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Rediscovering the centre

Location: Ørsta, Møre og Romsdal, Norway

Population: 10,500

Strategic Site: 99 ha Project Site: 13,5 ha

Commission after competition: Planning commission

Site proposed by: Ørsta Municipality (in collaboration with Møre og Romsdal county)


1. Prize: 12,000 EURO

Runner-up: 6,000 EURO

Ørsta, also known as «the white town», lies at the end of Ørstafjorden surrounded by the beautiful Sunnmøre Alps. Though encompassed in beauty, Ørsta suffers from being in the hinterlands of the more prosperous Sunnmøre Coast to the west.

How can Ørsta strengthen its position as an urban centre in the region? As the municipality recently opened up to develop the waterfront adjacent to the town centre, a potential for a new, more urban future at Ørsta has emerged. Now the municipality asks for ideas for how to re-invent its urban center and better connect the central areas and programs in Ørsta.

City strategy

Ørsta municipality is the largest on the mainland in the county of Møre og Romsdal. Farming is an important way of life, but there is also a wide variety of industries, mainly furniture, metal and food-processing. The main coastal highway E39 and RV 655 meet in Ørsta. 50 000 people live within an hour drive from this crossing. Ørsta has for long collaborated with its twin town, Volda (an educational center with university networks), located 10 km to the south, and the future holds for a stronger collaboration between these two municipalities. Between them lies Hovden airport with daily flights to Bergen and Oslo. Currently the two municipalities are looking into the possibilities for developing the area around the airport to a new regional node for big box retail and other businesses.

Site definition

The site is comprised of Ørsta’s main street (Vikegata), main square (Ørsta Torg) and the waterfront. Two large shopping malls, as well as some shops and cafes along the Vikegata, constitute most of urban life there. Ørsta Torg is mainly comprised by a parking lot serving the Amfi shopping mall.
A new park, Ørsta Hamnepark, is located to the south. 500 meters to the southeast lies Ørsta Cultural centre, some schools, a football stadium and other public buildings. This area is currently detached from the site, and should be considered part of a new, urban networking strategy for Ørsta.
In the inner corner of the waterfront lies the listed landmark Kyrkjevoren, a former boat landing site for visiting churchgoers. Next to the site lies Svendsengarden, another important landmark in Ørsta.

A central task is to present a credible strategy for how to improve urban life and make attractive urban spaces that connects the site to the public functions within the study area. Furthermore a strategy for how to integrate Vikegata with the waterfront development and shopping mall in the south of the site has to be presented. Today mobility is mainly car-based. How can one encourage less car use in Ørsta?

A central premise for success in Ørsta will be to collaborate with local stakeholders that can contribute to the developing and activating of the urban center. Ørsta is both in need of a plan and a process that can transform its relationship to the urban centre.

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