The 20th century was characterised by the constant race for high levels of productivity, a process associated with the idea of quantity and efficiency, the continuous accumulation and exploitation of natural resources and primary objects. Today, this approach is no longer sustainable: material production is almost immoral! We need to establish a new relationship with Gaia, with our planet.
In ‘liquid modernity’, production is no longer objective and solid, and the ‘Europan – Productive Cities’ competition offered us the opportunity to experiment and research a new model of weak and diffuse urbanisation that introduces the idea of the post-productive city.
The city of Alta lies just below the latitude of 70° and it is closer to the North Pole than most of Central Europe and the British Isles. The city is the northernmost settlement of urban significance in the European Economic Area and it is the second northernmost city in the world with more than 10,000 inhabitants.
Today, Alta’s urban structure is a typical example of urban sprawl, with low-density residential areas, monofunctional nodes and an inefficient infrastructure of vehicular connections.
Our project aims to define an alternative model to transform sprawl into a possible opportunity. Alta Kosmos is a constellation of free devices to group multiple processes together with spatial experiences that react to a decrease in urban density. Easily replaceable or upgradeable, these infrastructures act as catalysts in open space, creating new sites for post-production, recreation and urban life. They are not pavilions, but activators that can grow, die or merge in the process of urban metabolism that drives the life of the entire Alta cosmos.
Four strategies are established in order to define this new urban cosmos:
1. Reconnect: connecting the whole urban area with a new city loop of public transportation. Decreasing the use of private cars by increasing a capillary system among the nodes, the sea and new public and private polarities.
2. Rescale: redefining the vastness of the urban spaces typical of Norwegian cities, rescaling the areas in order to produce new complexity in between and inside the monofunctional areas.
3. Refill: designing residual, unplanned and vacant areas as potential spaces for relation between residential neighborhoods in order to dissolve urban sprawl.
4. Reuse: converting and transforming waste materials into new primary elements for the new urban environment
The main area is the Skiferkaia waterfront, a large post-industrial site overlooking the incredible landscape of the Norwegian fjords. The decommissioning and closure of the slate industry has left space and opportunity to reconnect the city with the sea and to rethink the area as a natural post-production site – a new part of the city to expand the community and activate a process of re-appropriation that can transform the waterfront into a new dynamic social laboratory.
Here, a series of small devices merge with the landscape, bringing people to live and experience the sea again. Flexible infrastructures inspired by the traditional structure for drying fish, called a hjell, are manipulated and transformed in order to be adapted and integrated into the waterfront. Residential buildings, kiosks, markets, workshops, rental shops, wading pools, playgrounds, dog runs, etc… are some of the proposed programs that will populate the coastline with activities that could last year round.
The inclination of nature to self-regenerate according to different landscape conditions is the second design tool used for this project.
The waterfront is conceived as an unstable landscape that changes and develops over time into a complex mosaic of interacting ecosystems. The spontaneous natural process is enabled by a system of mosaics of stones of different sizes, made by reusing local quartzite slates once produced in the factory. The surface thus becomes a carpet of rocky micro-landscapes, in which natural colonisation and spontaneous growth produce heterogeneous living environments rich in biodiversity.
The Skiferkaia promenade is transformed into a web of shapes and sequences of full and empty spaces. The concept of reuse and adaptability over time underlies this transformation, in which nature and people merge into a new post-productive landscape.
Proposal by fabulism.