban fabric, raising challenges of integration and contextual adaptation.
This week’s curated selection of Best Unbuilt Architecture highlights projects submitted by the ArchDaily community that enhance functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability of urban areas while respecting and embracing the existing fabric of the city. From a residential neighborhood that prioritizes self-sufficiency and circularity in the Netherlands, to a highway ramp transformed into productive spaces in California, United States, or a new elevated path designed to alleviate urban congestion in the harbor of Copenhagen, his selection features projects that highlight the ever-changing character of our cities. Featuring projects from both emerging and established architectural offices such as Benthem Crouwel Architects, Space&Matter, and Vincent Callebaut Architectures, the projects demonstrate the variety of approaches needed to adapt urban environments to the needs of their residents.
Read on to discover 8 urban renewal projects, along with descriptions provided by the architects.
4th Quadrant of Victory Square in Prague
The competition involved designing a mixed-use development on the 4th Quadrant site, aiming to revitalize the area by adding over 100,000 m2 of housing, offices, civic amenities, a building for the University of Chemistry and Technology, and a Culture Centre with two halls. This development aims to create an appealing neighborhood for nearby residents, students, visitors, and campus employees. Benthem Crouwel Architects and OVA designed a contemporary, varied program of functions, building typologies, public spaces, and urban interiors for this historical plot, respecting but enriching the original plan. The primary feature of the design is the contrast between a lively public square, to encourage social interaction and a calmer block with a lush green micro forest.
The Ring On-ramp
The project explores the possibilities of reclaiming these wasted / underused spaces at freeway on-ramps and transforming it into vital and productive community spaces. In addition to the sunken urban farmland, a multi-functional “ring” structure spans across the freeway, connecting different parts of the isolated community and creating a community space that can benefit all nearby residents. The proposed urban farm and farmers’ market reinforces the well-being of the occupants and a carbon-neutral footprint building.
Space&Matter, in a consortium of Ballast Nedam Development, has won the bid to realize a nature-inclusive neighborhood on Strandeiland, Amsterdam’s newly constructed island east of the center. Created in collaboration with design partners ZUS and NL Architects, the urban design for this new residential neighborhood of 215 homes and a community hub prioritizes energy self-sufficiency and circularity, while fostering a strong sense of community.
The Copenhagen Harbour Ring – “Kronløbsringen”
In the heart of urban transformation, Copenhagen is poised to strengthen its reputation as the Bicycle Capital of the World. Third Nature’s groundbreaking project, “The Copenhagen Harbor Ring Bicycle Bridge” in Danish Kronløbsringen, is rewriting the city’s narrative. With urban congestion and climate change at the forefront, this 5 km pedestrian and bicycle ring connects the city, the harbor, and the sea, prioritizing sustainable transport, reducing congestion, and curbing CO2 emissions. Join us as Copenhagen redefines urban mobility, showing the world what it means to be a true cycling leader. It’s more than a bridge; it’s a green revolution in motion.
The Greenhouses: A Timber Eco-District Towards the Lake Geneva
In the heart of the Lake Geneva region, in the canton of Vaud, between the Chavannes-près-Renens train station and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the “Old Greenhouses” site constitutes a new urban hub, a true Cardo-Decumanus. This involves integrating the project into territorial ecological and landscape continuities to create a link between Lake Geneva and Piedmont. The ambition is to create a peaceful eco-district – without cars on the surface – by creating a large urban park in the open ground dedicated solely to pedestrians and cyclists where it is good to live and have fun in the heart of lush nature. The identity of this eco-district therefore borrows from this new public park by densely planting it to reveal the Genius Loci of these Old Greenhouses which were historically dedicated to horticulture and thus reactivate the heritage of flower cultivation.
Lake Monona’s Waterfront
Sasaki has been selected to redesign Lake Monona’s urban waterfront in Madison, WI. The design lays out plans for pedestrian infrastructure that creates a stronger connection to the core of downtown and to the south neighborhoods such as Bay View, Bay Creek and Alliant Energy Center. Improved intersections, widened walking paths, and separated bike lanes will create a new waterfront that is accessible for all people. Destinations at Law Park, S. Hamilton Street, the John Nolen Causeway, and Olin Park bring new programming which will activate Lake Monona’s waterfront throughout the whole year.
This new plan for Nahariya brings the Gaaton river back to the city while addressing the challenges of water management, ecology, climate change, housing, and urban communities. The stream becomes an urban linear park, connecting the east of the city to the seashore, and functions as a mixed-use public space that is active throughout the day and promotes a variety of activities and intense urbanity as well as an intimate community. By turning the course of the stream into the beating heart of Nahariya, this urban plan endorses a community-oriented design, which prioritizes pedestrians and public transportation by integrating green axes based on the historical urban skeleton that tie the Gaaton Blvd to the city.
SNAKE GODDESS – ‘Regeneration of Eleftheria Square and the wider area of the eastern entrance to the historic center of the city of Heraklion, Crete, Greece
The first thought when the architectural competition for the redevelopment of the “heart” of Heraklion was announced referred to a strong memory: to our visit to the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion a decade ago, where I was moved by the statuette of the “Goddess of the Snakes” (1600 BC.). The idea for the composition of the space, from the very beginning, arises from the particular costume of the figurine, the structures, the colors, and the materials which “include the whole world”.
HOW TO SUBMIT AN UNBUILT PROJECT
We highly appreciate the input from our readers and are always happy to see more projects designed by them. If you have an Unbuilt project to submit, click here and follow the guidelines. Our curators will review your submission and get back to you in case it is selected for a feature.