Guovdageaidnu is at the verge of witnessing rapid changes at scales far beyond ‘the Bowl’ it sees itself as. Past planning practices, founded in an oppositional perception of agrarian and nomadic ways of living, are ill-equipped to deal with the pace and size of the coming climatic shifts and are quickly becoming unable to provide the conditions needed for a thriving community. Therefore now more than ever do we need to strategise a new spatial interface for the town. One that can foster a re-articulated relationship between the Sámi and the condition it finds itself entangled in. It has been hypothesised that changing climate conditions brought forth by the Little Ice Age drove the shift by the Sámi from hunter-gatherer communities to pastoral societies. Perhaps our coming times will one again require a shifting. Towards a mode of living we call Hybrid Sedentarism, a meshing of the sustainment of nomadism and the adaptation of sedentarism. Rather than a singular instantial change performed by a spatial intervention, this will require the design of new institutions.
At the core of our proposal are three observations:
Traditional spatial practices are directly linked to indigenous notions of a productive landscape. In the case of the Sámi this is most notably embodied in the family compound through the mechanisms of verdde and in the working garden through the concept of meahcci. Modernist post-war planning lacked these considerations, resulting in a culturally estranging town structure. This mismatch between spatial planning and deep indigenous history has turned the situation illegible for both sides. The gradual loss of traditional Sámi knowledge, and furthermore the disorientation brought forth by climate change, will only further diminish the legibility of the landscape. Guovdageaidnu has to be re-written in the language through which it has adapted its environment in the past. The town is the yard. It follows its own logic, sensitive to the social protocols of the community, rooted in ingenuity and necessity. Its messiness is its use. Structures and debris in stasis and in need of identification: “Where is the old snowmobile that can be used for spare parts, the wood pallet used as temporary stairs, the patch of kitchen garden that can grow potatoes?” They all become connecting points for a shared consciousness of a common yard, blending productive social exchange into the terrain.
Cyclical use and disuse is a form of vacancy the Sámi have always dealt, because of the nomadic migrations of an integral subset of its inhabitants. In terms of material ownership these were mediated through the reciprocal mechanisms of verdde. Could spatial excess during times of absence be used in further ways to generate surplus value? The co-location of the Beaivváš Sámi National Theatre and the Sámi High School and Reindeer Husbandry School, as well as the restructuring of the Primary and Secondary School and kindergartens, will soon leave major vacancies within ‘the Bowl’. Joined with the desire to establish these new sites as multi-use facilities, including sports activities extending its use into the evening, the co-location will drag the majority of social activities and the movements orbiting them further north. However the former school properties left behind provide opportunities to re-organise the trajectories at the core of what makes Guovdageaidnu.
In an attempt at re-invigorating economic conditions in Guovdageaidnu, areas further and further out on the periphery get designated for new developments. The sprawl encroaches on pasture lands and (reindeer) migration corridors, further dispersing a low-density town, and diminishing the social cohesion in an already low-adhesive space. With the current prospects for KBA1 on the horizon we only see an acceleration of this process. A programmatic offset at the centre of town is needed. And to prevent fragmentation of these scattered hubs of activity the planar landscape in between will need to be protocoled.