architecture : urban : visual culture

"Passing through the wilderness" - urban planning and architectural competition for Paks

Livable streets, safe cycling with lots of green areas - this is the vision of the architects, Erzsébet Szeréna Zoltán DLA, János Gyergyák DLA and Péter Paári winning fourth place for urban planning and architectural competition in a residental area, located north from Pollack Mihaly Street in Paks.

Area planning conception

The main principle to integrate the new residential development area, located north of Pollack Mihály Street, was the establishment of a sub-center, which would serve the new residential areas, as well as the surrounding neighbourhoods (housing estates and dwelling areas). The newly established neighbourhood is directly linked to the existing primary and green infrastructure in order to work as a whole, coherent structure.

Our main focus was on sustainable spatial design, where services can be approached on foot in an easy and high quality spatial system. This was achieved by bringing life to the streets, activating the surrounding defining planes of the ground floor with communal services, creating a friendly and human environment. The proposed central area is shifted towards north-east compared to the original proposal, it is bordered by new buildings, directly linked to the green axis - connecting the northern part of the city and the new, planned leisure center of Ürgemező.

While different residential areas were designed, it was important to fit in the existing settlement morphology. The condensation of the area (condominium zone) is realized in the new center, with housing blocks lying more loosely in the south, with a freestanding attitude instead of a continuous building line setting.

To emphasize and draw attention to the public spaces, so-called "gates" were created in three dominant directions of the area.

In the center of the new development, a denser layout with better integration and diverse space usage was our goal, as a smaller spatial footprint could result in more sustainable settlement pattern, and the possibility for further important investments would still have potential.

Concept of the public spaces

In the planning phase, our focus was set on the system and quality of public spaces. The sustainability of the site is primarily based on the networks of the circulation, merely on pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The pedestrian friendly environment depends on the quality of the public spaces thus the atmosphere of streets and squares.

The new planned public space system simultaneously responds to the existing public spaces and creates a unique community space with an urban atmosphere. Based on our analysis, Paks is lacking pedestrian zones and squares, especially in the north and north-western parts of the settlement.

The main pattern of the new public space system is a central strip together with some perpendicular smaller streets that suggests new spaces in the main meeting points. The central space is the "heart" of the new setting. We used a variety of urban forms ranging from contiguous suburban growth, going to denser linear patterns of strip development to create active spatial plane along the streets, which also influence the use of public spaces.

Sustainalble urban design

In addition to the ecological solution of the primary energy needs, the sustainability of the infrastructure is based on the pedestrian and cycling zones, development of public transport, density of residential areas, a good schedule and a healthy balance of public and private investments.

Affordable and sustainable architectural design

Today's decisive architectural issue is sustainability. Reducing the environmental footprint of the settlement by increasing the biologically active surfaces, minimizing transport demand, lowering energy and water usage and cuting down on waste generation is a must. However, energy consumption depends to a great extent on the cells of the settlement, namely the housing units. Energy saving with orientation, space organization and design is complemented by the use of rainwater, reduction of water use, local or nearby water cleaning and careful consideration of building materials.

Supporting the selective handling of waste is a principle, but the amount of waste depends on the users, the usage and the mismatches of the demands. Only the square meters that actually improve the comfort of the occupants shall be provided, as unnecessary spaces mean higher construction and maintenance costs. The units will "consume" energy and water in their life cycle according to the defined physical parameters at construction. Apart from analyzing the relationship between the building and the environment, it is important to create healthy internal spaces. We must see that this perhaps trivial aspect is often in conflict with the ambition of environmental sustainability. Energy is an essential aspect of designing sustainable buildings. However, the quality of our life is largely determined by the quality of the adjacent spaces as well. In the case of the larger densities we also tried to create interesting and pleasant views: water surfaces, bushes or groups of trees, leveling the terrain. The sight is an opportunity for a community, as all the new buildings, roads, gardens and other elements become part of the visible landscape thus the driving force behind sustainability.

Erzsébet Szeréna Zoltán DLA, János Gyergyák DLA, Péter Paári



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