Contrast and Continuity in Fort Lane
How can we deal with the apparent conflict between the ‘retro’ and the ‘innovative’ as we try to remain true to the spirit of an urban place like Fort Lane? I was inspired by the example of filmic scenography. Just as new elements are used in movies to change the way we read or interpret existing, even ancient cities and regions, we we can use the collision of old and new to produce a new kind of urban space. Using this as my main technique, I express this collision in time and space, creating both a contrast and a sense of continuity.
Urban blocks full of old elements can present a very fixed regional image. In preliminary research we identified Fort Lane as an area of history and cultural heritage. This can make some kinds of new development difficult, but also connects us to the past and each other. To activate the vitality of an urban setting and make it more friendly to pedestrians, it is necessary to interrupt this context. The challenge is how to balance continuity with this interruption. My design uses Fort Lane as a design base, introducing new materials and transforming the urban space at several levels: architectural transformation, façade design, and streetscape activation. In this new urban ‘space station’, metal and brick elements fuse texturally. This produces a sense of cinematic drama as well as rhythm. In the experience of urban space, human perspective is the most important consideration. Few have a bird's eye view of the city from high above. Rather, we move through streets and lanes at ground level. Repetitive and over-ordered urban spaces can produce visual fatigue. If there are no open activities and interactions, this can become overwhelming. Confined and isolating spaces can make walkers feel insecure. The local memories of Fort Lane, however, have the potential to set the overall tone but at the moment it lacks fun and rhythm for pedestrians. How can we help the space to relax a little? My cinematic collisions suggest one possible way.