URBANLAB comes forth as a natural response to the urban processes developed in Santurce by street art (graffiti, murals, art installations), as creator of urban activity. Events like “Los Muros Hablan” and “Santurce Es Ley” have been successful in generating a particular interest for the urban fabric and the ability of art to reenergize areas that were forgotten by the economic sector.
Participant Name: Hector Bermudez
Country: Puerto Rico
Nonetheless, the activity generated by such events vanishes when the murals are finished (Fig. 1). URBANLAB aims at turning the “event” of creation of art into a motor of continuous urban development while attending two actual problems in the Santurce area:
- The lack of pedestrian interconnections between the two main avenues of Santurce, Ponce de Leon Ave. and Fernández Juncos Ave.
- The lack of public parking accommodations
The site chosen for development is the only actual spot were a direct pedestrian connection can be made between both main avenues. It’s also located in the Theatrical District of Santurce and near the main art museums of the metropolitan area. Today, the site is used only in part as a parking lot.
The design project proposes the creation of a big public space that promotes and encourages street art and at the same time it defines new interconnections between the main avenues and secondary streets of the selected site (Fig.2). This “urban lab” is delineated by programs that give support to the uses found in the area and that makes new urban activity possible. The proposed programs are:
- A Parking Garage that gives financial backing to the project and that works as a physical support for the artists future interventions.
- Eight semi-permanent residences for artists with working studios and exhibition spaces.
- Fifteen rentable workspaces for artists.
- Four classrooms where resident artists can give workshops to the community.
- An art gallery that can be opened directly to the public space.
- A small hotel with 15 rooms marketed to a public interested in art that will also bring revenue for the project.
The programs are unified by a scaffolding-like structure that connects each of the proposed programs and that allows the public to look at the public space from above. At the same time, this structure serves as a semi-transparent skin that lets us to have a look at the “event” of creation of art and its processes.