In the increasingly densified contemporary city, an architecture that knows how to guarantee new forms of typology summarizing and proposing a multiplicity of uses has undeniable advantages, not only for alleviating the excessive compactness of the urban fabric, but also by encouraging greater porosity and permeability towards the community. Besides helping to contain a progressive and excessive expansion and limit that famous 'soil consumption' at the expense, for example, of small or large green lungs, so vital for the residents’ daily life, many of these new hybrid spaces have the potential to transform into social condensers, reserving public areas and fulfilling a number of requests, from housing and work to recreational and cultural, without taking into account the unplanned, unexpected demands of the city. The hybrid scheme, with its blend of different uses, tends to enhance and revitalize its surrounding context.
There is a group of architects, all very young, particularly interested in creating spaces for people, and equally attentive and passionate in the search of interstices, in-between urban corners, that they love to approach by conferring a vitality they never possessed. Kathrin Gimmel is one of the three partners of this Danish studio, JAJA Architects, that I had recently the pleasure of hosting during one of my podcasts. Despite their age, they have been recognized and appreciated and this notoriety is derived from one of their first works, an operation of perfect transformism, that with a limited budget they have been able to express with creativity and playfulness. It is with an optimistic curiosity that they approach their projects and, exploring the potential of an architecture far from pre-established, obsolete schemes and paradigms, are able to amaze us with their fresh statements.
The mentioned intervention, emblematically synthesized by the title 'Park' n 'Play', has been nationally and internationally widely published, rewarded with many important recognitions. It is a multi-storey car park, a 7 storey concrete box, 24 meters high, absolutely anonymous, built in compliance with the most banal and economic traditional criteria of the genre, an element that has no connection to its context, the old port of Copenhagen, Nordhavn (North Harbor), subjected for years to a renewal that intends to embrace in a vision of coherent urban coexistence the new, modern emerging neighborhoods and the most historic surviving areas. It is in the attempt to redeem a particularly privileged position, with the view on the Øresund strait, and the need to find a more congenial insertion between the future architectural identity marking the entire area and the older surviving parts that the team negotiates the situation, conceiving two solutions, one visual and the other physical, both very convincing and captivating. The large concrete volume abandons the coldness of its monotonous gray tone and, dialoguing with the red brick facades of the old buildings and the port warehouses, adopts their warm tones. A mesh of the same color overlaps and envelops it, adding a particular energizing effect, prerogative of the elemental informality of this industrial feature. The strategy finds an ingenious, very appropriate mediation able to translates an invasive mass into an attractive presence, a pole of cheerful exuberance.
Our works intend "not just to take space, but to give space too", with these words one of the authors explains how to weave as many relationships as possible between what is and what will be, is the ultimate goal of their efforts. An ideal that they recognize in a city accessible to all, built for inclusion and diversity, nourished by the active involvement of the collectivity. The stories start from the buildings and come back enriched with new contributions, without imposing any program: are the people who each time define their own script, actors in a theater that welcomes them and wishes to give them the guidelines on the stage.
JAJA Architects: https://jaja.archi/
Park ’n’ Play, Nordhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark, JAJA Architects, Photo Rasmus Hjortshoj/Courtesy of JAJA Architects
GAME Streetmekka Aalborg, JAJA ArchitectsPhoto Rasmus Hjortshoj/Courtesy of JAJA Architects
First Wooden Parking House, JAJA Architects and Open Platform (OP), Rendering JAJA Architects and Open Platform (OP)