On an urban scale, On Reflection continues the tradition of public spaces facing the main road, a feature that will be of even greater importance to the future pedestrian friendly Kongensgate. This square will be a new, natural entrance to the whole complex of the Technical Quarter and at the same time a historic place with the history of Narvik imbedded in it. An inviting landscape design offering places to sit and hang around will appeal to everyone that is passing by and not only to the ones living and working in the quarter.
Two new buildings are added to the archi tectural ensemble of the Technical Quarter–the Unité and the Newton Building. The Unité together with the former Fire department and Technical town hall will physically define the new square. The square will function as the formal entrance to the Technical Quarter. All housing units are located around the square. The whole ground floor is dedicated to public or semi-public functions that will contribute to the liveliness of the square–entrances, co-working, café/restaurant and main lobby. From the lobby you can take the elevator up to the flexible hall. It can be used for conventions, concerts, fairs etc., or just as a place where you can get one of the best views over Narvik. The other addition, the Newton building, will be the public face of Teknorama and the cornerstone of the new, more accessible Bromsgård Park. Café tables or children playing can easily spill out into the park whenever the weather is allowing. The exhibition space is located in the former workshop building, which suits well for the purpose with its rough surfaces, good daylight conditions and spacious rooms.
Students and recent graduates who choose to live in Narvik’s Technical Quarter do it because of its urban qualities and vibrant atmosphere. Here you can enjoy a strong community with plenty of com- mon spaces and direct access to the co-working spaces from your home. The types of living units – the studio, the collective housing and the duplex apartment–have distinctive features. Whatever type one chooses, one will get a unique living experience in the heart of Narvik.
The winning project On Reflection clearly chooses a step-by-step strategy. The main reason for this decision is that the winners understand the existing buildings as a kind of helpful structural framework which does not need much transformation in order to create two different and new public spaces for the city. In this way, the project succeeds in reconciling the hitherto unconvincing connection from the public library via the town hall to the Bromsgård Park into an interconnected chain of pedestrian spaces. The project subtly works with alternate layers of the scale. One of the very convincing ideas is the layout of the two-staggered form of public spaces: a more formal one to Kongensgate and an informal with new functions on the back which links the town hall to Bromsgård Park.
Regarding the new purposes, the architects have analysed in detail the potential of the existing buildings. They are making convincing propositions for each of them and are carefully adding two corresponding buildings that forms a new gate to the park. This successive approach – with its respect for the existing building structures –is challenging the balance of how much to design or let the design become the result of the activities at the place. The award winner succeeds here on two levels. On the one hand, even if the architecture is consid- erate, it integrates outstanding new qualities such as the large lounge overlooking the city in the new building which is called Unité. On the other hand, the proposed new exhibition and learning center, which are using the existing garage architecture, is especially convincing as it incorporates a contemporary image of multi-purpose co-working spaces in the fabric of the city. In doing so, the architects apply references from existing conversions that correspond very well with the requirements of the city of Narvik for a constantly evolving mix of uses.
Team Representative: Martin Berg (SE) – architect
Associate: Matilda Schuman (SE) – architect
Schuman Berg Arkitektkontor - Trollesundsvägen 100, 124 57 Bandhagen (SE)
+4670-676 25 11 – firstname.lastname@example.org – schumanberg.se
1. How did you form the team for the competition?
We met at the School of Architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. We assisted each other with our separate diploma projects but we have never worked together on a common project. We thought of Europan as a suitable competition to do together, as a way to explore our mutual interests within the field of architecture.
2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: the place of productive activities within the city?
One of the main issues of the project was to find plausible strategies for transforming existing buildings into a new use. As stated clearly in the brief, the city wanted to invest in knowledge-based companies started by young people living in Narvik. It was important to us to find pragmatic answers and to be realistic about the economic aspect – it is cheaper to convert an existing building than building something new, and cheap rentable space is what a start-up company needs. But we also believe that keeping existing buildings can have other positive aspects, such as supporting a local character. When demolishing and building something new, the uniqueness of a place easily gets lost. It also shifts the focus from a local to an international level, because today architecture tends to be a global phenomenon where everything looks the same, no matter where it is built. We also think it is important to reflect on how production and innovation happen and can be encouraged. At a larger scale, we think that urbanity and a pulse created by a multi-functional environment is important. But moments of inspiration, rest, creative thinking and informal meetings can happen everywhere – in your home, the laundry room or the common hallway. The whole quarter can have a great influence on creativity – not only the specific workplace.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
The location of the Technical Quarter has great potential to host the new urban arena for the young in Narvik. It is centrally located in the city, where a renewal of the town centre is taking place and the main street Kongensgate is planned to become more pedestrian friendly. We think that clearly defined public spaces are important for urbanity. In its current state, the public spaces within the quarter are mainly used as parking lots with a lack of hierarchy. By adding two new volumes to the quarter, the public spaces get defined and distinctive characters – one formal towards the main street and one informal in the back. By doing that we are creating a more dynamic block. In the quarter, a handful of the current tenants are going to move to a new location. Their buildings will be left emptied, which gives a possibility for re-programing. We studied the existing buildings closely and got interested in their generous and flexible ground floors, with tall ceiling heights, good daylight conditions and lots of character, previously used mostly for storing trucks and repairing cars. We believe that these spaces can provide what a contemporary creative environment would need.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
We have had an on-going dialogue about urban context, history and how to work with architecture in an existing, built environment for several years. Maybe it started when we lived one year in Seattle (US) a year that raised a lot of questions regarding urban architecture and rapid change, but also gave us lots of inspiration. In hindsight, many of our architectural references for this project were from the US
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?
Our proposal is not based on a single architectural concept. Instead it is built on a contextual and pluralistic approach to architecture, which hopefully gives the project robustness. Our additions are small scaled and separated from each other, and a big part of the project will be remodeling and converting existing structures. It is possible to realize the project in a slow pace and in several stages. The brief had very high ambitions with the Technical Quarter to be a generator for young professionals to stay in Narvik. These ambitions and our pragmatic proposal can hopefully be a good combination for realizing the project with its full potential.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
Yes, and it is also the first time we have participated in the competition. This is a chance for us to start working with a non-private client on our first own commission.
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