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40 538 Urban design - bærekraftig stedsutvikling gjennom ark.prosj.

Full course name in English: 
Urban design - Sustainable Small Town Development
40 538
Syklus 2
2020 Høst
2020 Høst
Maksimum antall studenter: 
Jørgen Johan Tandberg
Om emnet


1. What Is At Stake


The studio will operate within two converging, highly pressing concerns: the advent of sustainability as a major force within architectural discourse, and the planning of the Norwegian small town.


As both national politicians and local municipalities are adjusting their attitudes to the climate crisis in response to a popular awakening, rethinking the fundamentals of our own profession is paramount. Rather than passively submitting to technical performance-criteria becoming policy, it is urgent that we provide a credible basis for the radical changes that are happening, from within our own discourse. Architects need to be proactive in exploring environmentally sound planning strategies and building techniques in a manner that can simultaneously further humanistic and cultural values - bringing these into a higher unity - rather than relying on techno-engineering fixes alone.


The studio proposes that architecture and urbanism should in this context not be considered separate discourses. Buildings are environmentally determined objects, their raison d'aitre - economic, social, political - necessarily expressed in their physical form.


Our aim is to develop strategic building projects that can serve as exemplars of a new "aesthetics of sustainability" for the Norwegian small town. The proposals should be defined by a clear strategic purpose on a regional level, a defined programme that is in actual, realistic demand, a rational, sustainable and economic means of construction, and a seductive public image. In being of and about our time they will by nature also be "modern" – and hopefully, pointing to another future.



2. Strategic Goal


The aim of the studio is to develop strategies for environmentally conscious urban developments in small Norwegian towns (”bærekraftig tettstedsutvikling”), and consequently over time, to increase awareness in Norwegian local municipalities of the value of high-quality and sustainable architecture. Due to the seriousness of the undertaking, the studio considers this a long-term strategic goal, to be explored in a series of singular, experimental student proposals. 


Each semester, we will engage with a Norwegian town in need of a new urban strategy and direction for its local centre, building up a catalogue of knowledge and ideas. Many local municipalities are interested in working with architects, but the attention of the architects lies elsewhere. Similarly, students are rarely asked to engage with sites that are neither proper "city" nor "nature", but that exist in the ubiquitous, architecturally unfashionable limbo between the two. Arguably, most Norwegian towns are not the results of cultural continuity, but of sudden, modern breaks. These breaks are by nature not heroic or based in ideas of architectural autonomy, but practical - architectural form determined by economic and politcal change. The small towns in Norway of a similar size and function have developed in phases that carry characteristics of contemporary political projects. Common determining factors usually include: industrial settlement (1870s), civic-center development (1970s), increased commercial activities (2000s). Recognizing these commonalities – a place’s specific, but rarely unique history – will also help us determine how best to engage with our study area, establishing new projects among the remnants of past ideals. This does not mean that ”weak”, mallable architectural form is what is needed now: perhaps rather the opposite.



3. (Semester)


We will create projects in a small industrial town in need of a new strategy for its urban centre. Programme and site area will have been determined prior to the commencement of the course, but students can expect a medium-large scale building programme with the ability to redefine the area’s identity.


The students will start the term by producing simple maps that analyze the study area and site area in question, in order to make realistic assessments as to where their project can have the most impact, and what local urban design strategies can accomodate their proposals and ensure they are succesfully integrated in their context. The course will each term focus on a set of quite specific means of sustainable construction - not as a correct answer for sustainable building in general and in every situation – but rather as subjects worth studying for one term, in order to reveal some of its potential benefits and limitations, for our common cause. 


The projects will be drawn to a high level of detail, and evaluated based on their urban and architectural qualities, equally. The proposals need to be site-specific and realistic, precisely as a means of exploring general strategies that can be applicable to a range of similar small towns. They should be read as points in a wider discussion about sustainability and small town urbanism, but should also be justifiable based on their own architectural merit. It is selfevident that we cannot change the world with one architectural project in a local setting, and ’economy of means’ will become an important term for the studio. But we can produce experimental examples that in their finite form suggests an alternative urban and architectural direction. 




Skills and knowledge gained:

-Increased knowledge about sustainable construction and detailing.

-Ability to analyze the urban fabric of Norwegian small towns, and situate a strategic building project.

-Greater awareness of an architectural project’s impact upon its local context.

-Ability to reflect critically upon the extent of an architectural proposal as an intervention on an urban scale.


Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter


The students will work on one indivdual project throughout the term. However: sharing knowledge, details, maps, references and ideas is encouraged. The studio should be seen as a collective where common interests are discussed, and where we all help each other improve our work. Students can expect 4 reviews throughout the semester, weekly desk-crits, and pin-ups every third week. Working methods will include: simple analytical maps, reference studies, detailed drawings, large scale construction models - 1:50 or 1:100 (depending on workshop availability in fall term), realistic renderings. The studio is considered a full-time engagement.


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