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E16 Hjertelia

Winner: Building the ecotone

Jury remark: The project proposes a strong linear organisation on the sloping site for living and food production to coexist. 

Closely spaced built forms alternate with open fields of productive landscape. This landscape strategy does not depend on any aesthetic but is robust and open enough to embrace uncertainty and facilitate a variety of authors and stakeholders as well as time and change.

There is a clear ambition for innovative building techniques, piloting and sustainable practices by forming relationships with local farmers, academic researchers, the industry and members of the public.

Another strength of the project is the proposal of clear phases, which starts with making the site accessible by foot and bike, then transforming the existing school into a creative environment for learning about building and farming, followed by a joint effort of building and testing the first prototypes as part of a local and wider consultation process.

The jury was unanimous in awarding ‘Building the Ecotone’ the winner as it convincingly and creatively engages with both the ambitious site brief and the Europan theme of Living Cities – Metabolic Vitalities and Inclusive Vitalities. And at the same time, the jury recognised the logistic challenges ahead in achieving this ambition and the need for a strong evaluation process along the way to make implementation economically feasible.

The project strategy is not dissimilar to other projects in that it densifies while leaving green and productive corridors, but in comparison this is done much better and simpler.


Axel Mak (FR), architect

Antoine Le Métayer (FR), architect

Warren Louis-Marie (FR), architect

We are 3 friends and colleagues working in the same office for some years now. We have felt that Europan was a wonferful opportunity to investigate new issues out of our daily practice. Indeed, experienced professionals can really take advantage of such open competitions to broaden their mind and confront themselves with long-term urban projects.

We gathered to analyze every Europan 16 sites and the choice of Hjertelia came out as a natural choice. This incredible location with its light slope at the edge of a forest, between fields and city, immediately appealed us. We were also convinced by the density and the precision of the site brief which showed real professionalism and willingness from the city to actually implement a project in Hjertelia. The fact that the site was in Norway played a part too: we have a strong professional relationship with this country and we believe that it has helped us propose a relevant project.

This victory is a wonderful surprise and we are all looking forward to making it real. We believe that this competition is only the start of a collective implementation process and we can’t wait to begin !


Digital exhibition

See the Building the Ecotone, Growing a community, and all the other entries to Hjertelia here:

Hjertelia Digital Exhibition

Runner up: Growing a community

Jury remark: The proposal has a clear and strong concept and is an interesting answer to the main question in the competition – to develop a new pilot neighbourhood on urban farming and social forms of living. The concept is exploring new ways of integrated living and shared space for agriculture. The housing units are placed along the perimeter of the site, and the detached houses create a shielded common productive area in the middle of the site for growing. The proposal also aims to keep a “green corridor”. By placing the buildings on the outer edge and in the steeper angle of the terrain, the best land is saved for agriculture. The structure also improves the climatic conditions for farming, and underline that the main purpose of living in Hjertelia community is the common farming. Salimi’s walled garden as a connecting point and community house is good, appealing to both the social and the agricultural aspects of the community.

The architecture also emphasises that this is one holistic community. It has a distinct expression, where the lowest part is a coherent wall of bricks in two floors. The wall is well designed for different functions and variation, and there is a good connection between outdoor and indoor activity. Light, slim wooden towers are placed on top of this plinth, and the towers are of different heights. All the living units follow this design concept. The architectural language is referencing other geographical areas than the archetypically Norwegian, and that is seen as a strength. The concept is clear, but the community may at the same time appear a bit closed and exclusive. Besides, the narrow multi-story way of building is costly. Although the concept allows some variety, there is a lack of flexibility in the bigger scale.

The development of housing units in steep terrain is interesting, and so is the variation of the unit sizes at different price ranges. The towers may though be a challenge to universal design and also make it less easy to include all age groups.


Air Studio
Name: Tin Phan (NO)
Name: Phoebe Chu (HK)

Haptic Architects
Name: Scott Doig (GB)
Name: Jesper Andreas Christiansen (NO)

Air + Haptic
The team is a joint collaboration between the offices of Air and Haptic. Air is an architecture office in Oslo and offers services of analysis and architecture as inseparable to each other. We believe the success of a building can no longer be defined purely by intuitive design means. Instead we derive upon design solutions from in depth analysis. Our evidence based approach seeks to eliminate unsound practices by shifting from tradition to firmly grounded scientific research. Haptic Architects on the other hand, is an internationally well-established architectural firm based on long and broad experience in the industry. We provide reassurance that the work is in accordance with requirements for implementation and planning.More importantly, one of our core values is to nurture and assist young professionals come forward with their talents for innovation, fresh perspectives, and design skills.Together we were able to challenge each other on multiple aspects in landing this entry: design ethos, alternative approaches, analytical capacity, societal ambition and professional rigor.