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Europan 14: Productive Cities

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City: Alta
Title: Alta New Productive Seafront

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The intention is to propose a new open garden-like public space, the Reeds Garden, that would knit the proposed cultural, productive and trade uses, small workshops and daily living activities together into a new distinctive center, and connect it to the city and to surrounding environment of the fjord.

The Reeds Garden is a 208 x 65 m, open to the sea, circumscribed by the path in Alta-slate and planted by with a bed of different sorts of reeds – diverse, tall, grass-like flowering plants from Poaceae family, traditional for the wetlands of the North and Barents Sea. The dense surface flow of reeds, their height and color will create a new architectural scenery, full of seasonal variations and flowering, colonizing more and more the terrain of the garden and introducing the wild-life and bird-species of the North into the composition of space. The function of the vegetation, beside its beauty, will be to sustainably regenerate and filter the soil, eventually contaminated by previous production activities.

Geometry and proportions of the garden were meant to create a distinctive, careful and elegant space, raw in its materiality and direct in feeling, a space with a serene vision, light (or darkness) – a distinctively calm Nordic space. A garden where we can directly experience the slope of the ground, the freshness of air, waves and the flow of the sea, the cycle of the seasons, where time is inscribed on earth.

Just few buildings, two apartment housing, a library and a restaurant space (as a part of the building for shopping, retail, culture and creative production on the west side of the garden) follow the geometry of the path and planting. The buildings are intentionally imagined as singular objects sharing the horizontal expression, the large common ground and the open view. The secondary paths transverse the garden and connect the buildings around.

The architecture appears non-pretentious, low-cost and somehow light-weight (in spite of the final choice of the material), reminding on the architectural language of ordinary buildings of fishermen’s houses and storages at the west and north coast of Norway. Turning the ‘non-place’ of skiffer-kaia into a new productive place with a strong identity shouldn’t be dependent on the image of architecture, but on a complex relationship between nature, territory, architecture and time.