Social Parasite

Anders Evenson, Justin Foo & David Rosenwasser, Japan

 

Explanatory Note

Our project seeks to appropriate and radically transform the empty spaceunder Tolbuhinsky Bridge into both a floating skate park and pedestrian walkway, an architectural spectacle that promotes social exchange.

The project is conceived as an architectural parasite, unabashedly alien but still born from pre-existing site conditions. The site’s location under the Tolbuhinsky Bridge, its proximity to the iconic St. John the Baptist Church and our emphasis on enhancing safety are the three key driving forces behind the project. The parasite seeks to forge new spatial and structural relationships with the bridge, church and the Yaroslavl community.

Social Parasite
Social Parasite

The site is an in between space, below the bridge and above the flowing water of the Kotorsol River. It is a kind of exiled, forgotten space, perfect for more informal social experiences. It is also nearby a large playground where local kids and families interact, and the hypermarket named ‘Carousel’. These two places endow the site with a sense of play and hint at its potential to become an architectural spectacle. Based on the sociological survey of residents, the residents surveyed mostly consisted of two distinct age groups: elderly and youths. Our proposal thus presents two main programmatic features, which maximize enjoyment for each agegroup. There is a scenic and accessible avenue for all ages intertwined with a skate park, meant for youths to skate and socialize. These two programs echo the vehicular circulation above them as they weave through each other, promoting cohesion within the Yaroslavl community.

The idea of a bridge inevitably connotes operations of levitation and connection. When viewed from afar, the bridge seems to hover above the water on its pilotis. This image gave rise to our team imagining the project as a kind of floating vessel. This vessel is then levitated above the surface of the water, cantilevering away from bridge, to emphasize views toward the church to the west and the forest to the east. The supporting steel beams are then concealed under the design to hold the vessel securely in place. This allows pedestrians within the space to feel a sense of lightness as the structure appears to defy gravity.

Just as how the Tolbuhinsky Bridge connects the two communities separated by the river, the project seeks to establish a connection between the street and its surrounding amenities. The street and lower levels are vertically connected through two flights of stairs. This allows user to get closer to the water while imbuing the south side of the bridge with new life. Unlike the current bridge which does not encourage pedestrians to pause and enjoy the view, our design carves out semi-private spaces to appreciate the scenery of the Kotorsol River. Through an appreciation of the picturesque, residents will feel more connected to the spaces and natural surroundings. The project also establishes direct access between the street level and the hypermarket, which is frequently used by residents. This utilitarian journey to ‘Carousel’ for groceries is transformed into a fun, visual procession. The design also brings both elderly and youths into the same space, bridging the age divide by fostering new and unexpected social interactions. The design continues to maintain a visual connection to the street above, as drivers and pedestrians catchglimpses of skaters emerging under them and pulling tricks mid-air.

 

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project materials / проектные материалы

 

The 17th-century St. John the Baptist Church, regarded as the zenith of Volga architecture, also played a fundamental role in informing the design’s aesthetic and constructive scheme. In response to how the domes of St. John are arranged in three groups, our design creates three main pod-like spaces which are connected to each other. The curves of the onion domes of St. John the Baptist Church inspired the project’s undulating profile. The grid-like wooden constructions of traditionalRussian onion domes are also reflected in the design’s structural framework. Grid lines are extracted from the corrugated underside of the bridge before being projected onto the design. The unique polychrome tiles of the church are transformed into ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) cells, which are overlaid with a protective vinyl film. Given the project’s ethos of inclusivity and its proximity to the‘Yaroslavl Paints’ factory, it seems only befitting that graffiti is not frowned upon but celebrated in this project. The protective film is designed to be replaced and exhibited in a public space or museum each year. Residents will be able to see their community’s artwork in a new aesthetic context, endowing their marks with new meaning. The colorful, elaborate, classical frescoes of St. John’s interior are reinterpreted into a more participatory social experience, where individuals are enabled to make their own marks on the urban landscape.

The intermingling of street art and architecture ties into the concept of social interaction and inclusion.  By having people draw and graffiti over the interior of the structure, we create a language between people and architecture. This breaks the common preconception where the architecture is in a greater hierarchal position than the people who merely use it.  This continually changing surface will be a visible public platform for people to express their ideas and feelings with the rest of the community, creating a new people’s architecture.

Given that the site is located in Perekop, one of Yaroslavl’s more dangerous districts, safety for the users of our design is of great importance. The design’s integration of programs, materiality, linearity and lighting all contribute towards a safer and more pedestrian-friendly environment. Besides promoting social exchange between inhabitants, the weaving of programmes enhance safety for users, especially the elderly. Constant pedestrian flow through the walking path would allow surveillance on the activities within the structure. Similarly, EFTE is used for the exterior is because it is easily cleaned, able to withstand the cold climate of Russia and most importantly, because it is translucent. The translucency of the ETFE cells allows individuals to see whether the structure is occupied and the movements of its occupants. The design also utilizes the linearity of the pre-existing bridge to create a strong visual axis. Upon entering and exiting the structure, users can have a clear view of the entire space and its occupants. Lastly, the brilliant glow of the structure after dusk also contributes to the users’ safety.

In defiance of the belief that bridges are dangerous places to be at night, itannounces its contemporary presence, its benign insertion into the landscape. It invites people from all walks of life to enter it through its alluring glow. LED lights are inserted between the acrylic base where the people walk on to reflect off the EFTE cells. By reflecting the structure beautifully in the Kotorsol River, the design’s main operation of levitation becomes clear after dusk. Like St. John the Baptist Churchshining in the wooded darkness, our proposal would glow like an alluring lantern hanging from Tolbuhinsky Bridge. Our social parasite would add to the urban life of Yaroslavl, enhancing the urban revival of the Perekop district, while engaging residents in a new, radical architectural experience.

Authors:

Anders Evenson, Justin Foo & David Rosenwasser

Anders Evenson was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan with an American father and Japanese mother. Being exposed by modern to traditional architecture that the rapidly evolving city of Tokyo provides, Anders went on to study architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He was selected at the Tokyo Sky Tree photo contest in 2011, and his work was exhibited in Tokyo along with the works of the Sky Tree designers, Sumikawa Kiichi and Ando Tadao. He is also active in the field of emergency architecture, being part of the V.A.N. (led by Shigeru Ban) construction team in Japan after the 2011 East Japan Tsunami and Earthquake.

Justin Foo was born and raised in Singapore, Singapore. He studied fine art at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art and later at Raffles Institution. He held a duo-exhibition showcasing a collection of oil paintings in 2013 at the Goodman Arts Centre. He was awarded a full overseas scholarship by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore and is currently studyingArchitecture at Cornell University.

David Rosenwasser spent his childhood in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He established his background in three-dimensional art forms and received numerous awards for his work including a Silver Key for his 3-D portfolio in the national level Scholastic Arts competition, held at Carnegie Hall. His work consists primarily of ceramic and wood sculpture. David’s ability to facilitate design through his hands translates to an intuitive understanding of construction and building that can be seen in his architectural models and through the finished products of furniture he restores and constructs. He is now studying architecture at Cornell University.

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