Living city, living sea
'Living city, living sea' proposes a new Fagerstrand where urban development, value creation and preservation of flora and fauna form a healthy balance. In light of the environmental crisis, we must address the growing biological challenges on land and in the fjord.
Industrial artefacts are integrated in a new area where sustainable production and innovation co-exist with urbanity. Fagerstrand prioritises health-promoting and green mobility. A green corridor serves as a recreational path weaving the area together. The entry proposes strategic interventions to save the fjord – preserving vegetation to retain water, improved water management and restoration of habitats. Urban structures set in the natural landscape provide better living conditions for all species, above and below sea level.
The jury was unanimous in awarding Living City, Living sea as the winner of Fagerstrand. The proposal addresses both Fagerstrand’s past as an important industrial node along the Oslo fjord, and the current discourse on how to densify in communities with a rural identity. The proposed building typologies densify the site, while relating to the scale and distribution of the existing fabric and the remaining oil tanks. The free standing apartment buildings provide air, light and views of the sea and propose a collective form combined with the qualities of living in a villa. The connection between the sea and the centre is solved elegantly, utilising the landscape to reduce the steepness of the slope and proposing a green connection that neatly puts nature in “the centre” as stressed by the brief.
Living city, Living sea successfully addresses a range of larger regional issues and local challenges in a bold and convincing manner as it combines programs for small scale production that takes advantage of the existing infrastructure, measures to preserve marine life, the role of this development in the regional setting while retaining a flexible urban structure that extends local identities and developing Fagerstrand as one place with a unique identity.
The jury does not find the move of directing traffic underground in the centre very convincing, and would like to see further investigations into the outdoor spaces between the proposed houses. These shortfalls do not reduce the impact of the overall concept. Living city, Living sea approached the brief and site in depth and succeeded in presenting a project that couples visionary and innovative qualities with realistic implementation.
Associates: John Sanden (NO), Ingvild Hodnekvam (NO), Mats Heggernæs (NO) – architects
firstname.lastname@example.org / sandenhodnekvam.no
1. How did you form the team for the competition?
Sanden + Hodnekvam Arkitekter is an established studio and Mats Heggernæs came to work in the studio a couple of years ago. Our office is located twenty minutes from the Fagerstrand competition area and we were excited to see that it was selected as one of the sites for Europan.
2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic, Living cities?
The main issue for our project has been how to develop Fagerstrand in a way that brings new life to the area and at the same time preserve Fagerstrand’s natural qualities and rich industrial history. We wanted to find a healthy balance between urban development and value creation, at the same time as natural qualities are preserved and strengthened. All urban development must address the growing biological challenges on land and in the fjord. Our proposal suggests a new development where sustainable production and innovation co-exist with urbanity and preservation of natural resources. The main topic, Living cities, has informed our proposal on all levels. Firstly, we focus the urban development in parts of the site that have already been degraded by industry, in order to achieve area neutrality and preserve all existing habitats. Secondly, we propose to use vegetation and green corridors to provide high quality living spaces for all species. Vegetation is also used as a means to retain surface water, thus protecting the fjord from environmental toxins. We establish a green corridor for pedestrians and cyclists to connect the area, both as an attractive infrastructure and as a way of providing large coherent green areas to create good living conditions for flora and fauna. Thirdly, we propose to utilise new forms of industry and production as a means to create a productive city. With a particular focus on circular systems of food production, the fjord can actually benefit from aquaculture.
3. How did the issues on metabolic and inclusive vitalities and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
As mentioned in the previous question, we tried to seek strategic measures to use both the landscape, the industry and the topography to find solutions that could benefit Fagerstrand on several levels. We consider land and sea as one symbiotic system. We developed a concept where the interests of preservation of natural resources, measures to keep the fjord healthy and urban development could benefit each other. By preserving natural vegetation and inserting new urban structures within the green and industrial artefacts, we create new forms of dwelling, combining density/urbanity and natural qualities. Instead of erasing Fagerstrand’s identity, we see our proposal as part of a continuous development and in keeping with Fagerstrand’s identity. We try to use the energy and resources that is synonymous with urban development and industry to create a better place, combining the theme from the previous Europan, Productive cities and the current theme, Living cities.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
All architectural projects have to relate to an existing situation, so in that sense the proposal is a continuation of the work we do in the studio everyday – recognising existing qualities and look for ways to unlock the potential in each project. We are personally and professionally concerned with the environmental biological challenges we are facing, both locally and globally. This is an issue that we discuss in the studio whichever project we are working on. With emphasis on the theme of Living cities, we have done a few competition proposals dealing with similar ideas previously. What is special about Fagerstrand is the strategic location along the fjord and close to Oslo, where a sustainable development can really make a regional impact.
5. Urban-architectural projects like the ones in Europan can only be implemented together with the actors through a negotiated process and in time. How did you consider this issue in your project?
We see our proposal as a framework for urban development. We look forward to develop the project further in collaboration with land owners, residents, the municipality and potential industries/research groups that are all integral to Fagerstrand’s development.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
It is our first time both entering and winning Europan. It is very exciting to have won the prize for an area we care for and see a lot of potential in. We have been working with the same issues in other projects and competitions and will continue our work with architecture in all scales.
Office: Sanden+Hodnekvam Architects
Average age of the associates: 34 years old
Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? if yes, which ones?
Yes. The office has conceived several projects, with particular emphasis on single-family houses. A selection of competitions:
- 1st prize. Student housing and office/workshop building, Gjøvik. Invited competition. 2021
- 1st prize. Visiting center and museum, Bryggen, Bergen. Invited competition. 2019
- 1st prize. Bergen Fish market. Bergen. Invited competition. 2019
- 1st prize. Masterplan, Bergen Harbour. Invited competition. 2019
- 1st prize. Children’s library installation, Nesodden. Invited competition 2019
- 1st prize. Gystadmarka masterplan. Open international competition. 2012
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