The broad freedom granted by the brief forced us to define quantitative constraints and qualitative guidelines before to start the proper design.
On one side we established the physical boundaries of the project: Sentrumsgården is a 7000sqm regularly maintained building; even if it’s bulky and obsolete we accepted the challenge to preserve it.
On the other side we envisaged what the “Forum” should look like: an indoor public space housing events and cultural activities and simultaneously acting as a permanent display of Narvik’s productive system.
An horizontal environment characterised by extreme transparency, logistic comfort and reconfigurability. The challenge in this case was to make it a landmark and a satisfying natural light catcher in spite of the non-vertical configuration.
Basing on this assumptions we started prolonging the average level of Kongensgate deep into the lot and we obtained a wide flat surface, the generator of the whole design.
The mass under the surface has been carved as an archipelago of square shaped covered courts housing the main hall, the Teknorama, and all the working spaces for startups. The thick covering slab raises as a peel in correspondence with the courts, generating an iconic skyline of pinnacles swallowing natural light without casting shadows one on each other.
The interior space, reachable from a wide ramp aligned with Brannbakken, is organised around the huge covered square of the Forum. On its northern side takes place the Teknorama, whose activities could be also expanded in the park, while on the southern side the working units of the incubators are informally organised as mergeable glazed spaces served by enclosed storages and labs. The far bottom of the platform will be used for storage, logistics and heavier productive processes.
We decided then to empty the first two floors of Sentrumsgården reconfiguring their plan as a sort of gate: two glazed boxes containing the offices previously upstairs. Part of the northern box, housing the offices of Futurum and Forskningparken, continues down to the lower level, providing a common reception and the link to the workshop area. The upper part of the building is reconfigured as a dorm for students and teachers with improved emergency exits and a new skin.The front on Kogensgate, only apparently unaltered, will give now access to a broad terraced square facing the west side of the town and showcasing,from the high skylights, a diffused report of Narvik’s initiative.