Urban activation with AIR SQUARE by KOGAA and Kubíček Visionair

KOGAA, Kubíček Visionair,

Marcia Davis, Javier Antón, Mangoshake, Josema Cutillas, KUBÍČEK.STUDIO,


Landscaping, Outdoor Design, Installations,

Czech architecture firm KOGAA, collaborating with hot air balloon manufacturers Kubíček Visionair, has created the AIR SQUARE: a modular and transportable location designed to activate underused urban spaces. Thanks to the installation, these places can adapt their role to suit the needs of the community.

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Urban activation with AIR SQUARE by KOGAA and Kubíček Visionair
As absurd as it may sound at a time when space is at a premium, especially in our cities, having simple empty spaces is not a good thing by any stretch of the imagination. Because if these are ‘urban voids’ - in other words, spaces without any particular features or purpose - then they are nothing more than a waste of a valuable resource and, in the worst case scenario, could well degrade into ‘non-places’.
And yet there are a great many of these anonymous places throughout our cities - places that we may hastily pass through, but certainly never stop to enjoy. As a way of addressing this dilemma, Czech architecture firm KOGAA and Kubíček Visionair, a hot air balloon manufacturer, came together to create a new kind of public space which invites, embraces, surprises and challenges its visitors.
Thanks to this unique synergy between two companies, the project aims to offer innovative urban solutions supported by new research and technologies. This combination of skills has produced AIR SQUARE, “a transportable venue that activates underused urban spaces by bringing them purpose and a vibrant public life,”, as stated by the architects’ press release.
Essentially, this is an easily set-up installation that encapsulates a whole host of very important functions. AIR SQUARE addresses the need to alleviate the issues arising from climate change by helping to remedy overexposed heat islands and the lack of green public spaces available for people to enjoy. More specifically, it consists of a structural base with an inflatable component on top, measuring 14 metres across and 6 metres high in total. The upper ring of the structure is designed as a shading system for public spaces. As a response to the pressing issue of overheating in cities, this ring generates a wider shaded area than a wall, for example, thus cooling the urban areas where it is located. What’s more, given that it is an open, vertical shade, the design has successfully sidestepped the problems associated with the presence of a roof. The lightweight material allows for quick assembly and disassembly and can withstand even the most challenging of weather conditions.
During the evening hours, meanwhile, the inflatable screen transforms into a light diffuser, providing a pleasant source of illumination for darker parts of the city that are often unsafe to walk through. This creates a sense of care and belonging to the space, leading to improved safety and security in the area.
In short, this is an object that serves as a placemaker, providing one-off contributions to improving the quality of the urban environment and helping to build a more resilient blue-green city. These points have very real, tangible repercussions on the local area, however limited and circumscribed they may be.
There are five keywords used to characterise this creative gesture: inclusive, modular, durable, reusable and adaptable. Inclusive in that it provides barrier-free access and permeability to all within the flow of the city, thus making it a place for everyone. As the structure is made out of CNC-cut plywood boards with minimal waste in cutouts and a foundation designed as a modular system comprising vertical legs and horizontal benches, AIR SQUARE is both modular and durable. Reuse is simple: the components are screwed together to form a circular supporting structure that provides stability to the main body. With the benches repositionable to serve any number of different functions and applications - such as a venue for shows, a marketplace, or even an all-in-one piece of street furniture with seating, lighting and shading in a single structure - AIR SQUARE creates a space that can truly improve the quality of life in our cities and offer more fulfilling ways of living together. Of course, the photos of the various places that the installation has already visited so far speak for themselves!

Christiane Bürklein

Project: KOGAA with Kubíček Visionair
Location: everywhere
Year: 2019-2022
Images: Josema Cutillas, Javier Antón, Marcia Davis, KUBÍČEK.STUDIO, www.kubicek.studio, Mangoshake


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