My thesis project was a huge investment, embracing at once the functionality of a large housing estate, urban area restoration, landscape architecture, and the future of European economy and council housing. All of these complicated issues found their manifestation in form of sustainable, open-layout modular housing. Project assumed implementing it into existing uninhabited multi-level structure on the outskirts of one of the biggest European cities – Rome, Italy.
The written part of thesis consists mostly of the research, taking many different issues into consideration. I made a detailed analysis of the European housing – its history, trends, modern problems and prospects. I compared housing situation in Italy and Poland in context of Eurostat’s* research and modern trends in sustainable technology to supply my project with the optimal solutions. Great part of my thesis is also a political, social, cultural and economical critique essay, considering our knowledge about societies, world economy and the place of architectural design among them.
The project itself assumes renovation of an existing building lot in Bravetta, Gianicolense district, Rome. Previously occupied by a housing estate, it was later demolished due to the social and economical problems of the district. However, the reinforced concrete structures were left, creating very characteristical point on a map of Rome, with unused buildings reminding of its plentiful potential.
These structures became the anchor points for the postponed building system, based on lightweight ready-to-assemble modules made partially of recycled materials and partially of steel framework and modern insulation and installations. This modularity allows houses to easily become the part of a sustainable estate system. Flats are to be open-layout, with possibility of ultra-fast implementation in “plug-in system”, as well as their further flexible development and individualization.
The structures in this context have to be supplied with sustainable media and construction systems, allowing implementation of modular housing units on previously specified “building lots” on the structures’ levels. All housing units are supplied with open-layout gardens, greenhouses and devices for acquiring renewable solar energy on rooftops. Consequently, each “building lot” in the unit has its own access to a semi-public space, that can be used as a terrace garden or “a plaza”, encouraging inhabitants to spontaneously establish their preferred form of contact with the neighbours and to produce their own resources (food).
The terrain surrounding the housing estate was thought out to conjoin Via di Bravetta – the district’s main street – with the recreational terrains of Valle dei Casali (park with abandoned historical buildings, planned for revitalisation). This connection was to be established with use of two municipal areas:
First is a marketplace near Via di Bravetta, using mini-malls made of recycled shipping containers and a vertical farm – modern, flashy addition to the estate’s household resources production.
Second is a mini-landscape-park with playgrounds and open-air fitness equipment, intended mainly for housing estate’s inhabitants, although being open for any visitor of nearby city park of Valle dei Casali.
Even though my thesis project wasn’t put through any competition or wide-range publication that would allow to realize it in some near future, the ammount of work and knowledge I gained from it was definitely worth it.
It’s the crowning achievement of my architectural studies, that I am happy to share with someone interested in using this compendium of knowledge for the future shaping of architectural design in Europe.
* – (European Union statistical office)