An Interface is the point where different systems or subjects meet and interact. It’s a junction where dialogue and proximity of distinct entities generate community.
Raufoss might be compared to a company town for the relationship the city has with its productive areas and for the dimension of its Industrial Park. However, the existence of the industries seems to be neglected, or invisible. A relevant part of the community’s identity lies behind a fence, hidden by a little river. Today, the project area is a hidden island between residential settlements of the smallest scale (detached single houses) and big industrial buildings separated by a buffer green area and a river. It is focal to strengthen the fracture between the two different morphological conditions trough new urban spaces able to solve the abrupt jump in scale.
The main action of the design consists in tracing two main axis along the project area and disseminating them with a sequence of public buildings. These elements cluster innovative forms of living and working around them. They are defined as activators, buildings with the aim of creating a sense of community and spreading out the 4.0 knowledge: a metaphorical bridge between the very true identity of the Industripark and the need for public spaces. Activators perform as Interfaces that closes the gap between the Indutripark and the town, breaking down both physical and intangible barriers.
On the border between the man-made and the natural, a sequence of Bridges over the Hunnselva river provide an Interface for the people of Raufoss, stitching together its wild green riverbanks. Having a double connection along the Hunnselva river is a strong and yet subtle gesture for creating a green loop around this beautiful morphological element: a wild naturalistic core which has to be unfolded to the future inhabitants of the project site. This will boost the living and working quality of all the people of Raufoss, making them feel part of the interaction between poetic natural elements and a small man-made community projected towards innovation.
The housing blocks cluster different types of programs, gathering around open public spaces and creating a vibrant center which may be alive 24/7. The ground floor spaces along the main North-South and East-West axis are disseminated with a mix of commercial functions, atelier for smart manufacturing and smaller 4.0 productive spaces. Community services, like a kindergartens on a rooftop for the new inhabitants or laundries in the basements, enhance a collective feeling and provide innovative ways of shared living. Parking lots are located underneath most of the buildings, in order to free the ground floor from cars and allowing inhabitant and town-users to flock around the new pedestrian street, as to have a safer and quieter neighborhood at night.
In order to increase the well-being and the attractiveness of living in Raufoss, living units have a special relationship with the beautiful nature of the surroundings. We tried to reduce the impact buildings have on the green buffer, setting them delicately among the trees and overlooking the river. Apartments in condominium buildings all have a double orientations and 50% of the facade have a deep outside space which is configured as a winter garden. This improves the energetic performances of buildings and makes possible to gain extra space and privacy in all living areas. The simple concrete and glass facades are open to enjoy the outside view allowing the northern light to get inside the apartments. Blind and ethereal aluminium facades are located on the shorter building sides, in proximity of the other residential blocks: a way of solving views and privacy issues trough one of the most important materials produced by local manufacturers.
Interface shapes a programmatically and generationally mixed neighborhood featuring housing, communal facilities, small productive and commercial spaces. The town centre of Raufoss becomes a vibrant urban environment where human interaction meets technological innovation.
Competition organized by Europan Norway.
With Donald Van Ruiten. Images by Giovanni Andrea Coni