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Europan 14: Productive Cities


City: Narvik
Title: From backyards to courtyards

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The site of the future ‘Tehnical Quarter’ in Narvik suffers from a lack of a clear urban definition, we detect a backyard effect despite it’s central position within the town. This is symptomatic of an urban fabric situated in proximity to intrusive infrastructures such as the highway and the railway. Apparently characterised by spontaneous successive development, the site appears to have developed organically and constitutes an urban fragment of it’s own. A mix of different architectural type buildings were erected on the site, and despite the obsolete image of some of them, they have tectonic qualities and they are starting to define a valuable three square-courtyard morphology, a possible stage in a further evolution.

In this context we identify a great potential, we search for an intensification of existing places and the conservation of the memory of place in order to find and restore an urban space identity. We propose to redefine and complete the urban fabric, not to replace it. We propose to upgrade all the valuable existing buildings and to add new buildings to the existing fabric in order to create both diversity and structure. We are sensitive to the need of setting up smaller entities, in terms of public space and architectural types, to create living areas of activity that are clearly identified at the scale of the townscape and we seek to set up parameters that can spur the animation of the public space. In this way a sense of density combined with a sense of community can become a possibility.

The existing organisation does not provide clear spatial form and all spaces appear as a backyard bleeding into the expansive streetscapes and adjacent logistical areas. The proposal strikingly reconfigures the urban form to shape a sequence of courtyards. Each unique courtyard defines a distinctive sense of place adapted to the range of programmes. The well-defined courtyards can become places of meeting and exchange between the range of local residents and user groups of the new central urban hub.

The new definition of the courtyards offers an important opportunity for meaningful placemaking. The intention is to develop new reciprocal relationships between the built environment and the new public squares. The fact of enclosing the new squares with significant social spaces, such as the exhibition space, and the café provides public activities which may make use of the newly configured outdoor spaces.