Adaptability is a necessary condition of contemporary cities and societies. Urban transformations, however, rarely take into consideration such an issue in their development process and, often, in their layout and design. We decided to face one of these intensive transformation (the project for Irun central railway area) through an incremental process which moves from the existing city and the relation between that one and the transformation site (a 362.271 mq wide area).
The concept of fractal city is useful to define the contemporary city in these times of constant regeneration. At first, the city looks like a simple pattern of living (alive) parts and dead ones (the voids). Our very first look at Irun told exactly that. But, looking closer, the existing city is made by a huge variety of spaces and places, often chaotically mixed. It’s a fractal city because it can be decomposed and still at the smaller scale you can recognize something that recalls you the city entirely. Irun facilitates such a process because the parts that compose the city are pretty clear in their shape and somehow separated one from the other (thanks to a complex historical development). At the same time, the big void that lays in the core of the city is itself a complex pattern of spaces. The key is to decompose the city and the transformation site in smaller samples and see what happens. Interrupted relations reveals, suggesting how to bring the city into the void, while a new manifold space emerges. The process then shifts towards a composition phase, in which the project completes the emerging spatiality. The expected result is a uniform urban space in which the basic components are clearly visibile, organized and linked. If the former void (transformation site) naturally “disappears” the process can be considered successful.
The southern portion of the site emerges as the green core of the project: here an existing urban park (Parque Soroxarta) is improved and largely extended to the north - along Julian Gayarre Ibilbidea - in the form of a linear park, and to the south-east, crossing the railway with two green overpass which land at the base of the big houses on the “edge”, carving them. This green system proceed on the east along the former Euskotren path, which is transformed into a bike and pedestrian route crossing the dense city, intercepting several existing and new public spaces and ending up in the Parque Mendibil. On the west/north side the green system goes beyond Anaca Kalea - meanwhile interrupted and replaced by a new street in line with the new grid - going to form a new park extend until Zubi-Muxu Plaza. As result, the borders of the project site are completely permeable.
What is left, the core area, is occupied by the railway terminal and the new district. The first one is implemented on a couple of preserved old depots and assumes the form of a “bridge” over the railway. On its western side the new district takes place, with residential, tertiary, commercial and business activities. The model for its layout has been found in the landscape of closeness, i.e. the Irun Ensanche of 1940-50s - the one presenting the best urban qualities (regular grid, functional mix, equilibrated relation between open and built, private and public space).