THE PLAN Journal (TPJ) intends to disseminate and promote innovative, thought-provoking and relevant research, studies and criticism in architecture and urbanism. The criteria for selecting contributions will be innovation, clarity of purpose and method, and potential transformational impact on disciplinary fields or the broader socio-cultural context. The ultimate purpose of the TPJ is to enrich the dialog between research and professional fields, in order to encourage both applicable new knowledge and intellectually driven modes of practice. (Maurizio Sabini)

Latest Articles

 Open Access

Architecture and Intermodality. Guidelines for the Architecture of the Intermodal Hub at the FVG Airport Ronchi dei Legionari

by: Giovanni Fraziano , Thomas Bisiani , Luigi Di Dato , Claudio Meninno , Adriano Venudo , Marko Verri VOL 2 2017 - Issue 1 , doi: 10.15274/tpj.2017.02.01.03, published: 2017-06-21

The research addresses the topic of intermodality in terms of technical, typological, and architectural response of infrastructure systems, considering their relationship with the territory and the landscape. The study starts from the hypothesis of the development of a comprehensive intermodal hub in the Ronchi dei Legionari Airport (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trieste, Italy), integrated with the network of local public transport and railway infrastructure, considered in a scenario of sustainability over the medium term and updated with respect to the current economic situation. The first phase of the research focused on the definition of the guidelines for the design of the intermodal hub. Subsequently, the study verified the hypothesis by modeling some alternative scenarios, whose results led to the identification of a highly comprehensive set of data, consistent with the financial framework. Lastly, urban verification: the identified scenarios constitute a framework of alternative options corresponding to the minimum, optimal and critical conditions of the system as a whole. The possible alternatives prove the degree of versatility of the proposed layout which provides, as a whole, the possibility of opting for one of the proposed scenarios or for a more complex combination of the proposed solutions.

 Open Access

Las Heras: An Imagined Future. Stories of an Emerging World

by: Will Alsop VOL 2 2017 - Issue 1 , doi: 10.15274/tpj.2017.02.01.02, published: 2017-06-18

The estate Las Heras lies close to Girona in Spain. I was taken there by my client, in the form of a mystery tour. We arrived at a large house within 350 hectares. I felt instant affinity to this place before leaving the car. I asked my client: “Why did you buy this?” He answered: “…that is YOUR project – to tell ME!” 

The land exuded a sense of place which appeared irrational. Time and neglect had taken its toll on the main house and work began to repair the building.

The estate has a long and tumultuous history; the past informs the present and creates context for the experience of the place. The future required a possible description. A narrative (novella) was an indulgence that allowed exploration of what might happen in the formation of the place. The book exists as a plan, a gazetteer volume of information, and a cookbook, intended to stimulate and encourage.  

The emerging project’s starting point is as an educational resource for anyone; particularly for architectural and art institutions.

 Open Access

The Act and Art of Architectural Critique: A Drawing, a House, and a Sign

by: Andreea Mihalache VOL 2 2017 - Issue 1 , doi: 10.15274/tpj.2017.02.01.01, published: 2017-06-22

The role of criticism is not to split, but rather to bring matters together in an assembly. Philosopher Bruno Latour makes the argument that the responsibility of the critic, (and, implicitly, critique), is not to divide, but instead to “offer the participants arenas in which to gather.” In light of Latour’s proposition, I will examine the generative and creative role of architectural criticism and some of the many guises under which it might take shape. I propose that the critical call of architecture is often hidden in plain sight in works that camouflage themselves under seemingly disengaged positions, and which, upon closer inspection, act as resources of architectural imagination. Specifically, I examine Saul Steinberg’s drawing “Doubling Up” (1946), the Splitnik (the American model-house showcased at the American Exhibition in Moscow, 1959), and Robert Venturi’s sign for the Grand’s Restaurant (Philadelphia, 1961-1962)

 Open Access

Stretching Design Intelligence to Make a Difference

by: Maurizio Sabini VOL 1 2016 - Issue 2 [DESIGN FOR SOCIAL IMPACT], Pages: 137 - 138 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2016.01.02.13, published: 2017-04-26
 Open Access

Challenging the White-Savior Industrial Complex

by: Thomas Fisher VOL 1 2016 - Issue 2 [DESIGN FOR SOCIAL IMPACT], Pages: 139 - 151 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2016.01.02.01, published: 2017-01-20

Social-impact design challenges many of the assumptions that guide architectural practice such as: What should we design? What program should we design to? What site should we design on? Who should be involved in the design? And what else needs designing beyond what we have been commissioned to do? In raising these questions, social-impact design essentially inverts the expertise model that has guided both architectural education and practice and leads to a more open and responsive mode of practice that looks for the underlying reasons why a problem or need has occurred and the larger systemic issues that surround the project and that may require redesigning themselves. Through a series of social-impact design projects conducted by the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota, this essay explores what this means in specific ways, through actual projects with diverse communities of people.

 Open Access

Walk the Line. Architecture as a Catalyst for Socio-Spatial Connectivity

by: Tatiana Bilbao , Nuria Benitez VOL 1 2016 - Issue 2 [DESIGN FOR SOCIAL IMPACT], Pages: 153 - 171 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2016.01.02.07, published: 2017-03-16

Miravalle is a relatively new neighborhood in Iztapalapa borough, by the eastern edge of Mexico City. It has been identified as a highly-marginalized area, as its 11,000 residents have poor access to public infrastructure, high rates of violence, and socio-economic discrimination is something most experience. Nonetheless, the community has worked together with the aim of improving the conditions and quality of life in a small but outstanding way. As a group of architects, we are working with them to transform the main park of the area and neighboring communities into a walkable and safe recreational area. The prerequisite for city life is a walkable urban environment. If a safe line crossing the park could help diminish the insecurity and strengthen the connections between people and space within the neighborhoods, then architectural interventions as a stead for social development are guaranteed.

 Open Access

S House n. 3

by: Vo Trong Nghia VOL 1 2016 - Issue 2 [DESIGN FOR SOCIAL IMPACT], Pages: 173 - 184 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2016.01.02.02, published: 2017-01-20

The third prototype house for low-income classes designed in response to housing shortages in countries struck by natural disasters was built in Ho Chi Minh City. Thanks to passive design methods, natural lighting, a galvanized steel structure that weights only 1,200 kg set on a reinforced concrete foundation, the model combines quality control, cost management, easy transportation, DIY modular components and fast on-site construction. Now suitable for mass production, the S HOUSE project is designed to be flexible and adaptable to expansion or new uses as the next prototypes will showcase.

 Open Access

Temporary Houses for Post-Disaster and Social Emergency

by: Mariagiulia Bennicelli Pasqualis VOL 1 2016 - Issue 2 [DESIGN FOR SOCIAL IMPACT], Pages: 185 - 211 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2016.01.02.11, published: 2017-04-12

The research focuses on the theme of the resolution of the problem of emergency housing in urban and metropolitan areas, and on how to house about ten thousand of people within a short time, with comfortable and low cost dwellings, following a catastrophic event or a social emergency.

The aim of the research is defining a model of open residential building system, based on high density and reversibility strategies.

On one hand the research analyses the actions undertaken during the earthquake occurred in L’Aquila on April 2009, focusing on the “mistakes” which were clear since the beginning but only today clear to everyone, and the “merits” of what is an extraordinary operation, never seen before, of building in few months a very large number of dwellings, through a wide repertoire of procedures and technologies.

On the other hand the research analyses the need of creating new temporary dwellings to allow heavy interventions of urban development.

The combinations of these two realities, post-catastrophe and social emergency housing, will create, in time of peace, a supply chain for temporary, reversible and low cost dwellings.

 Open Access

Dotte Agency: A Participatory Design Model for Community Health

by: Shannon Criss , Matt Kleinmann VOL 1 2016 - Issue 2 [DESIGN FOR SOCIAL IMPACT], Pages: 213 - 237 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2016.01.02.09, published: 2017-03-16

As community activists resist racial injustice, food insecurity, and infrastructural delinquency, many groups are attempting to articulate the voice of the citizen. It is within this landscape that architects have historically struggled to find common ground to afford democratic access for citizens to engage in discussions about the future of their city. Based upon surrogate models of other professions, there has emerged a proactive movement towards Social Impact Design. Like many urban core areas, our community faces a health epidemic compounded by poverty. In response to requests for collaboration, and through cross-disciplinary academic partnerships in both public health and social welfare, we have begun to leverage design advocacy to improve health outcomes. This has evolved into an alternative model of practice that advances public design through interdisciplinary, adaptive and incremental spatial agency. It is a sustainable practice that fosters conversations and supports events originating from within the community. Our approach seeks to scaffold an infrastructure of public health through methods of participatory design and advocacy. Through new forms of design intelligence and collaborative design tools, our critical spatial practice demonstrates new ways for how architectural design can be relevant to society.