Urban Carnival: In the Pursuit of Urban Happiness

Ana-Maria Cozma
The University of Strathclyde Department of Architecture, Glasgow, Scotland
United Kingdom

Project idea

The presence of life in the city is a complex matter, in which the city dwellers interact on various levels with the built space and with each other on a daily basis. Public interactions define our position in the social world and the built space unconsciously influences our thoughts and actions. In the modern urban city, conviviality has been traded over convenience and cars have now the power to turn a place into a non-place, through the uncertainty that traffic exerts upon a streetscape. Also, our society is facing a voluntary withdrawal from the social space and human life in the urban scene is captured in the light of alienation and loneliness, as the city gets denser. In order to escape the social barriers of the urban space, the city dwellers must regain control over the public realm through a general reversal of the everyday consumerist norms.

Based on a time-banking concept, where communities exchange their time for small services to patch-up the social cohesion, my 5th-year Thesis tackles the issue at a city-level and signals a provocation to reinstate the city dwellers’ control over the public spaces.

Project description

Urban Carnival is a reinvented public space, on Sauchiehall St in Glasgow, where money has no longer value and the time spent within the community for social experiences is the new currency. A space focused on enhancing the locals’ sense of belonging and group identity while taking the shape of a home away from home. Thus, any additional time that city dwellers have on their hands can be invested in the social and cultural enrichment of their city, within the proposed scheme.

The new mentality revolves around the ability of an extremely diverse
urban community to host social, intellectual, entertainment and consumption activities, for which they will be rewarded “Glasgow Loyalty Points” to further spend within the scheme on more social experiences. Urban Carnival hosts a variety of interaction spaces (or “stations”) to suit most of the social needs of an urban dweller, connected by paths (or “trails”), which correspond to various areas of interest such as art, sustainability, sport, socialising and community engagement. The Urban Carnival is a place for the people and entirely orchestrated by the people of Glasgow.

Technical information

“The Unit” is a flexible and lightweight module structure, which is repeatedly used in the scheme with various alterations in terms of scale, materiality and roof-scape. The careful consideration of structure positioning within the wider grid relies on each station’s needs for open/closed space, light and circulation around it. Each Unit can be transformed into a fully closed structure, by adding the appropriate panels, therefore their purpose can be changed in time to suit a different atmosphere if needed.

The structures represent the skeleton of the Urban Carnival and with each one’s variation and individuality, they help create a playful semi-enclosed space and break the previous linearity of Sauchiehall St. The various trails and the side multi-colored panels act as a wayfinding strategy throughout the scheme and celebrate the way paths crossings turn into an interactive space.

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