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Europan 14: Productive Cities

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City: Narvik
Title: Frozen Boundaries

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When famous Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen intentionally froze his ship Fram into the Arctic Ocean pack ice in 1893 he expected the current to carry them slowly towards the North Pole. During the months the boat was retained on the arctic ice, sailors were able to walk around the boat, enjoying the frozen surface of the ocean as a great playground, seeing the boat as a kind of a big floating house surrounded by a below-zero garden.

Narvik stands at the edge of a fjord, surrounded by imposing mountains. Facing this powerful landscape there is the tower of the so-called “technical quarter”, an heterogeneous ensemble of buildings that do not produce the conditions for establishing a liveable public space. In the same way water solidifies capturing any object submerged in it while drawing a touchable surface, the empty open spaces between these buildings can be transformed into a new compact public space, a playground demarcated by a frozen boundary that reflects the many contradictions of the changes of state between the indoor and the outdoor, the urban and the architectural, the solid and the liquid.

The project aims to provide the group of existing buildings with unity and consistency. Nowadays, these buildings are dissimilar in shape, scale and materiality, producing a convoluted ensemble. In order to address this problem, the project sets a common ground where all buildings can relate to each other and yet keep their original autonomy.

The extension fills the gaps between buildings and sets new boundaries for the public space around them. Four distinct public spaces are created: a reception square facing both the city and the park, a semi-covered square in the middle of the ensemble, and two open squares connected by the former one. The reception square is located on the upper ground level while the others are located on the lower one; a stepped multipurpose hall connects both levels. Each existing building is assigned a specific use while the extension provides extra space to each of the former uses producing in-between spaces that may be shared by the users.

Bromsgårds Park is infiltrated into the built ensemble by transforming its topography, establishing a continuous borderline between the city and the railway.

The image of the new quarter is a variety of transparent, translucent and opaque surfaces that look as different layers of a frozen mass of objects. The result is a volume whose actual boundaries are complex and blurry.