Platform for urban culture
Narvik city centre is composed around a strip of public buildings, each accessed from a separate, large plaza. Due to their disconnectedness within the city tissue and homogeneous programme of adjacent buildings, these public spaces are limited to passive uses: entrance zones and assembly points. Development of centrally located Technical Quarter is an opportunity to unify the disjoined public strip into a single compound entity, where programmatic and spatial diversity stimulates inhabitants’ participation, gives them the right to appropriate the space and use it for collective or private profit.
A typology of forum – an ensemble of uses, spaces and of buildings defining them – is a well–tested model for participatory space. It is characterized by its semiotic and spatial clarity, an urban gesture, which is a carrier of forum’s identity within a city and caters a resilient and unifying framework for programmatic diversity. The clarity can be constituted by: (1) a free–standing, distinctive object or building defining an amorphous space around it; (2) a perimeter building or compound defining a distinctive space within itself.
Removing structures in poor technical condition allows the buildings of cultural and functional value – Sentrumsgården, Astrupgården and OT-gården – to become meaningful assets of the site: free–standing, space–defining elements of the forum, radiating their distinct characters and contributing to Technical Quarter’s identity.
An addition of a new perimeter block further disambiguates the space and connects the elements of the Technical Quarter and the site’s surroundings. Exterior of the block acts as a neutral background for the three free–standing buildings on site and relates to the architecture of adjacent municipality ensemble. Public functions accessible from ground level on all sides of the block create diverse programmatic relations with the surrounding buildings, spaces and Bromsgårds Park. Neutral on the outside, the inner courtyard of the block is a special part of the forum where all the different users meet.
Technical Quarter has a keystone role within the city with potential to mediate and unite disjoined urban entities. A pedestrian and cycling bridge over the railway, crossing the site, will establish a new link between the university and the hospital, improving Bromsgårds Park’s connection with the rest of the city and introducing more users to the Forum.