Are soccer stadia part of our urban fabric? Can bridges do more than connect A and B? Are construction gaps more than just empty space? The answer is a resounding yes. And there are more than enough innovative ideas to back this notion.

Casa Futbol – Brazil

Take the recent World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Beyond the event’s sporting highlights, it also triggered plenty of discussions that also apply to the wider world, beyond Brazil and mere soccer stadia. Architects Axel de Stampa and Sylvain Macaux came up with an ingenious idea that could translate to other large spaces across the world. As part of the ‘1Week1Project’ initiative, they wanted to embed prefab living units of up to 1000 square feet in the existing structures of four World Cup arenas. The actual number of units could be adjusted to demand. The project’s special twist: Any Casa Futbol conversion costs would be offset by ongoing stadium operations as the units do not affect regular matches.

Oakland Bay Bridge – San Francisco

A similar smart – and potentially futuristic – notion focuses on the US West Coast. Since 1936, Oakland and San Francisco have been connected by the Oakland Bay Bridge. Although overshadowed by the more iconic Golden Gate Bridge, it nevertheless remains a local landmark structure. After partial reconstruction in 2013, the old bridge track was up for grabs. When the city announced an international design competition, the winning solution suggested living units of various sizes suspended underneath the bridge while the upper section remained reserved for bike lanes and greenery – even entire trees or large movie screens could be suspended underneath the bridge. Although this concept sounds more visionary than immediately feasible, its basic approach – the combination of mobility and living solutions and thus the creation of shared space – could prove exemplary in the future. Definitely great food for thought to inspire other spaces and bridges.

Keret House – Poland

Just how vital such a radical rethink and new perspective of our cities and environment is becomes obvious in Warsaw. Here, the world’s narrowest home has carved out its niche between two buildings. Unnoticed by many passers-by, Keret House owes its name to its current owner, Israeli author Etgar Keret, who enters his stilt-based home via pull-out stairs and reaches his bed or bathroom via ladders. Envisioned by Polish design collective Centrala, this exceptional living space embodies the designers’ spirit as they find conventional tenders creatively stifling: The self-titled task force only ever comprises the number of members required for a particular job. Through their “urban design,” Centrala aim to bridge the gap between their client’s particular wishes or concepts and the location’s general or spatial requirements.

Header image: Tomás Faquini