Scandinavian collaborative group selected for urban regeneration project in Norway
A-lab from Oslo and Copenhagen based practice SEA have been announced as winners of the competition for a new urban development on Skien Brygge in Norway. The project comprises the transformation of a former harbour area into a new urban community. The four hectare harbour site is framed by water towards the west and a steeply rising landscape towards the east.
Skien is one of the oldest cities in Norway established around 1000AD and is the 11th largest city in Norway with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Historically Skien is shaped by the development of the harbour and the activities on its waterway.
Both practices believe that successful urban planning takes as a starting point the social interaction between people, referencing the Richard Sennett quote from ‘The fall of public man’: “A city is a human settlement in which strangers are likely to meet.” A-lab and SEA's vision for Skien Brygge is to create a new sustainable urban community in close relation to the city, the water and the landscape based on the idea that compact cities use less energy and natural resources. The compact city also provides accessibility to events, experiences and city life.
A series of new public spaces ties the city together – urban squares, parks, natural landscapes, narrow streets, niche parks, pathways and waterfronts – creating a 'public space network'. The overall layout of the project is a grid consisting of infrastructure and urban spaces. This grid is distorted according to the lines and boundaries of the context creating six new urban spaces and twenty building plots.
Most of the existing industrial areas along Skien harbour front are currently being adapted into mixed-functions areas. With the new Skien Brygge and a planned bridge across Bryggevannet the harbour area has the potential to become the ‘blue commons’ of Skien – a blue recreational space at the heart of the city.
With close links to the surrounding city Skien Brygge will offer the city new space and activity on the waterfront. The plan introduces intimate water spaces in an effort to provide a pleasant contrast to the wide harbour basins and intensifies the experience of and contact with water. Consultants on this entry are Buro Happold.