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F L I G H T L A B : E A S A O N A P L A N E
The theme: "Transbordering"
With EASA on a Plane and Flightlab, 200 students and professionals in architecture will travel 7 countries by plane, researching and developing ideas about air traffic, airports and its relation with the built environment and the way it is used. We are united by our desire to join an international experience within our field of practice, differing in age , nationality and experience. We will share and explore each other’s knowledge and insights on architecture and related disciplines - discussing, reading, listening, designing and developing ideas. It is a dynamic laboratory studying itself and the phenomenon it is part of during a spectacular two weeks event.
In this era in which international relations are gaining in importance, we are designing for a European future. We will explore utopian and anti-utopian scenarios in which all kinds of borders constantly have to be crossed and redefined in order to harmonize, to grow and to benefit from each other. With that we connect the incompatibilities and unite the differences we are encountering. What EASA on a Plane will be doing, is Transbordering.
When we study the development of aviation, that is connecting Europe, we first of all distinguish quantities of people and goods moving to different destinations for different reasons, within an infrastructural system with its specific characteristics. But the increasing international interchange affects the way we live and the way our cities function on different scales. This can be observed in the rise of the international oriented lifestyles, but also in the relation of the airport to its surrounding urbanization and the country it is located within, but also on an international level we perceive modifications, as has been described as “globalization”. These underlying basics are set out in the so called subtopics that we will focus on. These are “Flows and fluxes” addressing the dynamics of quantities in movement, “Infra/City” focusing on the relation between the infrastructure and its surroundings, “No Man’s Land” exploring the characteristics of 'intra-national' airport space, “TransCulture” researching cultural differences, and “Bordering Poetics” investigating the nature of borders and its modification.
Flows & Fluxes
Nowadays cities are alive by the dynamics of its flows and fluxes, like the flux in the veins of the human body. From this point of view, the streets, railways, airways, water routes are the veins, main stations, and equipments are the organs, whereas people, vehicles, goods, energies and/or trash are the blood which contributes more or less to the good health of cities' life. These flows and their generators are changing more and more in speed and quantity as in diversity. Obstructions to desirable flows can lead to cities' illness: traffic, over crowdedness and delayed public transports, lacking parking places, lacking connections between places, all of that obstruct flows, and is reflected on people’s quality of life, therefore in cities' health. Though some flows might need some regulation for the sake of cities' health – criminality, social conflicts, vandalism, …
The issue here is to understand the city from this perspective, where veins and organs are main coordinators of the city, allowing its permeability to evolving flows, thus to its well functioning.
Airports influence urban life in its surrounding and vice versa. They absorb and expel flows of thousands of people and vehicles every day. They have become nodes of flows that shape masses of the city: services, equipment and buildings in the surroundings. This interaction can be studied in the way those infrastructural nodes are adopted by the urban area. As in some cities you can almost touch the roofs when you are landing, and the city is at a big distance from the airfield, while still attracting or repelling certain functions or activities, influencing land prices etc.
Where does the airport start and where does the city begin? How integrated are airports not only into the city, but also into the community? When does the country begin? Are they in harmony or can they be? How does this correlation differ in different spots of Europe?
No Man's Land
Airports can be considered as part of their direct environment, but also are - as part of the international infrastructure - directly connected to other airports - as parts of the international infrastructure. After checking in and crossing the customs we enter “intra-national space” that still is territory of the country around it, but seems to be No Man's Land. In this super controlled public junk space different rules apply, resulting in altered restrictions in certain conditions, of which tax-free shops are exemplary. In bars, meeting areas and leisure facilities people can work, meet, or kill time while in transit, but those urban elements are unrelated to and not freely accessible from the airport’s direct surroundings, defining a city within the aviation infrastructure. Can this intra-national space be enhanced and supply added value for international organizations? Can we develop an ultra-cosmopolitan lifestyle and facilitate it, so that people can live just in intra-national space without ever crossing the customs again?
Airports are generic melting pots ,where the line between different cultures is most and least visible at the same time. Even though some people talk about Europe as if it is one union, there are significant different cultures, connected by international traffic. Also on the scale of the airport we recognize different cultures. Some people work locally or are crew members of planes traveling through; others are frequent or occasional flyers. These different cultures have their own specific behavior and experience their stay in the air or on the ground in different ways. Or not? Can we define those cultures, their characteristics and their influences? What are the effects of cultural traffic? Is Europe developing a common culture or identity? Are national identities blended out? Are we changing or celebrating our own cultural identity while traveling? What are the cultural borders we encounter and how do we cross them?
With borders we define territories, separating “this side” where we belong and “the other side” where we are not belonging but could be longing for. This applies to national borders, but also to cultural, geographical, time, administrative, economical, linguistic and financial borders. Several borders seem to vanish - some are replaced by reference-points such as landmarks, others are moved or transformed. With vanishing borders the notion “belonging” disappears, while remaining borders inspire us to imagine the other side, but leave us the question if it is better there. What is a border and what is it for? What if borders really disappear? Will we enlarge our territory or sharing our territory with strangers? Can we be prisoners of a borderless environment? What borders do we encounter when traveling? If we would not measure distances in kilometers, how connected can we consider Europe? Is Europe being rearranged?