A good Public space design aims to create an architecture that is not just responsive to the context but also transformative. ‘Transformative over time, function, and user.’ Transformative architecture is regenerated through time, resisting the negatives and adapting the positives. Understanding of the future user needs, flexible space composition, and a justified implementation of art and technology, this is key to a Transformative Public space design.

1. V & A Dundee

LOCATION- Dundee, Scotland | YEAR- 2018

V & A Dundee portrays two inverted pyramids resembling the cliff that covers Scotland’s north-eastern coastline. The building inclines 20 meters past its base, a gallery connecting the two triangles on the upper floors creating an archway that frames a view of River Tay. Marking the ship-building culture of the place, the architects surrounded the building with water pools that reunite the city center with the river. Horizontal lines of pre-cast concrete poetically run across the façade creating a play of light and shadow- that changes with time and weather. V & A Dundee is an architectural gem that redefined the riverfront and established a new identity for the city. 

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V & A Dundee_www.architectmagazine.com
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V & A Dundee_www.architectmagazine.com
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V & A Dundee_www.architectmagazine.com

2. National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts

LOCATION- Kaohsiung, Taiwan | YEAR- 2018

A humble Banyan tree that is found in abundance in the locality, was the basic theme that leads to this exceptional public space design. The building houses four performance venues with varying seating capacities and having distinct identities. Plus, an open-air amphitheater, touching the ground and facing the neighboring park, was built as an extension of the fairly sizable bulging roof. A huge shaded foyer called the ‘Banyan Plaza’ opens the entrance-way into the building and acts as the square that connects the different functional spaces. It could be said that the foyer shelters everyone and everything, just like a fully grown banyan tree. The interiors comprise a range of seating layouts, rehearsal space, a restaurant, and an art gallery.  

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National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts_www.dezeen.com

3. Oxygen Park

LOCATION- Doha, Qatar | YEAR- 2017

Oxygen as the inspiration element, this place is a green lung that aims to replace the indoor work-out culture and bring people back to nature. Oxygen Park is a man-made ecosystem for people to exercise, play, and rest. The picture of wind-eroded rocks and organic landforms combine to create the park. Circulation pathways and running tracks are placed along the natural slope accompanied by the cooling tunnels and the steep hills. Attractive night lighting and refreshing water elements make the park homely for the evening sports. The park promotes a healthy change in today’s digitized city and adds a hint of magic with the floating balloon lights. 

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Oxygen Park_www.designboom.com
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Oxygen Park_www.designboom.com
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Oxygen Park_www.designboom.com

4. Tingbjerg Library and Culture House

LOCATION- Copenhagen, Denmark | YEAR- 2018

‘A hillside village clinging to the mountain,’ this is how the architect defines the building. A wedge-shaped form of the culture house opens up to a foyer connecting it to the existing infrastructure of the school. The architecture commits an open invitation to the surrounding to connect and provides a distinct feature to the city. The flat façade glazed with an opaque and transparent panel turning the building inside out, strengthening its relationship with the neighborhood. Exteriors in yellowstone are a look-book to the past while the interiors are covered in plywood. Converging facade, pause points overlooking the streets, and a series of balconies are assets of the design. 

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Tingbjerg Library and Culture House_www.dezeen.com
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Tingbjerg Library and Culture House_www.dezeen.com

5. Windermere Jetty Museum

LOCATION- Windermere, United Kingdom | YEAR- 2019

The building form of the Windermere Jetty Museum speaks a language of vernacular architecture, along with an industrial all-copper material approach to remember its extraction plant background. These are familiar pitched roofs made special by over-hanging canopies shading the porch. A dock is a central node to the museum that exhibits motorboats, stream launches, and yachts. The surrounding structures sit on a concrete podium, above the risk of floodwater. The interiors comprise conservation galleries, educational areas, and a café. Large openings ease the flow of the huge exhibits and bring in pleasing daylight. This is an example of public space design where the past is redefined and the context is respected. 

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Windermere Jetty Museum_www.dezeen.com

6. Rio Olympic Park

LOCATION- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | YEAR- 2016

The Park was erected on a site that was once used for the 2007 Pan-American Games and prior to that for Formula One racetrack in the 1970s. Rio Olympic Park 2016 was to be developed on a triangular peninsula having mild natural contours. The architects intended to transform it into a ‘tropical ecosystem.’ Musing landscape painted a picture of the Brazilian coastline with hills, valleys, and organic pathways. The black-and-white striped central axis was flanked by sports venues on either side. Four new stadiums that were constructed for the Games were designed to be dismantled, now used as a public park and to host music events. This high-end public space design brought about challenges for the designers and opportunities for the city. 

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7. Cardboard Cathedral

LOCATION- Christchurch, New Zealand | YEAR- 2013

A high magnitude earthquake in 2011 ravished the iconic Anglican Cathedral of Christchurch. An ephemeral cathedral having an expected life span of 50 years is built as a replacement. Architect Shigeru Ban designed a minimal A-frame structure using 8 shipping containers and 98 cardboard tubes, having a capacity to hold 700 people. ‘The strength of the material has nothing to do with the strength of the structure.’ Colorful glass from the original rose window of the ruptured building is reused in the elevation in an attractive triangular mosaic pattern, this brings the memory back. Affordable and accessible, the design stood out as a revolution- a transformative public space design.  

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8. Waitomo Visitor Centre

LOCATION- Waitomo, New Zealand | YEAR- 2010

A shell capsule reinforced by a timber grid! Tourists pass through this visitor center as they begin and end their journey to the historic Glowworm caves. The curve of the grid-shell runs parallel to the Waitomo stream flowing by the side. The design of the visitor center aims to strengthen the relationship between the caves and the natural water body. The weaving of the canopy grid recalls the local ‘hapu’ (eel trap). The center exhibits an impressive crisscrossed membrane merging effortlessly with the surrounding landscape. This is a sky-shell with sunlight peeping through the sides and a blue-green view framed within the timber battens.

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Waitomo Visitor Centre_www.architecturenow.co.nz
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9. Chicago Public Library West Loop

LOCATION- Chicago, Illinois | YEAR- 2018

This is a former industrial district converted into a public library. The architects intend to retain the structural elements respecting the history of the place. Brick walls and bow trusses are hence left untouched. The spatial composition is adaptive to distinct functions. Children section, digital learning zone, and hide-out reading corners. The material palette of the project engages well with the industrial backdrop and introduces a sense of visual continuity throughout. Chicago Public library offers a series of spaces with flexibility in nature, skylights providing a light and airy ambiance to the readers. This is an establishment of a new social and cultural edifice transforming the public space design approach.  

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10. Denver Union Station

LOCATION- Denver, United States | YEAR- 2014

Denver Union Station sets up the standard bar for 21st-century transit-oriented public space design. An open-air train hall to shelter multiple railway tracks and a two-block long pedestrian walkway. PTFE fabric is used in the membrane roof and is strengthened by 11 arch-shaped trusses made out of steel. These arches span about 180 feet and rise 70 feet at most. The dynamic shell roof is a unique feature that makes this station complex stand out. The tilework and floor elevate the waiting experience on the station. Series of skylights and glass canopy fills the space with sunshine and lightens the passenger-loaded platforms.

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Compulsive speaker and an attentive ear to the other side of the story. She believes in the power of architecture and stars.

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