Reading lostspacesAccordingto Roger Tranick theories Esraa El-MarakbyTA at faculty ofengineering, Ain Shams university, Cairo, [email protected] Urban design without a strategic thinking and clearlyidentified approach, of course will leads to serious consequences. Theseconsequences can be translated in large wasted areas within the urbancontext without a defined function, which is costly especiallyin high land value areas. These wasted areas are defined as lost spacesaccording to Roger Trancik in his book ‘Finding Lost Space – Theories of Urban Design’, he put alsothree theories of reading lost spaces by the implementation of them together ona specific area, you can easily read lost spaces within the context. Once youread lost spaces in your design you can redesign them to achieve the efficientdesign of the space.
In this article we are going to make a practical analysis onthe facility of engineering, Ain shams university in Cairo as an example toexplore lost spaces in this campus by applying Roger Trancik theories. From the book ‘Finding LostSpaces’-theories of Urban Design’, Trancik defined lost spaces as an unshapedanti-spaces that existed at the leftover unstructured landscape, unused sunkenplaza, parking lots, and abandoned waterfronts, train yards, vacated militarysite and industrial complexes which results from treating the building as anisolated object sited from the surrounding landscape and the context not as apart of the larger fabric of streets, squares and viable open spaces. Tranciklisted some of lost spaces causes like the broad depend on the automobile,Modernism movements, Zoning and land-use policies in the design process and theexisting of critical land uses (military, industrial…. etc.
) in the inner coreof the city (Trancik, 1986,p. 4). In a similar way, Matthew Carmona confirmed Trancik definition of lostspaces and he added that lost spaces result from the new trend of building highrise towers away from the flow of the pedestrian activity in the city (Matthew Carmona, Steve Tisdell, 2007).the undefined andinappropriately scaled space between building and surrounding structures whichare left over from the act of the design create also lost spaces (C.A.
Brebbia??R. Pulselli, 2014). Trancik clarify three theories ofurban design which arefigure-ground theory, linkage theory, and place theory. Each of these theoriesare significantly different from the other, “but taken together canprovide us with potential strategies for integrated urban design” (Trancik,1986, p. 97) and can help effectively in reading lost spaces.
“The figure-ground theory is founded on the study of therelative land coverage of buildings as solid mass (figure) to open voids(ground).” (Trancik, 1986, p. 97).
According to Trancik, this theory ispowerful for exploring the pattern of the urban fabric and therefore we canfind its design problem. By applying the theory, we can read the solid patternrelated to the space pattern to distinguish the hierarchy and scales of urbanspaces. Figure and ground analysis of facility of engineering, Ain Shams universityin Cairo, Egypt shown in figure (1) presented the solid pattern of buildingsrelated to the void. Figure 1.figure and ground analysis of faculty of engineering, Ain shams University, Cairo, Egypt. Linkage theory includes the organization of lines that uniteall forms of layers and types of activity within the context of the city andthe determination of the “flow of movement, and organizational axis, or abuilding edge.” (Trancik, 1986, p. 106).
According to Trancik, he explains thatthis theory ‘stresses’ “utopian ideas for community regeneration but does notaddress the need for traditional urban spaces formed by solids andvoids.” (Trancik, 1986, p. 110).
we can read the linkage theory obviouslyfrom figure (2) and notse the broad movement patterns due to the dependence ofauto motion and the organizational axis of buildings and pedestrian movement.The movement pattern translated in roads, Cal-de-sac and parking lots despitethe pedestrian movement pattern translated in paths connecting betweenbuildings and interactive zones. Figure 2. linkage analysis of faculty of engineering, Ain shams University, Cairo, Egypt. Place theory is “understanding the cultural and humancharacteristics of physical space.” (Trancik, 1986, p. 112). the place is not avoid area surrounded by building masses, it only becomesa place “when it is given a contextual meaning derived from thecultural or regional content.
” (Trancik, 1986, p. 112). Tranick sees thatpeople need a”relatively stable system of places to develop themselves,their social lives, and their culture. These needs give manmade space anemotional content – a presence that is more than physical.” (Trancik,1986, p. 113). you need to “discover the best fit between the physical, andcultural context and the needs and aspirations of contemporaryusers.” (Trancik, 1986, p.
114). Figure 4. reading the lost space in faculty of engineering, Ain shams University, Cairo, Egypt. after applying the three theories (figure and ground-linkage-place). Figure 3.
place theory applying on faculty of engineering, Ain shams University, Cairo, Egypt. Unstructured places By overlapping the three layers of figure and ground, linkageand place theory, we can read the lost spaces within the context. Figure (4)shows lost spaces created in the design and the result is places with noidentified usage like unused green places, backyard of the buildings,unstructured places…. etc.
In fact, the good urban design for any context should take careof the present of lost spaces because these lost or anti-spaces provide “nopositive contribution to the surroundings or users” (Trancik, 1986, p. 4) andthe main problem of lost space within an urban core is that it “disrupts theoverall continuity of the city form.” (Trancik, 1986, p. 2).
This problem hasbecome more complex and lead to a loss of identity of places.Trancik said “design is nothing more than finding out what theperson and object want to be”. There is really no need for invention,” being akey research component in how we might approach our designs (Trancik, 1986, p.114). References C.
A. Brebbia??R. Pulselli. (2014). Eco-Architecture V: “Harmonisation between Architecture and Nature. Matthew Carmona, Steve Tisdell. (2007). Urban Design Reader.
Trancik, R. (1986). Finding Lost Spaces.