MA Studies > Public space design > Public space design alumnus > Evelien de Munck Mortier

Evelien de Munck Mortier

panorama maastricht station square
panorama maastricht station square

Landing in the city / In the vestibule of the destination / on the floor of expectations

My design proposal focuses on the urban space that accommodates the moment in which the expectation of the traveller is realised.

It is the urban space between arrival and getting out of a vehicle and the destination in a city. This type of urban space is found in the vicinity of a railway station.
Whereas a station-building is mainly the vestibule or porch to the rest of the world, I reckon a station square as the vestibule of the destination in the city. Both domains do of course facilitate arriving and leaving travellers.
I have chosen the station square of Maastricht, taking into account the station building itself and the axes to the old and new centre of the city.
Three themes are involved

Railway stations pour out crowds of people to the city. Rhythm and mass of movement define the ritual of landing. This ritual has been there ever since the first train services started and will continue till the last train will leave. It is defined by the railroad-network, with its fixed tracks and safety procedures, by train schedules, by the number and location of platforms and the lay out of the station-building.
This system delivered great freedom for middle class during the years of modernity, but is now a striated, defined, not flexible system compared to automobility and digital networks that are added tot speed up people, goods and information to the max.
It nevertheless still functions and performs the same ritual.

Breaking waves
Landing involves changing from a fast but rigid modality to the slow free domain of the pedestrian.
Contact with the floor is the resistance which lead to speed reduction. After this chance of pace, seldom resulting in a standstill, the public speeds up on the way to their destinations.
Paul Virilio states that as speed increases, the freedom of the individual languishes. Well, does that mean that freedom is restored as speed decreases? I imagine that would bring a discharge / release of energy, like breaking waves on the ocean shore
Using this metaphor: The floor will be an important element in my design proposal.

Floor of expectations
Before arriving the traveller has build an expectation of the destination. The virtual destination is a location with the potential of dislocation. Being dislocated, parachuted in a new place, that needs to be conquered or offers new possibilities is part of the prospect. While arriving or better landing - in the actual destination the potential is realised.
During the era of modernity in the so called
ideal distant city
" the traveller could experience displacement. A condition for artistic creation. The train together with for instance ocean steamers, was the vehicle that would bring you to this ideal distant city, at the margins of the known world.

The idea of travelling and displacement has changed, where the train as vehicle could still be of help by experiencing displacement, the city as a destination is no longer satisfactory.
The city does provides mass for the production of speed. All modalities facilitate the dromopole and the station square is one of it's strategic links. But the form and decoration of station buildings nevertheless do still refer to the former idea of travel.

The shift of the virtual destination to the actual destination, with the puzzlement of landing is taking place on the floor of expectations. These three elements make me wonder: How do actual and mental speed come together? Do the moment of speed reduction, energy discharge and realisation of the potential relate as a sequence or is it compressed in one moment?"