28 November 2011

The Green Grid

We have been doing some research into the way that Cardiff can be read as a city. Our thesis is that the park sof Cardiff are it's key characteristic, and can therefore be used as the structuring element that can organise the whole.

We propose that the main "anchoring" parks of Cardiff can become the attractors at the ends of green fingers that stretch out into the suburbs and beyond. Where an anchoring park is missing, then current landfill sites can be re-imagined as the new urban parks that perform the anchoring role that the great Victorian parks do elsewhere.

These green fingers are mostly already in-situ, and the axial (from outside to centre) connections are strong. Where the connectivity of this network fails is in the radial (radiating out from the centre) direction. The green grid needs to be augmented by creating links, joining pocket parks, greening previously derelict or brownfield land.

This green grid of connected parkland and found green space conveniently forms a new transport grid overlaid over the old and defunct road system, but luckily just for bikes and pedestrians. Here is our initial proposal which comes with a healthy debt of respect to Dr Beehooving at CycleSpace, of course, who is the pre-eminent expert in the field.

Presented at the Welsh School of Architecture, Post-Industrial Seminar, November 2011.

14 November 2011

There is no School Like the Old School

We made a trip to St Fagan's recently - the Museum of Welsh Life in Cardiff which is one of the most popular open-air museums in Europe.

This building is an old barn where the columns are made of solid massive slabs of slate, and the rear building is made of small pieces of slate laid horizontally like a dry stone wall.

For some reason, this is utterly appealing to architects. Perhaps it is the reassuring idea that the concept of modernism is completely encapsulated by a medieval barn, and is therefore less scary than the rantings of that madman Le Corbusier. In a survey*, the vast majority of architects asked about their favourite building at St Fagan's chose this one. I'm sure there is an essay there somewhere.

*we asked at least 3.

For those bike fans out there, do not fret. Here is a classic cargo bike I found hiding under a pile of tin baths and buckets in the shop that is part of the village grouping at the museum. It should be centre stage, and probably is an a parallel universe where people are sensible and value bikes not buckets. Again, an essay beckons...