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How to create a good neighborhood? Some ideas from the Oslo Architecture Triennale

03 of October '22

Once again we are virtually transported to Oslo, where the Architecture Triennale is underway under the theme "Mission Neighborhood". This time, as announced, we will take a closer look at the exhibition at the Neighborhood Lab in the former Munch Museum - "Mission Neighborhood - (Re)forming Communities."

The Open Call seeking pro-neighborhood solutions, announced in the spring of 2022, received 383 submissions, more than two hundred of them were included in the catalog of good practices - Neighborhood Index (you can find it here, in turn, you can read about the Polish proposals included in the index here), and six in the aforementioned exhibition. In total, the exhibition consists of twenty-eight proposals capturing the theme of the neighborhood in six different perspectives. Today we will introduce you to a few of them.

„The 10 sqm Co-op”

view of the exhibition

photo: Are Carlsen

understanding places

The first perspective focuses on understanding what places are, or could be. "The Street Corner Society" refers to American sociologist William Foote Whyte's book of the same title. As part of the project, an interdisciplinary team of students (consisting of: Amaleen Jeyaseelerajah, Rikke Storvik Sjøhelle, Vilde Aurora Halle Tvedten, Petter Hiis Berg, Oda Lægran, Gina Meaas Gjerdmundsen) researched four different neighborhoods in Oslo, seeking answers to the question: what do we need to be able to meet "on the corner"?

„The Street Corner Society”

The Street Corner Society project

photo: Are Carlsen

According to the authors, a combination of seven ingredients is necessary for this: time, local involvement, creating terraced buildings, arranging easily accessible common spaces, organizing outdoor activities, proximity to nature and, finally, freeing up the title corners - open meeting spaces.

social infrastructure

One project that fits the theme of social infrastructure is the concept for a new architecture school in the Danish city of Aarhus. By design, the project was intended to unite - in this case, the scattered headquarters of the school in ten different locations, as well as the institution with the area in which it was established and its residents. The new building was realized in a part of the city that used to be occupied by freight railroad buildings, but is now a thriving neighborhood full of cultural activities. The goal set by the ADEPT studio responsible for the project was to achieve a synergy between the school's activities and the surrounding community.

„Open Neighbourhood”

"Open Neighborhood" project

photo: Are Carlsen

How did this work out? The design process itself involved challenging the typical hierarchy in favor of transparency and openness to the needs of stakeholders and residents. As a result, the school is organized not as a closed building with a specific function, but like a village with a variety of spaces, streets and squares; the street level allows easy communication between the university and the neighborhood; the spaces are often public and with an undefined program in order to evolve over time. The project, the authors write, allows for a reconsideration of the role of large institutions and their relationship with the neighborhood in which they are built, showing not only how they can coexist with each other, but also how they can benefit each other.

our streets

In order for Copenhagen to meet its 2025 carbon reduction target, architects from the JAJA studio, in their "Copenhagen Car free(home)" project, proposed the city.... go on a diet! The goal of the mobility diet, which involves withdrawing most cars from the city, is to dedicate the streets - the largest public spaces that exist - to biodiverse urban activity zones for pedestrians and cyclists; to make the public more attractive than the private.


A telling example of the appropriation of space by automobiles that the designers reached for was the setting up of a parklet, an urban furniture designed for relaxation with seating and greenery, with the dimensions of one parking space, at the exhibition.

„Copenhagen Car free(dom)”

"Copenhagen Car free(home)" project.

Photo: Are Carlsen


Studio SLA, which, as the architects who work there emphasize, is a nature-based design studio, showed at the exhibition the project "Gellerup: Mission Neighborhood Plants," explaining that a neighborhood is a relationship between people, plants, nature and all living organisms.

„Gellerup: Mission Neighbourhood Plants”

The project "Gellerup: Mission Neighborhood Plants"

photo: Are Carlsen

The modernist Gellerup neighborhood in Aarhus , Denmark - a 1960s and 1970s housing machine with a less than stellar reputation - has been transformed beyond recognition. Thanks to the SLA project and the involvement of residents, the spaces between the buildings have become a giant park, improving not only the appearance of the estate, but also, the architects write, safety, climate resilience, biodiversity and quality of life.

© Gamma Film

reforming systems

Can an infrastructure facility be more than a mere enclosure of function? The "Hotspots" project proposed by the BIG studio and Innargi makes it possible! For it assumes a solution that, as the creators write, through the creation of geothermal energy plants - urban hotspots - will not only heat homes, but also create spaces that connect residents. Inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the catalog presents ways to integrate geothermal plants in urban environments of different scales.


"Hotspots" project

photo: Are Carlsen

The project shows great potential in looking at (energy) infrastructure as an opportunity to design spaces and places for people and other living beings - not as something isolated from the social and natural environment, the designers explain the idea.

alternative solutions

The last perspective concerns alternative solutions. One of the initiatives conducted as part of the exhibition is the "Garden of Ideas" - an ongoing design workshop led by Oslo School of Architecture and Design lecturers Einar Sneve Martinussen and Joakim Formo and Dan Hill of the Melbourne School of Design.

„A Garden of Ideas”

"A Garden of Ideas" workshop

photo: Are Carlsen

What is a garden of ideas? A group of students (consisting of: Juni Ruud Bunkholdt, Tetiana Dubovenko, Nora Røstø Grøtberg, Michalina Fidos, Malin Emilie Hoff and Oskar Jeremiasz Jasiczak) spend six weeks, based on numerous briefs, looking for ideas toreimagining life in the neighborhood, following the idea taken from Brian Eno to "think like a gardener, not an architect, to design beginnings, not ends."

Listen to what Einar Sneve Martinussen says about the project:

Einar Sneve Martinussen, co-founder of the Garden of Ideas project

elaborated: Ola Kloc

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