Location: Kyiv, Ukraine
Program: Urban Landscape Master Plan for Euro 2012
Area: 9.5 km² / 2,300 acres
Status: Finalist, Third Place
Mega-event urbanism is a reoccurring theme in the contemporary history of urban developments. Olympics, World-cup, Euro-cup and many other international sports events become rejuvenators of cities through which a new methodology of neoliberal urbanism has developed in a transglobal world. But behind the rallying of national identity and pride during the preparations and the short lived spectacles of the events themselves, there remains the reality of enormous financial burden and mega-structures and infrastructures that can no longer find use within the everyday life of the city.
Therefore, rather than proposing yet another mega-structure or mega-infrastructure catered to a temporary event which fails to support a city after its occurrence, INFRASCAPE proposes mini-infrastructural incisions which will provide a new sustainable prototype for such mega and one of a kind events for cities. We propose a prototype for mega-event urbanism through mini- structures.
In mega-event urbanism, mega-events are the tail that wags the dog. Mega-events have been viewed upon by many to generate tourism revenues and international media recognition for the host city and country. For hosts it means a debut into the world stage, for which they put in impressive developments and construction to promote the image of their city to the fullest in preparation for the 2 week event. Mega-event urbanism has become a catch phrase for nations and governments looking to explore the opportunities of such economy boosting urban strategies.
But rather than the event being an excuse to push forward major new urban and infrastructural development for long term purposes for the people of the city, mega-events have become huge extravagant shows that only has one opening night. After the spotlight, the cameras and spectators are gone, the cities are left with huge empty unused structures that start accruing major maintenance costs with no viable internal revenue strategies. In the aftermath of mega-events, the pink elephants in the cities remain non-functional, non- economical, and non-sustainable permanent structures that neccessitates a costly life support system.
In the current credit rating dropping, wall street occupying, national debt crisis impending, post neoliberal bubble burst, socially conscious world, we have the opportunity to rethink mega-events and its urban opportunities through new sustainable strategies. Instead of thinking of mega-event urbanism through mega structures, we propose a strategy of mega-events through mini-structures. Rather than the assumed notions of permanence and longevity of new construction, we acknowledge the life and death of urban environments as part of the life-cycle of cities. Public areas more popular in use flourish while neglected areas become abandoned and unkept. Not all transportation nodes are of equal value to the public and public infrastructure requires strategic maintenance and amendments based on its usage and social, economic function.
In 2011 an international open competition was held for an urban landscaping proposal for Kyiv, Ukraine in preparations for the UEFA Euro 2012. In 2007 the governing body UEFA awarded Poland and Ukraine as co-hosts for the football championships but due to corruption issues and questionable construction schedules, in 2010, Ukraine had almost lost the right to host the event. The competition brief was an opportunity to critic and re-envision mega-event urbanism as a sustainable urban mechanism that can look beyond the glitters of the mega-event.
In the project Infrascape, the problems of mega-event urbanism are addressed through generative urban incisions that investigate the idea of life, maintenance and death of urban environments. Existing natural and artificial ecological systems become strategic agencies of negotiation that integrates spatial and temporal flexibility into the life-cycle of the urban infrastructural network. Infrascape proposed four operations.
1. The Odd Lot: The Odd Lot of Ruins, Rejuvenation and Reconstruction
The Edge is bound by the Naberezhne Roadway on the east and a band of historic, cultural, business, tourism zones to the west. Due to the challenging topography, it is the last remaining original landscape from the historic city. But with the Dnieper Islands across the river in such close proximity to the city center, Kyiv already has an extensive area of beautiful parkland for leisure and recreation purposes. The Edge is a strip of redundant green space, which is currently a leftover odd lot of urban infrastructure. With the modern expansion and densification of the city, the Dnieper’s Edge is the last remaining territory of Kyiv’s urban development. Due to its historic significance with a high density of historical sites and monuments, and the challenging topography for development, the prehistoric landscape has remained an attractive “odd lot” for the city of Kyiv.
As an odd lot, the Edge has been left empty with deposits of trash and remnants of old structures, rusty chainlink fences and unyielding weeds and vines covering all of this. Infrascape proposes to utilize this characteristic of the site as an infrastructural strategy for the area. The Edge is to be proposed as a comprehensive archival site for the history of Kyiv, an active cross-culture connector to all the institutional and non-institutional sights of interest in Kyiv as well as providing physical accessibility to the water’s edge.
2. Tale of Two Edges: Parallel Histories
The Edge is divided into two areas. The Upper Edge and the Lower Edge. The Upper Edge is the area between Michaylo Grushevsky Street and the Edge, which is the pedestrian walkway along the edge of the high point along the bank. This zone is lined with a series of well defined tourism, historical, cultural, sports, leisure, business areas starting from the National Mueum of History of great Patriotic War, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Park Slavy, Mariinkyi Park, City Gardens, Government District, Khreschatiy Park, to Volodymyr’s Hill.
The Lower Edge is the “left over” green belt that is in between the Edge pathway and the Neberezhne Roadway along the waterfront. It supports the Upper Edge as backdrop and foreground landscape and functions as an unintentional greenbelt by blocking circulation across towards the river bank. The Lower Edge is a repository of monuments, statues and architectural ruins where political, social, cultural memory is materialized and inserted for posterity and then is left to the natural elements. It is a dumping ground as well as a cherished forest of memories and the numerous artifacts dispersed throughout the site become location identifiers and place makers of what would otherwise be neglected spaces. The once magnificent Green Theater, despite its decay and “natural” landscape interventions is an active party scene and a piece of the old fortress that was not claimed as part of the higher cultural institutions is now utilized for rock climbing. Old abandoned military tunnels that did not have any historical merit are destinations for explorative tours. The two bands of the Edge form a unique opportunity and experience that would attract short term visitors as well as resolving long term transportation and accessibility problems.
3. Small is Beautiful: Mega-event Urbanism. But through Mini-structures
Euro-cup provides a great opportunity to rejuvenate the urban infrastructure of Kyiv. Mega-event urbanism has become an essential mechanism of globalization and urbanization. In some cases it provides much needed incentive and finances for the urban renewal of developing cities. But in many cases, after the spectacle and excitement of the event is over and the visitors are gone, the structures constructed for the event are left unused and fail to support the everyday function of the city.
INFRASCAPE proposes that small is beautiful. Small structures distributed within a network can utilize existing systems to formulate new typologies of infrastructure. Information booths, shop stalls, restrooms, cafes, observation towers will be placed at key nodal points within the Edge to activate existing systems and to restructure new access and activity zones along the Edge.
4. The Good, the Wild, and the Unrulely: Landscape as Self-generative Infrastructure
The defined institutional parks of the Upper Edge, which we define as the “good”, and the unkept forest of the Lower Edge which we define as the “wild” and the ruins within the “unrulely”, provide a unique landscape opportunity where various extremes of natural and artificial “nature” co-exist.
INFRASCAPE proposes that the ”good”, the “wild” and the “unrulely” landscape of the Edge can become a generative strategy for the infrastructure system. The envelope of the service stations will be designed as a metal trellis structure, which can be planted with vertical climbing flowery plants at the base. The visual effect of the structures will evolve seasonally as well as year after year. Every season the cycle of the flowers will determine the color, transparency, and opacity. Over the years if the station is well managed, accessed and active, the constructed landscape of artificially planted flower types will be maintained and changed with new events and cycles. If the service station is not maintained and is not able to attract use, the existing landscape will gradually take over the structure and will slowly consume the building as one of the many ruinous structures in the Edge. The planting can be planned in advance every year for different purposes. It can cater to specific events either through color schemes or specific to plant types. For example for Euro-2012, the planting scheme can be planned around the color yellow and blue to symbolize the Ukrainian flag or be planted with flowers such as morning glory and jasmine which are native Ukrainian climbing plants.
Project Architect: Yehre Suh
Team Members: Konrad Scheffer, Tien Ling, Alex Maymind