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UBC Theses and Dissertations

S.o.u.p. : sustainable operative urban principles Bottazzi, Roberto


World population is dramatically increasing. Many cities around the world will reach a critical mass that will turn them into metropolis. Moreover, recent analysis on California demographic trend has shown that that region is expected to grow by 12 millions over the next 20 years. Although California will be the fastest growing area in the U.S., almost any region in North America is expected to follow a similar pattern. Nonetheless, infillings and redevelopments will cover just the 30% of that housing request, while the remaining 70% will require the creation of new settlements 1. The idea of urbanising undeveloped land is not based on opinions but necessities. At the same time, issues of globalization, distribution network, etc. are redefining economically and socially the concept of city in the late-capitalist market. In spite of these tendencies which could best be described as unpredictable and highly dynamic, architecture and urban planning alike continue to adopt models that ignore these mutations. History, identity and local culture are the misunderstood principles inspiring projects whose coherence exists only on paper. In fact, these blueprints often clash with actual issues of speed, demographic change and market forces resulting in either nostalgic or megalomaniac proposals. S.O.U.P., the product of this research, is an interdisciplinary tool to design in such conditions of in extreme speed and uncertainty. It consists in a redefinition of the traditional urban planner's toolbox through a series of diagrams and methods that aim to obtain a dynamic, responsive and ultimately sustainable notion of urban plan. To do so the research is based on the assumption that only by shifting from a problem-driven attitude to a problem-driven approach will urban planning regain its experimental character and thus be able to meaningfully participate to the city-making process. Although the conditions just described can be traced in many contexts, a site in Vancouver was singled out. In fact, the former Finning site, soon to be developed by the four main academic institutions in Vancouver (UBC, SFU, BCIT and ECIAD), represents a perfect testing ground since it is characterised by several of the issues discussed. Under such conditions two main paradigms must be dismissed. The disastrous tendency that urban planning has to go from many to one must be replaced by a system that will keep opportunities open, a field condition which will go from many to many. This particular shift can only occur if simultaneously we move from a problem-solving attitude to a problem-driven approach without limiting the outcome of the research. Therefore, S.O.U.P. is not an algorithm to mechanically produce Campuses, it is rather both a mediator and a facilitator to systematize and refine questions regarding the design of a Campus. Perhaps, a viable approach might be one where responsiveness replaces determinism and control and openendness come to coexist. Therefore, S.O.U.P. can be defined as a system based on rigorous rules that gives rise to unpredictable results, a system that in short time can react to and shape the traditional debate occurring during the preparation of an urban design.

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