After Speculation, Empty Density
Currently occupied by the municipality and destined to become empty within the next few years, the Europoint towers, or Marconi Towers, located in Marconiplein at the fringe of the European port city of Rotterdam, is emblemic of, yet only a fraction of an ever increasing number of vacant office towers in Europe and beyond. In Holland alone, 6.74 million square meters of entirely occupiable work space exists in high-rise towers as of 2011.
Dense Urban Vacuum, Our Tabula Rasa for the New City?
The case of Europoint and similar towers only seem to highlight the irreversible demise of indiscriminate speculation and expansions in the recent history (and near future) of our cities, but the effective infrastructure of readily available, densely linked vertical sites in these distributed urban towers may be the inadvertent but potent apparatus that can redefine the city. Ready to be deployed behind a benign facade of glass panels, each new “slate” liberally stacked in the form of a dense urban vacuum is an underexplored Tabula Rasa of the present, which challenges its own origin and provokes the possibilities of the new city and its new productivities.
(No) Stop Marconi
Engaging the site’s extraordinary history of speculations and uncertain future, (No) Stop Marconi urges for the acknowledgement and discussion on the significance of the underutilized spaces in the city and their repeated and unchallenged reproduction. Bringing forward the endless programmatic potential of density and verticality, the multiple proposals demonstrate prototypical solutions for the new typology of new slates in the existing tower. Deployed throughout the empty towers in the city, the strategies explored in Marconi will afford intensified nodes and networks of activities that encourage the possibilities of the new city (the Slate City?), re-making the city. The circumstances explored in (No) Stop Marconi, although rooted in local politics and specificity of the post-bubble economy, also examines a general condition that contemporary architecture and urbanism operate on, where large shifts and dramatically changing conditions often create a mismatch between the speculative world and the actual. Rather than passively accepting the unquestioned route of standardized solutions, design can play a nimble, mediating, active role in transforming the seeming predicament into a civic opportunity.
N H D M