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Bafghinia, Mandana

BAFGHINIA, Mandana

Doctorante

The summit’s gaze, or the skyscraper as beacon and observatory

Résumé de la thèse : La recherche propose de considérer les gratte-ciels comme des objets transitionnels dans le champ de l’architecture et de l’urbanisme. Elle porte particulièrement sur le sommet du gratte-ciel, qui cristallisent la vue sur l’édifice depuis la ville et celle de l’édifice regardant la ville. Ces objets transitionnels ne peuvent être réduits un seul système sémiotique de réception ou un seul mode de représentation. Par leur présence, ils déterminent l’expérience esthétique croisée des spectateurs et des concepteurs, et l’objet de l’étude est donc le champ étendu dans lequel le processus de conception conditionne la perception des spectateurs et s’en nourrit, le belvédère du sommet des tours générant une certaine conception de l’espace urbain, produisant dans le même temps de nouveaux motifs et configurations spatiaux. La thèse se développe à trois échelles distinctes, correspondant à des perspectives différentes - historiques, architecturales et urbaines. Trois échelles sont prises en compte : celle, macroscopique, de la ville, celle, microscopique, du sommet et celle, intermédiaire, du gratte-ciel compris comme artefact et entité urbaine. Bien que connaissable au niveau microscopique, l’observatoire permet de percevoir et de comprendre l’échelle macroscopique de la ville. Le corpus de la recherche est constitué par quatre gratte-ciels différents tant par leur histoire que par leur contexte urbain.

Summary of the research: The dissertation considers skyscrapers as a transitional object within the architectural and the urban fields, focuses specifically on their summits, which are interpreted as dialogic constructs that transgress the opposition between seeing and being seen. The research will measure the expanded field in which the design process meets the perception of the observer, the viewing platform allowing for a re-conception of urban space and the shaping of new patterns. In another terms, these objects cannot be reduced to a semiotic system or a model of representation but rather represent a bequest of presence, allowing for the aesthetic experience of a mutual recognition from the observer and the designing architect. In accordance with the theoretical model will develop at three distinct scales, corresponding to different historical, architectural and urban perspectives. The macro scale will give the measure of the evolution of the summits within the larger landscape of the metropolis. The intermediary, or meso scale, will allow for the parallel interpretation of the buildings’ interior and exterior skins. At the micro scale, a synchronic analysis will focus on three case studies relative to skyscrapers built at different moments in four different metropoles in North America, Europe and Asia.

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Linkon, Shantanu Biswas

LINKON, Shantanu Biswas

Doctorant

The research topics which have caught much interest form me are not limited to-

  • Measuring and assessing Social Value in architecture.
  • Evaluating inclusiveness in the Urban Architecture and Public Realm.
  • Investigating Autonomous Building Processes in coastal settlements.
  • Autonomy in the built environment, housing, and informal settlements.
  • Exploring indigenous building techniques and vernacular architecture.
  • Climate change impacts and adaptation.

Current ongoing doctoral research-

Re-evaluating the Social Value of Architecture in the Public Realms through Inclusiveness and Environmental Justice.

The city, precisely the urban area, can be interpreted as “The city in its growth is defined by its artifacts, leaving open many possibilities and containing unexplored potential.” akin to Aldo Rossi in his “architecture of the city”. Alongside, the city can be seen as the product of the generative-functional systems of its architecture, and thus of urban space, where the architecture of the public realms is the treatise of necessity, workability, and quality of the public spaces that connect and engage buildings and other activities, while some may occur on private property, at all scales. However, unfortunately, from “the first city”, "Magical city" to “garden city” all the models have intended for the smooth functioning of the city, as a machine, and mere beautification. After shifting the focus on efficient transportation systems public realms and open areas have lost their qualities and values due to the dominant role of transport. Consequently, they have lost their primary functions of meeting and relationship places. Eventually, architecture is divorced from its function; it is collective memory, a pure, sophisticated formal game. Lately, in the 20th century, a major emphasis has been put on smart cities and environmental sustainability, which has transformed the city of the 21st century into a city of paradox, more conservation-minded. While busy with all these, professionals have ignored one of the most critical elements of the ‘triple bottom line’ of sustainability, social value. Alongside, people’s social aspects have been neglected during the creation of public realms. Therefore, they have become artificial and isolated. And it has become a burning question "what are the qualities of an inclusive public realm and how to consider it?" An easy answer can be the inclusion of ‘social value’. But the reality is, it is not so easy. Henri Lefebvre first debated people’s rights to the city, where “The right to the city” is a motto. It is not undeniable it is the base of the notion of ‘social value’. However, in the modern era, lately, there has been a shift, and “The city is the people” has led to the issue of the inclusion of common people. Participation of different stakeholders is needed for inclusive urban architecture.

Design value in the built environment is currently understood to be the sum of environmental, economic, and social value. But we can question, argue, and debate with this definition in stating that "A whole is greater than the sum of its parts." While environmental value is generally measured in embodied and operational carbon (sometimes with the addition of biodiversity), there are several recognized methods for measuring economic value. Although architects often do not like to see themselves as an increment of economic gain, they create a huge amount of social value that they very often fail to record or capture. It is noteworthy that, though there are existing practices for measuring economic and environmental value, there are no agreed measures of social value. Until this value is expressed in a format that can be fed into policy and procurement, it will remain invisible, leaving economic and environmental value as the sole dominant currency of built environment transactions.

The major aim of this research is to ensure a collaborative approach through the participation of individuals and different stakeholders for creating social value and a unique identity for the public realm. The specific objectives are:

  1. To explore different stakeholders and their roles in designing inclusive public realms.
  2. To investigate public realms of diverse urban contexts, for design parameters, from inclusiveness and environmental justice approach both at the neighborhood level and city level.
  3. To evaluate these design parameters, collaborating inclusiveness and environmental justice, in different public realms.
  4. To develop a ‘social value index’ for inclusive architecture based on the performance of these design parameters.
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