06 December 2017

co+labo radović  closing 2017+heading towards co+labo 2018 season of design competitions
Every year, significant part of the opening, spring semester at co+labo is devoted to participation in design competitions. Besides standard, student competitions co+labo seeks good opportunities to address interesting, "real life" urban and architectural design themes, by taking part in various professional competitions. The success can be variously defined. When we compete, we want to win. But, as co+labo is primarily an architectural and urban research and design-research laboratory, the most important dimension of every effort we take is the contribution to knowledge. In that category, the results range from teaching the members of the laboratory how to develop relevant design proposals to, at the most ambitious of levels, pushing boundaries in environmentally and culturally, smart-sensuous-sustainable design - which are the main co+labo goals. eco-urbanity and its praxis - radical realism.
Earlier this year, two co+labo teams took part in prestigious Europan Competition for architects under the age of 40. While our teams have not received any of the awards, from that decisive perspective of the quality of learning, the ways in which the teams worked were rewarding in itself. It was great to see the teamwork, intensive cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary communication in action, numerous tabled and freely negotiated ideas, critical thinking and other complex dimensions of teamwork in action - trying to challenge the limits of conventional thinking.
co+labo took part in two of the 2017 Europan competitions - Amsterdam (coordinated by Post Doc Fellow Alice Covatta) and Barcelona (coordinated by PhD Candidate Ivan Filipović). Below are brief descriptions written by project coordinators, and illustrations of their "Amsterdam Piarcoplein: Waste Land" and "Productive Patchwork for Barcelona".

Amsterdam Piarcoplein: Waste Land (text by Alice Covatta)
The idea for was to push the upcycling process till it becomes a social act. Today Piarcoplein embodies the non-lieux absence. Arisen from the infrastructural bigness, Piarcoplein is merely an intersection for transportation movements where the only human activities consists in parking the car, quickly crossing the plot and catching the train in Sloterdijk Station. Our strategy with the concept of waste land, introduces the zero waste philosophy to the Piarcoplein, making it the first Waste Land in Amsterdam. In order to achieve that, we propose a productive life cycle for the waste in addition to a complementary composition of activities summarized in three design steps: the collection of the waste, the creative repair and reuse, and the recycling process which activates new social knowledge and cooperation.
Waste Land design proposal works both spatially and temporally. The pure shape of a circle was chosen to bind the temporal activities and also to create a powerful mark for a new collective space: the agora, archetypal shape for public activities linked to the postindustrial polis. The circle creates the boundary between the outside and the inside, outside the productive urbanscape with a multitude of programs and inside the agora, a flexible void aimed to enhance educational activities. Like the Zone for Andrej Tarkovsky's movie Stalker, the sense of the agora can be felt by the action of crossing the boundary, although the site core itself is not visible at a glance.
Nine elements are bound together in the circle: the factory/shop, the farm/seed storage, the stage, the cafe/cooking laboratory, the market, the parking/residence, the gallery, the garbage collection/workshop and the bike parking. While the elements across the circular boundary accommodates dual functions of both production and education, the elements outside specializes either of the two functions. The flow of the activities follows the productive life cycle management. For example, a broken bicycle can be repaired in the factory while some of its non-repairable components can be transformed in a handicraft workshop to make a unique furniture that can later be sold in the market.
In our continuously changing society with the increasing number of consumers, co+labo’s Waste Land transforms the leftover materials into innovative ideas and holds the responsibility to create an utopian dimension where sustainability coincides with imagination.

Productive Patchwork for Barcelona (text by Ivan Filipović)
The main focus point as well as core concepts are embodied in conceptual terms of patchwork, flexibility and low-rise-high-density (LRHD). Proposed design concept emphasizes processes of self-determination and flexibility as one of the key points that propose quality to newly developed area. By doing so, one creates patchworks of functions, forms and activities that seamlessly fit together and enrich one another. In this sense, transitional spaces become very important: connections between different patches. These transitional spaces have, as in the main concept, possibility of transformation of functions and activities as to provide diverse and vibrant neighborhood.
Teamwork Producing Patchwork of Ideas
Working in a team, even at the best of times, can be challenging. Add eleven international students to the mix, bringing their vastly different backgrounds and qualities to the table. Some might see this as a problem, but not us. co+labo spirit views variety as a spice of life, and in that sense it chose to boldly solder on. Initial communication problems were overcome (don’t explain, draw it!) to create a truly collaborative force, enriching one another and, unbeknownst to the participants until the very end, weave a patchwork of our own, reflecting the strife for continuous improvement, exchange of ideas and respect of others’ opinion and hard work. In this sense, everyone won and came through the other side of the looking glass standing a little taller (no magic mushrooms needed!)
 co+labo will be doing design competitions in semester 1 2018. If you have any suggestions - please let us know.

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