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Harbour Project, sites Aarhus Harbour 2000 Madsen&Möller (Lasse Krog Möller and Lone Haugaard Madsen)

This project was made for the idea competition concerning the renewal of Aarhus Harbour area, in 2000.

- Analysis of selected sites on Aarhus Harbour area
- Concretizising the - immediate not functional - values of these sites
- Three examples of utilizing these values in a prospective harbour plan

Example 1

Example of handeling the reserves of energy of the city space, as an open public space. An eventually new building on the area is created in relation to and assigned to the lines and shape of the ground plan itself. In this the present ground plan is raised and translated to the façade of the building, the ground plan decides the construction of the frontside of the building. A dialogue between presence and absence, the site and its inherent ambiguousness is made visual.

Example 2

A method for keeping the openness towards dynamic and diversity on the harbour. By deciding the future function and appearance of the area from a set of rules, agreeing with the present set of values of the site. 1. Every form of supply of material, is decided in conformity with the quantity and types of material, allready present on the site. 2. Eventual enlargements of the ground area, happens in proportion to a prolongation or mirroring of the present lines of the ground plan. 3. The intensions of the site should carry a character of free space. In this eventually addited functions are relatively open and marked by recreational values. All new elements are subdued to the original site, through respectively choose of materials and exploration of course of curves, and lines. The temporary logic and values of the area are re-depicted. By means of an aesthetic and theoretical view, a form of resocialization of the site is taking place. New dimensions of recreational values are created.

Example 3

A use of material and space in raw form, in favour of increased accesibility in proportion to the site/ the harbour, both in concrete and figurative sense. Building on the site, happens after examination of the already existing division of material on the site. Against a background of the dialectics of the sites and the preceding analysis, it is entrusted the original site, to influence the future human created landscape of the harbour.

Sites on the harbour – analysis – application of the results in city planning

“In stead of – as it occurred with the old monuments – reminding us of the past, the new monuments seems to make us forget he future. In stead of natural materials such as e.g. marble, granite or other kinds of stone, the new monuments are made of artificial materials, plastic, chromium and electric light. They are not built for the posterity, rather against the posterity. They are occupied with a systematic reduction of time, right down to fragments of seconds, in stead of the long space of the century. Both past and present pulled into an objective now. “

						Robert Smithson

Perception goes ahead of idea, when it comes to selecting or defining an area. By “pouncing on different selected areas/sites on the harbour, it is requested through analysis/examination, to reach an exposure. Through this exposure of the already existing values of the site, without twisting the sites, without abusing them, to exploit the values of these sites in future planning of the harbour.

The selected sites represents a certain form of values. These chosen sites can superiour be characterized as spaces in between or reserve-areas, which appear as (mental) breathing spaces in heavy contrast towards the busy life and the rational, well-organized harbour. Common for the sites is, that they arose fortuitous, not-planned between industry, road system and buildings. From a physical point of view, they are placed, spred out the whole harbour area.

A certain emptiness is characterizing these sites. An absence, referring to something placed outside of the sites. The private and public surrounding buildings and the acting infrastructure defines the borders of the sites. That is to say that the placement and size of the sites is decided from an adjustement, in proportion to the determined harbour plan and building. When the geographical conditions of the harbour are changed in relation to the expansion of the harbour, the sites will presumably be eliminated because of the withdrawal of the unexploited areas in the new buiding.

The sites

Evolution in the ciy; alteration in the city plan. Areas are transformed and assigned new functions. Sites are supplied with new meaning by virtue of – and subordinated to – the current processes in the development/evolution of the city. But what is controlling this development ? – Is the public space defined by the crowd of people or employment ? – Is the public sphere gradually getting staged from financial practice, in preference to utilization of the sites from e.g. cultural or historical values of these sites ? One thing is certain. In connection with the expansion of Aarhus Harbour, the public space is redefined. To avoid a total regulation/homogenization of the city space, it is nescessarry to interpret the already existing codes, in connection to the until now, unheeded spaces/areas of the city. – The empty sites…

Aarhus Harbour has – as all cities have – “stigmas”. –The contrast to the glamourous cafés of the city; gaps in proportion to the city plan. Not the first site you would go to see and parade for a visitor in town. Backsides, you normally wouldn´t ascribe any kind of utility value. Slowliness and emptiness, marks these sites. In this they are in conflict with the intended and accepted city plan.

Example of one of the here mentioned sites. “ A smaller ground with trees. Encircled by granite bollards with iron chains. In the immediate vicinity of this, there is a street covered with paving stone, which is now blocked. The street was earlier led across a railway track. The area produces an immediate peculiar impression, as it is situated – remote and solitary – suppressed between the railway and a provisional gravel-area. It is demarcated by the charasteristic white marking blocks of concrete. The area represent a collision between an earlier, today outdated monument, the blocked paving stone street and a provisional constructed space. The paving is partly covered by newly established asphalt”:

Aesthetic value is not the mainstay of the sites, but rather the fact that the sites themselves carries an expression of “remains”, compared to the remaining city space; the homogenization of the city.

As link in a new city plan, it must be relevant to exploit these surplus-sites. These non- or different-coded spaces, their slowliness and emptiness. “The sites” which are taking part in the organizing of the city… - if you dive into; zoome in on a site without a visible function, you have to take a closer look at the relation between: sense versus non-sense - consequently define the site (and eventually function of the site) from clash of interests, - here the surroundings. With what kind of knowledge can an apparently empty site impart us ? Which expressions does the site eventually contain ? ; whether e.g. melancholy or other atmospheres, will be attributed to the observer. A sober consideration reports about a “resting” site. A not yet utilized area. At a certain point, the site will probably be incorporated in the city environment – be discovered – on a more “accepted” level than now and a completely different value will be added to the site.

Utopia – Heterotopia

Utopia: from greek “ou” (non) and “topos” (site) : non-site Utopias are sites without a real location. It is sites which by a direct or converted analogy posseses a general coherence to the real society space. The utopias shows either the society in its perfect form, or the society converted, but in any case those utopias are fundamentally not-real spaces.

Heterotopia: from greek “hetero” (other) and “topos” (space): other space. Heterotopias are probably existing in all kinds of culture and civilisation. Real spaces, which really exists and are implicated in the fundament of the society itself, as a kind of “counter-sites”. A form of actual utopias in which all other real spaces which exists in culture, at the same time are represented, challenged and transformed. These spaces have no placement, even though it is possible to indicate their location in reality. “Between utopia and heteroropia, there is a certain kind of compound form of experience”.

								Michel Foucault
								Of Other Spaces

As the site is now; a spot of unplanned otherness, in a generally stricktly planned part of the city, as a gap in the homogenic/homogenized city image, one could be tempted to use Foucaults often utilized notions utopia and heterotopia. According to Foucault, the city space is historically organized. The spaces of the city organize society in relation to peoples´philosophy of life and “disciplining” of the citizens. The chosen sites (the sites on which we are forming the basis of this analysis) are placed between Foucaults heterotopias and utopias. They are physically localizable. Foucault calls attention to the heterotopias in cities to establish that “ the fantasy space has to be a vital part of the order of space, if the city shall not end up as a watched over work camp”. It is the interpretation itself; the contents of the sites – their inherent hidden values, which can be placed in relation to utopias/heterotopias. The sites as containing a state of “fantasy space”, by virtue of their character as picture of surplus, an expression of also another surplus than the purely definite physical/locatable surplus in relation to the city map. One of the qualities about these selected sites, consists particularly of “otherness” in relation to “the rectified spaces”. The challenge is – in proportion to the renewal of the harbour, to take advantage of these qualities without using them up. And in this let the sites keep a certain allowance of otherness. In the renewal of the sites and the surrounding areas (the renewal of the harbour) it is therefore nescessarry, to let the sites themselves be controlling; to incorporate them in the elaboration. Regarding content and physical improvement.


Entro`pia - 1. in physics: a messure of disorder, the degree of disorganization which rules in a closed system. Heating death, i.e. the phenomena that substance in a closed system after a certain period adopts the same temperature overall. - 2. in information theory an indication for loss of information in a message. - 3. in art theory a new sense of structure, without the classical notion of time and space, and expressed in art works marked by clarity, calmness, emptiness, sterility and boredom (loss of energy!) The Gyldendal dictionary of foreign words.

Robert Smithson is referring to an “entropy of architecture” (In the article “Entropy and the new monuments” “Ta”´no. 4, 1967). A notion he here uses in relation to, among other things, the evolution in the american suburbs, during the post war financial explosion. – Consumer/consumption determined imitated settings sprouted up – “a lot of visible things which are calm and empty”. A “city of the future” insignificant structures and surfaces. A city without natural functions, existing between fantasy and substance, however independent of both. Devoided of classical ideals regarding space and method, they are emphasized because of a condition of perception, rather than through expressive or emotional methods.

 Consequently a kind of result of superior desires for a homogenized city. –Uniform, consume-determined, planned from “decided requirements “, rather than real requirements. The here selected sites can be read as products, results or left overs of an architectural entropy on the Aarhus Harbour.

“In the same sense as energy, entropy is first an for all a remedy to mesure something which is happening, when one condition is getting transformed into another.”

				P.W. Bridgman “The Nature of Thermodynamics”

Previous evolution on the harbour has caused the here considered emergence and existense of the sites. They are a kind of reserves of energy; symptoms of (maybe) disregarded links in evolution and planning. Not exploited fields of energy, emerged as reaction against a controlled city space. The sites as health signs…testimonies from that part of the city planning process which it is not possible to steer or control, but from which one succesfully can profit by, regarding the statements they communicate themselves. The city space reacts against homogenizisation and total control ! The city space “demands influence”!

Result- Examples for further application

“We are living in a space, which is totally charged with qualities, a space which is maybe also ravaged by delusions, our main sense, our dreams and the respective spaces of our passions posseses themselves some qualities, which are if anything essentially determined!”

						Michel Foucault

Through laying bare and concretizising of the sites here dealt with on the harbour – their existing values – is hence made a method for preparation of a new structure of the harbour. The sites expresses with their “content of absence” and by virtue of their adaptability and aimlessness an opposition against a totally regulating of the city – the harbour. In matter of interpretaion, the sites are “carriers” of an image of a “fantasy space”. Entropy in architecture of the harbour, the sites´ character of being left overs indicates the status as opposition of the harbour/city against previous cityplanning. How is it possible to make use of these values in a future renewal concerning the extension of Aarhus Harbour ? By visualizing the above drawn up method, it is attended to incorporate the immediately not functional aspects, - the sites, on the harbour. These sites contains a kind of independence. If the present sites are getting “caught by surprice” – filled up during the extension of the harbour, they will find new crevices. One can try to plan this process, but it is not possible to directly steer/control it. The sites have a limited lifetime. Their existence is however producing an experience-based fundament to “build upon”!.

In the three here drawn up examples, the aim is to let the values of the present sites, find a physical form. The target is to avoid the control from the city´s normality/standard, to transfer “the otherness” metaphorical. To articulate the otherness and by virtue of that, create a greater consciousness about the qualities of the sites. To create a new type of public space, partly marked by experience and impressions, differing from the other spaces in the city. Thereby involved to express an opposition against the common – worn down – space.

To articulate the emptiness, by respecting the already existing values and sense of the original genius of the sites themselves.

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Last edited July 12, 2002 2:06 (diff)