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The Walkability of Architecture: Conceptual Diagrams of Circulation in the Work of Zaha Hadid

Andrew Furman, M. Arch, ARIDO, IDC, IDEC, IFI The School of Interior Design, Faculty of Communication & Design Ryerson University 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, Ontario Canada, M5B 2K3 adfurman@ryerson.ca


Key projects of Zaha Hadid Architects are discussed from the lens of an active transportation advocate. Her early paintings and spatial diagrams of unbuilt proposals demonstrate a strong connection to movement and energy that champion building/sculpting. Later, realized environments made evident that early expressions of circulation comprised a key ingredient in the built work. Projects connect to the urban grid where it matters most: the manipulation of a ground plane that is liberated from typical city standards and re-incorporated into the project and made plastic.

Andrew Furman is an assistant professor at Ryerson School of Interior Design. He has been exploring active transportation issues and how they intersect with Interior Design, Architecture, and Urban Planning as tactics for positive change in design through education, research, and design/art practice.

The Walkability of Architecture: Conceptual Diagrams of Circulation in the Work of Zaha Hadid
Andrew Furman, M. Arch, ARIDO, IDC, IDEC, IFI

Urbanity & walking

Geoff Nicholson, in his book on the history of Pedestrianism: The Lost Art of Walking, talks about how he loves to walk in New York, a city that was imagined as a fresh grid, on an island, with a long central green space; a rather formal sounding concept for a place to walk. Yet the world over, is entranced with its uniqueness. He acknowledges that the grid does exert control, on both drivers and walkers, and the numerical arrangement means its hard to get thoroughly lost in Manhattan. However, within that structure peoples eccentricity, waywardness, hostility, and madness are free to manifest themselves and run wild. Perhaps a more random or organic structure would create, indeed necessitate, more self-control. I imagine Zaha Hadid on her first visit to Manhattan, and how it must have seemed to her, so different than her studies in London, and her early years in Baghdad, and study at the American University in Beirut. New York is congested, yet people walk for enjoyment and because it is sensible to get around the city by foot with less frustration that driving.

Figure 1. NY street scene. Pedestrian bridge seen overhead.

Where is architectural interest in the pedestrian?

The field of Architecture has created incredible forms, rooms, and optic experiences. It has also promoted utopist thought and proposed starting to rebuild our worlds cities from scratch. Within all this discourse about rebuilding and renewing there wasnt much said about the pedestrian experiences in this new world. They werent entirely forgotten; renderings represented people on the periphery, in balconies, and in parking structures. It seems that a manifesto for pedestrians was not to be. For decades, the emphasis on modern planning was on openness, access to light, and fresh air. This does tend to sound like: why dont we go for a walk, out of doors, along the sidewalk to the park, or something to that effect. This changed quickly with the growth of private automobile ownership and the work undertaken to facilitate smooth

flows from door-to-door travel, with freeway designs. The pedestrian was now a driver in the architectural scheme, travelling from one beautiful modern experience to the next, a tourist of design. This auto environment of large-scale signs and parking lots fronting the street was succinctly discussed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown in their radical-for the time, book, Learning from Las Vegas. Zaha Hadid came of age in this era of post-modern irony. No wonder she looked for texts about hope and promiseshe found it in the Suprematist vision of space, all spaces, that spoke about the need to unite and relate everything in the world.

Figure 2 Highway. Image from automobile, GTA, Ontario, 2010

Walking, Inspiration

Architecture doesnt appear to have very many walking enthusiasts . There are the renderings by Piranesi of infinite spaces, and the introduction of real images of people walking and inhabiting public space in Peter and Alison Smithsons projects. Certainly nothing approaching the conceptual action-art of artists such as Richard Longs Walkscapes, begun in 1967, and Andy Goldsworthys forest treks to find natural materials for his art.

Figure 3 Richard Long. Artist. A walk back and forth across a field, 1967 Early modernist pioneering thought and practice regarding pedestrian movement (even if it was confined to inside buildings) was the Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier. His offering was the beauty of Villa Savoye in Paris, with its elegant idea to introduce a ramp and open-air rooftop in the home that managed to create in the composition an endless series of spatial relationships. In contrast to the human-powered scene of Villa Savoye he switched ideas, designing a vast new order of wide highways and promoted

a future of identical high-rises and vast unprogrammed, open land. Where was pedestrian activity in this new urban space? How did citizens obtain groceries and perform other banal daily rituals? His mark on Architecture was deep, and it has taken decades to come to terms with our collective building attitudes and how they feel isolated from one another, for the most part. Architects and designers were looking at the art making world of land art and conceptual art of established masters, such as Long and others, but they also look elsewhere, in contemporary artists, for inspiration and to recall those early principles of modernism.

Figure 4. Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye. Birds eye view, rooftop area sketch from image. 1928/9 His contemporary, the Viennese/Paris based Architect Adolf Loos, explored the notion of a continuous circulation system of interlocked rooms ( Raumplan) at the domestic scale. Urbanistically he was more of a realist and planned insertions into the urban core. For example, he thought about the opportunity to provide families with split-level apartments in elevated streets that would create topography that was quasi-public. Both understood that to elevate the street it would have repercussions with peoples behaviour, and that this was a prototype for a walking-speed urbanism.

Figure 5. Adolf Loos, Apartment walk-up proposal, sketch from model, 1930s Within the specific discourse of modernist architecture, and everything that has followed it, interest in the pedestrian has not been satisfactorily addressed. We can ask: why such interest in circulation and movement (for architecture) but not much about the surrounding context? Who then, is responsible for stitching all these new

buildings together into the urban mix? It might have a lot to do with scale, and how much time a designer puts towards integrating their project into the urban network.

Memorable Episodes
It must have to do with an interest in movement and porosity. Zaha Hadid states that a defining idea is to draw public space into a buildings interior to make a series of public rooms in the city. This is partly a response to living in London, where the buildings tend to be fortified and public spaces come about by accident than design. Porosity suggests a new kind of urbanism, composed of streams or flows of movement that cut through the city fabric. (Hadid,2003). It has been said that architecture is (was?) a paper professionthat the work is removed and formalized onto paper, and concerns were made in the second part of the last century about too much conceptual thought masquerading for actual talent in building, or realizing spaces for the public good. There is some truth in this belief, but like any artistic undertaking, there has to be experimentation and freedom to create in order to make a good project. Zaha Hadids design search never leaves the realm of sketches and the freedom of the paper or canvas for too long. It is here that the connections so longed for by modernists (and those continuing the modern conversation) can be explored before being committed to cement and steel. One of the key strategies in the design of a space or building is the strength of the circulation concept. Peter Cook describes it frankly as such: buildings can almost be divided into two categories: first, those in which the procedure from the entrance to the room in which you will spend most time is a crashing bore, a forgettable experience, etc; secondly, those in which the business of working your way towards our destination is a memorable and episodic experience. The stay in the room is predictable, so the with to escape from it and return to the rest of the building In order to ferret around and discover more might take over. Contemporary experiments with public circulation, streets both internal and external are increasing in frequency, and architects are starting to pay attention. Some recent examples of streets that have elements of the interior about them show that there is genuine public interest and respect for building projects that extend the experience of the city street. Take the following images of 3 urban projects; in Dublin, Munich, and New York, as examples of weaving surprise and delight into the everyday experience of walking in the city core; new courtyards and passages were carved and added to the Temple Bar commercial/college neighborhood. Shown is an open stair/hall that takes you to other interconnected courts and lively streets.

Figure 6. Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland, pedestrian path, 2004

. Figure 7. Fnf Hfe, pedestrian courts in Munich, sketch of site plan. Herzog & de Meuron, 2002- 2008

Figure 8. Fnf Hfe, passageway beside courtyard, Herzog & de Meuron, 2002- 2008 Figures 7 and 8 are from a commercial/arts development in the center of Munich. The planning intersects five dominant pathways towards the center of the space, all used by strollers, bicyclists, parents pushing prams and a steady stream of tourists. What impresses in this space is the attention to the concrete flooring, and the natural skylit spaces that provide a warm glow of space to the shops and various programs along these internal public interior streets. Figures 9 and 10 are from an ongoing construction project in New York; the elevated Highline, and urban filament ribbon typology, located in the Chelsea part of the city. The Highline project has been receiving a great deal of media attention, largely because of the form the park takes, but I imagine that it also has to do with the exceptional experience of slow walking that is uninterrupted and offering views of the waterfront and emerging projects drawn to the areas revitalization since 2000. Zaha Hadid takes this approach to urban filament public interiors, (Furman, 2010) one step further, in that her spaces are carved and the floor plates non-standard shape yields multiple programmatic possibilities by the users of the space. Some of these

projects will be touched on in this paper to show the range of pedestrian experiences in her projects (note: There are three general types of urban filaments considered as existing or emerging in the city; they are the interior eventspace, public interiors, and ribbons).

Figure 9. Highline, NY, pedestrian ribbon, area renovation as of 2011, sketch form diagram, 2000-

Figure 10. Highline, NY, Azure Magazine Cover, Toronto, 2011

A painted map
Zaha Hadid first explored the complex relationships of the city through an unorthodox route for an architecture student of the 70s--traditional painterly techniques ; where she expresses the relationships of things in the world with emotions through the use of bold juxtapositions of colours. Her interest in Russian Suprematism and Constructivism, activated by her instructors at the AA (Architectural Association in London) is an ongoing exploration of colour based on the energies released either in the process of formation, of motion or of spatial mapping. (Fontana-Giusti, 2004) Hadids paintings of city space do not adhere to standard conventionsthere is no one orthogonal view, rather, there may be multiple viewpoints simultaneously visible, and the colours do not correspond to what might be built. Instead, this mapping exercise is a way of testing new techniques and ways in which to occupy the city. The image below is an urban filament ribbons type. (Furman, 2010) Hadid had been asked in 1988 to consider the future of Berlin, prior to the historic event the following year. In

her painting exploring possible futures, there are multiple diagrams for new ways of building along and around the edge conditions of the wall; corridors were imagined as being green urban carpets, the image is a fragment of one of the diagramsit is reminiscent of the underground shopping zones in Toronto and Montreal, and more potently, it has a similar energy to the Highline elevated park in NY that is currently being completed in stages.

Figure 11. Zaha Hadid. Berlin 2000, fragment, sketch of original painting 1988

Zaha Hadids circulation strategies

Hadid puts all her energies into activating this urban ground floor but quite contrary to modernism, her architecture does not grow out of the ground; instead it approaches it from above. (Ruby, 2004) As in her giant-size paintings, Hadids architecture has many complex embedded layers. If one were to trace out the strategies in one of her projects, it would contain circulation layers from different zones of the site and surrounding area. There are unique structural solutions that disappear within the skin of the buildingin order for her team and her to study the basic space-making problems of form: walls, floor, ceiling, roof and ground.

Figure 12. Zaha Hadid. The Peak Competition, sketch of rendering, 1982-83. While just emerging out of her education at the AA, she won the international Peak Competition in Hong Kong in 1982-83. Figure 12 shows one of many painted views, in this case a dramatic view looking up at an arcing walkway connecting a building with another element in the design. What set the project apart was the exuberance and scale of the invention; there really was a lot to scan, so many images, colours, and exploded architectural drawing conventions shown. This was one of the projects that set her approach to site and context. There is a weaving of stone and built form that recalls some Wright approaches to siting, but then the images become more and more explosive, suggesting the dynamic circulation developed for the hotel type.

Figure 13. Zaha Hadid. Vitra Fire Station, Dusseldorf, sketch from image, 1990- 94 This image shows the playful ramp that encourages pedestrian movement up onto The roof of the station in Weil am Rhein, Germany, at the large Vitra furniture complex. For all the sharp planes and energy that it possesses, it is the gentle sweep of the ramp and how it is situated to relate to the sidewalk, that speaks eloquently to someone approaching. The Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati offers a clear premise for its parti-6 floors of gallery space interconnected with a bold painted steel stair, sweeping upwards to the top level from the street below. Hadid sculpts a carpet from the street upwards to take advantage of natural light above from the skylight. Pedestrians are encouraged to move upwards through the spaces; temporary exhibits ensures that the levels will offer new experiences

Figure 14. Zaha Hadid. Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, Ohio, sketch of section, 1998- 2003

Figure 15. Zaha Hadid. Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, Ohio, Axonometric view, 1998- 2003

Pathways and Landscape Urbanism

The Cincinnati building is, from the exterior, a conventional-appearing structure. It is in the interior that the floor plates open up to a tall courtyard with crisscrossing staircases. In some of the other projects discussed in this paper the pathway logic, or circulation has more opportunity to extend its reach, for example, if the carpet extended out to fill the road/street, even with another paving material than asphalt, it might be enough to consider temporarily closing off parts of the street for special events. This type of urban engagement with site, attitudinally speaking, references the growing approach to knitting pedestrian and site issues known as Landscape Urbanism.

This growing body of work tackles complex issues of site through the multidisciplinary design team. Hadids work seems to be placed between the traditional domain of site where the bounding box defines all urban interventions, and the other approach is the large urban planning scheme, where almost everything is open to dialogue/collaboration.

Corridors & Passages

The premise of white boxes for a gallery have been challenged repeatedly in the last century. Hadid explores in her paintings for the Maxi: National Museum of XXI Century Arts project in Rome, a snaking set of ribbons that relate to the existing urban condition adjacent to the former army barracks. The design begins with a prefiguring upon a directional route connecting the River to Via Guido Reni, the museum encompasses both movement patterns extant and desired, contained within and outside. (Futagawa, 2007) The building skews to relate to the context: In addition to opening a pedestrian connection through the city block, the scheme acknowledges the angled street grid beyond Via Masaccio twisting the museum building to align with a nearby streetcar line. The museum is a stacked, winding series of concrete walls that challenge the notion that the wall is where art ought to go, a flat wall at that. Hadid opens the circulation into a series of extruded bundles that might be corridors, but they are too large, vast in fact, so one thinks of simple movement but the size and geometry of these urban enclosed pedestrian-highways are to be programmed with contemporary artworks. The public room is now blurred in terms of a clear threshold, and the experience of this modern gallery continues the ideas of Frank Lloyd Wrights Guggenheim spiral ramp in New York. Within the gallery spaces themselves, the ceiling containing many thin, tall ribs, are hanging opportunities for partitions and artworks. This gesture is civic and streetinspired, for it suggests the colourful banners, flags and street signs that hang from light standards and buildings along cultural zones outdoors. By letting the space be very flexible, the gallery can begin to draw people indoors with its drama of vast walkways, and variety of exhibits to come. Hadids architecture challenges the predictability of large public interior spaces with strategies that blur the distinction between sequential experience; it defies expectations-- street-corridor-function-specific room. The challenging volumes of the MAXXI project challenge the art gallery typology, the idea of short-cuts, and curation.

Figure 16, Zaha Hadid. MAXXI: National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome. sketch image of interlocking arrangement of corridors/galleries, 1998- 2008

Hadids Phaeno Science Center project in Wolfsburg, Germany, realized 2000-2003 is a sculpturally strong street-level expressive combination of entryways and mixed vehicular/pedestrian circulation. There is, undeniably a powerful mood created simply with this composition of circulation spaces. It isnt dependent on pyrotechnics of facade textures or a need for an iconic form to distinguish itself from its context that typifies much of the firms work. Hadid says (that) the idea was to create a public terrain. (Schumacher, 2009) It, like the MAXXI project places pedestrians right into the key axis, privileging the view of the visitor by foot. Hadids Science Center begins with the idea of raising the enclosed spaces off the grounda schema that borrows from many early modernists, from Le Corbusier onwards, yet she is gripping the surface as it were, while she elevates the science program upwards. The ground is sculpted, terrain undulates with canted, giant legs holding the structure with a softly lit underbelly of space that suggests random passages, for both automobile and pedestrian alike. I live in a city that has a mix of late Victorian and more modern versions of circulation; from sidewalks and narrow streets to suburban streets with no sidewalks. This latter experience is interesting because it forces driver and walker to watch one another more carefully, and with the respect there is an awareness of the other. It doesnt always work, but the experience is positive, which leads one to wonder why it isnt used more often in urban plans and conceptually by architects for a building. As an experiment in approach and destination this is a dramatic building. Criticism about the center is targeted at the overall complex of different buildings (other structures not by Hadids office) that, ultimately does not integrate the pedestrian flow as well as it could have. This speaks to the importance of defining the overall strategy of pedestrian flows, whether it is a complex or a neighborhood in a city core.

Figure 17, Zaha Hadid. Phaeno Science Center project in Wolfsburg, Germany, ground plan sketch, 2000-2003

Figure 18, Zaha Hadid. Phaeno Science Center project in Wolfsburg, Germany, exterior perspective sketch, 2000-2003

Ambiguity and Analogy

Pedestrian circulatory systems in urban planning and municipal models differs from the ideals of beauty and resolution that architects and designers struggle with in their works. There is the difficult matter of bridging the old and the new in the city, and the reality of this complexity is that things and intent often become ambiguous. New urban plans by Hadid are not nihilistic, post-modern, or apologeticthey cut through urban tissue, unabashedly floats out in space, and dares you to imagine what the other side will always be wondrously alive and free. A Suprematist composition results, where every element can assert itself in relation to the other components. Hadid has remained on this trajectory since the start of her career. It will be interesting to see how some of her urban planning propositions fare out in the market. Hadids work deals often with analogies, in the generative concepts that help one to understand the motive for her spaces. As spaces of walking, the analogies are powerful ideas of movement- take for example the image of twisting a bundle of long reeds, your hands twist in opposite directions, there is a stress, a marvelous result of explosive energy, and a form derived from natural processes. For example, the design for a Habitable Bridge in London, designed in 1996, has a tremendous presence in Hadids oeuvre, considering the wildly curving and complex geometries of recent projects, this work is relatively orthogonal in its massing. Two thin rectangular bookends on either side of the river have an attenuated bridge/street connecting them. There are free-flowing public access streets with a mixture of commercial and cultural spaces on the lower levels and private areasfloor plates distort and split to create voids that maximize the rivers presence. (Betsky, 1998) The streets continuity, meanwhile, is founded upon the alignment of juxtaposed facades. Though its function is now reduced to transit alone, the street retains a great importance. Urban space necessitates efficiencies, and according to Lefebvre the street is a vital ingredient in what makes up the city, and it is the arrangement of facades on either side of the street, that give it the feeling of publicness so key to good civic design. Zaha Hadids architecture recaptures some of this logic of the street, and enters into a discussion with modern planning thought through her calligraphic style of drawing and painting her version of a street scene. Lebbeus Woods, cautions however, against total designed cities by any one vision: It is one thing to imagine Hadids

buildings as anchors in a broadly diverse landscape, but it is quite another to imagine entire districts that must conform to her designs.

Zaha Hadid Architects concern their practice with the flow of pedestrians through their public portfolio of work. It is a consistent attitude applied to different programs and locations. Circulation is never obviously worked out; each building is a form unto itself, releasing energy and connecting to the larger urban realm surrounding each project. The body of built work captures the energy in the early paintings and schemes from Zaha Hadids conceptual proposals. Difficult to categorize, her buildings require exploration and attention; details are integrated with the overall parti of the project. Structure, enclosure, and material development are coordinated with the overall form. Emerging projects in the design development stage in Zaha Hadids office continue to explore the bond between the street, the realm of the pedestrian experience with the overarching form-making of her buildingsthat are no longer strictly speaking separate from the street. They are a part of it as well. Thanks to Enoch Wong, student at RSID for assistance with figure drawings.

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