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The aim of the essay is to redefine what the public space is by comparing two different architects’ two different plans and architecture. These days, public space tends to be regarded as mere space for public or a space that has to be developed for people’s convenience. In addition to this, in recent, public places have been increasingly created by private developers. The public realm belongs no longer to government. Instead, private sector and citizens began to involve in it. Architect was the one who contributed to the urban development having ideal plan and theory. Wright and Rogers, in this sense, are possible comparison subjects with regard to the urban planning, especially creating a public space. Also, the modern technology reflected on their plans will be addressed in this essay, which help to understand how these two architects had built their idea for new ideal space for future generation at the time.
It is clear that the function and the shape of architecture have been constantly changed in response to the society. In addition to this, the function and plan for city have also been changed. In the era of modern, architects designed not mere house for resident, but the whole picture of the city with deep consideration. What are interesting are various interpretations and experimentations by some architects regarding spatial qualities. These can be naturally linked in social issues, such as environmental problem and population density problem. It means that modern architects attempt to create sort of social, physical, and ideal space. Le Corbusier, well known for his city plan, proposed new utopia city plan. The proposals were not successful. Yet the reason why his proposal has drawn attention is that the plan was not mere fantastic notion but, the one which considered socioeconomic. His proposal left the room to ponder over the relationship between human and urban development.
An aspect of modern movement, public space is considerably interesting subject to contemplate as it plays essential role in forming the society. Walzer gave his opinions that public spaces have different type of definitions. Gehl (1987) suggested that the public space could be identified as two types, which are single-minded space and open-minded space respectively. The origin of public space stems from the square. As mentioned above, square was perceived as older parts of town. St.Mark’s square in Venice is one example of this. It was social gathering place where people met and news was interchanged. This function has now been seen in a range of urban open spaces.
So, What affects the oldest types of open space has given to the modern era? At the beginning of the 20th century, the world was facing the devastation and destruction brought about by World War I. In architecture, the modernist movement was starting to take shape, and architects believed that their buildings could help solve the world’s problems. With new materials like glass, iron, and steel made available by the Industrial Revolution, modernist architects took to their drafting tables to imagine entirely new cities that supported utopian ideals and were devoid of the corrupted bourgeois sentiments often blamed for many of society’s dilemmas. Wright is, in this sense, the most consistent American philosopher of the built environment and environmental design. His social vision revealed economics, population density, congestion and dispersion of urban and rural which was rising as social issues at that time. His utopian ideal idea dealt with somewhat realistic problem, and it shows that the plan he proposed was considerably radical and attractive.
Wright’s early architecture whose one of Prairie School members, was influenced by Arts and Crafts movement happened in Europe. Wright’s late architectural style including Usonian houses that shows a remarkable sense of naturalness and ease yet simultaneous conceptual rigor, appeared to share some aspects of Prairie style. Louis Sullivan, mentor of Wright, was another influence in forming his architectural thought.
Both of them contemplated the relationship between a new community and democracy. Wright asserted each individual could be agrarianized by being given a one acre per person. Thus the initial purpose of the plan was to achieve democracy and a decentralization of people through minimum allotment of acre. He also advanced that there are three major innovations for decentralization and community development.
Broadacre city that Wright contrived was more than city plan. He insisted that the current metropolis could not represent a true democracy, so he tried to set what it really is and put its spirit in his ideal plan. Was his plan and belief really for American people? Or, was it just attempt of an American architect’s ridiculous and childish proposal? What is obvious is that as social thinker, he was trying to redefine what the role of architects is. In his plan, so called architecture-king, architects are the agent, and manage the Broadacre as landlord. In these sense, there are some inevitable controversies to recognize his political futuristic space as public space. He should have been tried to find more effective ways if he wanted people to live in true democratic society. Also, There were some paradoxical concepts in his plan. However, what is important was he tried to overcome and understand it. The plan for new urban society with realization of democracy through agrarianism was his original idea, which made his architectural language possible. It was a plan for community considering and emphasizing the existence of all kind of elements of society such as institution, school etc.
As found in Rogers’ writing ‘A Modern View’, his architectural belief was firm and determined. He was more interested in innovation and technology that modern gives rather than architectural style. He took part in the international competition, which was for open space in the central of the city. At the time, the city needed to have open space in central area to function well as one of the inspiring cities in the world. The half of the site had been used for public space, thus Rogers tried to create space for not only specialists, but also people coming from the other nations, bearing it in his mind. The open space has now with enormous exterior steel frame structure which acts as dynamic meeting place offering a variety of activities. The space was intended to use for commercial purpose as well as public and it was successful. It became the vibrating place where people come and go, meet and hang out; enjoy the space itself full of music and street parade. The place became public space where history and modern coexist. This is why Pompidou centre drew attention and evoked sensation throughout the world. The building was placed with consideration of how people come and go to the place across the old historical buildings surrounded it. He wanted everyone could enjoy the space. The space no longer belonged to government or private organization. Ultimately, It is not a mere building exposed the interior materials, but a cultural complex utilized as flexible space.
It is interesting to see that, there is common in Roger’s plan and Wright’s, which both were trying to establish a new concept of space for people living in new era.
Frank Lloyd Wright, who was fascinated by grid organization, was also inspired by prairie. In the period of 1935-50, he proposed a new social vision for American landscape. He sought to create an organic architecture and admired the power of nature.
Nevertheless, these two architects have somewhat different points of view in regards to public space. In terms of Wright’s plan, it was a socio-political scheme by which each American family would be given a one acre plot of land from the federal lands reserves, and a Wright-conceived community would be built from this. His idea for a new utopian city was thoroughly based on the design for democracy. Unlike his concept, Rogers wanted to create a space for in a range of people and show how modern technology brings new life to public space. For him, technology is essential means of establishing not only his vision, but also all modernist architects’. The architecture and the place where it stands are the evidence that society has constantly evolved within the development of social and political changes reflecting city’s own history. The most apparent distinction between the two is that Wright’s Broadacre city was unrealized plan. It has never been built. Yet it is definitely something worth to look thoroughly. The Broadacre city was a sort of ultimate landscape integrating the best things of what Wright sought. “Such a desire was certainly utopian, but it was framed within the context of a traditional response to urbanization and industrialization.”
The public space does not belong to anyone anymore. However, I partly agree what Wright said that some architects who contribute to public space would dominate it in the future or even now. Every man knows his own business best. The same is true of architecture. However, at the same time, compromising is significant task to every modern people. People living in the era of from modern to now, have all responsibility in public space. As it reflects history and development of an aspect of society as Rogers held. Rogers and Wright’s Pompidou Centre and Brodacre city question what the future space surrounding us would be. These two architects were capable of addressing space with its context considering current problems. There is no doubt that it led their architectural practice to be enriched, making these two characters stand high above the others in the field of architecture.
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