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Made in Hamar by Eva Alvarez+Carlos Gomez | TEXT

Made in Hamar by Eva Alvarez+Carlos Gomez | TEXT

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Published by ecosistemaurbano

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Published by: ecosistemaurbano on Nov 14, 2011
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Made in Hamar: A basic proposal for Stortorget Square by Eva Álvarez+Carlos Gómez1. Participation experience
When we noticed about dream
network design process led by Ecosistema Urbano torethink Stortorget Square in Hamar (Norway), we knew we wanted to get involved in thisproject in any possible way… We both are architects and assistant professors concerned withsustainability, gender and participation issues and from the beginning, we were aware it wasgoing to be an important design and social experiment and, simply, we should be close to it. Icould join the online workshop PUBLIC SPACE AND PEOPLE conducted by Andres Walliser from Ecosistema Urbano and, finally, we could get involved in the multiple information cross-cuts. During the online sessions,a) We have noticed about the existing concern about the daily life space design. In fact, theurban space is usually designed oriented to productive functions (paid work) done by a smallgroup of persons (male, white, rich, young, capable, not immigrant…as types) and thereproductive functions (not paid work) -mainly done by all the rest of people typologies - areout of the designers’ focus. In these online workshops it has been possible to visualize thegreat awareness on this unfair treatment.b) We have noticed –again- about Schools/Faculties of Architecture worldwide are not neutralin spreading design concepts and conceptual tools. We have realized that people from diversecountries speak (and think) in a remarkable similar way, and sometimes we use concepts notsufficiently debated as gender topics or class approach. We understood concepts could evolvefrom local reality trying to meet diversity or specificity.c) We have also realized the importance of diffusing all the existing knowledge, trying toconnect it. The previously proposed local approach should be related to international existingknowledge as a way to innovate, since design (or innovation) only is possible on the evaluationof previous work base. And designing is closely related to democracy.We expect dream
design process to deepen in these aspects.
2. Approach
Our basic approach to the place and basic proposal try to understand the Stortorget Squareinside a greater ecosystem formed by geography, infrastructures, economic and social forcesand people. Obviously, we have not done all the necessary analysis but our position is firmlyfounded in
design as analysis
 –using Denise Scott Brown concepts-, that is to say the designprocess as a
approach to the solution that incorporates constant analysis. Our processis still open ended and it should remain in this way. The solution should evolve from theconditions of the ecosystem.So from this starting point, we have seen that Hamar is very well located facing Southorientation and the lake Mjøsa at the same time. The lake supports a lot of boat harbours andHamar has two of them; they both are big, with a lot of boats.
Hamar is well connected by road, train and plane. The main road passes by the east of Hamar in SE-NO direction with two fingers entering in Hamar, one of them as far as StortorgetSquare, passing by the Church. The train railway seems to be connected to an industrial pastand, in part, passes bordering the lake (south part of Hamar) what cuts pedestrian, traffic andviews connection to the lake in a great part of the water front. Linked to these ways there areseveral
spaces: and industrial resource, a big railway transfer station, a peripheralcommercial zone and the Cemetery. We use the term da-me space employing the da-mearchitecture concept delivered by Bow-Wow Atelier to name the architecture no one isconcerned with as academic and valuable one but that is extremely effective in its objectives.So, naming those zones as da-me spaces we try to focus the attention in the need of transforming these places thought as problems in positive poles of the urban renovation inHamar, because they contain lessons we could learn.And linked to this way net there are a lot of parking slots. We, coming from a mild weather place, can imagine that with minus 30 degrees in winter time, we would try to park near theplace where we are going to, even more if one is going out with children. So, near thecommercial areas, urban centre and harbours there are several parking places. We think wecould rethink this parking web.Another question that strikes us is that Hamar gives back to the lake: there is no water frontproposal facing it. Only a big sports centre is placed near the lake but the open space around itseems not to be designed enough. The pedestrian and visual connexion to the water is clearlydamaged by the railways. Even the small pavilion (actually, dreamhamar venue) gives back tothe lake. The harbours and boats users seem not to have enough facilities near them.Besides, we are concerned with the idea of not seeing as many trees and vegetation as weexpected in our ideal image of Norway. We don’t know if people from there are bored of somuch forest and green landscape. For us, from the south, many more trees are needed.Other point we have reflected on is that the urban centre of Hamar, Stortorget Square, being apublic space (a place that is not private) is not really a civic one. Only the market acts as acivic place there (where you go to see and be seen, where you can interact with people). Thiscivic part of the space continues through the pedestrian commercial street finishing in TorgSquare. When the new Cultural House will be built the civic space will be augmented byadding all the space near the main entrance and even the ground floor of the building (Nolliplan for Rome).It is also surprising for us, the circumstance that even lacking of enough civic space, there isan excessive theatre perspective between the Church and the Pavilion produced by the slopeof the square and the position of both. This slope also makes the sight to the lake to be onlypossible in the highest part of the square.
3. Proposal
Our proposal is based in the idea of not doing too much in Stortorget Square, only a fewactions as paving, lighting or given vegetation (trees) but relating the square to the whole of Hamar.It is obviously needed a waterfront master plan for Hamar. The railways and the urban face tothe lake have to be rethought. The da-me space near the train station has to be integrated inthe urban whole. It is needed pedestrian spaces to wait and see the trains and a largeetcetera.Another question that was important for us was that we need to get Lake Mjøsa sights, so weneed to get high points of view. We remembered the project by Brazilian architect PauloMendes da Rocha for the Master plan for University of Vigo (Spain) in 2004-2007, where heproposed a plan of elevated ways. That net of ways finished in round buildings that onlytouched the land with their supports; the intermediate floors were dedicated to parking(helicoidally ramp) and the roof-terrace were dedicated to leisure uses (theatre, conferences,meetings, cocktails, etc) with views to the sea.We have thought that in Hamar, there is no need of elevated ways. The net of ways alreadyexists, so we could locate in this net, in strategic places, this kind of buildings of mixed use:parking, leisure and views. They should not be very high or very opaque to avoid the lack of long sights at the ground level. These buildings should be surrounded of green spaces, if possible trees or other kind of vegetation from the land. The vegetation should also continue inthe fingers that connect the main road with downtown, maybe making a green net or ring inHamar.We also think that there is the need of focal points to relate the Hamar milestones: one is theChurch; another is going to be the highest part of the Cultural House. The pavilion is not visibleenough to be this kind of milestone. So we propose a new milestone that focuses to the spacebehind the pavilion, trying to point to the lake. This structure has to be illuminated by electricityat night and should be a viewing-point; it could also be a billboard. Moreover, It could becompleted with virtual projections, in a similar way as Kengo Kuma does in KirosanObservatory.If we speak about the square design, we think it is not necessary doing many things. Wepropose to study adequate pavements. A part of the square should remain with the naturalslope to let children play with rollers and skates and if it is located in front of the pavilion, itshould be used as open theatre when the weather is favourable to that. The effect of the slope

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