In the next years an integrated land use and transport strategy for the Oslo region will be developed. Three different strategies are actually underway; whatever will be the choice Asker will play a key role in the development of a competitive and sustainable European region. Asker, located between Oslo and Drammen, is divided into different centres connected with a network of public transport and surround- ed by an extremely valuable environment. A concrete proof of this value is the fact that in this area 6 houses for each square kilometers are holiday’s houses, in comparison with an average of 2 in the entire nation.
Asker’s environment is made of four different ecologies that coexists in a surface of 101 square kilometers: the forest, the clearing (that are defined by the lack of trees), the water (both in its fjord and lake) and the cultivated land. Dikemark, is one of the four main centres of the city and has the great value in containing all these ambients. Thanks to the fact that it could be reached only by bus with a low frequency and to the strong hystorical heritage dued to the former Psychiatric Hospital, Dikemark today is a very quiet place where live and enjoy directly all the outdoor activities that could be made in a natural environment where the sight is outlined with 36 monumental buildings of historical memory.
The Leaf is a project that wants to achieve the aim of developing this site even in terms of numbers without changing the actual virtue of the place, with an highly site specific strategy.
The Leaf works with the existing with a clear concept. For ages the facades of this buildings were the edges of this enclave: to open them and give to the people the chance to know this heritage recollecting it or directly using it, is the imperative. The Leaf builds a new interface that defines a strategic site, a starting point of this knowledge trip, a new nucleus where a new programme coexists with the existing buildings giving strenght to each others.
The Leaf defines a new strategic site in the central area. The concept for the strategic site works with two elements: the leaf itself, a surface that deals with the different ecologies inteconnecting them and the nucleus, a single building that deals with the existing ones.
The project seeks for a radical reinterpreta- tion of the site’s current state. This is dealt with at two levels: firstly, a new way of inhabiting the wooded landscape with new typologies such as treehouses and circles is proposed. Secondly, a new community center is projected by turning the existing buildings of the current center inside out. This reinterpretation is both compelling and provocative. It opens visions beyond the brief’s questions:
What if the “colonial plan” of Dikemark is reread by offering new -landscape engaging- forms of dwelling in the forest such as living in the tree tops or in clearances? What if the buildings, loaded with the memory of servicing a psychiatric institution, are turned into ruins and therefore release new usages? Although the suggested typologies are inter- esting in themselves, the overall scheme of sprawling density destroys Dikemark’s natural environment at most. The suggested distribution of dwellings would need an enormous additional -car-based- infrastructure, an aspect that the project clearly has not taken into consideration.
The proposed center, with its roofing of the existing outdoor spaces, implies the privatisation of public spaces. Thus, rather than the proclaimed -semiotic- opening, the proposal portends controlled access, similar to the guarded management of shopping malls.
It is the imaginative and aesthetic qualities of the project that are honored by the jury. The jury recommends taking interpretation “beyond” practicality, commodification and planning rhetorics into consideration when developing the site: finally, history, topography and landscape specificities are at stake.
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