Creativity game

theory and practice of spatial planning | number 5 | year 2017 | ISSN 2350-3637


Alenka Fikfak1, Alma Zavodnik Lamovšek2: "New" Issue

1 Editors-in-charge / UL FA, 2 Editors-in-charge / UL FGG
Editorials to new issues of journals, whether scientific, professional, or popular publications, typically start off by saying: “We are pleased to announce that the new issue of ...” The “new issue” of Creativity Game offers interesting subject matter, still mostly addressing “creativity and innovation” as a model of exploration in all fields of spatial activity. This 5th issue, volume 2017, does not focus on any specific topics, even though it was initially dedicated to exploring “the natural and built environment – the role of ecological indicators”. When preparing this issue, we once again encountered the problem of scholarly publishing, which rather than with the desire to discover new things, to research, and to encourage creativity of the mind and hands, it is burdened by collecting points, publications, and meeting the criteria for achieving quantifiable goals of scoring, underlying almost each research environment. This journal is trying to pursue the discovery of innovations that occur as an interplay of academic and educational knowledge. The issue in front of us is therefore diverse and covers a wide field of spatial research.

This issue features two Editorials explaining creativity from the two aspects of development, in theory and practice. Luka Skansi describes creativity as the encounter of an external motif and its impact on architects’ imagination. According to him, “the image, picture, experiential space, the urban complex” conditioned the life of the architect, as an “encounter”, triggering a crossroads in the culture of personality. The Žetale workshop was such a crossroads for us, both editors-in-chief, which affected all our further endeavours. Spending a week away from the faculty during our study period meant we could build a special relationship to studying spatial characteristics. Our work on the model right before the final presentation is particularly memorable. In the 1990s, the Žetale settlement was located far away from commercial centres and major towns, there were no print shops, state-of-the-art 3D printers, foam boards, coloured passepartouts, paints, sprays – all that remained was creativity, local materials, and our hands. Creativity followed the idea of how to present the model of a house using the principles of mixing the traditional elements into a modern composition. Local materials were developed along with the idea of constructing a model. The hands of everyone involved provided the only 3D printer. The model was produced as a traditional model of public participation, by considering all ecological criteria. And how did we do it? The hill was created from locally available wood logs, while the terrain was made with the helping hands of the cooks from the Žetale primary school – from bread dough. We could list many other “ecological criteria”, which we subconsciously used. What really matters is that we followed the game and motive to create something together, for people and with people who believed in our creativity. This workshop directed our personal stance towards including “games and creativity” into everyday educational activities.

A scale model is one of the traditional methods for public participation with all the ecological elements incorporated.
The hill was created with firewood as a local source of material; the terrain was designed with the help of cooks from the neighbouring primary school kitchen who kneaded the dough.

The second Editorial takes this thought further, as a contemporary manifestation of it – the Japanese Pavilion as presented by Tadej Glažar and Vid de Gleria. This kind of work cannot be replaced by extensive literature review, only practice can deepen understanding and show the world of imagination in a new light. This wonderful product will be remembered as a unique story of knowledge and experience of poetics of space for everyone who took part in developing the model. Such milestones evolve, as a joint effort, into unique stories and encourage the desire for the next, new experience. In the spirit of a creativity game. And in the spirit of exploring the ecology of the natural and built environment.

The Editorials are followed by papers by various authors who discover, through their own exploration of stories, various bits of personality, knowledge, and new perspectives on spatial dimensions. This is followed by presentations of workshops and research projects.

We wish you a pleasant reading and exploration of ecological criteria, as they are diversely represented in this issue.

Luka Skansi: Notes on Playfulness

University of Rijeka, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
There are many fascinating cases from the history of architecture when getting to know a certain architecture or the vision of a specific sketch, photograph, or image had a profound influence on an architect’s imagination. This typically happened at a special time in the life of an important figure, during their studies or during their first steps as an architect. An image seen, a picture taken, or an experiential place or an urban complex influenced, directly or indirectly, the lives of architects and the development of their taste, sensibility, or affinity. These “encounters” should not be perceived as a simple, instantaneous, visual eureka, as a burst of inspiration, but rather as a crossroads in the architect’s culture, in an already established process of formation of principles, which is rationalised only after a certain period, within a certain historical space.
Anyone can list such cases encountered during their explorations, where a lesson was learnt, or a phenomenon was interpreted. On one of his early travels to Italy, Peter Behrens visited the San Miniato al Monte church in Firenze, a gem of Tuscan Romanesque architecture. Only after seeing this architecture and learning about the tectonic relationships between the marble surfaces and the structure, sequences of interiors and parietal decoration, reaching its pinnacle in the magical apse with alabaster windows, did he – a set designer, artist, and designer – start to develop sensitivity towards the three-dimensional potential of architecture and its “composition”, which will leave a mark on his future professional career. There are endless references to the significance of visits to Italy for the young Le Corbusier, particularly his encounters with classical architecture, e.g. his sketches and photographs of Ancient Roman architecture (particularly Pompeii and Villa Adriana), urban morphology, and articulation of public spaces of historical cities (e.g. the St Mark's Square in Venice). The avantgarde spaces of this Swiss architect, who developed them from the mid-1920s onwards in his villas, urban complexes, and public buildings are none other than the result – albeit in different scales and articulation – of the same tools as those used by Ancient Roman architects: complexity of sequences, polycentricism and polythematics of spaces, use of various plans, use of shadow or contrast between illuminated and shaded surfaces.

Coming nearer to the present day, we can remember the passion that Peter Eisenman in the 1960s developed towards the great Italian modernist architect Giuseppe Terragni. In his Italian travels, Eisenman, then a student of Colin Rowe, had the opportunity to visit the famous Casa del Fascio in Como, where he studied, with his own criteria and inspirations, the complex three-dimensional skeleton staged by Terragni, as a unique taxonomy of relationships between architectural elements, surfaces, and spaces. This analytical reading led him to experimental design of a series of Houses of Cards in the 1970s, though only four were actually completed; particularly worth mentioning is House II in Vermont.

I had the opportunity to get to know Aldo van Eyck and Alison and Peter Smithson, and study Team X in general, only during the final period of my university studies at the Venice IUAV. In the school’s clearly inspiring, but not very playful, atmosphere, which in the early 1990s still partially dictated international architectural theory, there simply was no room for innovative and creative design methods from the 1960s. The monumentality of architectural articulation and urban typologies by Aldo Rossi, the consistency of grand-scale design by Vittorio Gregotti, or rigorous historical and theoretical lessons developed by Manfredo Tafuri and Francesco Dal Co dominated with their sublime logic the transfer of knowledge to the students of architecture. Everything that was the result of thinking, supported by theoretical analysis and reflection, everything that touched upon architectural and literary origins, was considered and estimated as “good architecture”. There was never enough room for improvisation, personal taste, or inspiration. Hollein’s Alles ist Architektur, De Carlo’s spatial labyrinths, and any type of Neotopia (from Superstudio to Archizoom and Archigram) were rejected, and – which we still agree with today – any kind of linguistic trivialising of architecture was shunned, as triggered by the Portoghesi biennale during the catastrophic times of postmodernist tendencies.

For a long time I thought, under the ideological influence of my school, that architecture cannot be playful. Then, during an explorative pilgrimage of Dutch architecture, I got to learn about Aldo van Eyck’s playgrounds. Several hundreds of playgrounds for children, built between 1947 and the late 1960s, were built throughout Amsterdam and thus in a simple way filled the gaps that occurred after the devastation of Dutch ports during World War II. Apart from being fascinated by the quality of individual developments, the most interesting aspect of this urban design initiative was the idea to develop the whole city as a play area, as one large, branched-out network connecting points, which are created for a child’s exploration and discovery.

Even though these playgrounds have now mostly disappeared and are forgotten, in the historical and theoretical sense they are still understood as one of the key paradigmatic projects of the 20th century urban planning. Van Eyck’s initiative is a symbolic shift from modernist methodologies of integrated planning, used by architects to spatially determine practically each segment of human lives – an ideal which was part of my formative years at IUAV. My encounter with black and white photography, documenting this vast number of various playgrounds, played in this sense – in terms of my formation, my understanding of architectural and urban design – a decisive role: laughing children having fun, swinging, and running in playgrounds inside Amsterdam’s dense urban structure; on the one hand, their activities created urbanity, on the other hand, the architect created the diversity of urban spaces without interfering with the authorship of the architecture. These photographs opened in me new views of architectural and urban design practice or, better put, action based on the idea of bottom-up planning, which is literally supporting the idea of an open-ended function and playful and imaginative use of urban spaces.

I, too, grew up on such playgrounds, but I was not aware of this until my encounter with Van Eyck. As a child I was not aware that other people did not have the same privileges as I did. I grew up on the streets of Split III, on Dinka Šimunovića street at Trstenik, one of the most elaborate neighbourhoods of a gigantic project designed by the design team at the Urban Planning Institute of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, headed by Vladimir Braco Mušič, Marjan Bežan, and Nives Starc. Here we refer to the expansion of modern-day Split, composed of polyfunctional neighbourhoods, which developed through a network of pedestrian-only streets that connected parallel residential buildings. In this pedestrian paradise all of us, children of Split III, felt that the world was our playground, to paraphrase Van Eyck. We used and discovered countless, different, open spaces, as conceived by the architects. Each game had its space and its space was open to our innovations. From the terraces of the concrete lamellas, our mothers could look over us playing, feeling calm because of the separation of our playgrounds and traffic. Kindergartens, schools, health clinics, shopping centres were all within our reach via pedestrian-only streets, which followed the old Roman centuriation, whose traces were still present in the 1960s, while designers skilfully exploited, and spatially interpreted, them from the design competition onward. The housing buildings per se (disliked by Croatians today only due to their socialist origin) provided home to people, among which, of course, were friends, and spatially delimited streets so that the scale, dimensions, and development of pedestrian-only streets were reminiscent of the kalas (narrow streets) in Dalmatian historic old towns. We felt safe, we identified with the part of the city, and lived in the same way as depicted in the movie Sreča na vrvici (Happiness on a Leash) by Jane Kavčič and Vitan Mal, which was shot in the first completed neighbourhood by Mušič, Bežan, and Starc: BS3 – Bežigrad Neighbourhood Number 3.

In Split III, far away from any direct references to historical heritage, designers used tools of ancient builders, but using completely new scales and materials. According to Mušič, the observation and interpretation of Italian and Adriatic towns were among the fundamental aspects of Ravnikar’s studies during his frequent seminar field trips in Italy and Yugoslavian coast, where “rather than relationships between buildings and open city spaces, this involved the behaviour of citizens and what was wittily called espresso urbanism: an array of attractive extrovert cafés, unlike introvert Slovenian bars”.

In this sense, the revisiting of historical architecture or urban complexes once again strongly affected the culture of designers, which in the years of discussions about the crisis of modernist methodologies in design looked for new tools and new spatial inspirations. Indeed, Van Eyck, playfulness, and creative design were the key inspirations for Slovenian designers.
Nevertheless, more than any visit of architecture, urban complex, and vision of an image the formation – the learning process itself is the most intensive process of playing that I am aware of. Not only to learn from those who possess knowledge, but to see learning as a game, where curiosity, patience, and resilience lead to unknown and unexpected results. This destabilises each certainty created in a specific period in history.
This Editorial is dedicated to the memory of Marjan Bežan who passed away in 2017.

Vid de Gleria: Friendship Pavilion and a Minimum Housing Unit

University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Architecture, Slovenia
The Japanese pavilion, i.e. the Friendship Pavilion, and the Minimum Housing Unit for use under emergency conditions in Slovenj Gradec resulted from the collaboration of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ljubljana, The Keio University in Tokyo, the Municipality of Slovenj Gradec, and the Slovenj Gradec and Muta High School. These two structures, being the first Japanese timber structures in Slovenia, were constructed by students, under the direction of architect and professor Tadej Glažar, MA, and the guest professor Dr Hiroto Kobayashi. Japanese and Slovenian students of architecture and the students from the Slovenj Gradec and Muta High School took part in the implementation. The Friendship Pavilion and the pavilion as a minimum housing unit are the first Japanese architectural projects taking place in Slovenia and, at the same time, a donor project of two universities, which could not have been possible without the close support and cooperation of Slovenian companies. Both pavilions were built for study purposes; the first pavilion is an outdoor classroom, an exhibition area, a meeting space for pupils as well as for promotion and tourist purposes, while the second pavilion is a case study of an emergency housing unit.

From its foundation to the roof, the Friendship Pavilion is designed as a timber, modular structure that can be disassembled. The inspiration and knowledge about the construction come from traditional Japanese and Slovenian timber architecture, using timber joints, which can be dismantled or assembled elsewhere. The construction relates to the tradition that is reinterpreted and adapted to the zeitgeist. A state-of the-art, advanced material was used for the construction – technologically processed veneered panels, which are affordable and very simple to use. By using advanced CNC technology and based on the parts list, all elements of the pavilion were manufactured in the high school workshop and were then, as a puzzle, pieced together at the site. The advantage of using the CNC technology in building the wooden pavilion is that all elements can be manufactured with precision to the millimetre level. Should, due to deterioration, any part be replaced, by pressing the CNC push button the part is manufactured and installed in the right place.

The principles of Japanese garden design were used in the structure’s surroundings. From the main road a gravel path takes us past beech, larch, and birch trees, revealing the pavilion in sequences. In the pavilion’s south side, we designed a cone-shaped, gravel reflective surface, whose function is to reflect sunlight inside. The north side features a gravel river and a lake – carefully stacked pebbles from the Drava River, which intercept rainwater from the roof and lead it to the sink. The main entrance into the pavilion is from the south and the east. The south side entrance features large rocks through which we enter the pavilion, while in the eastern side there are two massive wooden planks serving as stairs and as a place for removing footwear before entering the pavilion. The interior design is very modest. The central part features a coconut fibre mat – a tatami and three small upholstered benches that were custom-made for this project. The empty interior invites the user to have a seat and enjoy some time away from the everyday hustle and bustle.

The first stage of the project has been completed – the wooden structure, floor, and roof. Around the perimeter, it is still necessary to install sliding and rotating walls, made of wooden frames and lined on the outside with transparent polycarbonate sheets reminiscent of traditional Japanese walls made of rice paper. The facade shell will allow for the use of the pavilion during the colder month as well. During the next school year, the secondary students enrolled in the carpentry programme will use the pavilion as an exhibition area and fill it with their own wooden products.

The Friendship Pavilion project is a donor project with a humanitarian note, which began in the wake of the 2011 earthquake that hit Japan and unleashed tsunami waves that inundated the coast. The Japanese Government asked the universities to help, each in its own field. Thus, Hiroto Kabayashi’s laboratory at Keio University launched the Veneer House Project. So far, they have assembled 13 similar, yet different, projects, which are adjusted to the surroundings. The most recent one is from Slovenia.

Along with the Friendship Pavilion, the project of exploring and assembling the Minimum Housing Unit for use under emergency conditions was underway, developed for regions affected by natural disasters or humanitarian crises (refugee crises). This compact unit showcases the essence of Professor Kobayashi’s laboratory, whose primary concern has always been to deliver humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable groups. Using temporary minimum housing units, they help the people from the regions affected by major natural disasters, such as landslides, earthquakes, and floods. The unit allows for a quick assembly intended for temporary stay close to home – within the bounds of safety. In this way the links with the home environment and social bonds are not broken. In the last days of the one-month workshop we built three units, using CNC technology, that can be combined with each other or assembled as independent units. Each of them is light to transport as its parts are cut out from altogether 15 composite panels of a size of 2500 mm × 1250 mm. Each unit can be assembled, by at least two persons, in less than one hour. The total structure’s weight is a mere 200 kg.

The goal of both projects was to study new construction technologies that could be applied to housing construction, for use in case of natural disasters, refugee crises, and many other situations. Each part of both units was designed using a 3D model. After the completion of the design, parts lists were created. The use of CNC technology, work in the workshop, and modular design allow for quick and precise construction. The technological manufacturing of almost all parts took place in the workshop, so it was much easier to oversee the construction in the field and the final product was better. The Friendship Pavilion and the Minimum Housing Unit are not directly transferable to housing construction; their technology and construction method, however, are. In the future, with a few structural adjustments and improvements, this construction method could be used to provide a solution to young people's housing problem. In fact, the Friendship Pavilion and the Minimum Housing Unit are an enhanced three-dimensional puzzle which anyone, with some skill and basic tools, can build.

Both research projects – the Friendship Pavilion and the Minimum Housing Unit – successfully evoke the rich tradition of Japanese and Slovenian timber construction. State-of-the-art, advanced technologies and materials open a new view of timber architecture and construction in Slovenia.


Boštjan Bugarič:
Communication of the Built Environment
Creative Commons License IU/CG, 5/2017, 46-51.

Gregor Čok:
Planning and Design of Open Public Space in the Coastal Zone
Creative Commons License IU/CG, 5/2017, 58-67.

Andreja Troha:
Changing Settlement Patterns in Areas of Autochtonous Dispersed Settlement
Creative Commons License IU/CG, 5/2017, 76-88.

Projects and Workshops

Forgotten Masterpieces page 96
V6-1510 (B): Comprehensive methodology for inventory and analysis of derelict land, implementation of the pilot census and ... (CRP) page 98
V2-1513: Model of the integration of Slovenian bicycle network (CRP) page 102
Analysis of options for implementing of urban projects using public-private partnership page 106
Developing the Old Town Area of Lendava page 110
Spotlight of the concrete light page 112
"Radnička street in the dis/appearing": planning of the southeast entrance to Zagreb page 114
"With public participation to urban spaces page 116

PDF (4.71M)