08 Nov 2021 • Institutions
This conceptual design shows a way to connect universities with their surrounding communities
Anna Protasevich’s pedestrian bridge called Camp(l)us makes university grounds more inclusive to outsiders.
In the lead up to each issue, we challenge emerging designers to respond to the Frame Lab theme with a forward-looking concept. With their myriad services, central locations and responsibility to adapt to the times, education facilities are well positioned to serve the greater public off their roster. For Frame 143, we questioned how can they truly open up to ‘outsiders’, and what can design do to facilitate this connection. We asked three creative practices to share their ideas.
Belonging neither to the university campus nor to the city, the Camp(l)us pedestrian bridge offers space for artistic activism. Anna Protasevich lives and works in Los Angeles. She holds a master’s in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
What observation was the starting point of your concept?
ANNA PROTASEVICH: The fact that the university is inclusive of some, and exclusive of others. In order to bridge these two groups, and simultaneously improve the function of the university in the context of the city, we need to create a physical space that belongs to neither. The most ‘vulnerable’ space of the university is the periphery. Anyone that does not work at or attend the university can, in most cases, drive, bike or simply walk onto the campus grounds. However, an immediate sense of not belonging becomes the main deterrent. Visitors can quickly feel like a foreigner with no real purpose to stay.
What do you suggest?
I believe that the amplification of the institution’s edges can facilitate more interaction between user and non-user groups. In order to achieve this goal, I propose a semi-open, semi-enclosed public pedestrian bridge that is elevated above the campus and weaves around campus buildings, trees, programmes and facilities, courts and plazas. Points of access are close to public transit stops, with the main entrance starting on a public walkway, followed by an upward incline not unlike a park slope. Eventually it meanders back towards the periphery.
How will the bridge look?
Material-wise, the Camp(l)us bridge is made of concrete and glass. Windows face both inward towards the campus and outward towards the surrounding city. There is an interior path – for ‘politics’ – and an exterior path – for physical recreation. ‘Deposit spaces’ along the paths are intended as a break from ‘controlled environments’ – both of institutions and the city. These spaces belong to no one, they offer free space. They offer art-based forms of activism such as street art, ‘craftivism’ and any other deviant art forms a permanent home, without the threat of being removed or rejected. Every architectural element can be thought of as a protesting surface. The concrete shell of walls and floors are for painting, the columns and handrails are for knitting, the punched openings are for viewing. Thus, the bridge acts as a collective aggregate for the artistic commentary of social, political, civil and environmental issues. It’s a legal space of artistic intervention.
What’s the ultimate goal?
To break a border that normally requires enrolment and/or participation in an institution. The bridge becomes a tertiary layer of the university itself. Both physical and visual access to a protected space is made possible through the simple act of walking. The marked, tagged, painted and knitted pedestrian walks become a permanent part of the campus, and by extension, a permanent part of the city. In this way, educational environments can participate in the larger urbanscape.
Get your copy of Frame 143 here.