Activating the hood

Urban Installations - 2016
Iron, paint and stainless steel, LED and polycarbonate
Produced by Merethe Bua

Municipality of Oslo

As cities become more diverse, the challenge to shape public spaces that are alive, accessible to all and carries a unique local identity, is increasingly more complex. After belonging elsewhere, inhabitants need to find new sense of community. In the context of the first Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016, the Ideal Lab program, took on the theme of "Replanted identity", in the context of the Tøyen neighbourhood in Oslo. Curated by Ralston Bau, five artists and designers each created their propositions that were exhibited at the Deichmanske library. Ralston Bau created a family of urban installations, the Roofs of Tøyen.

Empathic neighborhood

The proxemic specificities between inhabitants to find new potential connections and develop an updated “home” model. Sustainable thinking and acting are muting our present consumer society. We realise that not everyone needs to own everything, foods could be grown more locally and we could create our own energy in independent private units. This mutation could be the departure point for new reasons of interaction.

Interview Birgitta Ralston: Construire la ville by Michel Couartou, 2019 Marseille.

Tøyen citizens

After belonging elsewhere, inhabitants need to experience a new sense of community. We had an immersive process for weeks within Tøyen and its citizens and stake holders, to experience, observe and be part of their lives and rituals, identifying insights and emotional motivations for them to enhance a higher sense of belonging in Tøyen. Deep dive & scenarios was a workshop where designers and locals met, developed ideas and shaped scenarios together. In collaboration with Gabriele Ferri, PhD, UvA, urban gaming methods were used to connect to the local community at Tøyen and define the local identity. The scenarios created were shaped and visualised in the Making workshop that took form as a practical workshop, making mock ups and prototypes in the collective maker space Fellesverkstedet.

Common ground

Identity (having something identical) can only be created through the act of sharing. That said, sharing is not always easy when natives already have their habits and social networks, while the newcomers do not know all the rules. Successful sharing is preceded by a personal selection of what is really important, like a chef selecting ingredients or a DJ selecting songs. Sharing becomes a way to progress and improve when it goes both ways. Each person thinks about what is important to them, shares it, and enjoys the experience and the selections of others. In Tøyen, sharing seems to be natural and most people seem eager to contribute. The preparation of conducive conditions for sharing is what inspired us. The Tøyen public parks and squares are important in an neighbourhood where most inhabitants lives in apartment buildings. Due to the Nordic weather conditions, outdoor activities are hazardous to plan and spaces can feel unsafe outside in the dark winter months.
The three high rises on Tøyen Torg, with their floating roofs on the top, provides an iconic backdrop of any view of Tøyen. Their rough shape inspired the “Tøyen Roofs” that down at street level create shared and permanent outdoor spaces that enable social activities and give sunlight on an overcast day. The project aim to reclaim the public space and make it usable for common activities at any time; our Parkour project is a continuation of this thinking.

Tøyen roofs

Tøyen roofs are offering to Tøyen citizens a common spaces currently missing in their surroundings: spaces to gather, have activities in public spaces such as gathering, selling, sharing. Vegetalised roofs held up with pillars in different widths, like tretrunks in a forrest, giving light to parks and squares during dark winter and protective during rainy days. Rough as the creative community and brutalist architecture of this Oslo neighbourhood, Tøyen roofs is a family of installations, urban lighting and furniture, inspired by local roots; Tøyen Festival Roof, Tøyen Sunshine (urban lighting), Tøyen Market Roof and Tøyen Water


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