Walking on a velodrome is like cycling on cobbles. So build inclined and smooth surfaces where you would like to see bikes, and level rough surfaces where you would like to see people walking. This seems like the natural way to part cyclists and pedestrians in shared zones without giving either that dangerous sense of entitlement that arises the moment you start painting stencils.
How serendipitous is it therefore, that architects, now more than ever, should be fascinated with uneven ground planes and floors? Mies van der Rohe’s
definition of architecture as the making of “universal space” or Le Corbusier’s similar idea of the domino plan, seem like ancient history these days. SANAA’s Rolex Learning Centre is the new Farnsworth house. Universal space, just like space as cosmologists see is, has become curved.
I’m in the mood for a list, of works of architecture that make a feature of uneven floors: Lewerence’s Klippan Church Sweden; Le Corbusier’s chapel in Ronchamp; Steven Holl’s cité de l’océan et du surf; Heatherwick Studio’s “Seed Cathedral” at Shanghai Expo 2010; Peter Eisenman’s Jewish Memorial in Berlin; Nox Architects’ Water Pavilion; FOA’s Yokohama International Port Terminal… alright, there must be hundreds!
Hopefully I’ll remember to come back and add standout examples, or perhaps you will suggest some with a comment. The point I want to make is quite simple, and has nothing to do with warped space time (as interesting an angle that may be to pursue). I’m simply saying that an interest in undulating ground planes among architects, is coinciding right now with a period in the evolution of cities when finding ways to separate bikes from pedestrians is important for the happiness of both.