New Pilot Cities
Eleni Pourdala @ The Bartlett School of Architecture
The project proposes a self-sustainable and collective building system, where individuals are able to take control over their housing situation.
The programme seeks to understand how people can be empowered with the tools and knowledge to actively participate in the design process and construction of their habitats. It is an open-source guideline on how to construct modular customisable houses, that can adapt and transform according to the changing needs of their users.
Starting from a simple modular structure, individual properties are constructed and arranged around communal facilities, enabling an organic and informal pattern of growth of the buildings. Additional modules are added according to the growing demands of the community and facilities supported by the different spatial attributes give a unique character.
The New Pilot Cities programme promotes collectively managed communities where people are encouraged and enabled to preserve their individuality, while at the same time being part of a common purpose. A non-deterministic space is created and speculates on how cities can grow if they host diversity and invest on experimentation.
Due to the experimental nature of the project, the project imagined how this building system could adapt and grow in different types of urban situations. The Fabricate City interprets the city as an urban parasite which becomes attached and grows on the existing building infrastructure, while Agricultural city tried to incorporate urban farming methods into everyday life. The Cultural City suggests the importance of leisure activities into the urban fabric.
Ultimately the project suggests a participatory arrangement of a human settlement, one that eliminates extreme determination, enhances the role of the individual and seeks to find a balance between personal and shared space.
Based on the belief that cities are growing organisms, the New Pilot Cities programme becomes an experiment, a test ground for the investigation of different types of urban growth. The project addresses urban design in various scales, from the individual property and its relationship with the public or shared space, to the scale of the neighbourhood and its connection to the city. It speculates on the potential pattern of growth for the future development and expansion of the model, and suggests that local authorities should invest more on experimental projects.
Who influences you graphically?
Inspiration always comes from a variety of different fields. It might be the result of either an active research or simply triggered by a compelling image or piece of art you came across. At the time I was developing New Pilot Cities, a lot of my research was focused on London railway posters as well as vintage travel posters. Architectural visions created by a generation of architects and designers during the 20s and 30s have also been extremely influential on my graphic style. Leonidov’s and Chernikov’s architectural drawings envisioning a new Soviet Union were extremely important, both as a mean of propaganda and the way they chose to communicate their intentions, but also for their bold use of colour.
What prompted the project ?
The project appeared to be the unavoidable outcome of a keen interest on how communities are created and managed. A critical analysis of precedents, ranging from intentional communities to seasonal communities tried to identify their organizational patterns and define their successes and failures.Another field of study has been construction and new technologies, looking not only at traditional settlements but also at 20th century innovations and contemporary platforms which enable a participatory construction.
What defined the fuse of the axonometric as primary medium through which you articulate the project? To what extend Is this the more ‘understandable’ projection?
Personally I have always been fascinated by axonometric drawings. There is something really captivating about them. As a projection it’s on the top of my list when it comes to communicating the essense of my work. In this case specifically, axonometric became a tool for both design and representation. As I was examining different scenarios and the possible expansion of their structures, having the same projection enabled me to also envision these scenarios merged into one. Axonometrics in general are pretty comprehensible. However depending on the way you edit your linework, they can be as deceiving or as realistic you require them to be.
When constructing the views, what were the main parameters ? what did you want to achieve and how did you want to ‘sell’/ convey these different scenarios?
In all of the views the basic structure and the way it’s articulated is essentially the same. Although there are variations on how far it can span, leaving each time different ‘in-between’ spaces to be devoted to communal facilities, either enclosed or left free by the structure itself. When constructing the different views I wanted each time to address a specific site and test how this grid could expand, grow and adjust to different conditions. These views became a mean of experimentation, a test ground for urban or suburban scenarios, discussing matters of parasitic life, connection to nature and the importance of leisure activities in everyday life. Ultimately, when these scenarios coexist they have the potential to create a city with all its complexity, created by a simple structure which however is flexible enough to enable these kind of variations.
How important were other manuals as the earliest Sears Hous Manuals of the 1920’s up to the contemporary Ikea in shaping your own?
Precedents of self-build or self-construct manuals have been very important when developing my own. Sears Hous and the Ikea Manuals are an excellent source when it comes to the way the information should be broken down in order to make it generally understandable and successful as a method of self-construction. But also examples like the Walter Segal method or Steidle’s construction technique have also influenced the design of the New Pilot Cities manual.