The latent uses of an underused parking lot in the middle of London
The Barbican in central London is a massive modernist experiment. Less than two decades after the second world war had turned the area into an urban void, a masterplan strategy was devised that would overwrite the past with new urban layers. An urbanist tour-de-force that was conceived from the exterior, resulted in the realisation of what was thought to be the future.
During 30 years of sequential construction, many adjustments were made in keeping up with the time, and, intriguingly, exactly these many non-straightforward, unanticipated manoeuvres turned the Barbican fortress into a charming place of brutalism with accidents.
‘dalas’ uncovers the many latent accidental connections caused by a network of disjunct holes in space and over time. Considering that most of these connections can be found in existing unintentional “perforations” of this massive fortress, our proposal focused on reducing the existing mass even further in order to intensify such accidents within a perforated field.
“The reason for the void is so that the ingredients can be seen in a moving way – in a dynamic way. You have to see them by moving through them; they imply a kind of kinetic, internal dynamism of some sort.” (Gordon Matta-Clark)
Below the Barbican is a vast multi-storey parking lot. Used almost exclusively by the Barbican’s residents, this car park is chronically empty.
As the car park’s occupancy levels shift from empty to partially full in daily, weekly, monthly rhythms, the many sequences of ‘dalas’ transform the car park into a viscous labyrinth of flexible usages.
With the existing slabs that striate the car park perforated, we added a system of pneumatic tubes which in- and deflate and thereby fluidly control adjustable spatial pockets. As new usages and users enter and are guided in unanticipated ways through what was once a mere car park, the binary distinctions between served and serving spaces seize to be important and are replaced with a multitude of potential flows and directions. Flexible structures that reconfigure and move relative to the perforations engage the ephemeral and the fixed in a play of spatial and programmatic intertwining.
Florian Busch, Manuel Vizcaino, Pim van Wylick