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Transformation: Our cities and landscapes are subject to constant change. Whether it is a result of the deterioration of cultural landscapes, such as in the Spanish town of Caldes de Montbui, because of abandoned usage, as in the case of the former Fresh Kills landfill site in New York, due to the departure of residents and the ensuing decay of residential areas, as can be seen in Liverpool, or perhaps as a consequence of the influx of immigrants, which alters the urban space in American cities. Topos 97 not only examines transformation processes – although it certainly looks deeper into participatory matters and thereby into the power different players have in a project. But the issue is not only about prevalence and authority. It discovers the power of a transformational system as such.

Conquering the Third Dimension
New perspectives: Luchtsingel bridge in Rotterdam
In the eyes of many, Rotterdam is the Netherlands’ true architectural capital. While the inner city of Amsterdam is firmly beholden to the protection of its historical buildings and monuments, Rotterdam has made a virtue out of the destruction it suffered during World War II by engaging in constant experiments. Results brought forth by this exploratory principle can be observed in the city centre as well as in the southern harbour zones.

Counter-Cultural Complexities
Extraordinary circumstances: Burning Man Festival in Nevada
It is the most spectacular example of a temporary city: the arts and music festival “Burning Man” in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA. One should not condemn the party marathon as mere pseudo politics; rather, see it as a well-organized course of social creativity and drastic personal experiences.

Between Renewal and Demolition
Constant transformation: Urban change in Shenzhen
Stretching over almost 2,000 square kilometres, the south Chinese coastal city of Shenzhen covers a far larger surface area than Greater London. Until 1980 it was largely known for fish and rice cultivation, but that was before the creation of China’s first special economic zone, close to Hong Kong. The subsequent growth then seemed to happen in fast forward.

Latino Vernacular
Cultural influences: Latino lifestyle in American front yards
Latino spatial and cultural values are transforming the American single-family house and its sourrounding public space. James Rojas, an urban planner, community activist, and artist describes this process by showing the impact of the so-called “Latino Vernacular” on the neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

From Civil to Civic
Replacement of an icon: The Ribbon of Light Viaduct in L.A.
With construction of the Ribbon of Light Viaduct, Los Angeles finds itself at a decisive turning point for transportation infrastructure: the approximately 1,100-metre-long viaduct will span a river and several busy roads, providing pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular access to downtown L.A. Alongside and underneath the viaduct, a network of parks will requalify the L.A. Riverbanks as recreational spaces.

From Industrial to Mixed Use
Urban development: The new Werksviertel in Munich
It was a new kind of urban development strategy for the “Werksviertel” that first impressed the many landowners from the former industrial quarter in the east of Munich. The special feature: The planning reflects both the history and the existing state of the 40-hectare site, which is currently being transformed into a new urban residential and business district.

Defending the Neighborhood
New identity: Renewal of Granby Street in Liverpool
In Liverpool, Granby Street and its neighbouring roads have survived the threat of demolition and cheap reconstruction for 30 years. A group of resistant residents has taken over the neighborhood, defying bulldozers with the help of a social developer and a bunch of unruly architects called Assemble.

Being Alone
Disappeared neighbors: The Isolated Buiding Studies, Chicago
With his Isolated Building Studies, sociologist David Schalliol is seeking the visual confluence of his interests in urban dynamism, socioeconomic inequality, and photography. By using uniform composition in photographs of Chicago buildings with no neighboring structures, he wants to draw attention to new ways of seeing the common impact of divergent investment processes on urban communities.

Unfinished Sicily
Architectural phenomenon: Italy’s incomplete buildings
As in no other country, Italy, especially Sicily, has a large number of buildings that have never been completed. It is a phenomenon that is constantly remarked upon and investigated by artists and scientists, helping to define a new paradigm of territory.

The Non-Gesture Project
Cultural landscape: Recovery of the thermal orchards in Caldes de Montbui
At the edge of the small town Caldes de Montbui in northern Spain lie orchards that receive water through an old Roman irrigation system. In disrepair for decades, the system has now been rebuilt in a collaboration between architects and users and opened to the public.

Transforming the Green
Technical and cultural fusion: The Buitenschot Park in Amsterdam
To keep their feet dry, the Dutch have a long tradition of engineering the landscape, building dikes as a way of problemsolving. The polder landscape in which Schiphol Amsterdam airport is located has several layers of these engineered transformations, Buitenschot Park being the latest addition, and noise pollution the problem both addressed and solved.

Checking in with Fresh Kills
Long-term process: Update on the Freshkills Park
The transformation of the former landfill Fresh Kills on Staten Island, New York City, into a 2,200-acre park is a long-term project. The flexible park design by Field Operations was the winner of a 2003 design competition. It is worthwhile to investigate how the proposed transformation has taken shape and how the concept is holding up.

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