Leonard Ma (CA), architect
Carmen Lee (CA), architect
Based in: Helsinki, FINLAND

Team Description: This project considers the thematic concept of ‘third space’ as a threshold between the urban and suburban, celebrating the qualities of both. While the narrow floor plates and urban block structures of the old town have promoted a vibrant streetscape, the use of this typology is limited to small scale retail, cafes and restaurants. Larger enterprises, and productive activities that require large cohesive spaces, and logistical circulation are thus pushed into the suburban areas. This project brings together the typology of the urban block, with the anonymous ‘big box’ that characterizes the suburban periphery. The project aims to collide the two typologies, introducing new programmatic possibilities.

Jury Statement: “The project employs the role of productivity in the typology of the town and suburbs as its main theme. The typology of the historic town centre (limited to small businesses) and the peripheral productive activities, which require far more space and interconnection in those spaces, should be brought together. The concept should redefine programmatic possibilities by merging the two typologies using compact urban blocks, thresholds instead of edges and courtyards defined by Big Boxes. […] The jury appreciates the innovative approach to combine urban and suburban typologies into one, but questions at the same time the mutual benefit of this mix. Does this combination of different typology promote urban quality?”

Team Statement: "Public Office engages in the built environment at the intersection of design and political economy. The site in Villach presented us with a rich array of challenges, dealing with questions of urbanity, infrastructure, and production. In our proposal we sought to question the dichotomy between the urban and the suburban, reconciling the urban block, with the anonymous 'big box' in a collision of unexpected programmes. We consider the 'third space' as a threshold between the urban and suburban, recasting and reframing our understanding of the two terms, and celebrating the qualities of both."