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Borderline Metropolis. The city and its double

Labics

Proposal for a networked and flexible urban plan.


The peculiarities of cities are often the starting point for developing urban intervention strategies. Borderline Metropolis is a research project conceived by Labics and begins with the observation of Rome's peculiarities, illustrating a vision of the city's future growth.

When one can see beyond the iconic and stereotyped image of Rome, some considerations arise that question the status of the city. This offers a panorama of contrasting conditions which are utilized by Labics as a resource, despite their apparent contradictions. A significant amount of spaces in Rome are incoherent and discontinuous, lacking a clear function or destination. Learning from this condition, Labics conceived the Neural Network—a network which addresses the high level of fragmentation and urban instability across the city and formulates a new strategy for approaching them based on the concept of physical and conceptual borders. A new way of transforming the territory is under discussion: transcending the rather closed approach of traditional urban planning, the architectural firm promotes an open, networked and flexible urban plan. This approach starts from the edges of the town rather than the centers, challenging the idea that a city is formed from single nodes. The structure of borders within the city can be activated in different stages and with different types of program, in contrast to the development of a preconceived final form for the entire territory. The research deals with three main themes of urban design on different scales: as first the concept of instability, and how this urban condition can preserve the openness, incompleteness and vitality of the city; then the idea of scalability of design instruments to allow the urban territory to be addressed at multiple scales; and lastly the emergence of a new city model conceived as an open and structured system.

Labics' research investigates new ways of transforming the territory. Borderline metropolis, both the project and the related video, have been conceived for the "Uneternal City" exhibition, presented at the 11th Architecture Biennale "Out There: Architecture Beyond Building" (Venice, 2008) curated by Aaron Betsky. The video has a clear narration. The questions and statements are molded and balanced with collages, graphics or maps, and final images of draft 3D models to demonstrate the initial thesis. The arguments are smooth and uninterrupted from text to pictures.

Theoretical research is a fundamental part of architectural practice and the two are perennially entwined. As Labics pointed out, the Borderline metropolis studies relate to some contemporary and subsequent projects like the Città del Sole redevelopment of former bus depots or the masterplan for the Torrespaccata new centrality.

(Story by Paola Ricco, The Architecture Player)

Authors icon Credits

Architect: Labics
Mentioned project: Borderline Metropolis
Project location: Rome, Italy
Architectural team: Dominique Réthans (project leader), Susan Berardo, Leonardo Consolazione, Laura Di Simone, Riccardo Memeo, Eileen Valenti
Model: Gaia Maria Lombardo, Domenico Santoro, Paola Bettinsoli, Laura Di Simone, Rodrigo Vargas
Video: Piero Perillo

Italy 2008
Duration: 4'48''