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Europan 15: Productive Cities 2

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City: Raufoss
Title: Unigrid

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Variable density.

The current urban configuration o Raufoss is represented by a strong convergence of large side building along the river, mainly due to the high accessibility level and richness of resources of this area. A medium scale mediating between the large and the small scale of residential urban sprawl is completely lacking, generating alienation and disorientation in the perception of the city centre space.

The abstracted concept of Unigrid

Unigrid is the concept of an abstracted infrastructure, which yearn for establish relationship among all the actors and elements of the urban environment. It is a digital “trading zone” and a smart grid, applied to the communication and interaction system, able to receive and send information, made of various kind of data, interact with public space through visual/phisical outputs. Unigrid becomes potentially a common device, both urban and digital, to facilitate dialogue, interaction and links among users with different culture, profession, age, nationality.

Morphological and functional adaptation.

The conceptual and absolute grid become real by warping itself to punctually overlap the orographic situation and morphology of the ground. The pattern dimensions grow larger or smaller according to the urban intensity, operating as generating and ordering principle of space.

Connection and spatial continuity.

The need for connections between the two river sides is occasion to define rules for a new urban settlement. The grid (unigrid) is the infrastructure base on which new centralities and notable spots are identified, especially along the riverside now considered as backyard. The river turns from division to union element. Placing commons and community services in this underused land allows spatial continuity, typical of urban structure, to colonise also forgotten and neglected areas so far. Unigrid is also connection between the different polarities of public spaces. The new urban fabric will be characterised by an overall unitary image despite the richness of variation in the aspect.

Strategic object.

Masterplan is a complex process to be realized step-by-step in a long term period. The process starts by placing strategic objects, acting as social and economic developing engine. Tanks to their intrinsic attractiveness, positioning them near the riverside is the first operation to reverse the city approach to the river, from backyard to important front.

Community definition.

To realize a new urban district model we should first question “how will our life look like tomorrow?”. The answer is: we don’t need anymore a Siedlung, we need a Neighborhood! The urban fabric of public spaces, streets and green areas is drawn by defying a set of rules and block types, the product is a canvas with a strong urban identity. The threshold between different shades of public or private spaces, in addition to the sense of safety and protection, stimulates the community definition and a more intense participation. Unigrid is therefore occasion to re-think housing as urban devices open to share moments and experiences among the citizenry. This open approach makes everyday life functionally and economically more efficient: centralization and sharing of common tools related to housing, such as laundry, storage, kitchen, gym, allow to practice all activities without necessarily being exclusive owner of the tools. Basic everyday needs turn into occasion for gathering, enhance the sense of neighborhood and give a new social role to those common spaces mediating between public and private. If residential blocks are the basic and essential unit of the construction of the city, we can say that housing types which welcomes active communities, represent a fundamental resource for the development of the city itself. The presence of small trade, makerspace, and public functions gives strong attractiveness to the entire district. Open air public space can easily host temporary installations and local events. The bottom-up approach of community initiatives and proposals provides a possible solution to the difficulty of workers or students in living and integrate in a small town, despite the short period of their stay. New relationships between working and housing, long and short permanence, different generations and habits are defined by the meeting of their common needs. For instance, a young student or a single worker could easily provide help for elder people with little errands which age has turned difficult for them and, viceversa, aged citizens could make their time available to little duties of family care for those who have less free time, in a sort of “mutual adoption”