No Public Realm
Julian Lewis (East Architecture)

Lecture & spatial intervention

12.02.2019 – 01.07.2020

The first phase of De Fluyt en de Hoi will turn Rib inside out with the renovation of the ground floor by architect and urban planner Julian Lewis, co-founder of East Architecture in London. In the material language of a Rotterdam street, the outside will be brought into Rib’s space as a physical and symbolic act initiating the programme’s intention to reach outwards to Charlois’ social environment. Lewis will offer a talk, discussing his participation at Rib in the context of his own practice.

He will discuss the way in which public aspects of the city are essentially uneven, place-specific, and open when successful, despite being often conceived in generic ways around pre-determined genres and outcomes. Previous projects and his participation in De Fluyt en de Hoi will illustrate these ideas.

Lumps of concrete resist car wheels bumping against pedestrian territory; a drain signals the municipality’s role servicing underground; flexibly laid concrete flags are sized to be lifted and laid by a single person easily, are textured against slipping, placed in a pattern partly defined by the geometry of the unit and partly defined by a notion of the extending city territory; fallen yellowed leaves indicate trees nearby and dramatically highlight the seasonal life of maintenance at the gutter, where all unwanted material is directed by the camber of the carriageway; the diagonally laid clay setts are sized smaller to resist cracking under heavy moving vehicles, while allowing drainage through the cracks to keep water in the subbase for longer.

This scene takes place on a Charlois street and is remarkably beautiful in its representation of change. All of it offers benefits as well. It does not, however, add up to constitute a public realm, which requires other conditions to invite public social access and promote social vitality, including the agency of ideas.

Julian Lewis (1961, UK) is an architect and urban planner, and co-founder and director of East, award winning architecture, landscape and urban design practice in London. He is interested in how places influence architecture and the designed public realm, and what role architecture can have in cities. Lewis is a member of several London Borough Design Review Panels, and one of the Mayor of London’s Design Advocates. He has been teaching and lecturing since 1992, having held a Diploma Unit teaching post at London Metropolitan University for 13 years. He was invited by Valentin Bearth as Visiting Professor at the School of Architecture in Mendrisio, Switzerland, and taught there from 2009 to 2011. Lewis is an Honorary Professor at the University of Nottingham Department of Architecture and Built Environment, and will act as External Examiner at the University of Cambridge Department of Architecture from 2019.